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Government Issues Housing Target Number for all Councils

We welcome the Government publishing a housing need number that is transparent and based on a standard methodology. By having a clear number, it will put a stop to disputes between planners, developers, local groups and residents and help alleviate the “inter-generational betrayal” referred to in the House of Commons by Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. However, we don’t agree with the arbitrary uplift for affordability which takes the housing number significantly higher and we will be opposing this allocation through the consultation with the Government.
It is worth noting that the Government number is much higher than the figure Tandridge Council is working with, which residents’ groups have been disputing. However, if we follow the line of an unrealistically low housebuilding number, then the District will be put at risk from speculative development and we will lose control as the Government will decide how many houses are built and the developers will decide where they are built. It will be open season for uncontrolled housebuilding throughout Tandridge with no infrastructure gain.
We are well aware that house prices in Tandridge are completely out of reach for the young and those on average earnings. House prices are 14.8 times average earnings (compared to 7.6 times nationally), which means our young are being forced to leave the District, giving us an ageing profile. It is a real issue that we are currently unable to provide homes for teachers and health care professionals – the necessary inward migration that we desperately need – but also for our local young people.
Our preferred strategy of a sustainable Garden Village will give us real infrastructure improvements with new schools, a health centre and improved transport links plus control over the mix of housing that will be built, so that we can provide new homes for the next generation whilst also protecting the character of the area. We have said that the Garden Village will consist of around 4,000 homes and take away about 1% of our 94% Green Belt. Contrary to claims made, we have been the Party that has successfully defended the Green Belt to-date and continue to believe that we can find the right balance between providing much-needed housing while also at the same time not concreting over the whole District.
This consultation reassures us that the approach the Council has agreed upon in developing a Garden Village strategy is the right one for our area. It will give us control over where homes are built and also bring the necessary infrastructure benefits for the District as a whole. We will continue to focus on what the evidence says so that our Local Plan is robust and stands up to scrutiny when the Government Inspector reviews it next year.
Martin Fisher
Leader of Tandridge District Council
Conservative Councillor for Oxted North and Tandridge
cllr.martin.fisher@tandridgedc.gov.uk
20 September 2017

Note: TDC working OAN 470 p.a. or 9,400 over 20 years. Government OAN including affordability uplift and 40% cap 645 p.a. or 12,900 over 20 years, i.e. 37% higher than TDC working OAN.

The government consultation documents can be found at:- www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-right-homes-in-the-right-places-consultation-proposals

Tandridge District Council – Press Release 11 September 17

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Tandridge District Council Press Release 11.09.17

Application for gasholder re-development to be submitted by September

The proposal for the new development for the gasholder site in Oxted was presented to councillors this evening by developers, St William. Achieving the removal of the gasholder is one of the Council’s key priorities. A planning application is now expected by the end of September and if the scheme is approved, work to bring the gasholder down will begin in summer 2018.

The development is likely to include 77 apartments, a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom homes which will be situated in two, five storey buildings on this redundant brownfield site. There will be 105 parking spaces for the new apartments and the site will benefit from quality landscaping. The apartments will be accessed from the entrance opposite Boots on Station Road East.

The plans have been drawn up following two rounds of consultation with local residents. Initial feedback was sought during the RegenOxted Consultation in May, which was followed by a targeted consultation from St William including exhibition events on 6 and 8 July.

In total, 172 residents attended the two events in July and 49 feedback forms were submitted. The comments covered a range of topics, with the majority expressing support for the site redevelopment. Full results of the consultation will be available to view shortly when the planning application is submitted. St William has been working closely with the Council to address all the feedback received and has held four pre-application meetings with planning officers.

Martin Fisher, Leader of Tandridge District Council, said: “I am delighted to see plans which will achieve the removal of the gasholder progressing and I have personally had a number of meetings with St William to drive this project forward. The proposals for the gasholder site will soon be available for residents to view and comment on when the planning application is submitted. If approved, the development which benefits from a central location and good transport links will provide an attractive residential opportunity for local people. The new development will also contribute significantly to the vibrancy of the town.”

