Fringe Box



‘NIMBYs’ Charter’ Narrowly Rejected at Epsom

Published on: 27 Oct, 2023
Updated on: 29 Oct, 2023

By Emily Coady Stemp

local democracy reporter

Epsom councillors rejected what was described as a “NIMBYs’ charter” as the council moves forward with its plan for new homes in the borough.

Surrey’s smallest borough has unpaused its Local Plan process, meaning it can get back on with working out where up to 5,000 new homes will be built over the next 17 years.

In March councillors voted to put the plan on hold following resident protests about the release of green belt land in the borough to be used for new homes.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday (October 24), members chose to unpause the plan, but did not vote through what was described as a “NIMBYs’ charter” put forward by a Residents’ Association councillor and which divided the chamber.

Rather than the two-point motion originally put to the council calling for the plan to be unpaused and for councillors to note work that had been done by officers since March, the amendment went further.

It called for guiding principles that “must be followed” including housing targets which recognised flooding risks and green belt land in the borough, “significant levels of affordable housing” and maximising brownfield sites in the borough.

The amendment, put forward by Cllr Christine Howells (Residents’ Association, Nonsuch) called for local constraints to be reflected in the plan, with the “clear objective of avoiding redrawing green belt boundaries”.

But Cllr Chris Ames (Labour, Court) said the amendment was “so disingenuously drafted as to constitute a NIMBYs’ charter”.

He told the meeting: “Its main purpose is to minimise the number of homes built in the borough by citing excuse after excuse for not building, to tie officers’ hands while purporting not to do so.”

NIMBY stands for “not in my back yard” and is often used to describe people who object to planning applications, usually for reasons that it will impact on their lives in a way they find unacceptable.

Cllr Ames said those supporting the motion wanted to build “a quarter of the homes that the borough needs” and that words promising “significant levels of truly affordable” housing would “melt away at the first sign of opposition from developers”.

Other councillors said the amendment was calling for things that were not deliverable, and called for all members to make sure they attended all briefings on the Local Plan put on by the council.

Cllr Steven McCormick (Residents’ Association, Woodcote and Langley Vale), chair of the council’s licensing and planning policy committee, told the meeting that the draft plan would again go out to public consultation and also come back to full council.

He said while councillors would set the direction and strategy of the plan, officers then would enable the plan’s development.

Cllr McCormick said: “They’re the experts. I’m not a planning expert, the officers are.

“We input and we provide that direction to our officers. They do all of the hard work which they have done so far.

“They pulled together a good draft Local Plan and we have had a lot of responses to it.

“That’s the whole idea of a draft Local Plan. You put it out there and we’ve had a lot of responses to it.

“We’ve got a load of feedback, we refine it and we take it forward.”

But Cllr Bernie Muir (Conservative, Horton), leader of Conservative group on the council, said as a “matter of urgency” the council should be looking into how brownfield sites could be used, particularly those owned by the council.

Councillors have previously called for sites including Kiln Lane and Longmead industrial estates to be further considered as sites for new homes.

She said the borough’s green belt boundaries should not be redrawn, claiming there was “no requirement to do so” with the land protected under central government policies.

Cllr Muir added: “[Green belt] should only be used for housing in very special circumstances.

“Given the absence of very special circumstances, the housing target should therefore be limited to dwellings that can be accommodated with identified current and estimated future brownfield sites.”

The vote was narrowly lost, with 12 votes for, 14 votes against and three abstentions.

The original recommendation to unpause the plan passed by 21 votes for the motion, and eight abstentions.

Share This Post

Responses to ‘NIMBYs’ Charter’ Narrowly Rejected at Epsom

  1. Jose Fiuza Reply

    October 27, 2023 at 6:50 pm

    Aka Epsom residents party pushes through building on green belt.

    Funny how this article is titled effectively criticising NIMBYs but the R4GV/GGG parties in Guildford are not referred to as such.

    Editor’s response: The headline was suggested by the LDRS but “Nimby’s Carter” is clearly shown to be a quote, so should not be considered a report of fact.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *