Weylands & Drake Park – A view from Cllr Christine Elmer

WNW_small Weylands No Way Banner being unfurled at the Civic Centre
Public Gallery at last nights (13th April) meeting

Weylands

The Elmbridge Borough Council Planning Officer’s Report on 2015/0433 Weylands Treatment Works, Lyon Road, Walton-on-Thames, was published online on 2 April as link below. I am pleased to say the Recommendation by Elmbridge Borough Council to Object to Surrey County Council’s Planning Department was upheld by Elmbridge Borough Councillors last night (13th April) at the meeting of North Area Planning sub-committee.

The reasons for objection were agreed as stated below, namely Green Belt, traffic, and air quality. The air Quality reason was strengthened as new information on emissions has come to Elmbridge Council which gives them great cause for concern. Elmbridge Officers were scathing of the SCC Report on odour which they feel has not done Surrey County Council any favours.
That Report has been sent to SCC and will now need to be considered by SCC Officers. We have asked to see this report. This does now mean that the earliest date this application could have come to SCC’s Planning & Regulatory Committee which was 20 May is not now possible. Once there is further information on dates/deadlines SCC will update us.

Agenda: 

http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/committees/meetings.htm?pk_meeting=1706&comid=14

Officer’s Report:

http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/documents/detail.htm?pk_document=26837

The Elmbridge Council Planning Officer’s Recommendation is to Object. The reasons for refusal are given as follows:

1  The proposed development represents inappropriate development within the Green Belt for which an insufficient case of very special circumstances to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt has been provided. The proposed development would therefore be contrary to the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 in relation to the Green Belt.

2  Insufficient information has been provided in relation to the potential impacts of emissions from the proposed anaerobic digestion plant on surrounding residential areas. On this basis, the proposed development is considered to be contrary to the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 in relation to air quality as well as policy DM5 of the Elmbridge Development Management Plan (2015) (pre adoption).

3 The proposed development would result in a detrimental impact on traffic levels in the surrounding area and local infrastructure due to the lack of suitability of the local road network, contrary to the provisions of saved Policies MOV4 and MOV15 of the Replacement Elmbridge Borough Local Plan 2000 and Policy CS25 of the Core Strategy 2011 as well as policy DM7 of the Elmbridge Development Management Plan (2015) (pre adoption) which will soon supersede Replacement Plan policies.

Drake Park

Bonnar Allen are applying to build 1024 new homes in Walton. The homes would be built on a 147-acre piece of Green Belt land between Molesey Road and the River Mole, between Fieldcommon Lane and the Lyon Road industrial estate.  Bonnar Allen say they would also build a medical centre, primary school, public park, supermarket and pub. We understand an application has now been received by Elmbridge Borough Council.

My personal view on Drake Park is it will not get past the Green Belt argument. The Green Belt in this area between Walton, Molesey and Esher separates those communities.  Elmbridge is now reviewing the Green Belt Policy as it is required to do. But the feeling is that the Council does not need 1024 new houses built on Green Belt to reach the numbers of new homes in Walton to fulfil it’s housing requirements. To get round the fact the land is Green Belt the development company would need to prove that ‘Special Circumstances’ were met, and my feeling is that that is not the case.

Bonnar Allen have given a number of presentations to Councillors and at Public Exhibitions. They had said it was their intention, should approval be granted by the Council, to build it out themselves. If they were unable to they would need to bring in a larger house builder, which they had previously said they would not do. I feel that the homes they build as ‘Affordable’ will not actually be affordable in the true sense, the prices being based on Elmbridge ‘inflated’ prices, not Walton prices.

The ‘risk’ is if it was refused the company might go to appeal. If the Government Inspector allowed any appeal the concerns put to me by residents are of a larger housing provider, once the precedent is set to build there, will come back for double the number of homes. The density of 1024 is very low, there is no way we would end up with 1024 homes in the Rydens area. More like double, so calculate how many traffic movements that would be. The area would be gridlocked.

General Comments

I do agree with the concerns about very large applications being considered in the round, and many Councillors make this point on Planning committees. However we are always advised on Planning committees by the Council’s Planning Officers that only the application being considered at that point in time can be considered and that we cannot bring any other planning applications to bear on the decision making process. Surrey County Council also say they can only determine the application being considered.

