Time for the fighting to stop

Next week, on 13 July, the Spelthorne Environment and Sustainability Committee will meet to address the question of the future strategy for OUR Local Plan. The motion before the committee will be to:

“Agree the revised strategy for the new Local Plan to meet our housing need by releasing a small amount of Green Belt, reducing the impact on Staines by not including an additional allocation, including opportunities to reduce some building heights in Staines if this is the outcome of the Staines Development Framework consultation and allow for more family homes with gardens to be built.”

The background is that the last year has been marked by party political fighting on a scale we haven’t seen in this borough for decades. As a direct result, within the space of a year, a year’s progress in the development of our Local Plan has been lost.

From the offices of the large landowners in this Borough, this must be most enjoyable viewing. For as we all know – even if some of us will not admit it – a council that is in such disarray that it can’t make any progress in completing its Local Plan is inviting the Planning Inspectorate to step in and do the work for it. For the developers, this looks like all their Christmas dinners come at once. You can almost hear them rattling the carving tools in anticipation.

It is no use hoping, as some have been, that Secretary of State Jenrick will suddenly have an overnight conversion to reducing the housing targets. It is no use pretending, as some have been pretending, that all Spelthorne’s Green Belt sites can be withdrawn from consideration for development. It is no use claiming, as some have been claiming, that this Borough can work up a Local Plan in a way which does not comply with the standard method. Any Planning QC will tell you that these options are not possible. So, too, the council’s own Planning Officers.

A Planning Inspector would make a simple ruling. At the very least, this Borough would be sent back to do the whole process again. Look what happened in Runnymede a few years ago. But the real risk is that the Inspector’s penalty would be much more severe: pretending we can go it alone is a sure way to lose even greater swathes of our Green Belt than we otherwise would – a decision the Inspector will make and against which we will have no possibility of appeal.

KKG urges the members of the Environment and Sustainability Committee to vote to approve this motion.

We also urge you all – the people who have followed what KKG has successfully done to protect Green Belt for nearly a decade – to contact the members of the Environment and Sustainability Committee and encourage them to approve this motion. This is urgent: this motion became public on 8 July, and the meeting is on 13 July.

The councillors’ contact emails are:

Councillor Ian Beardsmore  (Chairman) cllr.beardsmore@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Olivia Rybinski  (Vice-Chairman) cllr.rybinski@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor John Doran   cllr.jdoran@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Tom Fidler   cllr.fidler@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Nick Gething   cllr.gething@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Michele Gibson   cllr.gibson@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Kathy Grant   cllr.grant@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Naz Islam   cllr.islam@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Thomas Lagden   cllr.lagden@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Vivienne Leighton   cllr.leighton@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Jim McIlroy   cllr.mcilroy@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Sinead Mooney   cllr.mooney@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Bob Noble   cllr.noble@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Joanne Sexton   cllr.sexton@spelthorne.gov.uk

Councillor Veena Siva   cllr.siva@spelthorne.gov.uk

And we urge councillors of all stripes to end this ceaseless fighting and put the people of this borough first.


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