Springfield Lane Flats

Springfield Lane Flats Weybridge

Does this look familiar? This is being developed by the same people who built the flats on the Grotto Pub site.

There are two outline applications (2018/0905 and 2018/0907) for detached five-storey building containing 22 flats with associated parking, cycle and bin stores following demolition of existing building (for access, appearance, layout and scale).

The proposal is for 22 flats – 12 one bedroom and 10 two-bedroom – on five stories.  Elmbridge has a lack of smaller properties.  Nine of the proposed flats will be for affordable housing but there will not be any social housing.

Parking

Unlike the previous site, where there was no parking, this development has sixteen parking places for twenty two flats.  Elmbridge planning policy is for a minimum of 22 parking places for such a development.  The key planning point here is DM7 b(i) of the borough’s development management plan.

Highways

Surrey, the highway authority, gives a green light in their report to the proposal and deems it to be in a sustainable location.

Design and amenity

This is often a matter of judgment.  According to the borough development management plan proposals should preserve or enhance the character of the area, taking account of design guidance detailed in the Design and Character SPD (section 3.1 on Springfield Lane area), with particular regard to the following attributes: appearance; scale, mass, height, levels and topography; and, the prevailing pattern of built development.

Carbon Footprint

Buildings are categorised for their impact on climate change with six levels – six being the best and and one the worst.  The borough’s policy is for new building to be a minimum of level three and building of this size being level four.  but any new building should ideally be six.  This proposed building is level three which is below the borough’s planning standard as mentioned in the Core Strategy CS27 on page 82.

Refuse

This is often overlooked in larger developments and this proposal seems to be no exception.  In their report environmental services says the bins site is too small.  If you look at the picture above the bins will be located on the green rectangle near the front gate.

Cycle storage

Cycle storage is at the rear of the property and contains space for 22 tightly packed cycles.  The storage is not secure so insurance is is unlikely to be available.

Community Infrastructure Levy

This development will produce a tax of £155,000 for the provision of new infrastructure in Elmbridge.

Alerts

If you did not know about this application perhaps you should try the new borough alerts.  See here.

Make your comments on this planning application by the end of May here and here.

Your Personnel Planning Alerts

Planning Alert

Registering your account

If you would like to receive alerts for planning applications in your locality simply click here. Alternatively, go to the Elmbridge borough website and click on the “My Account” at the top right of your screen.  On the next screen register your details. You will then be given the option of getting planning application alerts.

Choosing your planning alerts area

You will then be given the option of choosing the extent of the area that you will be given alerts – up to 500m.  I would recommend choosing the maximum area because you can always cut it down later if you find there are too many alerts.

You can also take up other options relating to changes to local services.

More Planning Information

If you would like more planning information at Elmbridge, for example to find a planning application to how to object to a planning application click here.

Green Belt in Long Ditton

Long Ditton councillors, Shweta Kapadia, Barry Fairbank and Neil Houston wish to dispute the statement made by Hinchley Wood/Long Ditton Green Belt group that they are doing nothing to protect the Green Belt.  All three of them are working hard and will continue to work hard to protect the Green Belt. All councillors recognize the need for housing but do not agree with building on the Green Belt.

Every single councillor in Elmbridge is against building on the Green Belt.  An application for over 1,000 homes in Green Belt in Walton was unanimously refused by the Residents’ Association (RA), Tory and Lib Dem councillors.  The borough has poured vast resources into defending the Drake Park Appeal last November to defend Elmbridge Green Belt. But the national government has ignored the will of the people and the borough and the application will now be determined by a Conservative Secretary of State – till recently Sajid Javid and now James Brokenshire. The Drake Park decision was however ‘deferred’ only a few days ago until after the Elmbridge Election.  Just weeks ago Sajid Javid allowed 300 homes in the Green Belt in Effingham, Guildford, although the parish and borough refused permission. There is an appeal still outstanding for Wisley (2,000 homes) which will similarly be determined by a Conservative government minister.

Are local Conservatives going to defy their national government and not build on the Green Belt or in fact not build the 12,500 homes this Conservative government wants to build in Elmbridge? Conservative councillors in other Surrey districts have allowed building on the Green Belt. Tandridge Council is planning a whole new village in the Green Belt. Guildford has released land in the Green Belt. Are Elmbridge Conservatives going to be the only ones in the country to defy their Government?

