Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields Green Belt Fields
Bark Ringed old oak by Village Developments

Old Oak Ring-Barked


SAVE THE GREEN BELT APPEAL

The residents group needs your support to employ planning and legal experts to protect the Green Belt at a Public Inquiry being held from 17 - 20 June.

If you are able to make a donation - £100, £50, £25, £10, it will make a huge difference in the battle to protect our beautiful environment and to protect local infrastructure from being swamped.

The residents group needs to employ specialists, as the developers are doing, to make sure we are effectively represented.

You can donate via PayPal to Oxted & Limpsfield Residents by clicking here:


Or send a cheque payable to 'Oxted & Limpsfield Residents' to PO BOX 233, Oxted Post Office, Station Road West, Oxted, RH8 9EH. Thank you.

The Inquiry has been brought about by Village Developments which is claiming that many thousands more homes should be built in Tandridge. A Planning Inspector will be considering their case. If they are successful in this challenge, Green Belt land across Tandridge District, including the Chichele field in Oxted, will be under threat like never before.

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In August 2013, Tandridge Council launched a prosecution of Village Developments and ATC Arboriculturalists Ltd regarding the ring barking of 4 oaks on Chichele field. The prosecution centred around a Tree Preservation Order - click here

The two firms challenged the prosecution in the High Court. In February 2014, after a two day hearing, the judge ruled that the Council had not served the TPO correctly. As a result, the TPO was quashed and the prosecution has been dropped.

The picture on this page shows one of the old oaks that was killed - men with chainsaws cut away the bark ensuring that the trees would slowly die. Very many people have expressed their disgust at this behaviour.

NB: As of February 2014, no planning application has been submitted for the Chichele field but one is expected at any time.

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Early in 2013, it became clear that developers were preparing to submit a planning application for 140 houses on the Green Belt field behind Chichele Road between St Mary's School and Oxted School. Agents for Village Developments asked Tandridge Council if an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be needed to support the application. The Council decided that it would be.

This was challenged by the developer, but the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, confirmed the Council's view, ruling that an Environmental Statement should be carried out on the field because 'the proposal would be likely to have significant effects on the environment, because of its nature, size and location.'

Soon after the Council's EIA decision, 10 large old trees on the land, including mature oaks, were deliberately destroyed by ring-barking.

An email to Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group (OLRG) from Nigel Greenhalgh, writing as managing director of Village Developments but who is also a director and shareholder of Oxted Residential Limited says: 'We have ring barked our own trees which in any event, would have been removed to enable development. We are fully entitled to deal with trees that are on land owned by Oxted Residential Limited.'

Several well used and established entrances to the Chichele field were blocked off with hoardings and barbed wire by Oxted Residential Limited so that residents could no longer access the land. OLRG has so far collected 74 statements from residents about their long standing usage of the field and, in November, we submitted an application to Surrey County Council for 4 rights of way across the field. Unfortunately, the County Council has said it takes several years to process such applications.

Members of OLRG also met with Sam Gyimah MP to express local concerns about the actions that had taken place.

On June 8th last year, OLRG held a 'Save the Green Belt' day when more than 1,000 residents signed up to save Tandridge's beautiful green fields. We had a stand at the Donkey Derby and a stand outside Boots and these were, at times, besieged with people wanting to pledge their support. The same day, the developers Oxted Residential Limited and architects John Thompson & Partners (JTP) held an exhibition to promote their plans to build on the Chichele field. We also had a stand outside the entrance to that event. Not many people attended the developers' exhibition and, of those who did, everyone we spoke to was vehemently opposed to the proposal and determined to protect the Green Belt, coming out of the exhibition to immediately sign an OLRG objection card.

June 8th saw a fantastic demonstration of the determination there is locally to preserve the environment from destruction by developers. We would like to say a tremendous thank you to everyone who helped deliver leaflets beforehand, everyone who helped on the stands on the day, and to all those hundreds of local people who share our wish to keep Tandridge special and to preserve our green spaces.

Residents also made their views crystal clear at a meeting on June 13th when JTP presented their so called "vision" for what they want to do to the field. To see the report, and other coverage, on Get Surrey: click here

As a result of the success of the 'Save the Green Belt' day, and because of the huge concern there is about the threat to the local environment and local infrastructure, OLRG had a stand at the Oxted Carnival on July 6th where, once again, large numbers of people pledged their support.

At the end of June, the developers carried out a traffic survey. It was done during a week when 90 children at St Mary's School (25%) were away at camp and more than 400 children had already left Oxted School for the summer (All upper sixth having completed their A levels and year 11 having completed their GCSEs.) See second headline. As many people pointed out, carrying out the survey at the quietest time of the school year inevitably gives an inaccurate picture of traffic flow and underplays the road safety dangers. At the end of January 2014, the traffic sensors were back on the roads around Chichele. From Wednesday 29th to Friday 31th January, once again 90 children at St Mary's School (25%) were away on a school trip.

