Oxted residents’ group slams council’s ‘poor consultation’ over green belt

Western Morning News

A RESIDENTS’ group has condemned the council’s “poor consultation” over a review of Tandridge’s housing needs

By Surrey Mirror  |  Posted: April 23, 2015

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Many in the district are frustrated that they were apparently not included in a study to work out the district’s new property allocation for the next two decades.

Catherine Sayer, chairman of the 1,700-member Oxted and Limpsfield Residents’ Group (OLRG) said she only fortuitously learned that the consultation by Tandridge District Council was up and running.

She said: “A few weeks ago, by chance, we found out that the online surveys had been sent to developers for their views and that consultation was about to close.

“Resident and community groups and parish councils had not been included. We are really upset about the apparent lack of transparency. It seemed insensitive not to include everybody on such an important issue. We raised this with the council.

“Two days later, the OLRG and other community groups, and parish councils received an e-mail which was a ‘final reminder’ that the consultation was about to close.”

All green belt land in the district will eventually be assessed to decide if it should retain its protected status or not.

But council spokeswoman Giuseppina Valenza said the ongoing consultation was into housing numbers rather than reclassifying the green belt.

She said: “The council is preparing a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), an evidence based document to determine the type, mix and amount of housing the district should provide over the next 20 years, but does not consider green belt nor any other constraints.

“The stakeholder survey is in two stages – the first with development professionals closed in March.

“The second is with parish councils, residents and community groups and closes on May 1. Invitees for the survey reflected those parties that were actively engaged in planning matters last October when the SHMA work commenced.”

She added: “The council has considered carrying out a Green Belt Assessment, to understand how the green belt has changed since it was first introduced and how the green belt meets the five purposes set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. The council has yet to start this piece of work.

“We will want to consult stakeholders and plan to hold a workshop before finalising a methodology to guide the Green Belt Assessment.”

The two assessments will then be fed into the Local Plan Regulation 18 consultation document – showing where development may take place over the next 20 years.