More information on the project is available to view at www.oxtedgasholder.co.uk.

Tandridge District Council Press Release 4 August 17

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Tandridge District Council Press Release 4.8.17

Just over a week to go before start of the Local Plan: Garden Villages Consultation

There is just over a week to go before the start of the Local Plan: Garden Villages Consultation which will run from Monday 14 August to 5pm on Monday 9 October. This consultation is an opportunity for residents to have their say on the location of a garden village development which forms part of the preferred strategy the Council is pursuing in preparing the Local Plan.

A garden village will deliver a number of key objectives:

  • Provide much needed homes for local people.
  • Protect the Green Belt by preventing a scattergun approach to development.
  • Enable the delivery of proper infrastructure to support homes in the district, including schools, health care facilities, a supermarket and investment in roads.
  • Prevent over development of built up areas.

The locations the Council is seeking views on are:

  • Blindley Heath
  • Edenbridge, Land west of Edenbridge
  • Redhill Aerodrome
  • South Godstone

A leaflet containing information about all the ways to have your say will be delivered to every home in the district. The information contained in the leaflet can also be found on the website at www.tandridge.gov.uk/localplan. The Garden Villages Consultation document will be available to view on the website by 14 August.

Residents are invited to come along to one of five public exhibition events where a lead member will give a welcome address at 4:30pm, 6pm and 7pm with opportunities to ask officers and members questions at any time during the events:

Venue Date Times
Nutfield Village Hall, Mid Street, South Nutfield, RH1 4JJ Tuesday 22 Aug 3.30pm to 8pm
Douglas Brunton Centre, 25 Chaldon Road, Caterham, CR3 5PG Wednesday 30 Aug 3.30pm to 8pm
South Godstone Sports and Community Association Hall, The Pavilion, Lagham Road, South Godstone, RH9 8HN Tuesday 5 Sept 3.30pm to 8pm
Lingfield Primary School, Vicarage Road, Lingfield, RH7 6HA Friday 8 Sept 3.30pm to 8pm
St John’s Church Hall, Eastbourne Road, Blindley Heath, RH7 6JR Thursday 14 Sept 3.30pm to 7.30pm

Alternatively, anyone can make comments by:

Councillor Peter Bond, Chairman of the Planning Policy Committee, said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity for us to create a community led development which will deliver infrastructure like schools, health care facilities and road improvements to benefit everyone in the area including existing residents. Please make sure you get involved and have your say on the potential community benefits and opportunities the development could offer. Your feedback will help shape the final version of our Local Plan and it’s important we make this decision together.”

Tandridge District Council – Press Release 29 June 17

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Tandridge District Council Press Release 29.6.17

Council releases early draft report on Objectively Assessed Housing Need

Following comments on social media, the Council has decided to release a draft of a report about the district’s objective assessment of housing need.

The report has not been published or made available until now because it was a draft report, prepared by planning consultancy Arc4 and included a housing need requirement which was significantly higher than the assessment of need the Council has since accepted and used in its Local Plan preparation.

The Council was concerned the release of the report would cause unnecessary concern for residents and also lead to some developers exploiting the information contained in it. It is hoped the release of the report, despite its content being unhelpful, demonstrates the Council is and always has been working in the best interests of the district to deliver a Local Plan.

The Council has since agreed the objectively assessed housing need for the district is an annual figure of 470, which amounts to 9,400 dwellings over 20 years. This figure has been prepared by Neill McDonald Consultancy.

The draft report, now released, recommended the figure should be 700 per annum, leading to a 20 year total of 14,000. The Council remains entirely confident the lower figure it has adopted is correct and justified and it is not using the draft data and conclusions reached by Arc4 as part of the plan making process.

Councillor Peter Bond, Chairman of the Planning Policy Committee said: “While we have been preparing our Local Plan there has been misleading information and conspiracy theories issued about the process we have been following. One of the areas which has attracted much speculation is the housing need figure. I hope in publishing this report it clearly shows there is no conspiracy and we have been acting in the best interests of our residents in protecting our Green Belt.”

Tandridge District Council – Press Release 21 June 17

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Tandridge District Council Press Release 21.06.17

Have your say about the five locations put forward for new garden village

Next week’s Planning Policy Committee will consider approving a consultation on the five potential locations being considered for a garden village development, as part of the Local Plan making process. If approved, the Local Plan: Garden Village Consultation will take place for six weeks in August/September 2017.

The five locations are:

  • Blindley Heath
  • Chaldon Land at Alderstead and Tollsworth Farm
  • Edenbridge, Land west of Edenbridge
  • Redhill Aerodrome
  • South Godstone

In March 2017, the Planning Policy Committee agreed the preferred strategy to be pursued in preparing the Local Plan. The Council believes this strategy will provide much needed homes and infrastructure by delivering development through a combination of a new garden village and some limited development within and on the edges of a number of our built up areas.

The Council is committed to only amending the Green Belt boundary in locations where its purposes are not served and where community benefit is evident and where exceptional circumstances are demonstrated.

This approach has a number of advantages. Not only will it enable the delivery of proper infrastructure to support homes in the district, including schools, a doctor’s surgery, supermarket and investment in roads, it also means we would prevent a scattergun approach to development.

Three of the five locations being considered for a garden village have not yet been formally consulted upon. The Council is therefore recommending residents are given the opportunity to consult specifically on all five of these sites before work begins on the proposed submission stage of the Local Plan.

Two of the locations were included in the Local Plan: Sites Consultation. Detailed analysis of the 4,700 comments submitted during this stage of consultation, which took place between 4 November and 30 December 2016, is ongoing.

Councillor Peter Bond, Chairman of the Planning Policy Committee, said: “We have insisted on building the Garden Village Consultation into the timeline as it’s really important our residents have the opportunity to properly consider and give their views on the five sites which have been put forward by developers. The Local Plan will shape the district for years to come and it is right that we invest time and work together to get this decision right for our district.”

Leader of the Council Speech, Annual Council Meeting, 25 May 2017

As Leader of the Council, I gave my annual speech on 25 May 2017. In my first speech as Leader last year, I said we would put the interests of the district and its residents at the heart of everything we do and make Tandridge a vibrant place to live, work and visit. I outlined a number of key priorities for the coming year and am pleased to say that progress has been made on all of them.

But since last year I have also become more aware of the complexity, depth and breadth of work we do and the contribution we make to the health and well-being agenda.

We are all aware of the support we give Tandridge Trust in the provision of leisure facilities in Oxted and Caterham and the work of our parks team but perhaps fewer of us are aware of the hugely successful Wellbeing Prescription service, projects to tackle loneliness and isolation and the family support team, working with our most vulnerable families to help them to turn their lives around.

I want to continue this early intervention and prevention work and last year I said we will be seeking to ensure that mainstream funding is available for it. I am delighted to report that funding for the well-being prescription service has just been confirmed for the next three years.

Last week I had a very constructive meeting with the Senior Partner of the Oxted Health team who is also Vice Chair the East Surrey Clinical Commissioning group. He was supportive of our parking and regeneration plans in Oxted and we discussed the provision of Community Infrastructure Funding to support local surgeries.

However, his main issue was the difficulty in recruiting GPs and the resulting reported waiting times to get appointments. A current vacancy has not attracted one single applicant. He stated that a barrier to recruitment was the cost of housing in the area.

It says something about our “broken housing market” when even doctors can’t afford to come and live in Tandridge. Stories such as these reinforce my determination to increase the number of affordable decent homes in the district.

We are making progress, working in partnership with registered providers and by building our own council houses but we must try and do more. It is a scandal that 1,300 residents are on our housing register, of which 229 are in urgent need.

