Local Plan For Elmbridge Consultation Details

Local Plan For Elmbridge Consultation Details

On the 24th of July the Elmbridge Council Cabinet sat to discuss how to consult with its residents regarding a new ‘Local Plan’.

A ‘Local Plan’ is a statutory requirement which Government has made clear must be up to date, Elmbridge Council’s current plan was adopted in 2011 and it’s housing target is out of date.

Given Local Plan items relating to employment, retail and infrastructure have not significantly changed since the Strategic Options Consultation 2016 It’s this housing target which, in our view, forms the nucleus of this latest update to the Elmbridge Borough Council Local Plan and will be of great interest to residents.

At the Elmbridge Cabinet meeting of the 24th the draft Consultation Document and Consultation Questionnaire were approved along with a 6 week consultation period commencing on Monday the 19th of August till Monday the 30th of September.

Going back to the housing targets previously referenced, the Government has reinforced its objectives to significantly boost the supply of homes and expects Elmbridge Council to plan for 623 new homes per year – across the 15 Year lifespan of The Local Plan this adds up to 9,345 new homes.

Currently on average there are 282 new homes built each year in Elmbridge.

There is only enough land in our urban areas to build approximately 5,300 new homes.

There would be a shortfall of nearly 4,000 new homes.

As part of their consultation into the new Local Plan Elmbridge Borough Council will present you with 5 options as to how they could achieve the Governments target.

Click on each option to jump to more details.

Option 1 – Intensify urban area
Option 2 – Optimise urban area and 3 areas of Green Belt release
Option 3 – Optimise urban land and large Green Belt release
Option 4 – Optimise urban land
Option 5 – Optimise urban land and small areas of Green Belt release

The Call-In deadline expires today (6th of August) so decisions made, and reported below, will take effect tomorrow, Wednesday the 7th of August so we can be extremely confident the draft details published below will be what you see popping through your letterboxes and pinging your email inboxes in 2 weeks time.

You can find more detail on each of these options further below but in support of getting the highest level of resident engagement Elmbridge borough Council have setup a series of six public meetings to discuss these options in more detail.

The meeting will all take place at the Civic Centre in Esher, will all be webcast, and will each have a different area focus – so please book to attend the meeting that focuses on your area.

The meeting dates and area focus are as follows:

  • Tuesday 27 August, 7-9pm – Weybridge
  • Wednesday 28 August, 7-9pm – Walton-on-Thames and Hersham
  • Thursday 29 August, 7-9pm – Molesey
  • Monday 2 September, 7-9pm – Cobham, Oxshott and Stoke d’Abernon
  • Tuesday 3 September, 7-9pm – The Dittons and Hinchley Wood
  • Thursday 5 September, 7-9pm – Esher and Claygate

Book your attendance here

Following registration, residents will be sent an email with the opportunity to submit a question for the panel.

The format of the public meetings will be as follows:

19:00 – Presentation on the Local Plan options

On the panel:

  • Ray Lee, Strategic Director, Elmbridge Borough Council
  • Kim Tagliarini, Head of Planning Services, Elmbridge Borough Council,
  • Rachael Thorold, Local Plan Manager, Elmbridge Borough Council

19.30 – Questions and answers session – Questions should be submitted in advance.

Going back to The Local Plan

This is the content of the draft Elmbrige Council Consultation document approved at the Council Cabinet meeting and due to take effect tomorrow.

[Content from Elmbridge Borough Council]

A new Local Plan – aiming for ‘good’ growth in our borough

We are preparing a new Local Plan which will decide how the communities and places of Elmbridge will develop over the next 15 years.

It will allocate land for development and guide decisions on whether or not planning applications should be granted permission.

Our current plan is from 2011 and although it has been successful in delivering sustainable development, it does not plan for enough new homes. An up-to-date plan is essential to ensure that planning decisions are made for the benefit of our borough and our residents now and in the future.

