CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM OUR CHAIR
I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet some of you at our meeting in July at the Langley Vale Village Hall and hear first-hand about your priorities and the things you would like to see change. Our W(E)RS Committee intend to hold another public meeting later in 2024 where all will be welcome.
Meanwhile I would like to give you advance notice of our Annual General Meeting which will be at the Haywain Brewers Fayre on Dorking Road Epsom on 11 March 2024 at 7.30pm. I hope you will try to come along and offer your support for what we do. It is an important opportunity for you to hear what is going on in our area, what is planned and for you to contribute your thoughts on how we can help to improve where we live. More details of the meeting will follow in the New Year.
The Society is here to help make sure local voices are heard and influence local decision making but to do that we need to hear from you about the problems and issues affecting you. We function entirely through the efforts of a few volunteers and we are always pleased when members get in touch. If you would like to find out more about what we do please visit our website and if you have any queries complete the ‘Contact us’ form on the web site or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org . The benefit to you and your family and to other residents of getting involved can be significant. You will be warmly welcomed.
Finally, I would like to give a warm welcome to our new residents and urge everyone to support the Society in 2024 by renewing your annual membership in January. It is very easy to pay on the website or by bank transfer. Without your subscriptions we cannot produce these newsletters, maintain our website, or support local residents with local issues. In addition if you have a local business it makes sense to advertise in our quarterly newsletter which goes to 2,500 residents in Woodcote & Langley Vale. Rates can be found on our website or by emailing email@example.com
With best wishes for Christmas and New Year
John Mumford, Chair
LOCAL PLAN UPDATE
On 24 October the Council voted to “un-pause” the draft local plan process after concerns earlier in the year about development proposals within areas of the Green Belt. Work is now continuing on progressing the Local Plan, taking into account views already received, to the next (Regulation 19) stage when there will be a further round of public consultation. We’ll update members via out website and “X” account, as work progresses. It is worth noting that our very own ward Councillor Steve McCormick is the Chair of the Council’s Licencing & Planning Policy Committee which is responsible for overseeing the Local Plan and taking it forward for adoption hopefully by Spring 2026. Delivering an up to date Local Plan is vitally important for the Council to achieve its ambitions for development and environmental protection and to avoid the risk of unwanted speculative development.
The draft Epsom Town Centre Masterplan has also been published for public consultation for a four week period concluding at midnight on Friday 22 December. This will form a key part of the evidence base for the Local Plan
We are asking residents to have your say and to let us know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can reflect your views in our response. You can find the plan here
W(E)RS aims to ensure that the views of residents on major planning applications are represented to the Council’s Planning Committee. This is sometimes by written submission or by one of your ward Councillors speaking at the committee meeting. We also endeavour to publicise applications that are likely to impact on local residents in order that you can make your own representations.
Langley Bottom Farm
Many residents, including especially those of you living in Langley Vale, will be interested to know what is happening with the Langley Bottom Farm site. This you may recall was regrettably granted on appeal by a Government appointed Inspector last year for a residential estate despite being in the midst of the Green Belt.
WERS is keeping a very careful eye on this site and our suspicions that the developer may seek to reduce the quality of the scheme and trim costs now that it has won permission are seemingly being realised.
Two applications have now been received to vary the conditions attached to the planning permission allowed at appeal. The amended proposals are far less attractive and less in keeping with the rural environment which the site is located within and are more akin to a conventional housing estate development. We have submitted an objection as we consider the amendments are contrary to the national planning guidance that the quality of approved developments should not be materially diminished between permission and completion.
Bucknills Close residential scheme
WERS supported local residents in objecting to an application for a residential redevelopment comprising 6 houses on land between Whitehorse Drive and Bucknills Close, near to Dorking Road. WERS was concerned in particular at the sub-standard access arrangements which were considered to provide unsafe conditions especially for pedestrians. These concerns were reiterated by the County Highways Officer and the application has been refused.