We cannot achieve our ambition for the district without maintaining a robust financial position. The recent audit report from KPMG praised the Council for its approach to financial management but we cannot afford to be complacent. It is worth reiterating that our Government Grant has fallen from £4.3m to £0.1m in the current year with a negative £0.7m planned for 2019/20.

One way in which we are seeking to address the issue is through Customer First – a radical transformation programme which will reconfigure the Council to make our services more responsive to the needs of our residents, putting more services on line where appropriate, thus freeing up staff to spend time with those residents who need us most.

A small group of us returned from Eastbourne Borough Council – now merging with Lewes District Council – enthused by the success of their project which began in 2013. Key to the success is their investment in new digital on-line technology (reducing 50 plus systems to a handful) and the redeployment of staff into new roles.

This will be a significant challenge to our hard-working staff as they adapt to new ways of working, changed management structures and a 10% to 15% reduction in staffing levels. In a ten-year period, our staffing levels will have fallen by between 20% and 25%.

We have already made significant investment in our largest town, Caterham, taking the bold step of issuing a compulsory purchase order on the Rose and Young site, working closely with the community and with experts to devise a Masterplan to regenerate the town centre.

By showing that we have confidence in the town, we have encouraged other business interests in the area and have just finished consulting with residents on plans which, I believe, will lead to a sea change in the retail and leisure offer in Caterham whilst also preserving the distinctive nature which its residents rightly value.

We are also continuing to work with our partners to develop essential flood prevention measures in Caterham and Smallfield.

In recent months, we have also been working on a similar approach with an Oxted regeneration scheme. Since 2015, I have worked hard to ensure that firm proposals are brought forward for the deconstruction of the gasholder and I am absolutely delighted that St William are here today displaying their plans for the site alongside plans to enhance the public space in the town centre, which are being devised in partnership with the Business Improvement District. This ambitious proposal to enhance the vitality of our unique town centre has my full support.

Central to the scheme is an increase in car parking capacity by around 40% and outline proposals for achieving this will be considered in the next committee cycle.

Our ambitious new approach to asset management and investment, which established a 50 million pound investment fund, taking advantage of historically low interest rates, will generate additional income to invest in services.

We will ensure that we make our own assets work for us by building affordable housing on sites where doing so makes sense, so that we can provide homes for local people when otherwise house prices would put a new home beyond their reach.

Which brings me on to the fifth and final priority for the coming year – one of the most important things we have to do is to ensure that the Local Plan for the District addresses existing housing and associated infrastructure needs and those likely to arise in the future.

Our strategic vision for the Local Plan is centred around building on existing brown field sites, such as the Gasholder, together with the consideration of a Garden Village as in my view this is the best way of protecting the distinctive character of the district and defending the green belt for future generations.

We do not think it right to adopt an alternative approach which would focus development in our urban areas, increasing density in and fundamentally changing the nature of our towns. Nor is it appropriate to adopt a scattergun to the release of Green Belt – death by a thousand cuts as it were – which could lead to a significant loss of that valuable resource, and put more pressure on our highways, schools and health facilities without delivering the infrastructure improvements we all agree the district needs.

If we are to allocate land for a new sustainable Garden Village we will insist on a greater mix of affordable housing and starter homes than the current District mix and high quality design capable of winning multiple design awards.

We will require new schools, a new health centre and significant investment in roads and highways.

We have accepted that a village of around 4,000 houses would, of course, require the release of Green Belt of around 1% but will bring the benefits I have described and would put us in a good position to defend the remaining Green Belt.

We have agreed that the five sites put forward by developers should be the subject of a separate consultation as it is incumbent upon us to afford our communities the chance to see what is being proposed and to express their views before any final recommendations are made. This consultation will take place in the late summer and early autumn and further details will be discussed at the next Planning Policy Committee meeting.

There has been a number of scare mongering stories about smaller Green Belt sites contained in the Regulation 18 sites assessment.

Let me be crystal clear – apart from the Garden Village and those sites in the Green Belt that don’t meet the needs of the Green Belt, only in the most exceptional of circumstances and where doing so would benefit the local community will I contemplate releasing high performing green belt sites for development.

