WERS supporting residents with Green Gables

Woodcote (Epsom) Resident’s Society (WERS) supporting your concerns

A controversial planning application for the redevelopment of Green Gables in Ashley Road for a large linked block comprising 22 student flats was refused by the Council’s Planning  Committee on 3rd November 2022.

This refusal was very much down to the support and advice given by W(E)RS to local residents who would have been adversely affected by the development.

The application was recommended for planning permission by Council Officers. 

Cllr Liz Frost’s spoke against the application as Ward Councillor on behalf of objectors to the Committee meeting members. 

Cllr Steven McCormick, following several questions to officers during the meeting, moved a motion of refusal on the grounds of visual impact; loss of outlook; loss of privacy and lack of clear evidence demonstrating a need for the development, which was ultimately seconded and supported by a majority of members and a refusal for planning permission was decided. 

A resident from Ladbroke Road who would have been one of the residents most harmed by the proposal stated in a message to John Mumford, W(E)RS Committee member who advised on how best to set out his planning objections, that: ‘your guidance on addressing the second-round objections was most supportive. I am also aware that you have assisted Liz Frost to whom I am also most grateful for her unstinting support from day one. A third person, Steven McCormick, was so well prepared(!) and most robust in ensuring his constructive questioning was addressed at the meeting.’   

W(E)RS and our ward Councillors will always listen carefully to residents’ concerns.  Where appropriate, we will represent views at the Council’s Planning Committee especially if we feel that the harm from a proposal outweighs the supposed benefits.  We also work hard to secure amendments to schemes so that they overcome residential amenity problems and can ultimately be recommended for planning permission.   

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November – Councillor update – Liz Frost

There is a lot happening locally, and here are a few updates.

Planning

  • The Appeal against the Planning Committee’s refusal of the Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals NHS’s application for a 6-storey multi-storey car park beside the hospital was heard on 2nd November.  As your Ward Councillor, I spoke against the proposal for this vast car park.  Thank you to all those of you who contacted us to express your views on this, responded to the consultations and spoke at the meeting.  We await the National Inspector’s ruling, he expected to give this in early December.
  • On 3rd November, the Planning Committee resumed their discussions (started on 1st September) on the application to demolish Green Gables, a house in AshleyRoad, and build two linked 2 storey buildings to accommodate 22 students.  Although student accommodation is needed, this proposal was not associated with, and would not have been managed by, any local education establishment;  would have been built within a narrow path width of the rear garden fence of a neighbour; and would have had a wide, full height glass atrium linking the buildings with no clarity as to how light spillage and overlooking into the surrounding houses and gardens would be managed.  I was able to speak at both of the planning committee meetings to express the concerns raised by many of you.  The application was refused.

The Local plan

Local Authorities are required to have an up-to-date Local Plan, which sits beside the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to inform decisions about whether or not to approve planning applications.  The Local Plan must comply with National Planning guidance and, for instance, show how the authority will provide the quantity of housing required by central Government, in order for the Government to find it ‘sound’ and for it to be adopted.  Without an up-to-date Local Plan, the NPPF takes precedence over older Local Plans, making it difficult for the Local Authority to control the volume, style or type of properties given planning permission.  As Councillors, we are attending many briefing meeting and looking at options for our future Local Plan so that we have something that Government will find ‘sound’.  There have already been some public consultations on aspects of this work – thank you to all those who responded.  I’ll let you know when further consultations are published.

Epsom BID

A Business Improvement District (BID) brings together businesses within a defined locality.  Each business pays a contribution based on their business rateable value, and they work together on projects for improvements to the area, which will enhance the area so attract people here to use the facilities and services.  Epsom’s BID was formed in 2017, and their business plan is for a 5-year term. Benefits we have seen have included the Town’s Christmas lights; the new Beacon on the Downs; and the Town Centre’s festivals.  Recently the businesses voted to continue with the BID for the next 5 years.

Crime

We are hearing from residents about crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB) in the borough – but when we ask the police why they aren’t focussing on the ‘hot spots’ reported to us, they are often not aware that there is a problem there.

You often tell us that you don’t report things to the police because you don’t think that they take any notice; because the ASB has occurred and the people responsible have gone; or you don’t think of it as something to be reported.  We also have some wonderfully community minded people who help to keep the borough neat and tidy and ‘litter pick’ – thank you, it does make a difference.  However if, during your litter-picking, you find evidence of drug use, please would you photograph the debris left behind before you kindly remove it, and report it to the police?

The police do log the incidents reported to them – the what, when and where.  They need this information to plan and focus their work to protect us and our neighbourhood.

