This note provides an update on planning matters in Elmbridge and their potential implications for Oxshott.  It also highlights several local planning applications about which residents might wish to be aware.

1.  Local Plan

Elmbridge BC (“EBC”) is in the course of preparing the Local Plan (“LP”).  This has been delayed by various matters including the Covid pandemic and the outcome of the recent local elections.  Control of the Council remains with a Coalition of Residents’ Association and Liberal Democrat Councillors.  The Coalition has made clear its wish to proceed with the LP without further delay.   Details of the draft LP have been made available in part to Councillors and it is understood that the plan will be presented to the full Council in early July.   After that, a draft will be made available publicly for a limited consultation later this year before being submitted to an Inspector for Examination in Public.  

FEDORA has been a key member of a local Alliance of residents and community interest groupings in Elmbridge that have joined forces to seek to influence the content of the LP. The Alliance has considerable concern that the LP has been largely driven by EBC officials with their own agenda and with very minimal involvement from Councillors. This seems a very different approach to that taken by some other local authorities.  The Coalition claims that this strategy reflects advice given by a QC but attempts to obtain a copy of that advice by way of a Freedom of Information (“FOI”) application have been denied. 

The Alliance has argued that EBC should produce the LP based on its own up to date assessment of local housing need and not use Government numbers dating back to 2014. These produce a housing target that is roughly double what EBC has delivered in recent years.  By committing to Government numbers, the LP will produce significant increases in urban densities across Elmbridge and threaten the Green Belt.  Sadly, it seems that the Coalition has decided to ignore these legitimate concerns and continue on a basis that does not challenge orthodoxy. 

While the precise content of the draft LP is not known, it is likely that it will have decidedly negative implications for Oxshott. If Green Belt is left protected, the huge increase in housing numbers will probably be disproportionally skewed towards the urban areas of Cobham and Oxshott.  This reflects views attributed to some members of the Coalition that housing densities in the south of the borough need to be brought up to similar levels as in the north of the borough.  And if EBC decide to promote release of Green Belt, the obvious areas at risk are those around Oxshott.

More information will become available once the draft LP gains wider circulation.  Residents will be kept up to date with developments.

2. Local Planning Applications 

The pressure on EBC to increase the number of new houses means that developers are being encouraged to bring forward high density developments under a strategy to make more efficient use of land.  This means that across Elmbridge, there are an increasing number of planning applications for blocks of flats and contrived infill developments.  Some of the more controversial or important developments under consideration in Oxshott (together with EBC planning references) are as follows:

Old Farmhouse Drive (2021/1704)

An application to build a bungalow in the garden of 10 Old Farmhouse Drive and next to Farmhouse Cottages was rejected in 2020 but subsequently approved on appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in 2021.  There is now a revised application to change the building from a bungalow to a two-storey house.   The original application attracted 57 objections and any resident wishing to lodge a comment on the revised application must do so by 2 July 2021.

1 Holtwood Road (2020/2212)

Permission was granted in 2018 to sub-divide the plot to build two five-bedroom houses.  A revised application has been made for three buildings that include a terrace of four three-storey houses and two pairs of three-storey semi-detached houses.  This represents a major change in local character with 53 objections received to date.

3 Holtwood Road (2019/3471)

A contentious application was approved in March 2021 for a building with 15 flats.  Work on site clearance has been done with removal of some trees on a basis that may be at variance with agreed plans.  Construction work is expected to start shortly.  

Fairoak Lane

Clearance work has been done at the rear of the last house on the right on the way to Malden Rushett.  It is rumoured that this is in contemplation of an application for the building of flats on the site.

Ramli, Beech Close (2021/0697)

An application has been made for the building of five two-bedroom flats in a new building.  A building of this type is at variance with local character and the application has attracted considerable local opposition with 93 objections received to date.

Willow Cottage, Ridgeway Close (2019/2416)

A decision was made in 2020 to refuse permission for the building of five two-storey houses on a plot of 0.9 acre solely on the basis that it did not provide a sufficient contribution towards affordable housing.  Predictably, this decision has been taken on appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

Greenways, 46 Copsem Lane (2020/2176)

An application for the building of 22 three/four–bedroom dwellings on a site of about 2 acres is under review by EBC. 

It is likely that there will be an increase in planning applications as developers sense the need on the part of EBC to meet demanding housing targets.  Inevitably, some developers will seek to exploit close relations with EBC officials to promote the virtues of their schemes despite manifest objective deficiencies.  Arguments from objectors regarding preservation of local character will be given much reduced consideration.

While developers may seem to have an advantage at present, that does not mean that careful opposition is in vain – far from it!  There have been several applications that have been rejected recently where local residents have identified serious shortcomings and, with the support of local councillors, managed to present arguments that have won the day.  So, do not give up; where there are applications that contain intrinsic flaws, get advice and persuade others to lodge objections.  All is not necessarily lost!

For any further information, you are welcome to contact us by email.