|April's Readers' Letters|
|Wednesday, 23 March 2011 17:05|
With reference to last month's article about Caterham Cemetery being full, I seem to recall that a year or two ago the local press reported that Tandridge District Council was planning to acquire additional ground alongside the existing burial ground, but it appears that this idea has now been abandoned, as the council claims it is under no obligation to provide burial sites.
I am sure that many older residents will be dismayed by this situation and I don't think the council position, that sites are available at Greenlawns Memorial Park, is at all acceptable, indeed it seems to me rather callous, as many Caterham residents have no connection with the Warlingham area.
It seems to me that the council has a ready solution to hand, namely the Oaklands site. My understanding is that until the building of St. Lawrence's Hospital in 1870, which is now the Oaklands site, the land was common land. Therefore, to set aside a substantial part of the site for community use and to include a burial ground, would be entirely appropriate.
Development of the Oaklands site will have a major impact on Caterham-on-the-Hill which has already seen substantial residential development in recent years. Local residents have had little input into any of these developments, and I note that the council has declined to produce a proper planning brief for Oaklands, instead producing only a summary of the existing pre-planning policy. This allows Langham Homes the freedom to operate as they wish within that brief, rather than taking local residents' views into consideration. I believe the Langham 'consultation' meetings were no more than a PR exercise and views expressed at the meetings will not be binding. Despite all the development on the Hill, services have not kept pace with the increased population; there has been no provision of additional doctors, dentists, leisure facilities/ open spaces nor any consideration for school places, which will become a critical issue within the next 10-15 years, but where will new schools be built? The Hill risks becoming an overcrowded urban sprawl. The Oaklands site should have land set aside for open space, leisure and school provision, and a burial ground. I hope many other readers will share my concerns and take these up with their councillors.
John Watts, Caterham.
Affordable housing debate
Councillor John Orrick is right to say that we need a grown up debate on affordable housing. No-one wants to lose green belt but isn't it odd to think the problem can be solved by 'adding 4-5 homes per hamlet'? As these houses will be populated by people new to careers, perhaps with young families, people like our own children, why is it acceptable to banish them to hamlets? What about proximity to schools, shops, public transport and jobs?
John mentions Stanstead Road as an example of where things have apparently gone wrong. 'Big old houses being knocked down and replaced with five or six new ones which spoil the character of the road.' Maybe the clue is in the words 'big' and 'old', but also add 'ugly' and 'wasteful' and 'unmaintained' and 'impractical'. What is wrong with replacing such ageing housing stock, some now archaic nursing homes, whose owners clearly don't want them? Or transforming overlarge gardens into attractive, new, environmentally friendly units where young people can live close to transport and amenities, paying council taxes to help improve local services for all, safeguarding local building jobs and stimulating the local economy? Perhaps the debate should be extended to ask why the council, which has such a debatable record with progressing brown sites itself, as the Rose and Young saga suggests, seems to be so focused on limiting private developments. Surely not for the benefit of vocal residents of a certain age and comfortable social status? Perhaps we should also ask where there have been developments, like at Kenley Aerodrome, why hasn't the immediate area benefited from the enormous influx of council tax?
Mark Lewis, Caterham.