As part of the Review of our Local Plan, the council is required to undertake a Green Belt review. Part of this Green Belt review is an Assessment compiled by Arup, the engineering consultancy.
Spelthorne’s Local Plan Working Party (LPWP) met last Monday to discuss, amongst other things, the Arup Green Belt Assessment. The Assessment considers each parcel of Green Belt in the Borough as to how each fulfils the five purposes of Green Belt laid down in the National Planning Policy Framework, which are:
- to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
- to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another
- to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
- to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
- to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land
The LPWP has forwarded this Arup Assessment to the Council cabinet meeting on 22 November, for them to decide whether and when to put this Assessment in the public domain. On the assumption that it would be extremely difficult for the Council not to make it available – other nearby Boroughs have made their Green Belt Assessments public – we will publicise it as soon as we are able to.
The LPWP also considered a request from LOSRA – the Lower Sunbury Residents Association – that members of Borough residents groups be allowed to attend meetings of the LPWP as observers. This request comes against the background that:
* KKG won an appeal to the Information Tribunal, against the Information Commissioner and Spelthorne Borough Council, who both said that the Council was entitled to keep the proceedings of the LPWP confidential indefinitely. The Tribunal judge disagreed.
“ Spelthorne Council’s own rules as to access to meetings contains nothing that entitles them to exclude members of the public from meetings of the LPWP.
As we have come to expect, however, the LPWP would not accede to what we think is an entirely reasonable request. Secrecy, as the denizens of Westminster are finding out, breeds suspicion and contempt.
This is not the end of the matter, We’ll keep you posted.