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RA in Favour of Building on Green Belt?

February 23, 2011 11:50 AM

Hands off our Green Belt

Results of the Epsom & Ewell's Housing Land Supply consultation show that 78% of residents reject any proposals for building new homes on Green Belt land or other open spaces in the borough and support further building only in the existing urban area. However a meeting on 21st February got completely bogged down when one RA councillor refused to discount building on the Green Belt.

With such poor attendance from the ruling group at the meeting, it's anyone's guess whether or not our Green Belt will remain sacrosanct if the Residents' Party retain power in May.

The consultation was conducted over a 12 week period ending on 31 December 2010, having been extended at the request of Liberal Democrat Councillor Alison Kelly, after the topic received poor publicity.

Cllr Kelly said "I was horrified that at least one RA councillors seems keen to release Green Belt land, despite the overwhelming evidence from the survey and the fact we are making good progress towards our target. Some councils already have a maximum development allowance as part of their annual planning strategy and yet this suggestion was readily dismissed."

Option 1 of the consultation was to build future homes only in the existing urban area. Option 2 was to build the majority in the urban area but provide between 10% to 30% on public open space and/or Green Belt land. Option 3 was to build between 40% to 60% in the urban area and 40% to 60% on a planned urban extension released from the Green Belt.

Option 2 remains a possibility, but Lib Dem councillors will fight hard for Option 1 as things develop toward adoption of a final Strategy document. The results of this consultation should be considered in line with the council's own housing target which is 3620 new homes during the period 2006-2026, an average of 181 homes each year. However, 2990 of these have already been built or already have planning permission. This leaves 630 homes to be built between 2011-2026, an average of 42 each year. It is thought that this target will not be difficult to achieve within the existing urban area. The borough council already has a long list of potential sites, both brown-field and green-field, which have been "prioritised" as to their suitability and likely availability.