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