Thorpe among land fac­ing removal from the green belt

Staines Informer - - NEWS - Charlotte Tal­bot

AL­MOST 200 hectares could be re­moved from Run­nymede’s green belt to help meet hous­ing tar­gets over the next 20 years.

As the bor­ough’s lo­cal plan con­sul­ta­tion was launched last week, peo­ple were urged to have their say on po­ten­tially dra­matic changes.

The plan out­lines the amount of de­vel­op­ment ex­pected in Run­nymede and where it should be lo­cated.

It in­cludes the level of hous­ing, em­ploy­ment and re­tail de­vel­op­ment, plus changes in the pro­tected green belt. Un­der the coun­cil’s pre­ferred op­tion out­lined in the Is­sues, Op­tions and Pre­ferred Ap­proaches doc­u­ment, sev­eral parcels of land in the bor­ough would be re­moved from the green belt, in­clud­ing sites in Vir­ginia Wa­ter, Thorpe, Ot­ter­shaw and Chert­sey.

Part of that op­tion, which would see 174 hectares of green belt re­leased – re­duc­ing the to­tal from 79% to 77%, would in­clude re­mov­ing Thorpe vil­lage from the green belt en­tirely.

Ian Maguire, cor­po­rate head of plan­ning and en­vi­ron­men­tal ser­vices said do­ing that would not sig­nif­i­cantly increase de­vel­op­ment, giv­ing in­stead a ‘ hand­ful’ of new homes.

“I don’t feel it will make a real dif­fer­ence for Thorpe, apart from tak­ing away the bu­reau­cracy,” he said. “All th­ese peo­ple who live there and want to do things like a con­ser­va­tory on the back of their house have to jump through hoops. There’s noth­ing big and scary with the Thorpe vil­lage re­view.”

Other changes would in­clude re­mov­ing the green belt sta­tus of land at the DERA site in Longcross Road, as well as two parcels in Vir­ginia Wa­ter and Thorpe Lea.

In the south of the bor­ough, land would be re­leased at Ot­ter­shaw, in Row­town next to the Fran­k­lands Drive de­vel­op­ment, and Chert­sey ‘Bit­tams’ – an area of Bit­tams Lane bor­der­ing St Peter’s Way.

The coun­cil’s Strate­gic Hous­ing Mar­ket As­sess­ment iden­ti­fies the need for 466535 homes a year in the bor­ough, with this op­tion de­liver ing 302-383.

Mr Maguire said: “In an ideal world we would be pro­vid­ing more than the need, but in the real world there are con­straints like green belt and flood plain.

“Un­der this op­tion we would be pro­vid­ing 302 to 383 homes per an­num. Th­ese fig­ures are very im­por­tant. The gov­ern­ment wanted us to turn ev­ery stone and see what we could do.

”Hav­ing turned all the stones and looked at all the op­tions, by tak­ing some land out of the green belt we can build around 56% to 82% of the to­tal fig­ure. We pro­vide about 200 dwellings a year at the mo­ment.”

The lo­cal plan, de­scribed by Mr Maguire as the coun­cil’s ‘spa­tial vi­sion’ for the bor­ough over the com­ing years, needs to be in place by 2017. Although a tight timescale, he says it is ‘am­bi­tious but re­al­is­tic’, adding there is still time to ‘lis­ten and make changes’ if needed.

Tthe lo­cal plan was with­drawn in 2014 af­ter an in­spec­tor found fail­ings in the coun­cil’s abil­ity to pro­duce ev­i­dence of work­ing with other coun­cils on cross­bound­ary mat­ters and its ap­proach to hous­ing pro­vi­sion.

Since then, work has been go­ing on to re­sub­mit the doc­u­ment.

Mr Maguire said the in­spec­tor made it clear he wanted ‘no stone un­turned’.

He said: “It was a dis­ap­point­ment of course, but the in­spec­torate has gone through a dif­fer­ent prag­matic and harder ap­proach, and they wanted the most sus­tain­able plan.

“We were hop­ing for a bit more prag­ma­tism. We were hop­ing to do a re­view of the green belt af­ter the process had started.”

With the six-week con­sul­ta­tion un­der­way, the coun­cil is call­ing for as much feedback as pos­si­ble.

Mr Maguire said: “We want to make sure every­one un­der­stands how much and ex­actly where th­ese homes would be built.

“If we are wrong about the ev­i­dence that un­der­pins th­ese sug­ges­tions, we need to know.

“We would be deeply dis­ap­pointed if we don’t get de­bate. The Is­sues, Op­tions and Pre­ferred Ap­proaches doc­u­ment is about n What is a lo­cal plan?

It is a doc­u­ment set­ting out the amount of de­vel­op­ment ex­pected in the bor­ough over the next 20 years and where it should be lo­cated.

This in­cludes the level of hous­ing, em­ploy­ment and re­tail de­vel­op­ment and the ap­proach to be taken to the green belt, as well as al­lo­cat­ing sites in the bor­ough for de­vel­op­ment. sug­ges­tions the coun­cil have been mak­ing based on ev­i­dence we have got.

“Plan­ning must be n Will there be any meet­ings on the is­sue?

Pre­sen­ta­tions and work­shops will be held from 2pm-4pm and 6pm-8pm to­day (Thurs­day), with ques­tion and an­swer ses­sions from 4pm-5pm and 8pm-9pm at the Civic Cen­tre, in Ad­dle­stone. n How can I get in touch?

The first round of for­mal pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion has ev­i­dence based so that if some­one can pro­vide ev­i­dence [for changes] then we will dis­cuss it.”

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