Only the Liberal Democrats and the Residents’ Association councillors can defy this Conservative government. The Residents’ Association / Liberal Democrat coalition administration has done just that: they have lobbied and put considerable pressure on Dominic Raab and Philip Hammond, Elmbridge’s two MPs. But being Conservative both of them are toeing the national party line and will not say that the Green Belt should not be built on even though they know the borough’s residents are against it. The RAs / Lib Dem administration has also protested to Sajid Javid highlighting the deficit in infrastructure provision in Elmbridge. The administration responded robustly against the large amount of housing that this Conservative government is attempting to force on Elmbridge.

Regards the Elmbridge consultation in 2016/17 on the new Local Plan and Green Belt review – the facts of the matter are: All Elmbridge councillors voted UNANIMOUSLY for the consultation on the Strategic Options which took place in December 2016. The minutes of the meeting of full council held in December 2016 clearly show that.

Until Tory politics on the Local Plan started, Tories, RAs and Liberal Democrats worked on this together. There are the Conservatives and three RAs and only one Liberal Democrat on the Local Plan Working Group so the Tories have a strong voice on this working group and they agreed to the consultation.

There is a large amount of mis-information circulating. Since the public consultation in December 2016 Elmbridge Borough Council has not produced any specific proposals in relation to the Local Plan and there has been no vote in the council on building on the Green Belt for the Conservatives to have opposed it.

Brexit lobby in the Netherlands

Dual nationality

On April 21st, one of our councillor candidates, Francisca Oxley, was invited with two colleagues to present to a Dutch parliamentary committee about Brexit. This was a good opportunity to push for EU citizens rights after Brexit via a local EU27 government.

Francisca says: “There was very limited time to drive home some key points, so we decided to start our session with a video about dual nationality. We discussed why becoming British without losing Dutch nationality is so important now with Brexit. If you want to watch the video, you can see it here (2.5 minutes).

Brexit

Francisca Oxley, Hedwig Hegtermans and Nicole Wevers with the director consular affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan Willem Beaujean.

 Citizens Rights

The second part of the meeting was spent on explaining the difficulties with citizens’ rights (both for EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU). The Windrush scandal (which has also been reported in the Dutch news) served to illustrate that there is no trust in the Home Office for good reason!

Francisca continues: “We mentioned groups that are in danger of falling through the cracks (think of housewives, carers, children turning adult during the Brexit process). Even though the home office promises to be generous and light touch, the Windrush scandal shows EU citizens need more than promises. We also discussed the fact that a five year limit on the right of return is not enough. It would make studying in Europe and then taking a first job abroad very difficult! We highlighted that EU citizens in Britain have mixed families. They could lose their Settled Status and have to try to get some sort of visa from scratch. This would reduce EU-UK families to Skype Families (as already is happening with non-EU people). We asked the Dutch government to not forget the citizens’ rights among the trade deals and other agreements.

We ended by asking for support for Dutch nationals returning to the Netherlands after Brexit. If you are interested or want to practise your Dutch you can read the position paper here (fifth paper down the end).

A nuanced approach to parking needs

Part of the work that the Liberal Democrats have undertaken in relation to parking is to examine the availability of parking space in Weybridge at midnight.  This time was chosen because the cars parked on-street would only be ours – just residents.  The shops are closed and the evening trade is over.  Shop and office workers have long gone home.  You can see from the map below that the pattern of nighttime parking stress varies widely across the town.  People living in streets next door to each other can have quite a different experience.  The key indicates what the colours mean.  The streets marked red had no available spaces at midnight and the streets in green indicate streets where parking spaces were freely available.   Some longer streets can have a varying experience along their length.

The overall picture is quite different at midday. It may come as a surprise but the parking stress if lower at midday than at midnight.  Again the parking experience can vary remarkably from street to street.

 

These maps only show two times in the day – midnight and midday.  Ideally, there would be a map for every minute or hour of the day.  We all know demand flows across the town at different times.  The drop off and pick up for schools has an acute impact for certain locations.

A street could be amber and not red simply because there is one space available – so the amber streets are under stress too.  As is yellow, with three spaces available for every ten cars.

The surveys were undertaken between 00:00 – 01:00 and 12:00 – 13:00 in private school term time because their terms are shorter.  Although that does mean that just like traffic in the holidays, parking is easier then this for over a quarter of the year.

The survey was taken from the perspective of a resident who does not have a drive.  If you imagine a street a mile long where all but one house has off-street parking on the drive but there is n place to park on-street because of the drive is is marked as red.  Even  though all but one resident has easy parking.