The Government has declared a ‘national housing crisis’ and the number of new homes we need has increased significantly, beyond what we had planned for. Our biggest
challenge in preparing a new plan is the very high need for new homes; in particular, smaller homes (with 1-3 bedrooms) and more affordable homes. There is also a requirement to plan for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

Elmbridge is the ninth most expensive place to live in England. As a result, too many young people and families are moving out of the borough to have a realistic prospect of owning or renting their own home. Our older residents are struggling to affordably downsize in a way that will enable them to continue to live independently or with care packages and remain in their communities.

The cost of housing and reliance on people travelling into the borough is also making it difficult for local business and valued services to attract and retain employees, this includes essential key workers, such as teachers and health care providers.

This consultation is focused on housing but while the main pressure is to deliver more homes, the Local Plan will also need to support key employment areas and
businesses, delivering vibrant local shopping centres and community hubs. We must protect and enhance our historic features, as well as encouraging alternative transport, such as walking, cycling and car clubs to reduce pressure on our road network and improve air quality.

A tall order indeed!

The Local Plan will also help to deliver many related local, national and European strategies and commitments including the Surrey Health and Wellbeing Strategy, the Elmbridge Economic Strategy and Heritage Strategy.

We have already done a lot of work and in 2016 undertook a Strategic Options Consultation and asked you for your views on how Elmbridge should grow over the next 15 years and what issues are important to you.

This included those relating to employment, retail and infrastructure, which have not significantly changed since the Strategic Options Consultation 2016.

At that time, we presented three possible options of where the new homes could be built, we also told you which option we preferred. This former consultation document is available to view on our website.

We listened and based on your feedback, recent changes in national planning policy and findings from our additional technical work the council has reviewed and re-evaluated its initial conclusions in relation to the options of where new homes could go.

As a result, the council no longer has a preferred option for the Local Plan and now has five options for housing growth to share with you.

Options 1, 2 and 3 from the Strategic Options Consultation 2016 have evolved and Options 4 and 5 are new, based on the findings of the further work you asked us to do.

It is time for you to help us to choose the option that will form the basis of our Local Plan. Whichever option we choose for the plan it will be robustly tested through an
examination in public by an independent Planning Inspector, appointed by the Secretary of State.

The Inspector will test our plan to see if it is ‘sound’ and complies with national planning policy and the law. There will be significant pressure for the Local Plan to plan for all the homes we need. In fact, national planning policy requires us to. If the Inspector does not think the plan is doing enough to deliver the homes needed they will likely force us to look again and choose a different option.

We all have different views on what is important for our borough’s future and the issues facing our communities. However, there are opportunities to provide the much needed new and affordable homes in our borough.

This document has been written with our communities in mind. We want to have an open and honest conversation with our residents about the housing challenges but
also the opportunities the Local Plan brings to ensure that Elmbridge continues to be a sustainable and attractive place to live and work.

We believe that we should have a plan that delivers ‘good growth’ providing much needed new and affordable homes which are supported by appropriate infrastructure and services but also protects and enhances the character and environment of our borough.

But we need your help. This consultation is your opportunity to shape the direction of the Local Plan. Please take time to consider the options carefully and let us know your views.

Understanding the evidence

How do you know what needs to be built and where it can and can’t go?

In 2018 the Government set a ‘standard methodology’ that every Council preparing Local Plans must use to calculate how many new homes are needed in their area. The calculation for Elmbridge resulted in 623 new homes needed each year for the next 15 years.

Local Plans must also be informed by evidence and over the past 4 years we have been preparing a series of technical documents on a wide range of topics to help us understand what new development we need and how we could plan for it. Together, these are known as the ‘Local Plan Evidence Base’.

The technical documents use a variety of local and national facts, figures and data. Some elements require judgements and reasonable assumptions to be made. We have used our knowledge of the borough to inform this work.

All our assessments follow national and European guidance and requirements as well as standard industry practice.

There have been also several supporting documents produced to inform the plan as it is being prepared to make sure we are complying with national planning policy, law and important environmental, sustainability and equality matters have been properly considered.