Cost of Living Support

Times are difficult for many people at the moment, and both Epsom & Ewell and Surrey County Councils are providing help and advice.  Please see https://epsom-ewell.gov.uk/residents/cost-living-support for information about all sorts of resources, such as eligibility for help with paying Council Tax.  There are also links to many organisations such as the Food Bank, Citzens Advice, Age Concern – and there is information about in initiatives such as Warm Spaces.

Partnership working

For many years, Surrey County Council has contracted the Borough to undertake certain functions that come under Surrey’s responsibility, e.g., cutting grass verges; enforcing on-street parking regulations.  Surrey is taking back some of these functions.

More information

There is more information about the Borough Council at www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk and information from the Residents’ Society at www.woodcoteepsomresidentssociety.org

I have your details because you are a resident who has contacted me in the past.  If you would prefer not to receive information and updates from me in the future, please let me know and I will remove you from my contact list.

Cllr Liz Frost – RA Councillor

Woodcote Ward, Epsom & Ewell Borough Council

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Tree giveaway on Saturday 19th November

This Saturday there is a Tree Giveaway at Epsom Library between 10 am and 12 pm.

While you’re there why not have a look around the Tree Exhibition that is in Epsom Library until February 2023.

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Traffic light refurbishment works on Avenue Road near Leighton Way, Epsom.

This is to advise of upcoming traffic light refurbishment works on Avenue Road near Leighton Way, Epsom.

Signs are due to be put up over the next few of days to advise residents and businesses of these works.

Avenue Road near Leighton Way, Epsom

Temporary traffic lights

From 24 November

For 1 week

Sometimes our plans have to change, often due to bad weather or problems on other works in the same programme which can have a knock on effect. If anything changes with the details of these works, we will let you know.

You and your residents can also find up to date details and receive updates of the works on https://one.network/

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Councillor surgery – talk with your councillors

We are offering the first of many dates to talk with your borough and county councillors on questions or issues you may have.

The meeting will be covered by a Zoom session with Liz Frost, Bernice Froud and Steven McCormick available to talk with.

Sessions will be available from Wednesday 7th September from 7:00 pm.

If you would like to book a session please email info@woodcoteepsomresidentssociety.org

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Rosebery Park – unauthorised encampment 

The occupiers in Rosebery Park arrived and the Council immediately started the process of statutory welfare checks and then issued a direction to leave.  Unfortunately, this was not adhered to, and so the Council had to apply to the magistrate’s court for a summons to issue an eviction notice.

Council attended court and obtained the eviction notice which was served by the Police with 24 hours to vacate.

Following this, bailiffs moved the group on early Saturday morning. Our Council Officers are now engaged in cleaning and clearing up the rubbish.

Unfortunately, the group has not travelled far – they are now occupying Fair Green on West Hill.  The Council are undertaking the welfare checks today and then will serve the direction to leave notice.  If necessary, another court order will be applied for from the magistrate’s court.

Council Officers are looking at steps that can be taken to deter unauthorised vehicles from entering Rosebery Park.  In the meantime, we thank Officers for acting as quickly as regulations permit – and for undertaking the cleaning and clearing necessary following the encampment.

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Amendments made following WERS submission

The society continues to keep a watching eye on applications and progress concerns with planning items in the Woodcote and Langley Vale ward.

A concern made in February has seen amendments to plans to omit the roof lights on the Chalk Lane elevation.

Woodcote (Epsom) Residents’ Society (W(E)RS) is concerned about the potential noise impact and further urbanisation arising from the proposed opening roof lights on the SW elevation of Block D. These roof lights would in all likelihood result in a third bedroom within the roof space. Block D is close to the boundary brick wall and the resulting roof openings would be well above the wall ridge. This would potentially enable loud music to drift over and totally change the feeling of this part of the Chalk Lane Conservation Area which has special qualities with its rural character and quiet ambience, notwithstanding the Grumpy Mole opposite. We propose that the rooflights should be conditioned to be non- opening on the SW elevation of Block D. This would still allow for natural ventilation with opening roof lights on the inward-facing slope.

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Application Langley Vale Mast – refused

A brief update on the planning application for a telecoms mast in Langley Vale that the society and all ward borough councillors have been working with residents on.

A decision notice was posted yesterday afternoon detailing that the EEBC Local Planning Authority (LPA) has refused the application.