Flexible Parking in Churchfields

This summer much needed improvements will be brought to you by the Liberal Democrats. The first to arrive will be flexible parking in Churchfields car park.  The changes are part of the investment in quality and innovation programme across Elmbridge, which will bring five benefits:

  • Stay for as short or long a time as you like – no need to decide beforehand
  • Total refurbishment of the car park, bringing a new layout -improving capacity – and total resurfacing, with a solid foundation
  • Free pop-in parking: to pop into the library or pick up a prescription
  • Park and go – where you lock up and walk to the shops – no need for a ticket
  • No more penalties for overstaying

This is just the first step – greater flexibility will follow.  We want the car park to be well-used but also to always have some spaces available.

Using the parking surplus for our town

Elmbridge’s car parks make a surplus each year and up till now this has gone into the borough’s general fund for spending on our services, from meals on wheels to parks and recreation grounds.  Weybridge generates the highest surplus in Elmbridge so would gain most if some of the surplus was used to pretty up the town.

In fact this is one of the initiatives brought in by the borough’s Liberal Democrat/Residents administration last year for action this year.  The plan is to set up a fund for each town, based upon the surpluses from car parks in that town.

The council agreed this policy on 19 July 2017 to begin in the year starting May 2018 from funds accumulated in 20217/18.  This extra funding will be made available to support local sustainable transport and highway improvements, or extra townscape improvements. The precise figures are not ready yet, as the year is not complete. Our plan is for the proportion of parking surplus dedicated to these projects to increase year by year.

We would really be interested in you views on what you would like to see.

Investing in our car parks

For the last ten years Conservative administrations have left our car parks to rot just like our roads. The new Liberal Democrat/Residents administration in Elmbridge is not going to let our borough car parks go the way of of the county’s highways, so we have undertaken a review of the state of the sites and have set in place a programme of works to restore and maintain the quality of surfaces and to reconfigure parking spaces.

We will also be introducing barriers and licence plate recognition so that cars can be parked for as long as needed rather than having to rush back for fear of being fined.

Installing a planned maintenance and improvement programme is just the beginning.  We have also begun to put funds aside each year to ensure that the programme will not be affected by the unhelpful, capricious, attitude of the national government in the nontransparent way it funds local government.

Working with residents on parking

You may not know this, but one of the reasons I stood as a councillor originally was to help find solutions to the parking problems that are faced in some parts of the town.  

As a consequence, I have talked to nearly everyone in the town and if you have not yet spoken with me yet, it is not for the want of my trying!

Lib Dem colleagues and I have been speaking with residents in streets with particular concerns – often using a survey.  Sometimes we revisit because conditions and options change.  We have worked with residents to propose solutions that work for their street and those surrounding them.

On-street parking is the responsibility of the county council and this means that any change has to be agreed by them.  This has been difficult for at least three reasons:

  • Surrey lacks coherent principals underlying its approach to on-street parking
  • The process that Surrey uses for making decisions is flawed
  • Surrey has insufficient funds to provide a speedy delivery of change

These three problems were compounded by the Conservatives’ drive to undertake parking reviews in each area only once in three years – to save money (Surrey has been governed by one party for nearly all of the last 140 years).  This policy of under- investment has been used for highway maintenance over decades, to disastrous effect.

And to cap it all Surrey’s policy is that controlled parking should not cause displacement.  Such a policy is internally inconstant.  The introduction of parking controls will cause displacement unless the new controls are so negligible that no displacement occurs – then what’s point.

As controlled parking inevitably leads to displacement the smart thing to do is anticipate and plan for it, all the time ensuring that no new stress is introduced. This is the approach that we are taking currently to a number of roads in the town centre.

Councillors’ Allowances

In the recent Conservative Party manifesto they say

“They even put up their personal allowances by 12%”

Here is the truth

Coupled with the reduction in the number of councillors, the overall councillor pay bill was reduced by £22,547 a year.  In 2008/09 the total councillor allowances and expenses came to £389,296.  In 2017/18 the total was £338,855, a reduction of over 13% or £50,000.

In May 2016 the number of councillors of Elmbridge borough was reduced 60 to 48.  This move was supported by the Liberal Democrats who would rather have had the number of councillors set to 32 or even fewer.

In consideration of this reduction in the number of councillors and the consequent increase in workload, the the independent body that recommends councillors’ pay decided to undertake a comprehensive review of councillors’ pay in Elmbridge.

The Liberal Democrats view was whatever the review body recommended, we would accept it.

The review decided that councillors should be paid less than £7 an hour (the minimum living wage is £8.75-£10.20). Some pay would be cut, others increased – depending on the workload involved.

The Liberal Democrats voted to implement the recommendations of the independent review body. The Conservative did not.  So the Conservatives voted to set up an independent review body to remove the possibility of councillors setting their own pay and then – when the review body reported its findings – voted against the findings.

The review was coherent and comprehensive – see the report for yourself Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel – September 2016.