As I understand both Councils do have a duty to consider infrastructure in the round and traffic and highways concerns are paramount in my view. The best way forward is for Residents and Councillors to lobby/write in respect of each application the appropriate time, during the planning process/consultation stages. However the Planning Officer’s reports will only ever be based on National Planning Guidance and as we know committees are often worried about refusing an application if the reasons are not watertight, as the applicant may go to Appeal and a lost Appeal can then cost the Local Authority money in costs awarded against it. Like you I find this extremely frustrating, but we do make all the points at the meetings and sometimes we are successful.

Christine Elmer

Christine has been an Elmbridge Councillor for Walton South ward since 2006 and is the Elmbridge Cabinet Member for Social Affairs which covers Community Support Services such as the Centres for the Community and the Voluntary Sector. Last year Christine was re-elected to Elmbridge Council unopposed.
She’s married to Chris, also a Councillor and has lived in Elmbridge all her life. She was a Board Member on Elmbridge Housing Trust for 6 years until recently, is a Trustee of Mediation North Surrey and Relate West Surrey and sits on Kingston Hospital Foundation Trust Council of Governors.
She has 2 children and 2 grandchildren. Her father was a tenant farmer in Claygate and before she was elected worked for nearly 24 years in MAFF/Defra on cattle identification post BSE, Foot & Mouth Disease & Avian Influenza Contingency Planning.
Outside Council Christine works on campaigns associated with animal welfare, most notably with Conservatives Against Fox Hunting, Blue Badger & Blue Fox and has volunteered with Wildlife Aid Foundation in Leatherhead in her spare time.

For more information please see Elmbridge Council webpages www.elmbridge.gov.uk/cwcouncillor/ChristineElmer

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5 comments

  1. ReplyDella Reynolds

    Christine, this is your response from the Walton-on-thames.org site in reply to the first quote.

    “If they had closed the lists to new applicants it would take bout 12 yrs to house all needing one bed, 27 for those needing three bed” Stum

    “Stum is right on how long it would take someone in Band D (and C) to get housed… If there are (over 2000) people on the Housing list and some who have in reality no chance of ever being housed in 20 years then there is no real point in in being on the list, and other options should be being looked at.”

    The site at Drake Park is designated ‘green belt’ but is also a former quarry site without direct public access. If you continually turn down applications due to ‘green belt’ regulations how will you ever house all the needy families squashed into tiny houses or in B&B? 73% of Surrey is designated ‘green belt’ with 10% urban and only 2% has housing. There is more land given over to golf courses in Surrey than housing. We have to have a more honest debate about green belt and housing needs. People deserve decent homes and suitable green belt land such as this must be considered.

  2. Replymarjie Barker

    Della you make things very confusing when you bring in comments here that were made on another forum…..Saying “stum” will probably mean nothing to most users of this site…You are a teacher and this confusion really surprises me.

  3. ReplyJ Surrey

    Della, I too do not understand your comments. My daughter recently moved into an apartment nearby without a problem, in fact there were many properties for her to choose from, so where’s the housing shortage here then? She is paying a fairly high amount and it won’t be exactly easy for her, but she budgets wisely, works hard (in an average paid job) and has never possessed the sense of entitlement of others who just expect to be provided with subsidised housing because they started a family.

  4. ReplyJane Hickson

    Christine Elmer has lost her Grip on reality, over 2000 people on the waiting list in Elmbridge and the council built just 47 homes last year.
    I went to the Drake Park exhibition in the Rugby Club and there were many local people asking where they could sign up to get on the Drake Park waiting list. The council has failed to build enough homes which is why we have such a large waiting list and now Christine Elmer wants to stop building on an old gravel pit, land local people cant even walk on. This is madness.
    The young people of Elmbridge need homes to live in. We need Drake Park.

    1. ReplyJSurrey

      This is not just an old gravel pit, this is vital green belt land separating Hersham, Walton and Esher! And no young people will be able to afford homes there, as they will be on sale at inflated prices. The plans will evolve into twice as many dwellings and the whole thing is an infrastructure nightmare waiting to happen. The land owner and developers just want to line their pockets, and no good can ever come of this.

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