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Elmbridge Plans for New Homes Without Green Belt Building

Published on: 10 Mar, 2022
Updated on: 13 Mar, 2022

Elmbridge Civic Centre, Esher. Photo LDR

By Emily Coady Stemp

local democracy reporter

A borough council that borders Guildford has said there are “no exceptional circumstances” to building on its green belt as it releases a draft Local Plan for 7,000 new homes.

Elmbridge Borough Council has released its plan for housing for the next 15 years, identifying key sites for development and with a “brownfield first” approach, building on previously developed land.

The plan aims for 6,985 new homes, with more than 4,000 of them planned for Walton, Weybridge and Esher. It will mean 465 new homes a year in the borough over the 15 year period.

The Borough of Elmbridge borders Guildford to the north-east.

Sites identified in the council document for new homes include Waitrose Cobham, the Waitrose car park in Hersham, and 97 homes on the Jolly Boatman site near Hampton Court.

Planners say they are aiming to deliver the densest development near or in towns and villages and train stations to give the most sustainable locations, with the carbon footprint of the borough being one of the highest in the region.

Cllr Karen Randolph (Thames Ditton & Weston Green Residents’ Association, Thames Ditton), portfolio holder for planning services, said she was “delighted” that the plan did not include any building on green belt land.

She said the plan would help people in Elmbridge to live more sustainably with better walking and cycling infrastructure, offering Elmbridge “the opportunity to embrace sustainable living and net-zero more than ever”.

She added: “It also brings that sustainability to our high streets and parades, acknowledging that they are evolving beyond being places to shop.

“To thrive, they will need to offer retail, entertainment and socialising experiences. Meeting your friends for a coffee, do some shopping and then go to the cinema for example, all in the same space.

“More than ever our commercial centres will provide that community buzz, that sense of togetherness and socialisation that makes Elmbridge a place people want to live, work and visit.”

According to the documents, Elmbridge has around 130,000 residents and has the highest average house prices in the country by local authority outside of Greater London.

At least 30 per cent of the homes built over the life of the plan are to be designated “affordable” and the plan says there is a significant need in particular for smaller homes of 1 and 2 bedrooms.

Conservative group leader John Cope (Walton South) said it was “fantastic news” that the borough council had “backed down” on previous proposals to build on green belt, after consultations on options put forward by the council in 2016 showed 85 per cent of residents were against it.

He said there was still a long road ahead with getting design codes in place to ensure new builds fit with the community.

Cllr Cope added: “Much more consideration also needs to be given to the environmental impact of local development, with the council making next to no progress on Net Zero and increasing local biodiversity.”

Cllr Randolph said: “Good design and sustainability are at the heart of our plan. The design code for Elmbridge is being produced in tandem with the draft local plan to provide extra guidance and support for its policies.”

She said sustainability and tackling climate change were key aspects of the draft Local Plan.

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Responses to Elmbridge Plans for New Homes Without Green Belt Building

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 11, 2022 at 6:07 am

    So Elmbridge can argue there are no exceptional circumstances to justify building on the green belt. Why then could GBC not do likewise? What a wasted opportunity and why? Was it just to line the pockets of developers?

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