Thank you to those who responded to the Council’s consultation on the draft Local Plan, which has now closed. As I said in my previous update, you were being consulted on a draft, based on the evidence of a comprehensive library of evidence looking at the borough’s situation, resources, and the requirements of the Central Government. Without complying with their unrealistic housing targets – or at least showing robust evidence as to why we were not – the Government would find the Plan ‘unsound’ and not approve it. Not having an up-to-date Local Plan makes us vulnerable to having the Council’s refusal of planning applications overturned, as happened with the Langley Bottom Farm proposal. It is for this reason that we need to press on with the Local Plan process.
Feelings have been running high amongst residents about the contents of the draft, and last night a special Full Council meeting was held on a motion that, apart from the work on analysing the results of the consultation, the Plan process is paused. The reasons included to undertake further work on the brownfield sites and consider further options that do not include using any green belt land. This was supported by the majority of Councillors.
Council officers will assess the responses, which would have formed further evidence for the next stage of compiling the Plan (regulation 19). However, this cannot progress at the moment as the draft Local Plan is now paused. It is a long and complex process.
The Borough Council’s teams have been acting on anti-social behaviour and environmental matters. This includes asking drivers to turn off engines when waiting, e.g. outside schools, and making more frequent visits to ‘hot-spots’ for litter and other ASB.
Queen’s Green Canopy.
Last week we held a brief ‘tree planting’ ceremony on the Downs as part of the late Queen’s Green Canopy events – which King Charles extended till the end of this month. It was a very windy day, but our new English Oak tree was duly ‘planted’ by the Mayor and we hope will flourish.
Today marks 3 years since the first pandemic lockdown here in the UK. The borough has installed Covid memorial benches in each ward to enable people to have a quiet place to sit and reflect on the events that had such a lasting impact on our lives. In this Ward, the benches are on the Woodcote Millennium Green (behind Epsom Hospital) and by the Top Car Park on the Downs. This morning we laid flowers on the benches in an act of remembrance.