The findings of each technical document are carefully considered against the results of other technical work, national planning policy and law. The evidence base should be read ‘as a whole’, as many technical documents work together.

The level of detail in each technical document is proportionate to the plan making stage.

Once we choose the preferred option, more detailed studies and assessments will be undertaken to inform and guide the finer details of the plan.

The key findings from the Local Plan evidence base are shown in the next few pages. Each option has been informed by the evidence available on matters such as employment, infrastructure, transport and the environment.

Each option responds to our housing challenges differently, specifically in terms of the location of where new homes could go in the borough. We have provided you with an assessment of their benefits and disadvantages.

A borough-wide map showing the potential location for housing development to support each option has been provided. At this stage, these are not proposed housing allocations and do not guarantee that planning permission will be granted in the future.

All the technical documents used to inform the 5 options including the choice of locations are available to view on our website. These include the additional technical work we have undertaken.

You asked us to focus on finding more land for new homes in our urban areas and assessing in more detail how Green Belt is working, specifically, whether larger parcels can be broken down into smaller plots of land.

More background information on the evidence base and how each option has been assessed is available in our ‘useful summaries’ on our website. All technical and supporting documents can be found on our website at elmbridge.gov.uk/localplan

Elmbridge – future housing needs, challenges and opportunities

What are our housing needs?

The minimum number of homes the council is required to plan for is set by the Government through its ‘Standard Methodology’. The methodology uses the official household projections with an uplift required for areas such as Elmbridge where average house prices are not affordable for those on an average wage. The average
cost of a home in Elmbridge is £759,6359 this is 18.8 times the average resident’s income of £40,635.

In line with Government guidance the council has used the 2014 household projections and this has resulted in a minimum requirement of 623 homes per year. The plan must be for a minimum of 15 years so this would mean we need to plan for 9,345 new homes.

Currently on average there are 282 new homes built each year in Elmbridge. This would be a 16% increase in the number of existing homes in the borough (just over 1% growth per year).

The council’s own technical assessment of housing need in 2016 found that previously there had been too many large homes built and that 99% of new homes need to be
either 1, 2- or 3-bedrooms. There was also an acute need for affordable homes (nearly 70% of the homes needed).

National planning policy provides an extensive definition of affordable homes that covers homes to buy and to rent. This can include shared ownership schemes and
discounted rents below market rate. These homes are provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market.

The definition was broadened to reflect the range of needs to meet increasing affordability pressures.

What are our housing challenges?

The minimum number of new homes set by the Government exceeds the amount of urban land and brownfield land available in Elmbridge for development. The council has undertaken a detailed assessment of the urban capacity for new homes through its Land Availability Assessment.

There is only enough land in our urban areas to build approximately 5,300 new homes. There would be a shortfall of nearly 4,000 new homes. We need to decide how the Local Plan will meet this shortfall.

It is important to remember that not all sites will be delivered at once, many sites are not expected to come forward for 6 to 10 years or indeed 11 to 15 years.

Although new development will be phased across the 15 years of the plan we need to ensure we have a rolling 5 years of sites, known as a ‘5- year land supply’.

We also need to ensure we have made a contingency allowance if sites don’t come forward as planned.

The Local Plan must be supported by an infrastructure plan to ensure that the necessary facilities and improvements are delivered at the right time to support growth.

This will be provided through an Infrastructure Delivery Plan and continued close working with providers and agencies.

At this stage we have undertaken a high level assessment with the providers and agencies to assess the impact on infrastructure from delivering all the homes needed over the plan period. This indicated that there is unlikely to be a severe impact that could not be mitigated. Once there is a preferred option for the Local Plan more detailed work will be undertaken with the relevant providers and agencies.

We cannot simply say that Elmbridge is full, and the new homes will have to go elsewhere.