Woodcote Grove (Chalk Lane) residential development
WERS, have been heavily involved in raising construction problems and non-compliance with planning conditions relating to this large residential scheme on the former Atkins site between Ashley Road and Chalk Lane. This is now being pursued by the Council’s Enforcement Officer and we will be continuing to monitor the site to ensure the necessary remedial works are undertaken.
WERS also objected to the unnecessary felling of an old established yew tree within one of the new garden curtilages as this was considered to have high amenity value within the Chalk Lane Conservation Area. We are pleased that the application to fell the protected tree was refused
Epsom Hospital Guild Living site on Woodcote Green Road
This site is an utter eyesore! The roof was taken off the buildings to allegedly avoid paying Council Tax with no consideration to the impact on the local amenity. WERS had previously been advised by Legal and General, who we understand are still the owners of the site, that demolition of the semi-derelict buildings would commence by the end of June. As you will know this has not happened. This is a completely unacceptable and shameful situation and WERS will be pursuing action via Council officers to require the landowner to improve the appearance of the site as redevelopment is now probably some years away. The scandal is that the former nursing accommodation could have been used for housing some of the homeless people in this borough and saved the Council hundreds of thousand pounds in putting families up in Bed and Breakfast accommodation.
Concerns about start of work on the hospital Multi Storey Car Park
We have raised concerns that there are a number of outstanding pre-commencement conditions that need to be submitted and approved before any work can commence on the new multi-storey car park for Epsom Hospital. We have asked that affected residents should be consulted on any important details relating to the materials to be used, managing site traffic and the arrangements for displaced carparking whilst the building works are underway.
Ashtead Park Garden Centre, Wilmerhatch Lane
WERS has supported local residents in objecting to Mole Valley Borough Council who are responsible for determining the planning application for redeveloping the site to a residential estate comprising 23 dwellings. This site lies within an important part of the Green Belt that separates Ashtead from Epsom which would be undermined by residential development. We hope that Mole Valley refuses the application but even if they do we know from bitter experience with Langley Bottom Farm that a Government appointed Inspector may totally disregard the wishes of the local community if it were to go to appeal.
New Arts , Heritage and Culture Strategy
The Council has recently adopted a new Arts, Heritage and Culture Strategy – the first of its kind. Epsom & Ewell is certainly not short of cultural history and boasts over 400 listed buildings and this strategy will celebrate these assets. A Digital Heritage App is already live! and can be downloaded from the free Bloomberg Connects app. You will be able to access information about points of interest and history whilst walking around Nonsuch Park, with more tours to be added One Community Wall Mural Project is already complete and the artwork can be seen on an empty council building in the Upper High Street. If you would like to more about the Arts, Heritage and Culture Strategy please go to:
Notes from Langley Bottom Farm – Michael Jelley
For those that don’t know me, I have lived and worked on Langley Bottom Farm since 1983 when I started working as an apprentice tractor driver. We have seen many changes over the last forty years, the greatest of which was when the Woodland Trust purchased the majority of the land and planted what had been a working farm with trees. We have subsequently worked extremely closely with the Woodland Trust and graze our flock of herdwick ewes on their ‘open spaces’ as part of their conservation policy.
As well as the sheep, we are also arable farmers. We grow 107 acres at Langley Bottom Farm, along with a further 350 acres at Perrotts Farm, Burgh Heath. In order to minimise the build-up of disease and weeds and to maximise yields we rotate different crops around the entire acreage. Last year we grew field beans at Langley Bottom Farm, which were sold as a protein source for pet foods. Field beans naturally collect nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it into the soil for the following crop. Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth. This year we are growing wheat, which was sown in September, will be harvested next August and hopefully sold for bread making. The arable side of the business calms down in November, but work starts for our rams, Reggie and Ralph. They will be visiting the ewes and hopefully in mid-April we will see the arrival of next years lambs. Over to you boys!!!!!