Our approach means that the character of the District will be preserved and we would still have the highest proportion of Green Belt land in the country. We will fight hard to maintain this position.

Colleagues, I would like to end by commending the hard work and professionalism of all our staff who have delivered our priorities in the past year and worked with us to set out an ambitious programme for the coming year.

There is much to do and I am determined to ensure that we do not lose sight of what matters – ensuring that our communities thrive in a vibrant place, while protecting the environment we all value so much.

Tandridge District Council – Press Release 16 May 17

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Tandridge District Council Press Release 16.5.17

Have your say about Regeneration Oxted

The first round of consultation for the Regeneration Oxted programme will start on 25 May. Local residents, businesses and visitors to the town will have the chance to see the initial designs and have their say on the four projects which will transform Oxted Town centre. Regeneration Oxted will improve the vitality and viability of the town centre by:

  • Achieving the removal of the Oxted gasholder and providing additional town centre housing on the site.
  • Making the town centre more attractive and supporting the town’s retail and evening economy through an Urban Redesign project in Station Road East and West.
  • Providing additional parking spaces for residents, visitors and local businesses.
  • Looking at opportunities to provide business start-up and office space in the town centre.

The consultation will be launched on 25 May at the Council Offices, where from 1.30pm to 8.30pm, representatives from the District Council, Surrey County Council and St William, the developer of the gasholder site, will be on hand to answer questions. This consultation will help shape more detailed designs for the town centre and will be followed by further consultation.

From 25 May until 9 June the plans can be viewed and commented on at www.tandridge.gov.uk/regenerationoxted or at an exhibition at the Council Offices in Oxted.

On Thursday 18 May district councillors, county councillors, parish councillors and members of the Oxted Business Improvement District, will discuss the initial plans at a meeting of the Oxted Town Centre Working Group, chaired by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Martin Fisher.

Louise Round, Chief Executive, said: “We would like to invite all local residents and businesses to get involved and have their say, either online or by dropping in to the exhibition at the Council Offices. This programme represents a fantastic opportunity for us all to shape the future of Oxted and we are really looking forward to hearing your views.”

 

Tandridge District Council – Press Release 24 March 17

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Tandridge District Council Press Release 24.3.17

Council to boost car parking spaces in Oxted to encourage visitors

Last night’s Resources and Community Services Committees both agreed a new five year Parking Strategy, which will provide a framework for better parking provision, management and enforcement across the district.

Increased parking provision is central to Regeneration Oxted, an ambitious plan to revitalise the town centre through a multi-million pound programme of strategically important projects. It includes plans to remove the gasholder, make the town more attractive and provide start-up space for small business in the town centre.

This will transform the retail and leisure offer of the town and attract more visitors. As part of this the Council is developing detailed options for additional capacity which could provide in the region of 40% more spaces.

In a recent review of parking, residents and businesses highlighted issues with current enforcement arrangements, an increase in commuter on-street parking and insufficient availability of parking for shoppers and workers.

The review started with a survey of parking in Oxted and detailed plans for new parking arrangements for Oxted will be available by the end of 2017.

As part of the strategy, parking charges will be brought in to council owned car parks in Oxted town centre to help provide additional car park capacity for residents, visitors and local businesses, but there will be no charges in the evenings, Sundays or bank holidays and one hour of free parking will be available.

There will still be free parking for special events run by the Oxted BID. Having consulted with Surrey County Council, on-street parking within Oxted will also continue to be free. The District Council will also introduce new enforcement arrangements over the summer.

Louise Round, Chief Executive, said: “If we are to boost the local economy and encourage new businesses into the area, we not only have to redevelop Oxted, we also need to provide more and better short and long term parking options. Introducing parking charges will help encourage more visitors, provide more parking and better manage and enforce parking which is vital for the prosperity of the town.”