Our neighbouring boroughs and districts face similar challenges and will not be able to take our housing shortfall and we cannot force them to agree. However, we
are working closely with them alongside relevant organisations and agencies on strategic matters such as highways, education, health services and on securing infrastructure improvements under our Duty to Co-operate.

What are the opportunities?

A new Local Plan will deliver much needed new homes and affordable homes and can ensure sustainable and cohesive communities offering high quality living environments for current and future residents.

The location of development must be guided by the Government’s national policy framework. The new Local plan can ensure that development is located in the most
sustainable places in the borough and safeguard our valued Local Green Spaces.

Through the Local Plan there is the ability to master plan larger sites. This means the council will be able to control the amount and type of development on sites as well as
the layout and design principles including the amount of open space provided through detailed policy and guidance. Communities and Councillors will also have an
opportunity to help shape policies and master plans.

The Local Plan policies will need to promote sustainable modes of transport, such as walking and cycling and introduce incentives to reduce car ownership, such as car share clubs. This would assist to relieve road congestion by reducing the number of shorter trips as well as having wider health benefits.

[End Content from Elmbridge Borough Council]

The 5 Local Plan Options


So what options are being presented?

Option 1 – Intensify urban area
Option 2 – Optimise urban area and 3 areas of Green Belt release
Option 3 – Optimise urban land and large Green Belt release
Option 4 – Optimise urban land
Option 5 – Optimise urban land and small areas of Green Belt release

Option 1 – intensify urban area


Option 1 would deliver all the new homes needed in our borough over the next 15 years by:

  • Significantly increasing densities on all sites across the urban area; and
  • Identifying open spaces, such as allotments and playing fields for redevelopment and relocating these uses within the existing Green Belt.

This option would deliver all development of 9,345 new homes but would require all housing sites in the future to be delivered at very high densities of over 85 dwellings per hectare.

This would be over double the current density average and would lead to taller buildings than currently in the urban
area.

Benefits of option 1

  • Delivers all the homes we need
  • Continue to direct development to urban areas
  • Protects all of the existing Green Belt and preserves current boundaries
  • Relocation of open space could mean greater use of the Green Belt by residents
  • Provides smaller homes with smaller floor space which could potentially lower the average price of a new home

Disadvantages of option 1

  • Much higher density and tall buildings could fundamentally change the character of many areas of the borough
  • Places pressures on those parts of the borough that have in the past seen more development
  • Development will likely be flats and there wouldn’t be a mix of housing types, including family homes
  • Relies on all potential sites being developed, if they fail to, the new plan quickly becomes out-of-date
  • Loss of open space in the urban area and new locations may not be as accessible
  • Taller buildings can have higher build costs which could mean prices for new homes remain high and / or affordablehousing is deemed economically unviable (would not leave enough profit for the development to occur)
  • Increased pressure on highways at peak times.

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Option 2 – optimise urban area and 3 areas of Green Belt release


Option 2 would not meet need in full but would deliver new homes over the next 15 years by:

  • Optimising densities and ensuring effective use of land across the urban area and that new homes are of the right type to meet local needs
  • Create areas for new homes by removing land from the Green Belt where
  • It is weakly performing the purpose(s) of Green Belt policy
  • It is in a sustainable location for new homes; and It is not, or only partially, affected by absolute constraints which prevent development coming forward
  • Using the Duty to Co-operate to see if other authorities’ can meet some of our need.

This option would deliver approximately 6,800 new homes across the existing urban area and within three Key Strategic Areas. Not all of the land contained within the key strategic areas is suitable for development. The part which could be suitable has been highlighted on the mapping on the next page, in total the three sites could deliver approximately 1,400 homes. The council would need to decide whether or not there are exceptional circumstances to alter the Green Belt boundary.

