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Changes to Housing Numbers ‘Won’t Protect Staines’

Published on: 12 Dec, 2022
Updated on: 14 Dec, 2022

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Staines residents have been warned that lower housing targets which may be coming from central government “will do nothing” to protect the town from development.

See also: Guildford’s MP Welcomes Government’s Expected Relaxation of Housing Targets

Once further details are released on an announcement made by Michael Gove on Tuesday (December 6) about changes to the planning system, Spelthorne Borough Council officers will be able to advise on how they may affect the council’s plan for homes.

But the council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee chairman, Cllr Ian Beardsmore (Ind, Sunbury Common), said new council policies regarding Staines would do more to protect its “sensitive areas”.

The authority’s Local Plan, a set of policies and site allocations that will set out where and when homes will be built in the next 15 years, was submitted to government inspectors in November after a round of public feedback.

Staines was earmarked to take 59 per cent of the borough’s housing allocation (5,472 of 9,270 new homes).

See also: Dragon Interview – GBC Reaction to the Government’s Expected Decision to Relax Housing Targets

Cllr Beardsmore told a meeting of the borough council on Thursday (December 8) that the possible implications of revised central government targets, which councils work to when preparing their Local Plans, would be brought to councillors likely early in 2023.

He said whatever the changes would be from central government, his hope was that the council’s Local Plan would allow a “zoning approach” to protect the most sensitive parts of Staines, something that was not possible within current council policies.

He added: “The reality is that a lower housing target will do nothing to offer Staines that protection because it does not operate as a cap on future development.

“This is a sustainable town centre where sites will be expected to be optimised.

“Indeed the statement is very clear, under the heading ‘brownfield first’, that town centre sites should be used before others.”

He said if the housing need figure were lowered, that would mean a possible reduction in the amount of green belt land being released for development, but that this came with its own issues.

Saying the green belt developments would offer 50 per cent of affordable housing rather than 30 per cent on brownfield sites, Cllr Beardsmore also told members this would be where family homes, replacement community centres and sports facilities would be.

He asked: “Do we really want to lose those benefits in favour of a plan that delivers 98 per cent of new homes as flats with a brownfield-only strategy?

“This council agreed the Local Plan because it recognises that whilst it won’t please everyone, it represents a sound and sensible approach.”

In a statement released before the meeting, the Riverside Residents (Staines) Coalition said new central government policy would give the council “all the room it needs” to modify the Local Plan and avoid “several thousand tiny flats in tower blocks across Staines”.

A spokesperson said: “Given the urgency for an approved Local Plan, Spelthorne Council must surely begin work now on revisions to its plan with a lower housing aspiration for re-submission as soon as the new government policy becomes a binding regulation.

“It should also declare now that this is its intention.”

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Responses to Changes to Housing Numbers ‘Won’t Protect Staines’

  1. Stuart Barnes Reply

    December 13, 2022 at 10:37 am

    Just to point out the obvious, Staines is in Middlesex.

    Editor’s comment: Staines became part of Surrey in the 1965 redrawing of county boundaries when administratively the county of Middlesex ceased to exist. The town is now part of Spelthorne borough.

    • Stuart Barnes Reply

      December 13, 2022 at 10:13 pm

      Try telling those people living in Middlesex now that the county doesn’t exist.

      It was another rubbish decision of the second worst ever “Conservative” PM (Ted Heath), who tried to obliterate many of our counties.

      Most traditional and genuine Conservatives refuse to accept Heath’s vandalism to this day.

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