Since news of this potential development became public the residents group has been bombarded with emails from people shocked and dismayed by the proposal and by the ring barking of the trees. The field is highly valued by the community as a green space and has been used for many years; we believe it is also of considerable ecological importance.

Oxted resident, Mohamed Al Fayed, has spoken of his shock at 'this appalling plan.' To read the statement on his website click here

People are also worried that the infrastructure cannot support this level of building. There are already huge traffic problems in the area. In their application for an EIA opinion, Village Developments say the main access to the site is likely to be via the track at the junction of Chichele Road and Silkham Road, next to St Mary's School, with a secondary access option being via The Larks access to Bluehouse Lane.

There's concern, too, about the waiting time for appointments at the health centre and that the recent planning permission for 172 houses at Hurst Green will push local services to breaking point.

If you value the Green Belt in Oxted and in Tandridge District, then please join the residents group by emailing oxted.residents@btinternet.com and make it clear that you do not support this development proposal from Oxted Residential Limited and John Thompson & Partners, you do not support the destruction of the Green Belt, and you do not support the ring barking of trees as a pre-emptive strike before any planning application has been submitted and before any environmental impact assessment can be carried out.

Please show your support for maintaining our precious green spaces and your opposition to the proposed development and the pressure it would put on local infrastructure like health services and roads/parking as well as affecting catchment areas for Oxted schools.

If the Chichele Road Green Belt planning application succeeds, it will set a precedent that will open the floodgates for planning applications on many other Green Belt sites in Oxted and in Tandridge District. The Chichele field is potentially just the beginning. Developers are targeting greenfield sites because they yield maximum profits. They see the government's new planning policy as a green light to target the Green Belt. We need to STOP the destruction now.


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CHALKPIT QUARRY - PLEASE SEND YOUR VIEWS

The operator of Chalkpit Quarry, Southern Gravel Limited (SGL), is preparing to submit a planning application to build 27 detached houses on the quarry site. SGL say they will close the quarry for good, but only if they get the housing permission from Tandridge Council. Otherwise, they say, they will re-open the quarry which has been shut, temporarily, since September 2011. So, in essence, they are saying take the houses or the lorries.

The Chalkpit site is in the Green Belt, and also within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), where no development should take place unless the applicant can prove that 'very special circumstances' exist to justify it.

We've listed some points to consider and would be grateful for views:

* SGL is pursuing the housing application at the same time as Surrey County Council are carrying out the Chalkpit Review to decide a new set of operating conditions for the quarry. SGL tried, but failed, to get the review postponed for 10 years. The review affects the way SGL can operate the quarry, for example the number of lorries allowed per day - but it does not affect the underlying planning permission. SGL has a permission for the extraction of minerals and deposit of inert waste, which lasts until 2042.

* OLRG is concerned that any planning permission given for a Green Belt/AONB site might set a precedent for other GB sites such as the Chichele field. The only way this would not happen is if there were what is termed 'very special circumstances' for giving the permission as a one off. In August 2012, Tandridge Council asked the County Council to deal with the Review as 'a matter of urgency' because whether such special circumstances existed was likely to depend on the impact of the existing quarry use - that would only be clear when the new conditions were known.

Tandridge told the County Council that it would: '' be unhelpful and unsatisfactory to judge such a matter (housing development) prior to the necessary review having been completed.'

But, eighteen months later, the County Council have still not completed the review. They say they are awaiting more information from SGL before they can come to a decision.....it is interesting to note that SGL states: 'Conditions which diminish the asset value or affect the economic viability of operations are not permitted. Conditions which restrict working rights may result in substantial compensation, payable by the Mineral Planning Authority (the County Council) to the operator.'

It has been suggested that the County Council hopes that if a housing permission were to be given either by Tandridge Council, or on appeal, the County Council would then be let off the hook of having to decide what number of quarry lorries to allow, and so avoid any potential legal action.

* In July 2012, more than 160 letters from residents were sent in to the Review objecting to the new conditions proposed by SGL because they were much the same as the old conditions and did not propose any limit on lorry numbers. In the years before the temporary closure, the unlimited numbers of quarry lorries had become intolerable and led to major protests from residents about the extreme road safety dangers and the damage to the local environment.

* The suitability, or otherwise, of Chalkpit Lane to cope with the amount of new traffic generated by the proposed development.

* Although SGL says the housing development is needed to fund permanent closure and restoration of the quarry, the existing planning permission requires restoration of the quarry to "amenity, conservation and agricultural grazing'' . Therefore, a residential development should not be necessary to facilitate this because SGL should have allowed for that cost from the income from the quarry operations.

For the history of this, click on the Chalkpit Quarry button on the left hand panel.

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OLRG has 1700+ members but bigger is better if it wants to stand a chance of being listened to. Please do join and encourage others to join. All you need to do is email oxted.residents@btinternet.com or write to: Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group, P O Box 233, Oxted Post Office, Station Road West, Oxted, RH8 9EH.

Most members are from Oxted & Limpsfield, but there are others from across northern Tandridge and anyone in the district is welcome to join. The group is solely concerned with planning matters.