After many delays, Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC) released its keenly awaited draft Local Plan (LP) on 8 March. The LP sets out EBC’s housing strategy for the next 15 years including the number of new homes that it intends to provide.
On the face of it, the draft LP is good news on three grounds:
- An average annual housing target of 460. This is 27% lower than the housing need of 640 derived from central government methodology. This target is very much lower than that feared a year ago and represents a welcome reduction. However, it is a target that is very much higher than the number of new homes delivered by EBC in recent years.
- No scheduled release of Green Belt. After proposing several options for releasing Green Belt during earlier consultations, EBC has clearly listened to the overwhelming public view that Green
Belt should continue to be protected.
- Focus on brownfield and town centres. This is sensible and reflects the need to focus housing around retail and commercial sites and existing public transport links.
But the draft LP contains very few identified sites for development and is hugely reliant on windfall sites. In addition, while the draft LP shows an ostensible ability to meet housing need for the first five years of the plan, there is a glaring shortage of land to meet need over the next ten years of the plan.
So far as Oxshott is concerned, there are only a limited number of sites identified by EBC as representing potentially available supply of land. But there will be a continuation of the present policy of higher density housing whether through blocks of flats or small estates of 2/3 bedroom houses. Inevitably, opportunistic infill schemes will continue but hopefully on a better controlled basis.
More importantly, the shortage of land during the last ten years of the plan almost certainly means that the argument about use of Green Belt will resurface in due course.
The draft LP will be presented to the full council for consideration on 22 March. Assuming that approval is obtained, the next stage will be to publish the plan for public representation. After that, the plan will be submitted for examination by a government appointed Planning Inspector, who will determine whether the plan is sound. As part of that process, it can be confidently expected that developers will make representations seeking to have their Green Belt land included within the plan.
For those who want to find out more, the 120 page draft LP is available using this link.
FEDORA will continue to monitor progress and advise residents on matters of relevance to the local community.
This simple guide explains how to get things done in Oxshott and the roles that various parties play.
The two most useful links for on-line problem reporting by residents are below. The SCC link is easy to use and has a separate process for each type of problem. The EBC link is not as easy to use but does provide access to the relevant EBC departments.
- For Surrey County Council (SCC): Surrey reporting
- To easily report specific problems, QR codes are available here
- If you prefer to phone: 0345 600 9009 or 0300 200 1003 (also for emergencies at out of office times)
- For Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC): Elmbridge reporting
- If you prefer to phone: 01372 474474.
Further details on which council does what and how councillors and FEDORA can help are set out below.
What are SCC and EBC responsible for?
Which council is responsible for what is not always clear but as a guide:
Coordination between SCC and EBC has historically been a problem, particularly in relation to planning matters, but FEDORA and the councillors are working to improve this.
How can local councillors and FEDORA help?
The sites referenced above are primarily designed for reporting matters that require repair or maintenance to be carried out or inadequate provision of services that the councils are responsible for. They are designed for use by residents and almost all matters are best reported using these facilities in the first instance.
Local councillors and FEDORA can assist where:
- Residents are not happy with a council’s response, for example regarding response times or inadequate attention to a problem. Problems of this nature are best reported to the appropriate local councillor but FEDORA can also assist.
- The problem to be addressed requires investment (as opposed to simply repair) or a change in the way services are provided. Both local councillors and FEDORA may be able to assist but as a guide, issues affecting a part of the village only (for example a single property or road) are best referred first to the appropriate local councillor; issues impacting the wider village (for example traffic on the A244 or a major development) are best referred first to FEDORA.
Local councillors do though work closely together and we meet with them regularly to ensure collaborative working. The councillors will keep FEDORA informed of relevant SCC and EBC developments and FEDORA’s role is to:
- Champion initiatives which have a wide impact on the village and have widespread support. The main examples are planning policy and major developments, traffic on key roads (A244), major flooding problems and the appearance of the central parts of the village
- Provide advice and support to local residents’ groups to deal with localised problems.
- Promote and support volunteer networks which work with the authorities to improve life in Oxshott. The three that currently exist are the Community Highways Volunteer Group (working with SCC); the litter picking group (working with EBC); and the Community Speed Watch scheme (working with Surrey Police).
- Liaise with key stakeholders on behalf of Oxshott residents, in particular officers at EBC and SCC, the relevant councillors and residents’ groups from other areas.
- Keep supporters informed through the website, email, the FEDORA magazine, Instagram and Twitter.
How do I contact councillors and FEDORA?
The relevant councillors are:
FEDORA can be contacted at:
It has been a little while since the last planning update and it might be useful for residents to be aware of several matters affecting Oxshott. Residents should be aware that there are deadlines for participation noted below.
Elmbridge BC (EBC) has been working on a new Local Plan for over five years. This has involved public consultations, collection of an evidence base and consideration of the optimum way of meeting the requirements of central Government. A draft plan was expected to be released for consideration by Councillors in late January. Due to procedural issues, the release date has now been delayed until early March. This delay is not thought to have any sinister implications and there is some confidence that there will only be a mixed impact on Oxshott. While Green Belt will hopefully continue to be protected, there will though be an inevitable push to increase densification. This will result in further applications to build blocks of flats and to obtain a greater number of smaller houses on existing sole use plots.
Once the draft Local plan has been released, a further Planning update will be sent to residents.
Design Code Consultation
EBC is launching a consultation on local design and character. The purpose is to help EBC and residents decide what good design looks like in an area based on local aspirations for the way in which an area should develop. Once created, a design code will be considered when determining planning applications.
This is a hugely important process because a failure by residents to provide their views on how Oxshott should develop will significantly weaken the ability to resist future planning applications that are detrimental to local character. All residents are therefore strongly encouraged to participate in this consultation.
The first stage is to register to participate in the consultation by accessing https://consult.elmbridge.gov.uk/system/home. Please note that the deadline for registration is Friday 11 February 2022. Subsequently, a note will be sent by FEDORA to residents identifying the main points that need to be addressed as part of the consultation.
There are three contentious planning applications that are currently open for comment. All three applications represent resubmissions of applications that were rejected by the local area planning committee in 2021. All involve important points of principle, and their outcome will probably have a decisive effect on local character. The three applications, their planning reference and their deadlines for comment are:
- Beech Close (2021/4161) – 4 February
An application for the construction of a two-storey block of five flats on the vacant part of a sub-divided plot. Beech Close consists of single dwellings on large plots with reasonable levels of amenity space. The application presents problems by virtue of its comparatively cramped and contrived design and its lack of amenity space. It is inconsistent with local character and will create on-road parking issues.
- Steel’s Lane (2021/3332) – 4 February
An application for a very small one-bedroom house created at the back of a sub-divided garden with important potential violations of privacy. This follows a build programme conducted seemingly in advance of the grant of planning permission.
- 1 Holtwood Road (2021/4160) – 15 February
An application for the construction of four pairs of semi-detached houses on a plot currently occupied by a single house. The development is clearly not consistent with existing local character as all houses in the local area consist of large houses on single plots. This application was previously rejected because of excessive bulk and heights in comparison to neighbouring properties. Changes made in this revised application are relatively minor and most of the application remains unchanged.
Comments on any of these applications can be submitted even after the deadline. Participation is encouraged because, without the voice of the community being heard, there is considerable potential for planning decisions to be taken that have long-term adverse implications for the whole of Oxshott.
FEDORA - The Voice for Oxshott CIC
is a registered non-profit company run by a group of individuals who collectively are interested in maintaining and improving the quality of life in our village and its surroundings.
Find out more and join FEDORA.