Reigate & Banstead Borough Council has drawn up a new Development Management Plan that will shape where new homes, shops, schools and workplaces should go between now and 2027.
The Council put the new policies out for consultation and residents and local organisations were invited to give their views.
East Surrey Green Party sent a detailed response, commenting on many aspects of the Plan and the evidence on which it was based. This response has been written with input from our two local councillors, our members and residents.
You can download our response here.
Green Belt under threat
The policies set out in detail how the Council intends to allow 6,900 new homes between 2012 and 2027, or an annual average of 460 homes a year.
We have always opposed this high housing target. This ‘need’ is based on the continuation of the South-East and London-centric development strategies of successive governments.
East Surrey Green Party believes that our Council should resist this strategy, which is focussed on continual economic growth in the South East rather than meeting the real needs of our local communities. And we continue to hope for a more enlightened national approach to planning which directs growth to those areas that badly need it, and takes the heat off the overcrowded South East.
Sites for housing in the urban areas
Furthermore, we don’t accept that the high housing target now requires us to build on the Green Belt.
We agree with the Council’s ‘urban areas first’ approach, giving priority to development in our towns. But the draft Plan envisages opening up some Green Belt areas around Redhill, Reigate and Merstham for housing development, if enough sites can’t be found in the towns and villages, and proposes an industrial estate on countryside outside Horley.
We don’t agree that this is necessary. We believe that there are potential sites for housing that aren’t in consultation document.
The consultation document says “it would be helpful if you could suggest alternative sites” – so we’ve done so. See pages 19-23 of our response, which is focused on sites in Redhill which we have been made aware of. We are confident that similar potential development sites can be found at urban centres elsewhere in the Borough.
What happens next?
The Council will review all the responses and a second consultation is planned for spring 2017. The Plan will then be examined by an independent planning inspector before it can be formally adopted by the Council.
The Green Councillors will continue to argue strongly for the changes we have suggested in our response.