The process is called Pre-Application Advice. It is paid for by the developer, and details of the advice given is routinely covered by a claim of commercial confidentiality by the developer, which means we know nothing about it, at least at the time. The justification is that the Borough officials who give the advice answer to the Borough Councillors who act in our interests. Apparently.
See Document 47 attached. It is an exchange of emails between the then Head of Planning at Spelthorne and David Lock Associates in June last year. David Lock Associates are a firm of town planners and urban designers tasked by The Jockey Club to produce the Master Plan for the new suburb at Kempton Park. (More on that next week.)
The emails concern comments made by David Lock Associates about the Local Economic Assessment which was written last year by the then Head of Planning.
It’s one thing for this firm of town planners to make comments on Spelthorne’s Local Economic Assessment. But is it really the job of the Spelthorne Head of Planning to adjust the language of those comments? See the top email:
“I accept that at the end of the day this is coming from your client and in the main I do not have an issue with what is being said. My only slight worry is the reference for the LEA to make reference to ‘consider green belt land release as an inevitable consequence of an economic development strategy’. I’m not sure that from our point of view we would necessarily be able to say at this stage that this was inevitable or not until we know the precise nature of the strategy.
It might also set hares running if someone picks up on this (Cllrs or a residents association). The inference that they might draw from this is that Kempton Park will have housing on it come what may. I’m not entirely convinced that this will help in terms of the overall way we want to approach this. I would suggest that you might want to ‘soften’ the language a little.”
And while we’re on the subject of Green Belt release, see the attached article from today’s Surrey Herald. Another piece of Green Belt is about to disappear, this time to build a new Fire Station to replace the two we already have. If there are two issues which unite the residents of this Borough, it is the protection of Green Belt and the retention of two Fire Stations with two 24/7 full-time crews. So why is Spelthorne actively encouraging the disposal of both?
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Regards, as always
for Keep Kempton Green