Weybridge is undeniably an attractive place to live. Our easy access to London and Heathrow, our vibrant town centre, rivers, woodlands and green spaces, all ensure that many find it hard to imagine living anywhere else and would like our children to be able to live here too.
We recognise that, as people live longer and households are smaller, we need to build more and different places to live in Weybridge. Even with no interference from outside, our council would encourage the building of homes with fewer rooms. Ideally almost all of them would be social and affordable housing for rent, with some for purchase. Thus moving the emphasis from mansions to high quality, smaller, environmentally sustainable homes. This would mean about 200 new homes a year across Elmbridge.
Unfortunately, the regime in Westminster has stated we must make provision for 600 new homes to be built in Elmbridge, each year, for the next fifteen years. Three times as high as our current build.
Elmbridge versus national government
Elmbridge has no power in this debate. If we do not do what the national government says we risk having all our planning powers taken away from us and developers might run amok. The only way this will change is if there is a change of national government – and it looks as if the new Johnson administration is set on having a national election in the next few months. Of the four national parties, three are pushing for more housing to be built (the Brexit “party” does not yet have any policies except to leave Europe), but they differ in their views on what sort of housing we need and where it should be built.
But we do not give in – Elmbridge will make the best case within the rules that are laid down. We aim to adopt a new Local Plan for “sustainable” development in Elmbridge. The borough’s staff have been working with other local governments, national agencies and utility providers to assemble the evidence required to make robust decisions. Laying the foundations for a Local Plan is a very complex affair and is often iterative.
Elmbridge Borough has listened to the concerns of Elmbridge residents, and has been working hard to progress a new Local Plan. This long-term plan aims to marry our national obligations to build more homes in Elmbridge with our desire to protect the character of Elmbridge.
The next stage is a public consultation running from 19 August through to 30 September. It is important that all residents from all parts of Elmbridge get involved by making a response to the consultation. You can sign up to alerts on the Local Plan through the EBC website and at consult.elmbridge.gov.uk
Councillor Karen Randolph, Portfolio Holder for Planning, has said:
“It is vital for the future of our borough that our residents contribute to the development of the Elmbridge Local Plan. We are determined to do what is best for Elmbridge and we want to hear from you.
“When the consultation opens on 19 August there will be information available in libraries, at the Civic Centre in Esher, online on the Council’s website and we will also host public meetings, all to provide our residents with as much information as possible on the Local Plan options.
“We want to shape Elmbridge for the benefit of all; will you help us?”