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.