The delegated officer report can be found at the link below –

https://eplanning.epsom-ewell.gov.uk/online-applications/files/9C139714F7F61FB37BC7807E9EB161B5/pdf/22_01042_T56-DELEGATED_OFFICER_REPORT-1244426.pdf

The decision notice can be found at the link below –

https://eplanning.epsom-ewell.gov.uk/online-applications/files/47ACAB4CA8BFEBEE19A850A8238FDB9C/pdf/22_01042_T56-Decision-1244424.pdf

It is possible the applicant will appeal the decision and follow-on meetings to prepare a defence are being scheduled with residents while so many are still mobilised and engaged.

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August 2022 Liz Frost, Borough Council update

Hi

I hope you are managing to stay cool during this exceptional weather, and that those of you planning summer breaks enjoy them.

I am sending you a few updates on local matters.

August is usually a quiet month for Councillors, but not so this year!  

The Epsom Town Centre Masterplan is being produced.  This provides a vision for the Town Centre and how it may change and develop over the next 15 to 20 years.  It is needed so that we can plan for the area to continue to thrive as a place to live, work and visit in response to changes in the way we live our lives.  The Council is keen to engage with as many local people as possible so that their views and feedback are considered.  There is a display in the Ashley Centre during August and more information at https://epsom-ewell.gov.uk/residents/planning/planning-policy/consultations-and-examination.

Many of you will have heard that the National Planning Inspector has overturned the Borough Council’s refusal of the application to re-develop the land at Langley Bottom Farm.  A great disappointment.  All three of your Woodcote Ward Councillors and W(E)RS committee member John Mumford, spoke at the public hearing in opposition of the proposal.  The following day Steven McCormick and I spent several hours accompanying the Inspector as he walked around the area.  Unfortunately, although he agreed with much of reasons against the development, there is such pressure from the Government to build vast numbers of new properties, that he approved it. 

The Appeal against the Council’s refusal of the Multi-storey car park by Epsom Hospital is underway and likely to be heard in September or October.  Another one that your Councillors will be addressing.

There is currently an application for a 15-meter-high telecom mast and associated boxes on a grassed area in The Hayes, Langley Vale.  The Government’s vision is for ‘high-quality, reliable digital connectivity so that communities can benefit from faster economic growth and greater social inclusion’ This includes an aim for all to have access to 5G. To facilitate this, they have recently introduced amended legislation so that most telecom masts, including the one proposed for The Hayes, are classed as ‘Permitted Development’ (PD), meaning that the applicant only needs to provide the Council with information about the proposal and give notice of their intention. The proposed site appears totally inappropriate for such a structure and so we are doing all we can to oppose the application.   We feel that because the applicant has failed to minimise the mast’s visual impact on the surrounding area, a requirement of the new legislation, it is not PD, and so requires  Prior Approval.  Thank you to all those of you who have registered your views on the Planning website.

Each year, local Councils are legally required to check that those eligible to vote in their borough are registered.  To do this, they make an annual canvass of all households in their borough.  This used to all take place using forms sent by post.  However, since 2020 changes to legislation mean that some of this can be via email or phone.  The process in Epsom & Ewell started on 1st August this year.  Initially data matching is undertaken by the Department for Work and Pensions.  If all data for a property matches, and the Council has an email address for one or more of the registered voters, they will email them to check that the details they hold are correct.  A response from at least one member of the household is required.  If the Council doesn’t have an e-amil address, or doesn’t receive a reply to the email sent, then a letter is sent to the property.  If the information held is not correct, the letter explains how to correct any wrong information.  Where the DWP information for a property does not correspond with that held by the Council, a letter will be sent, and a response is required by phone, on-line or by post.  Non-responders will be chased!

Responding to the annual canvass by giving information about people who are eligible but not currently registered to vote does not register them to vote!  You can register via the national voter registration website www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Please remember that the borough has an anti-idling policy to help to protect our environment.  The enforcement team do visit the roads by schools, stations etc to check compliance.  Please turn your engine off when you are not driving.

We have, unfortunately, had some instances of both graffiti and of fly tipping recently.  Where you see these, they can be reported to the Borough Council via the on-line forms found at https://epsom-ewell.gov.uk/residents/online-forms?field_form_category_value=Report

You may have noticed the new picnic benches, marker posts and information boards on the Downs.  These are the result of funding we were successful in applying for from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.   The criteria was quite specific and so we had to work within this, and hope that the results will help people find their way around and learn more about the Downs and our heritage and enjoy the area.

Cllr Liz Frost

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Summer Newsletter and subs

Hot off the press. The WERS Summer 2022 newsletter should be delivered or will be delivered shortly.

A note to add is that the £3 annual subscription is due by payment either online or by putting cash in any old envelope and delivering it to one of the committee members or a Councillor.

Payment can be made online via PayPal or directly to the bank account or via a committee member or one of your councillors.

All donations are welcome and we thank you for your help.

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