Summary of Annual General Meeting
The AGM for FEDORA was held on 30th September 2021 in the Village Centre. It was wonderful to be able to hold a meeting in person and not rely on the marvels of modern technology. A pleasing number of local residents attended so that the hall was nicely full. They were joined by Oxshott’s three local Elmbridge Borough Council councillors, David Lewis, Andrew Burley and Alan Parker along with our local Surrey Councillor, Mark Sugden. They were most welcome.
At the outset special thanks was extended to Alec and Carmen Robinson who are in the process of leaving Oxshott having sold their house in Knott Park and looking to move out of the village. They were thanked for all their hard work in the community over the years: the Christmas Fair, more recently the Village Day and their sustained involvement with FEDORA.
At the same time thanks were offered to two particular groups of volunteers: those who have provided sterling service over the past 18 months and those who have recently got involved. Special mention was made of David Cooke with his continued support of the FEDORA magazine, Keith Chapman and his litter picking group and finally Carmen Robinson, Lindy Wheeler and Helen Mason who have led green initiatives around Oxshott. Sandra Elmes, Stephen Brown and Mark Cooke were welcomed in their respective new roles as Membership Secretary, liaison with Surrey Highways and leading Community Speedwatch.
The formalities of the evening were explained as this year was it was necessary to address both the old FEDORA (and in particular the approval of the accounts for the year ended 31st December 2020) as well as elect the chairs and directors of the newly incorporated “FEDORA – the Voice for Oxshott CIC”, a Community Interest Company limited by guarantee.
However, the focus of the evening was very much on planning, roads and plans for the centre of the village:
Mike Wheeler provided a summary of various matters relating to planning issues in Oxshott.
The Local Plan being developed by Elmbridge BC is intended to set out the framework for housing strategy over the next 15 years. The most contentious component is the annual housing target. Central Government has a formula that calls for 633 homes to be built per annum in Elmbridge. It is widely agreed that this target (which is almost double the annual average of homes built over the last 10 years) is based on a flawed methodology and is undeliverable without substantial sacrifice of Green Belt.
A draft plan was rejected by a working group of Councillors earlier this summer. It is hoped that a revised version will be based on a figure about 25% lower than the Government target with no surrender of Green Belt. Inevitably though there will be increased densification.
Resident groups in Oxshott have been effective in presenting arguments for preservation of two Green Belt areas under threat: land at the rear of Danesway and land on the border of Blundel Lane and Waverley Road. The objective of FEDORA is clear: preserve local character by avoiding over densification and do not appropriate Green Belt.
Merrileas is a 4.4 acre site to the left of the entrance to Princes Coverts. Permission was granted for 67 residential units in February 2021 despite 183 objections. This site had long been earmarked as a development site so there was no realistic prospect of the scheme being rejected. With the help of councillors, improvements were sought to the road junction at the entrance to the site and the footpath connection to the centre of the village. Sadly, inadequate communication between Elmbridge BC and Surrey CC meant that these improvements were not secured as conditions of development. But lessons have been learned and Surrey CC are increasingly engaged in avoiding such outcomes in the future.
Blocks of flats are featuring more regularly in planning applications because of the drive for increased densification. There has been some success in resisting schemes that push boundaries too far, but several applications demonstrate a trend that gathers momentum: notably in Holtwood Road, Fernhill and Fairoak Lane.
Opportunistic infill continues around Oxshott and our councillors deserve thanks for their efforts to deal with the more egregious schemes. Inevitably though, these applications will continue particularly as Oxshott is seen within the borough as underdeveloped in comparison to areas in the north of borough. FEDORA will continue to resist and work with residents affected by those schemes that are destructive of local character.
Ian Dilks provided a clear picture how a petition held a year ago, which generated nearly 1,000 responses, provided 5 priorities:
- A night time ban for HGVs
- The deployment of average speed cameras
- Further speed restrictions in the centre of the village to 20mph and possibly other areas, such as Steels Lane/Blundel Lane
- Developing a continuous footpath from the south of the village, whose need is only increased by the large Merrileas development
- Improving village parking by providing a dedicated unloading area bay for certain hours, improved parking for those with a disability and limited short term parking for local shoppers. This should benefit local businesses, local residents and blue badge alike.
Progress was being made on all these initiatives and he looked forward to reporting on substantive progress at the next AGM.
He welcomed the start of the Village Community Speedwatch to be led by Mark Cooke and alerted the audience to Surrey CC’s recently published 2022 – 2032 Transport Plan.
Plans for the Centre of the Village
James Davis provided a map of the village centre and the buildings in which he has an interest: the Village Stores, the block set back from the road and opposite the Village Stores and buildings that include the new delicatessen and the old Trenchard and Arlidge offices opposite the Victoria pub. His commitment to creating a thriving village centre for the local community was self- evident but as he explained it is still early days and ideas have to be developed into detailed plans. Equally, he made a clear commitment to the local community to communicate his plans as they develop in the coming months.
Finally, a special mention for Sharn Dev, who runs the new chemist in the Village Stores and who attended the evening with his wife and kindly provided a box of PPE bundles, including face masks and hand sanitiser, for everyone to take away.