Urgent Appeal for Funds

piggy

Dear Neighbour

Yet again, unfortunately, we are forced to make an appeal for our Fighting Fund.

This time it is for professional advice on the joint Runnymede/Spelthorne Strategic Housing Market Assessment, or SHMA.

The draft SHMA report says that the two Boroughs will need to build 1250 dwellings, every year for the next twenty years, to satisfy the need for housing.  The lion’s share of this total would be built in Spelthorne.

Building at such a rate will change the character of this Borough radically, and unalterably. It would have profound implications for neighbouring Boroughs.

This report has to be challenged.

What does this have to do with the campaign to stop 1500-2000 dwellings being built on Green belt at Kempton Park?

If the future housing targets in the Revised Local Plan are anything approaching the housing needs assessment in the SHMA, then preventing those Kempton Park houses (and protecting Green Belt and open spaces anywhere else in this and neighbouring Boroughs) will become very much more difficult.

Unfortunately, time is extremely short. We have until 27 July to submit comments on the draft SHMA.

It really says something about the state of local democracy when residents  – not for the first time – are forced into this kind of dispute with their own Council. We wish it wasn’t so. But, more’s the pity, it is.

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:

Barclays Bank
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.

Kind regards, and thank you very much in advance for your generosity.

Keep Kempton Green

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Boroughs’ consultant says 1250 new dwellings needed … every year for 20 years

Surrey Advertiser June 19 2015 Boroughs need 1250 new homes per year

Dear Neighbour

Last night the Spelthorne Cabinet and the Runnymede Planning Committee discussed the GL Hearn Final Draft SHMA which, as we have shown before, proposes that the housing need in the two Boroughs is a massive 1250 new dwellings every year for the next 20 years. Spelthorne at the moment has a target of only 166 p.a.

As we have come to expect, Runnymede are far more forthcoming with information than our own Borough. The GL Hearn Final Draft Report (which we made public at the beginning of June) had yet, at the time of going to press, to be published on the Spelthorne website. Runnymede published it this morning – after having been asked by Spelthorne to keep it secret until today.

These massive housing figures are based on very large extrapolations of population growth, two-thirds of which is assumed to come from central London. We will be publishing a full analysis of the SHMA in due course.

Kind regards
Keep Kempton Green

 

 

Writing blank cheques

residents survey

Dear Neighbour

You will remember at the beginning of June that we made public the Final Draft Report by GL Hearn on Spelthorne’s Housing Needs, commissioned as part of the Review of the Local Plan. It had been considered at a meeting of the Local Plan Working Party which was closed to the public. (click here).

That report (and a number of other reports on previous documents which have already gone out for public consultation) will be considered by the Spelthorne Cabinet on Wednesday next week.

The Agenda for that meeting asks the Cabinet the following:

“2.2 The options for Cabinet to consider are:

(i) To AGREE publication and stakeholder involvement of the draft Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) report;

(ii) To NOT AGREE publication and stakeholder involvement of the draft Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) report.

2.3 It is proposed that Option (i) be agreed by Cabinet.”

But the SHMA report isn’t included with the Cabinet papers. How can the Cabinet make a decision on a report which they haven’t seen? Are the Cabinet in the habit of writing blank cheques written by the Officers? Perhaps they are.

But it’s not only laughable, it’s also in contravention of the law – to be precise, The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.

The SHMA report (which is a report commissioned jointly by Spelthorne and Runnymede) is also on the Agenda of the Runnymede Planning Committee at the same time on the same evening. Unusually for Runnymede – who usually make public these kind of documents at the earliest opportunity – the SHMA report isn’t included with their Committee papers either.

The Runnymede Planning Committee Agenda does say the following, however:

“Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)

2.1 The Council and its HMA partner, Spelthorne Borough Council, are currently consulting on the final draft version of the SHMA. The four week consultation period began on 27 May and will conclude on 26 June. It is a focussed consultation with our Duty to Co-operate partners. As agreed at the most recent SHMA JMLG meeting, officers at the local authorities with which we are consulting have been advised that the document is for consideration by officers only at this stage and should not be released into the public domain. The document will be published on both Runnymede and Spelthorne’s websites following the conclusion of the consultation.”  (our emphasis).

So, Runnymede have withheld the report on the advice of officers from “other authorities”, which was agreed at the last meeting of the SHMA Joint Member Liaison Group (JMLG).

Who attends that JMLG? Representatives from Spelthorne and Runnymede.

We are not taking any further bets on which local authority advised Runnymede not to release the report to the public.