Benefits of option 2

  • Protects the urban area from significant change in character
  • Continues to direct development to urban areas and uses urban land more efficiently
  • Provides smaller sized homes that meet local need
  • Larger sites could deliver new infrastructure and facilities on site
  • Higher number of new affordable homes on larger sites

Disadvantages of option 2

  • Fails to plan for all the homes needed
  • Other authorities already indicated they cannot take our need
  • 3% loss of Green Belt land
  • Pressure on highways at peak times

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Option 3 – optimise urban area and large Green Belt release


Option 3 would deliver all the new homes needed in our borough over the next 15 years and would be able to help other boroughs and districts meet their housing
need by:

  • Optimising densities and ensuring effective use of land across the urban area and that new homes are of the right type to meet local needs.
  • Creating areas for new homes by removing land from the Green Belt where:
  • It is weakly performing, or it is not essential for the Green Belt policy to work properly,
  • It is being put forward for development by the landowner regardless of strength or importance; and
  • It is not, or only partially, affected by absolute constraints which prevent development coming forward

This option could deliver approximately 16,300 new homes across the existing urban area and within 2,920 hectares of land removed from the Green Belt. The council would need to decide whether or not there are exceptional circumstances to alter the Green Belt boundary.

Benefits of option 3

  • Delivers all the homes we need
  • Provides smaller sized homes that meet local need
  • Can improve the affordability of housing
  • Enables delivery of higher number of new affordable homes on larger sites
  • More even spread of where new homes will be located across the borough
  • Protects the urban area from significant change in character
  • Larger sites will deliver local highway improvements and new infrastructure on site

Disadvantages of option 3

  • 53% loss of Green Belt.
  • Will extend urban areas potentially joining up previously separated towns and villages
  • New Green Belt boundaries may not function properly
  • Does not direct all new development to the most sustainable locations
  • Pressure on highways at peak times

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Option 4 – optimise urban area


Option 4 would not meet need but would deliver new homes over the next 15 years by:

  • Optimising densities and ensuring effective use of land across the urban area and that new homes are of the right type to meet local needs.
  • Using the Duty to Co-operate to see if other authorities’ can meet some of our need. This option would deliver approximately 5,300 new homes over the next
    15 years.

We would continue to promote the use of good design to ensure the most effective use of all brownfield and urban land

Benefits of option 4

  • Increases the number of homes delivered
  • Provides smaller sized homes that meet local need
  • Maintains existing Green Belt boundaries
  • Continues to direct all development to urban areas and uses urban land more efficiently

Disadvantages of option 4

  • Fails to plan for all the homes needed
  • Other authorities already indicated they cannot take our need
  • Fewer new affordable homes built on smaller brownfield sites
  • Relies on all potential sites being developed, if they fail to, the new plan quickly becomes out of date
  • Difficult to bring forward new facilities and infrastructure which requires land
  • Pressure on highways at peak times

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Option 5 – Optimise urban area and small areas of Green Belt release


Option 5 would deliver all the new homes needed in our borough over the next 15 years by;

  • Optimising densities and ensuring effective use of land across the urban area and that new homes are of the right type to meet local needs
  • Creating areas for new homes by removing smaller sub-divided parcels of land from the Green Belt where
  • It is weakly performing, or it is not essential for the Green Belt policy to work properly; and
  • It is not, or only partially, affected by absolute constraints which prevent development coming forward

If all 33 potential development sites in the Green Belt were included in the final plan, this option could deliver approximately 9,400 new homes across the existing urban area and within 366 hectares of land removed from the Green Belt. The council would need to decide whether or not there are exceptional circumstances to alter the Green Belt boundary.

Benefits of option 5

  • Delivers all the homes needed
  • Can improve affordability of housing
  • Provides smaller sized homes that meet local need
  • Smaller areas for development but more evenly spread across the borough
  • Enables delivery of higher number of new affordable homes on larger sites
  • Protects the urban area from significant change in character
  • New Green Belt boundaries would function properly
  • Larger sites will deliver local highway improvements and new infrastructure on site

Disadvantages of option 5

  • 7% loss of Green Belt land
  • Urban areas will be extended around the edges
  • Pressure on highways at peak times
  • Smaller sites might not have the critical mass to provide significant amounts of affordable homes and infrastructure on site

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