Borough’s planning strategy under public examination this week

A two-week-long public hearing into the Borough’s Core Strategy starts this week.

Redhill’s Green Councillors Jonathan Essex and Sarah Finch will be taking part in the hearings, as we have done throughout the process.

Calling for lower housing targets

Our key argument is that the number of houses proposed in the Core Strategy is too high.

The council has set a target of 460 new homes a year for 15 years. They say that there’s not enough room for these in the existing towns and villages, so it will be necessary to build ‘sustainable urban extensions’.

The Core Strategy envisages up to 1400 homes being built in the Green Belt – 700 to the east of Redhill and 700 south west of Reigate – as well as 200 homes on greenfield sites around Horley.

Looking further ahead, it anticipates development on the fields east of Salfords (developers don’t want to wait so long and are already drawing up plans for this area).

Briefly, we will challenge these plans, making the following points:

  • The proposed urban extensions would increase the level of car dependence as neither is in a good area for public transport.
  • We already have the highest birth rate in Surrey, yet even so, most of the population growth here is from people moving into the Borough from outside. Providing even more housing to attract newcomers to the area will only perpetuate this pattern.
  • We don’t have the infrastructure (schools, hospital, roads, community facilities) to cater for such an increase in population.
  • We have a lot of empty office and other employment space which could be converted to housing. Allowing development on greenfield and Green Belt sites before this potential is addressed will mean that developers do not attempt the more difficult but much more sustainable regeneration options.
  • Dropping the affordable housing target and building on the Green Belt is unlikely to build the mix of housing required locally. For example there is a 9.5 year waiting list for one-bed affordable homes in Reigate & Banstead.

Developers

There will be plenty of developers arguing a different view.

A look at the list of participants booked to appear at the hearing reveals a dazzling array of landowners and developers: .

Many of them own Green Belt land and will be hoping to persuade the Inspector to open it up to development. Among them, for example, are the owners of the Hillsbrow site on the Greensand Ridge east of Redhill, where an application for 90 houses was refused in 2009.

Does localism mean anything?

We consider that there is sufficient evidence to allow the Council to set a lower housing target.

A 50-100% reduction in the level of ‘inward migration’ proposed would reduce the level of new house-building required to 280-350 houses a year, which would not require any building on the Green Belt.

We have a right to set our own targets under ‘localism’ – and this is what we will be arguing for at the hearings.

Read more

The hearing runs from Tuesday 14 May to Friday 24 May, at Reigate Town Hall, and will be conducted by the Government-appointed Inspector, Mr Martin Pike.

You can find lots of information about the hearing, including links to the submissions made at the several consultation stages, on the Council website.

This post I wrote in January explains what the Core Strategy is and why we’re faced with such a high housing target.

 

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