As it happens, and just like the last time, we have received a number of copies of this report, which can be viewed here (if you really are finding it difficult to get to asleep):

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – Cabinet Report

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – pp 1-18 – Contents & Executive Summary

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – pp 19-50 – Introduction, Defining the HMA

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – pp 51-62 – Characteristics of the Housing Market

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – pp 63-80 – Assessing Overall Housing Need

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – pp 81-100 – Affordable Housing Need

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – pp 101-116 – Market Signals

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – pp 117-124 – Economic-Led Housing Requirements

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – pp 125-136 – Requirements for Different Sizes of Homes

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – pp 137-164 – Specific Groups in the Population

SHMA – GL Hearn Final Draft Report – pp 165-185 – Conclusions and Recommendations & Appendices

 

As if to ram the point home – and no doubt with totally unconscious irony –  also on the Agenda at next Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting are the results of the 2014 Spelthorne Residents Survey.

When asked whether residents were satisfied with Spelthorne as a place to live, 83% were satisfied – the worst result in Surrey. Only 73% were satisfied with the way the Council runs things. Only 45% thought the Council provides value for money, and less than a third thought they had any influence in Council decisions.

Click here for the full results.

Now that’s what’s called a democratic deficit. Perhaps the Council should connect the dots.

“They’re not looking at a small area of infill”

RC pic 13

Dear Neighbour

Above another page from Redrow’s Brief to Architects competing to design the planned new suburb at Kempton Park. The image above shows layout options for the 1500 – 2000 dwellings mooted for the site. The aerial perspective viewpoint of each Option is from the north west of the site.

1500 – 2000 new dwellings would indeed constitute a new suburb. It is not readily apparent from the road just how big the eastern half of the Kempton Park estate is. It is 102 acres (41.3 ha) in size. Walking from north to south would take 20 minutes at an average pace. On a pro rata basis, it would qualify on its own as a separate council ward with another two councillors. In the words of Spelthorne’s previous Head of Planning on 20 May 2013:

 “Suffice to say that they’re not looking at a small area of infill.”

Just the place to start satisfying the huge increase in housing the Council are contemplating.

Kind regards
Keep Kempton Green

What price all the assurances now?

SHMA - Final Draft OAHN

Dear Neighbour

Not for the first time matters fundamental to the future of the Borough are being discussed and decided behind closed doors. Not for the first time, documents from these meetings are being shared with other local authorities, but not with the residents of Spelthorne.

As before, we have received a number of copies of the documents from people who view this issue, and the manner in which it is being kept secret, with concern. And so, also not for the first time, Spelthorne and other local authorities are proving to be more leaky than the Welsh Guards on St David’s Day.

You will remember the last “leaked” document in September 2014, in which Spelthorne officials let it be known that Spelthorne’s housing targets were going to be raised from the current 166 dwelling p.a. to a minimum of 400 p.a.

Some minimum. At a closed-to-the-public meeting of the Local Plan Working Party on 1 June this year, the Final Draft Report from GL Hearn – the consultants paid £28 000 to produce housing numbers for Spelthorne and Runnymede – was approved. The members of the LPWP are:

John Brooks, Head of Planning
John Devonshire, Planning Officer
Geoff Dawes, Planning Officer

Cllr Ian Beardsmore
Cllr Tim Evans
Cllr Alfred Friday
Cllr Vivienne Leighton
Cllr Tony Mitchell
Cllr Richard Smith-Ainsley
Cllr Robert Watts

Voting was, we believe, along party lines.

And the new housing figures? Not 400 p.a., but a range of between 543 p.a. and 725 p.a.

That’s a more than four-fold increase on the current figure: 14 500 new dwellings over the 20 year life of OUR new Local Plan. Where are they going to put them? We’ll leave that to you to work out. Try looking at an open space near where you live, for starters.

Of course, there was a caveat to sooth the consciences of the members of the LPWP:

“It should be noted that the OAHN (Objectively Assessed Housing Need) figures are not housing targets and should not be treated as if they are. The Council will need to take a number of other considerations and constraints into account when determining the level of housing which the Borough could sustainably meet over the Local Plan period.”

But the Councillors would be foolish to take comfort from those words. If, indeed, they actually find these figures uncomfortable. Here’s what the officials said last September:

“The initial findings suggest that a future housing need could be in the order of 400 net additional dwellings per annum over the next 15-20 years. This contrasts with the 166 per annum in the current Core Strategy as required by the South East Plan. However, it must be stressed this is an initial figure requiring further testing and therefore at this stage it is vital this figure is not treated as final or used as if it were.”

It seems there is a ratchet attached to these housing figures – they can only go up.

What price all the assurances about Green Belt and Kempton Park now?

Kind regards
Keep Kempton Green