Why the Spelthorne housing target is not going to be reduced …
The overall target
Since 2017, the government has had a housing target for England of 300 000 dwellings per year. It has never been achieved, but it is obviously in the interests of the construction industry that this target is as large as possible.
This overall target of 300 000 dwellings per year is not going to be reduced. There is too much political capital invested in it.
Source: Transparency International; Companies House, Electoral Commission
The geographical distribution
The question then becomes, where are these 300 000 dwellings going to be built?
The new Standard Method of calculating the housing requirement, which local authorities must follow in drawing up their Local Plans, was introduced in September 2017. Using that method, Spelthorne’s housing requirement was set at 611 per year – a massive increase from the previous target of 166 per year.
There was widespread dissatisfaction with the new increased figures across the country. So in August 2020, Whitehall began a consultation about a change to the Standard Method, which was intended to shift the requirement to build away from those areas from which the complaints had emanated. Spelthorne would have been a beneficiary of this revised Standard Method. The annual requirement, had it been implemented, would have fallen from 611 to 489 per year – still a very large increase from 166, but not quite so bad. Not everyone was so fortunate, however. The target for Elmbridge Council, just across the river from us, went up even more under the revised methodology.
There were even more complaints countrywide about the revised Standard Method, and it was shelved in December 2020.
It is highly unlikely that there will be any future England-wide changes to the Standard Method.
Spelthorne’s target therefore remains 611 dwellings per year.
Spelthorne as a special case
There is a view among some Spelthorne Councillors that somehow a special plea to Whitehall will result in our housing target being reduced. A special exercise in “Visioning” was undertaken last year, at some expense in time lost, and money spent, to try and reinforce this view. But attempts at special pleading are nothing new. Attempts to persuade Whitehall have been going on for more than 3 ½ years, since July 2018. All the related correspondence can be read at:
It would be marvellous if these targets were suddenly reduced, but so far these repeated approaches by Spelthorne to Whitehall have had no effect whatsoever. It is a mystery to us as to why people think that YET another attempt will be successful.
And all the while the clock is ticking.
As you will be aware, we have postponed our Open Gardens event until 13 June next year for obvious reasons. Please make a note of the new date in your diary.
We are also planning to hold some other fundraising events in the meantime.
The first event to be confirmed is a piano recital by the international pianist Panayiotis Gogos in the award-winning Riverside Arts Centre in Lower Sunbury on Saturday evening, 7 November.
Full details will be provided shortly, but, again, please make a note in your diary.
The Jockey Club announced today that they have asked Spelthorne Council to consider an application for a smaller development – 550 dwellings – on the Kempton Park estate.
“The Local Plan process continues and a new submission at the Preferred Options Consultation stage has seen a much smaller part of the site highlighted by The Jockey Club and Redrow Homes for the Council’s consideration, alongside the original proposals. This would involve only previously developed land and would retain all racing facilities to continue as today, including both the Jumps course and All-Weather Track.”
This latest brass-neck manoeuvre is aimed more at placating that substantial membership of The Jockey Club who oppose the planned closing of Kempton Park racecourse. And it assumes local opinion will be mollified by a smaller development. But both groups should beware. We don’t believe for one second that this will be the end of it. The Jockey Club and Redrow will be back.
Our position remains the same: We don’t want ANY houses on Kempton Park.
Arup and Spelthorne Council have twice assessed Kempton Park, and twice concluded it is “strongly performing” Green Belt. And that includes the area taken up by the racecourse, the grandstand, and all the other buildings – “the previously developed land” as The Jockey Club puts it. Green Belt does not mean green space, as they well know.
As the Jockey Club itself says, this schoolboy wheeze of theirs has been submitted alongside their original proposals for 3000 dwellings on Kempton Park. i.e. they still want the Green Belt status of the entire estate to be lifted. And always remember, they could build far more than 3000 dwellings even given current density guidelines, and those guidelines will rise in the future. The Jockey Club has been playing with the numbers they want to build for years, saying one thing to some people, and another thing to others.
Our message to Spelthorne Council is clear: Don’t let The Jockey Club terminate our Green Belt and home.