(From the Surrey Advertiser, February 27 2015)
Shock! Horror! Council releases un-redacted documents!
Last evening the Spelthorne Cabinet approved three draft documents with regard to the ongoing Review of our Local Plan.
1. The Local Development Scheme – the timetable for the various parts of the Local Plan Review, stretching out until 2019. (See Document 97 attached)
2. The Duty to Cooperate Scoping Statement – which sets out the plans for cooperating with neighbouring boroughs and regional public and private bodies, required as part of the Local Plan Review.
3. The Statement of Community Involvement – which sets how various groups will be involved in the Review of our Local Plan, and in the ongoing day to day process of dealing with Planning Applications.
The last time we saw these documents, they had “CONFIDENTIAL” splashed on them in letters an inch high. Now, suddenly, they are “CONFIDENTIAL” no longer. (We don’t understand it either.)
Only the last of these documents will be put out to public consultation, for four weeks from 27 February to 30 March. You can see the draft Statement of Community Involvement and a number of other documents at Item 5 of https://www.spelthorne.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=12118&p=0 . No doubt the Statement of Community Involvement will be published separately on 27 February on the Spelthorne website.
This Statement of Community Involvement, when it is finalised, will be the rules of the planning process for the next decade or more. It is crucial that this Statement reflects what residents want those rules to be. If it does not, then we will not have the proper influence over what our new Local Plan looks like, and there will be immense frustration every time a Planning Application is submitted anywhere in the Borough. And this is about the whole Borough, and beyond. As we all know, the bad effects of developments spill over into neighbouring areas.
The two most important elements of the Local Plan Review will be the setting of the Housing Targets, and the Green Belt Review. Whether it is about Kempton Park, or anywhere else in Spelthorne, we – residents, and not just developers – need to have a proper input into these two elements, and not just fobbed off with meaningless consultation after the event.
We have been working on this Statement for some time. We won’t go into it in depth here, but we will let you know our comments as soon as we can.
Part of this process of preparing our comments on this draft Statement is engaging a specialist solicitor to make sure we have the public and planning law dealing with Community Involvement in planning matters precisely correct.
We have found the best solicitor we can find whose fees are not onerous. We regret having to call upon you all again, but there are things we just cannot do, with the best will in the world. Thank you very much to those who have already contributed. £500 is what we still need to raise.
LOSRA (the Lower Sunbury Residents Association) have kindly offered to receive and account for donations to this campaign. LOSRA have been around for more than 40 years, and have impeccable credentials with regard to accountability and reliability.
If you would like to donate to the cause using PayPal, please click here. This will take you straight through to the LOSRA website’s home page. Scroll down and click on the button on the right: “Donate to the Keep Kempton Green Fund“.
If you would like to donate by cheque, please make your cheque payable to LOSRA and send it to:
20 Green Street, Sunbury, TW16 6RN
Alternatively, donations can be deposited directly into the LOSRA bank account set up for this purpose:
Account name: LOSRA
Sort Code: 20-46-73
Account number: 8341 3934
As you would expect, the identity of all donors will be kept confidential.
Oh, and if you haven’t signed the petition already, please do so. This was why this petition was set up in the first place – to get the backing of as many of you as possible for the Council to involve us all – properly – in the Review of our Local Plan. Please go to:
Keep Kempton Green
(photos taken 09:45 19 February 2015)
The Council have fallen at the first hurdle (as they say at Kempton Park).
Last weekend, observant residents noticed that a bulldozer had cleared a large swathe of land in the middle of the Kempton Park estate – right in the middle of where they are considering putting their 1500 dwellings.
KKG asked Kempton Park for an explanation. Other residents told Spelthorne Council, and the Chief Executive said he would ask his officers to investigate.
KKG received a reply from Kempton Park. They had cleared an area of invasive species, they said, in order to allow access to existing trees to conduct a tree survey, and to identify any areas of Japanese Knotweed. All this was part of the ongoing feasibility studies for the proposed housing development.
We passed this reply to the Spelthorne Chief Executive, who then wrote to Kempton Park asking for a site visit to be organised for Spelthorne Council Enforcement and Biodiversity Officers. The entire correspondence can be seen in Document 96, attached.
If you were at the Kempton Park Public Meeting two weeks ago, you will remember the Spelthorne Chief Executive saying the following, in reply to a point made from the floor:
“The top point that was made earlier this evening was early, or earlier, briefing of residents associations and involvement, so your point is well made.”
And then in summary:
“Then we’ve got a number of other points, of which there are five. Early, earlier briefing of the residents’ associations. I think I can personally learn from that …”
In the spirit of this New Transparency, therefore, KKG asked if we could accompany this site visit to Kempton Park. The reply came back promptly from Spelthorne’s Corporate Governance Officer:
“As an independent regulatory function, our enforcement officers could not be seen to be influenced by resident groups.”
So, resident groups might exert undue influence on enforcement officers, but the Kempton Park people (who will accompany the enforcement officers on their site visit) pose no such risk.
Surely, if the Council is so worried about the possibility of undue influence, then the Spelthorne enforcement officers should be accompanied by no-one at all when they visit Kempton Park to see the damage wrought by that bulldozer.
We can find nothing in Spelthorne’s own policies which precludes residents from attending such a site visit, and nothing in national law either. The site visits at Planning Appeals are accompanied by virtually everyone. Only the lawyers are barred from attending. There doesn’t appear to be an undue influence at those events.
So there we have it. The Credibility Gap which existed when everyone walked into the Public Meeting was still there when everyone walked out, and has now got even wider. We measured it.
We asked residents to give us their opinion on the following question:
Do you believe Spelthorne Council had dealings with The Jockey Club regarding a proposed residential development at Kempton Park?
More than 97% of people said “Yes”.
Thanks for signing the petition regarding resident involvement in the Review of our Local Plan in increasing numbers. Please do so if you haven’t already, at:
And please contribute if you are able to the KKG Fighting Fund:
Details for both the petition and the Fighting Fund can be found at:
Keep Kempton Green