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