|Councillors oppose a Garden Village in Chaldon|
- Published: Tuesday, 04 April 2017 15:58
Chaldon residents have been expressing their surprise and anger that Green Belt land surrounding the ancient St. Peter and St. Paul Church has been identified as one of the sites under consideration for a “Garden Development” as part of the Local Plan.
On Thursday 16th March, Tandridge District Council’s Planning Policy Committee agreed the Council’s Preferred Strategy for development for the district up to 2033.
This supports the proposal for a garden village, of around 4,000 houses, which would require the release of around 1% of Green Belt land to be pursued as part of the Local Plan. The aim is to provide a mix of affordable and starter homes and would include new schools, a doctor’s surgery, supermarket and investment in roads.
At this stage, the strategy does not set out in detail exactly where new development will take place, but sets out the principles on which decisions will be based. One of the sites put forward by landowners and developers to be considered is at Alderstead Heath and Tolsworth Farm in Chaldon, adjacent to the North Downs Way National Trail. The other four sites are at Blindley Heath, land west of Edenbridge, Redhill Aerodrome and South Godstone. Once locations which can be developed have been identified, further consultation will take place to ensure the final Local Plan caters for present and future needs.
Without looking at the Green Belt, the Council says it will only be able to deliver just over a third of the housing needed. This approach would not boost the supply of housing as required by the government and would not pass the independent examination of the Local Plan, which could mean the Council losing the ability to control and plan for development in the district, putting more Green Belt at risk.
The land in Chaldon is one of a number of sites added to the Local Plan’s Housing and Land Availability Assessment (“HELAA”) after the Local Plan consultation period ended on 30th December 2016.
Responding to the the Chaldon site being one of the sites to be considered for the garden village, Chaldon Village Councillor, Bob Milton, said: “Chaldon Village Council has publically stated its willingness to work with Tandridge District Council (“TDC”) on the Local Plan. We have put our faith in TDC to deliver a Local Plan that will meet the housing need for the district, but also protect and respect open and green spaces. This late, uninformed and arbitrary decision to include Chaldon land for consideration under the Local Plan has damaged the reputation of TDC and has raised doubts as to their commitment to full public consultation and scrutiny of the Local Plan process.”
Following the initial announcement of the proposal for a new garden village in February, Liberal Democrat District Councillor for Caterham-on-the-Hill, Chris Botten, said: "I welcome the recognition that our urban centres can take no more large scale development and that our infrastructure is creaking. I am pleased that the dangers of flooding due to poor planning and over development in Caterham have at last been recognised, as a result of fierce campaigning by residents. We desperately need clarity about the location of the "garden village", and I hope that the absurdity of locating it next to Chaldon means it will be ruled out quickly. That said, I believe the creation of a new residential settlement with schools, primary care and appropriate infrastructure is the right solution and that with careful planning, it will be seen that using up 1% of our Green Belt to save the rest is the best outcome for the district. We will, however, need to continue to fight to save Heath Road allotments and other valued open spaces and to ensure that planners fully understand the flood issue. We need huge investment in our infrastructure, and we need to fight to find the resources to fund that investment."
Before the vote to adopt the strategy for a new garden village, Cllr. Botten proposed a new Recommended Urban Space Objective be included in the strategy to protect open spaces within urban areas. This proposal was agreed by members of the Planning Policy Committee who then voted in favour of the proposal for a garden village.
Following the vote, Councillor Peter Bond, Chairman of the Planning Policy Committee, said: “We now have a clear strategy that will be reflected in the development of a Local Plan that is infrastructure led and which relieves the pressure on existing facilities. Releasing a small amount of the Green Belt will enable us to deliver the infrastructure we so badly need, while protecting the rest from incremental development.”