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Overdevelopment of the south-east side of Epsom town?

October 1, 2011 8:24 AM

Dairy siteThe Dairy Crest site in Alexandra Road, the Build Center opposite and the railway cutting land adjacent, are all considered to be potential sites for housing. A borough council public consultation, running until 24th October, suggests some 58 flats and houses are suitable for these three sites. Lib Dem councillors have asked the local press to pick up on the story of these sites (see local Guardian issue 29.9.11)

The Housing Land Allocation document contains 20 sites around the borough, including land at Nescot, Grafton Road stables and Swail House in Ashley Road. Owners of all 20 sites have been consulted about their potential for development and whilst nothing is certain, local residents are being asked to state their views.

The Liberal Democrat group will be posting a response to the consultation supporting some sites, qualifying the type and scale of development on others and in one case opposing development entirely on environmental grounds.

Lib Dems believe the Mill Road railway cutting is so valuable in terms of its biodiversity that it should be left untouched. Part of this acre of land was used as allotments for railway workers until 1947 (the Build Center adjacent was actually the old goods yard for Epsom Station) and contains fruit frees and flora (see photos) which allow the occupation of badgers, lizards, voles and other creatures. The area is also the subject of a separate campaign being run by residents of Bridge and Mill Roads. There is at least one large badger sett, with numerous entrances both on the cutting itself and nearer to the railway track.

Railway cutting summerCllr Julie Morris commented "Railway cuttings and embankments are mentioned in the council's existing Biodiversity Action Plan as offering a significant contribution and since this plan is currently being updated, we hope they will feature more prominently in future".

The Lib Dems also fear that if the Dairy Crest building were to be offered up for redevelopment, it could mean the end of doorstep delivery of milk. The depot serves an area of some 7 miles radius. They point out that older folk make good use of milk and grocery deliveries which are available from Dairy Crest, which now offers a catalogue of goods which can be delivered alongside milk, free of charge.

They also cite huge issues with the parking capacity of the roads nearby, heavily used by commuters already. With only limited parking offstreet associated with new housing there is concern as to where more cars would go. School places at Wallace Fields schools, the nearest, are already oversubscribed. In short, could the local infrastructure support further housing?

Another controversial site is Swail House in Ashley Road. A meeting is due to take place on Monday 4th October and a news update will be issued after this. The Lib Dems view on the potential for Swail House was that it should only be redeveloped for the same use, i.e. for occupation by visually impaired people. Swail House currently has a waiting list.

To respond to the consultation, visit the Town Hall and ask for a paper response form or look at www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk Home Page, where there is a quick link. www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk/deliverydpd should take you straight there. Respondents need to "sign in" - we don't think the process is particularly easy and only a few people have responded so far! Your comments can be viewed by others once you have completed the consultation.

Sett entrance