Elmbridge Local Plan, Autumn Update

Elmbridge Local Plan

Autumn Update. Stoke d’Abernon Residents’ Association, October 2018

Download the complete presentation slides here.

  • Now-May 2019: collection and consideration of evidence.
  • June 2019: preferred options document published
  • Aug-Sep 2019: Regulation 18 consultation
  • Autumn 2019: Final Plan document published
  • Jan-Feb 2020: Regulation 19 consultation
  • March 2020: Submission of plan
  • July-Sep 2020: Examination of the plan by the Planning Inspectorate
  • Jan 2021: Likely adoption date

Why The Delay?

  • New National Planning Policy Framework published in July 2018
  • 2 key documents not produced by outside suppliers in time: Flood Risk Assessment (Environment Agency), Transport Assessment (SCC) – in turn delaying other work
  • Cannot consult during election purdah*
  • Advantage of not being first mover

*Note: This means the Elmbridge council elections in May 2019

Current Situation

  • Elmbridge is in a local Strategic Housing Partnership group with Kingston, Epsom & Ewell & Mole Valley
  • We compare our housing needs with theirs and consider cross-boundary and common strategic issues.
  • Kingston subject to wider London needs
  • Epsom slightly ahead of Elmbridge at present

Objectively Assessed Housing Need

  • The Government has imposed its own methodology for assessing a planning authority’s need for housing.
  • Under the 2016 calculation, Elmbridge needed 474 new homes per year for the next 10 years.
  • Double the number being built: in 2015-16 only 243 units were built
  • Under the new methodology called OAHN 612 new homes per year required.
  • This is the starting-point.

The homes we need

  • 28% 1 bedroom
  • 42% 2 bedroom
  • 29% 3 bedroom
  • 1% 4+ bedroom
  • 25% open market housing
  • 21% affordable (non-social) housing
  • 54% social housing
  • Source: 2016 SHMA assessment

Urban Capacity Study

  • Examines what can be developed within existing settlements.
  • Local Cobham & Oxshott councillors were consulted about our own areas.
  • Focussed on brownfield sites and sites where the current use could be intensified.
  • Likely to involve higher density in built-up areas. But not like Woking or Staines (Spelthorne).
  • Elmbridge might achieve about 50% of the OAHN target by increasing urban capacity.

Green Belt Sub-division study

  • Carried out by Ove Arup & Partners
  • 57% of Elmbridge by area classed as Green Belt
  • Examines the current Green Belt boundaries
  • Scores plots of land according to whether they are performing “poorly”, “moderately” or “strongly” as Green Belt sites
  • Required by the NPPF to review our Green Belt when preparing a new local plan.
  • Not include land “which it is unnecessary to keep permanently open”. (NPPF paragraph 139(b))

Green Belt Sub-division study

  • 2016 version identified 3 strategic sites, 2 in Cobham / Oxshott: Chippings Farm and Knowle Park
  • Roundly rejected by the public
  • Ove Arup have been told they must not repeat the error
  • Likely to produce a number of small sites across Elmbridge.
  • Cobham cannot expect to be untouched.

Drake Park

  • Green Belt site
  • 1,024 residential units (50% affordable)
  • Supermarket, pub, primary school, offices, doctors’ surgery
  • Refused permission by planning sub-committee. Developer appealed.
  • Public inquiry began in October 2017
  • Appeal refused 24th May 2018

Matters Considered

  • Inspector held that Elmbridge only has 2.65 years’ land supply.
  • Inspector found that this would not improve in the next 5 years if Drake Park did not proceed.
  • He considered it likely that Elmbridge’s Green Belt boundaries would be amended as part of its Local Plan preparation.
  • The location of the development would cause Walton & Hersham to sprawl.
  • Would also affect Esher: the Mole is not a sufficient boundary to compensate for loss of the open land.

Conclusion

  • The land being developed is a “strategic arm of Green Belt which is already narrow and fragmented”.
  • The benefits of the development do not outweigh the harm caused by the loss of the open space
  • Therefore, no “very special circumstances” exist to justify granting planning permission

Lessons

  • Lack of a 5 year housing supply makes Elmbridge more vulnerable to appeals.
  • The Inspector expects that we will need to amend Green Belt boundaries to meet housing need over the plan period.
  • The Green Belt remains a formidable obstacle for developers to overcome.

Our Choices

  • Do we accept that we must release some Green Belt land from the outset?
  • Do we point to our local constraints and refuse to “chase numbers”?
  • Some Green Belt land is far from attractive: “brownfield in the Green Belt”.
  • But if we offer that up, we might open the floodgates.

Download the complete presentation slides here.

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