The new charges are set out below:

 

Period Charge
0 – 1 hour Free
1 hour – 2 hours £1.50
2 hours – 3 hours £3
3 hours – 4 hours £4.50
Over 4 hours £6.50

 

These charges will apply to Ellice Road Car Park between 8am and 5pm on weekdays and Saturdays and in the Council Office car park and Johnsdale car park on Saturdays between 8am and 5pm. Charges will be reviewed regularly by the Community Services Committee.

 

Tandridge District Council – Press Release 15 March 17

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Tandridge District Council Press Release 15.3.17

Council set to agree multi million pound regeneration programme for Oxted

Next week’s Resources Committee on 23 March will consider proposals for Regeneration Oxted an ambitious plan to revitalise the town centre through a multi-million pound programme of strategically important projects.

The Programme will improve the vitality and viability of the town centre by:

  • Achieving the removal of the Oxted gasholder and providing additional town centre housing on the site.
  • Making the town centre more attractive and supporting the town’s retail and evening economy through an Urban Redesign project in Station Road East and West.
  • Providing additional parking spaces for residents, visitors and local businesses.
  • Looking at opportunities to provide business start-up and office space in the town centre.

The programme will be delivered by Tandridge District Council working with Surrey County Council, the Oxted Business Improvement District and St William property developers, supported by a mixture of public and private funding. The Council has successfully secured funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to support feasibility work for the Urban Redesign Project and additional parking delivery. All aspects of the Regeneration Oxted programme will be subject to public consultation.

The Oxted Gasholder

Following talks with the owners of the site, Scotia Gas Networks and National Grid Property, the Council has reached an agreement to bring the site forward for development. St William has indicated they intend to submit a formal planning application in summer 2017.

Station Road East and West Urban Redesign Project

The Council is supporting the Oxted Business Improvement District (BID) in an ambitious Urban Redesign Project. Last year the BID commissioned urban designers Greer Pritchard, whose portfolio includes the 2012 Olympic Park design, to create conceptual proposals for a market square, improved town centre layout, better access, more greenery, more seating and more attractive paving and surfacing. With LEP funding secured, feasibility work will now begin.

Additional parking

The Oxted parking review findings identified a lack of capacity at peak times and a need for better enforcement. As such the Council will develop detailed options for additional capacity which could provide in the region of 40% more spaces. To help provide, manage and enforce parking, the Council plans to introduce charges for car park use at a level appropriate to the area and taking into account comparable charges elsewhere.

Business Hub

Feedback from small and micro businesses has highlighted the difficulties of finding affordable, flexible office space, forcing businesses out of the area or restricting their ability to grow. To address this, the Council will look at opportunities for business start-up and office space in the town centre. This will improve employment opportunities and help grow and retain businesses.

Councillor Simon Ainsworth, Chairman of the Resources Committee, said: “Like many similar sized town centres, Oxted is facing increased competition from other towns and online retailers. To keep the economy of Oxted town centre vibrant, we need to take an ambitious, approach. By removing the gasholder and building new homes, improving the appearance of the town centre, increasing the parking provision and supporting small businesses, we will enable the town to flourish, grow and help drive the economy of the area.”

Local Plan Strategy – Foreword

Foreword

I am delighted to introduce our preferred strategy for the Council’s Local Plan, which sets out in detail how we intend to deliver our vision for the district up to 2033. Tandridge is characterised by its openness, with Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the highest proportion of Green Belt land in the country.

We want it to keep this character, while at the same time being a place where people from all walks of life have access to homes, jobs, education, leisure and health facilities and where the transport infrastructure meets the needs of the modern world. Balancing these competing needs is not easy. We have worked hard to set out a strategy which will provide homes for people and the services to go with them, while protecting the distinctive nature of the area. We believe a combination of a new garden village and some limited development of our urban and semi-rural areas is the right way forward, even though this could mean releasing a small amount (around 1%) of Green Belt land where there are exceptional circumstances to justify this.

This strategy does not set out in detail exactly where new development will take place, but provides the guiding principles by which those decisions will be taken in consultation with the people of Tandridge.

Councillor Martin Fisher

Leader of Tandridge District Council