Category Archives: Weekly Updates

Soliciting for business

An interesting little document has surfaced among the responses to the recent Issues and Options consultation for our new Local Plan in Spelthorne.

The letter, from London Irish Holdings Ltd, contains the following phrase (see the last page):

“…it will also be necessary to identify and allocate larger sites in the Green Belt to come forward later on in the plan period if the Council is to meet its development needs.”

We’ve already lost one London Irish site to 220 houses off The Avenue. They are trying again …

 

 

 

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Cast your eyes this way …

You will probably have already heard about Spelthorne’s consultation – currently under way – on the Issues and Options document of our Local Plan Review.

This is a FORMAL process and it is important that you register your views FORMALLY. Otherwise they will not be taken into account.

The process is easy – 10 questions in total.

Online

Go to https://consult.spelthorne.gov.uk/consult.ti/Localplan/consultationHome

You will be offered three ways to submit your response.

*          Respond by making comments on the consultation document

*          Respond by filling in the online questionnaire

*          Respond by uploading a response document

Responding through the Spelthorne website is the best way to respond.

However, if you find it difficult to use the online system, you can also respond on a paper document by post.

By Post

You can download the entire consultation document here, print it out and fill it in by hand.

(The questionnaire part of this document runs from page 29 to 34 at the end of the document. You can download a blank version of the questionnaire section to complete by hand  here. )

Your responses can be emailed to local.plan@spelthorne.gov.uk

Or you can post your response to:

Strategic Planning, Spelthorne Borough Council, Council Offices,

Knowle Green, Staines-upon-Thames. TW18 1XB

Suggestions

Whichever method you choose, we have drawn up a few suggestions as to how to respond, which you can download  here.

The suggested answers in this note are based on legal advice we have taken.

We have left Questions 3, 8, 9 and 10 open for any issues which you think should be raised, and any documents you wish to add to your response.

The Consultation runs for 6 weeks and closes at midnight on Monday 25 June 2018.

Live!

The consultation on the Issues and Options document – part of the Review of our Local Plan – is now live.

Information on the consultation can be seen on the Spelthorne Council website at https://www.spelthorne.gov.uk/localplan

The document itself can be read by clicking here.

We will give you our analysis of the implications of the Issues and Options document for Kempton Park as soon as we have taken professional advice.

 

 

Heads Up!

A very important consultation on our new Local Plan begins on Monday, 14 May.

The Council will be publishing an Issues and Option document at noon on Monday. The document will set out four Options that the Council may use in approaching the problem of building 590 new dwellings per annum, a target which the government has imposed on us. (The current housing target is 166 per annum.)

We will not go into details here right now, but we will make the Issues and Options document available here on Monday. We will be taking legal advice on this paper and will let you know our analysis as soon as we can.

The consultation period will last six weeks, ending on Monday 25 June. It is vital that you make your preferences known during this consultation. Submitting your views using a simple online process on the Spelthorne Council website will also automatically register you for further information and consultations as the Review of our Local Plan continues.

Various public consultation events will be held throughout the Borough during the consultation period. See below (click on the image for a better view), or go to https://www.spelthorne.gov.uk/localplan .

Shock! Horror! The Green Belt Review …

 

Well, not quite. There is good news. But there’s also not-so-good news.

Arup, the consultants, have produced a Green Belt Assessment for the Council. It can be read in its entirety at https://spelthorne.gov.uk/article/13703/Green-Belt-Assessment . It is worth reading, particularly if there are parcels of Green Belt in your part of the Borough.

The study is not – yet – policy, a point which the Planning Officers at Spelthorne have been keen to make. There is further work to do in identifying which bits of Green Belt to protect, and which to abandon to developers. A public consultation on Issues and Options is due to be held in the spring of 2018 where this further work will be unveiled.

Nevertheless, one can easily imagine a developer’s barrister latching on to anything in this document which serves their desire to cover the entire south east in concrete and tar, as well as arguing vociferously and repeatedly against anything which does not.

The Assessment examines in detail every parcel of Green Belt in the Borough to see how far each piece fulfils the five purposes of Green Belt land:

  • 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.

Each parcel of land is rated as either Strong, Moderate or Weak in terms of fulfilling these five purposes. These ratings can be seen on the following map (click here or see page 54 of Chapter 5). Each parcel of land is allocated a number on this map. An explanation of how the rating for each parcel of land was arrived at can be seen in Annex Report 2 – Local Area Assessment Pro-formas at https://spelthorne.gov.uk/article/13703/Green-Belt-Assessment .

But that is not the end of the story, about which more below.

The good news is that the whole of the Kempton Park estate has been rated as Strong.

The not-so-good news is that there are areas in Sunbury which are rated as Moderate or Weak – many of them open spaces that are very well used, and highly valued, by residents. Sunbury Park, for example, is rated only Moderate. And Sunbury Cricket Club is rated Weak.

And the other not-so-good news is that even land rated as Strong does not have protection. See Map 6.1 (click here  or see page 80 in Chapter 6 ). Area 32 is rated Strong, But that part of it north of Stirling Avenue, Park Avenue and Croysdale Avenue is recommended for sub-division and development. There are other examples in Sunbury, and elsewhere in the Borough.

Finally, there are other areas of open space which do not enjoy Green Belt Status. They have the lesser protection of Protected Urban Open Space. The old London Irish ground was such a site. As we found out, it turned out to be Unprotected Urban Open Space, and is now covered in 230-odd houses. How does the Council intend to keep other such areas safe from developers?

The current council leadership has been very public in stating its intention to protect the Green Belt in Spelthorne. But there are Councillors – no names for the moment – who would happily see Green Belt developed, particularly if there is money involved for the Council. The test will come next Spring, when we see what Issues and Options the Planning Officers put before us.

The LPWP and the Arup Green Belt Assessment

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.