Categories
Elmbridge government Planning

Conservative Government’s proposals threaten Elmbridge’s Green Belt – even Tories call them ‘contemptuous’

Residents across Elmbridge have reacted with horror at Government plans to reform the planning system, which could result in hundreds of new homes being built in Elmbridge including on our Green Belt.

The Conservative Government’s Planning White Paper proposes new nationally set housing requirements for every local area, as well as taking away Councillor and resident influence on individual planning applications.

Pushing the target up to 775 units

In Elmbridge Borough Council’s draft Local Plan the target is 623 homes a year – far higher than Elmbridge can sustain. Under the Government’s new proposals, Lichfields, one of the most respected planning consultancies in the UK, predicts Elmbridge will need to build even more i.e. 775 units each year.

Cllr Mary Marshall, deputy Leader of Elmbridge Borough Council and Leader of the Liberal Democrat group says,

“The Government’s Planning White Paper is a developers’ charter to concrete over the green belt.  We simply don’t have the space to build 775 homes every year. It would totally destroy the character of our beautiful Borough.

Impossible to deliver affordable homes

“In Elmbridge we have very few large sites and we rely on small sites to deliver affordable housing. The new proposals require affordable housing contributions only on developments of 50 or more houses making it virtually impossible to deliver much needed affordable housing in Elmbridge.

“Our planning system should provide a balance between delivering the homes we need and respecting the environment and amenities of existing residents.  The Government’s plans favour developers over local communities. They will have virtually no say on the area in which they live.

Another algorithm disaster

“Whitehall is deciding how many homes should be built here in Elmbridge using an algorithm – just as it did with the recent A-level disaster.”

Whilst the Liberal Democrats in Elmbridge reject the Conservative government’s housing paper as ‘irresponsible’, the Tory leader of Wokingham Borough Council, John Hansall has also rejected it, which shows that the Conservative government is at variance with its own party in local government.

Contempt for local government

Cllr Hansall says, “The Conservative government’s contempt for local government is profound and must urgently think again about its new housing plan. Our party’s manifesto promised levelling up in the North, but the algorithm puts most homes in the South East.”

He continues, “Most local authorities have skyrocketing increases in housing requirements. In October any developer or landowner can present an application, and on refusal in most cases an appeal can be won.

Developers will carpet-bag the nation

“The developer does not need to build homes, but can just accumulate permissions; and the local authority will be sanctioned for not having fulfilled the quota. The Government’s proposal hides the reality that it will give pretty much all control to developers to carpet-bag the nation.”

More information about the Government’s planning proposals is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future
Residents can respond to the Governments consultation by emailing : planningforthefuture@communities.gov.uk.  Please copy us in at chair@elmbridgelibdems.org.uk.