A Local Plan is a requirement under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and is about the needs of the community and how sustainable development can be encouraged. Paragraph 153 of the NPPF states, ‘Each local planning authority should produce a Local Plan for its area.’ The NPPF goes on to explain, (in some detail), the requirements of a Local Plan, that it must be realistic, that the local planning authority must engage in ‘early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with neighbourhoods, local organisations and businesses’, that the ‘strategic priorities’ should be set out.
Tandridge District Council have been working on their Local Plan for some time now. Early in 2016 they entered a period of consultation (called a Regulation 18 consultation) on the first set of documents. The principal document was called the ‘Local Plan: Issues and Approaches Document’ and was supported by a suite of other documents. In total there were over 3,000 pages of documents to be read. The GVA recognised that most residents would not have the time, nor the inclination, to read over 3,000 pages and so produced a summary and a response which was circulated to residents of the village so that they might submit their own response. (The first response can be seen here).
During the summer of 2016 Tandridge District Council issued further documents in relation to the draft Local Plan. In particular, on the 30th July, Tandridge District Council issued the ‘Detailed Policies 2014-2029‘. This is part 2 of the Tandridge Local Plan and is the detailed policies that sit behind the Core Strategy that has already been adopted. The detailed policies cover all aspects of planning, not just housing, including infrastructure, traffic, telecoms and many other aspects of our environment. They can be found here.
The Local Plan continued to be developed. Tandridge District Council subsequently issued their ‘Sites Consultation‘ document which had some surprising information in it. The document is a 440 page document and includes a number of the sites, both Green Belt and non Green Belt, that have been considered and can be found here, (it takes some time to load because of its size). Some had been ruled out, (although the Council allowed itself the possibility to revisit these under ‘exceptional circumstances’), however many remained under serious consideration.
Tandridge District Council abandoned the 7 strategic approaches that were listed in the Local Plan: Issues and Approaches Document and made a decision that a ‘Garden Village’ was the way forward. They propose to build at least 4,000 houses in South Godstone, in addition to many other sites across the district.
The last ‘Regulation 18’ consultation began on the 14th August and ran until the 9th October 2017 on the proposed ‘New Garden Village’. Tandridge District Council have not made public the number of responses in favour of the development, or those against. They have kept a very close guard on the results of the consultation.
They claimed that they would not be making a decision about the location of any ‘garden village’ (they have subsequently changed the name to a ‘garden community) until they had analysed the results of the consultation. They lied! In a document called ‘APPENDIX Infrastructure Baseline Plan: Part 2’ published in November 2015, it is clear that (on page 30) Surrey County Council have already been informed of the intent to build “A large urban extension of 4,000 homes in South Godstone”. No other locations were talked about. The decision had already been made.
The draft Local Plan was published by Tandridge District Council in July of this year (2018). The full plan is over 5,000 pages but, surprisingly, lacks detail. The most salient points for Godstone are that Tandridge District Council intend to take the whole of Godstone out of the Green Belt, they intend to move Pond Tail Surgery to their new development of at least 4,000 houses in South Godstone and they make claims that they have no ability and no way of delivering, including promising an upgrade to Junction 6 of the M25 that they have no funding to deliver and no remit to deliver and an upgrade to Godstone station (in South Godstone) which again they have no way of delivering and which the owners of the station, Network Rail, say they have no intention of doing.
The latest (and last consultation) on the Tandridge District Council draft Local Plan is now underway. Called a ‘Regulation 19’ consultation it is supposed to be a test of whether the draft plan is legally complaint and whether it is fit for purpose (‘sound’ in planning terms).
The GVA will publish its response to the consultation in due course, but everyone is encouraged to submit comment to Tandridge District Council on whether they think the plan is ‘sound’. There are five tests that the plan must fulfil. If it doesn’t, it is ‘unsound’.
- Has Tandridge District Council fulfilled it’s ‘duty to cooperate’? They haven’t. They have not been honest as to when the decision was made to build 4,000 houses in South Godstone. Their own documents show it was made in 2015, not this year as they claim.
- Is the plan ‘positively prepared’? It isn’t. It does not address the issues that they identified in their document Local Plan: Issues and Approaches.
- Is the plan ‘justified’. It isn’t. Building 4,000 houses in South Godstone and taking Godstone out of the Green Belt is not justified and the plan lacks detail to justify it. There are other ways and Tandridge District Council have chosen to ignore them.
- Is the plan ‘effective’? It isn’t. Network Rail, who own Godstone station, have said that they have no plans to upgrade it. Tandridge District Council cannot promise that it will be. The upgrade to Junction 6 of the M25 has not been costed properly and cannot be delivered within the life of the plan.
- Is the plan in line with ‘National Policy’? It isn’t. National Policy says that “unmet housing need is not sufficient justification for release of the Green Belt” and that the plan should “recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and supporting thriving rural communities within it”.
If you are registered, you can view many of the documents via the consultation portal at http://consult.tandridge.gov.uk/portal/, (you can register if you have not already done so), or you can let your views be known by post to:
Planning Policy, Tandridge District Council,
8 Station Road East,
Surrey, RH8 0BT