I read with interest Simon Morrow’s (Lib Dem) letter in the County Border News where he asserts that Tandridge District Council’s proposed Objectively Assessed Need figure (OAN) of 9,400 over the next twenty years is a calculation process laid down by government, followed by the predictable response from Catherine Sayer (the OLRG party) that it is wrong, inflated and flawed. This is because her party asserts it is higher than the projected increase for Surrey and the South East and that is based on recent high rates of housebuilding, unique to Tandridge.
These same denials of reality are consistently made on social media by OLRG’s mystery supporters “maigret” and “mike mcguiness”. Despite repeatedly being asked, both within the Council chamber and outside, what alternative they offer, the OLRG party has refused to make any positive suggestions at all.
I recently conducted a survey of 70 districts, town and borough councils in the south east and set out in the table below is a summary for these 70 planning authorities by county.
This demonstrates the Tandridge OAN growth of 1.3% is consistent with other planning authorities. It is the same as the average for 70 south east councils and the Tandridge OAN.
This is not surprising as the OAN number is, as Simon Morrow says, a calculation based on Office of National Statistics population growth forecasts for which a main driver is an increasing population and a projection that the average household will fall from about 2.4 to nearer to 2.2. The OAN in twenty years does not simply extrapolate the previous ten years’ housebuilding rates.
The inflated inward migration continually referred to by the OLRG party ignores an important trend. The younger population cannot afford to live in Tandridge where house prices are 14 times average earnings, compared with 8 for England, which may lead to a further ageing population profile as middle aged inward migrants replace outward migrating young people.
As a responsible planning authority committed to ensuring the district remains somewhere people want to live, work and visit, our plans need to help address this. This can only be done by providing places people want to live, while protecting our green spaces and enhancing our infrastructure.
The Local Plan is about getting control of tomorrow. So it’s time the OLRG party stopped attacking a prescribed process and actually came up with some practical, workable solutions which do not just focus on no development for the area, but which address the crisis we are facing of unaffordable homes for local people, combined with an aging population and high living costs.
I therefore agree with Simon Morrow’s original point and welcome his non-party political approach to this difficult issue.