Fringe Box



Spelthorne’s Local Plan Paused

Published on: 8 Jun, 2023
Updated on: 10 Jun, 2023

Staines is set to take more than half of the 9,000 new homes as part of Spelthorne Borough Council’s Local Plan as it stands. Image: Emily Coady-Stemp

Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Spelthorne’s plan for 9,000 new homes in the borough is set to be paused for three months while councillors go through it “with a fine-toothed comb”.

The council’s Local Plan, which sets out where and when homes will be built up until 2037, was going through an examination stage with a government inspector.

Hearings started in May, and were due to start again on June 13 but now councillors will ask for a pause to the process.

Councillors at a meeting on June 6 voted by 20 votes to 13, with one abstention, in favour of pausing the plan for three months, in order for new councillors to get up to speed with the process.

At the end of the three months, councillors will decide what actions might be needed in order to go forward with the plan.

The council’s leader, chosen last month after May’s elections left the council in no overall control, said creating the plan was one of the most significant responsibilities the council would undertake “for many years”.

Cllr Joanne Sexton (Independent Spelthorne Group, Ashford East) said the 22 new councillors in the chamber since May’s election needed to be “up to speed” before they made any “far-reaching decisions”.

She said: “We want to encourage more residents’ participation and reach out more widely to the community as a whole and for them to be more aware and involved in the issues this council faces.

“Our residents have reached out by emailing all councillors, some to pause [the plan], some to continue.

“We owe it to all our residents to pause this Local Plan and go through it with a fine-toothed comb to show what was voted for by the last council, many of whom are no longer councillors, is still seen to be the right decision.”

But some councillors also warned about the prospect of “predatory developers” taking advantage of the borough council not having a plan in place and putting in planning applications.

Possible changes coming from central government to nationwide planning policies were also raised in the meeting, and have been a factor in the pausing of other Local Plans in Surrey, including in Mole Valley.

Concerns about releasing green belt land for development and the number of new homes planned for Staines have also been contentious issues in Spelthorne’s case.

Cllr Darren Clarke (Con, Laleham and Shepperton Green) said he trusted both the previous councillors and the council officers who had worked on the plan “to have done their due diligence”

He added: “None of us have been overwhelmingly elected in our areas.

“So this does not give us a mandate to make such a change, with all the attendant risks of developers circling around like vultures ready to build on our green belt.

“The plan is not perfect, but never let perfection be the enemy of the good. And this is a good plan.”

He said the plan, like all Local Plans, could be “refined before, during and after adoption”.

Cllr Clarke added: “If you vote for a delay in the plan, and this leads to infinitely wealthy developers building all over our green belt, this will be your legacy.

“You will always be remembered as one of the people who destroyed Spelthorne.”

Concerns were also raised about work still needing to be done on the flood risks in the borough, while at last month’s hearings, the government inspector questioned a part of the plan which relied on a development framework for Staines that had not been through an examination.

The pause will mean the plan may be picked up again in September, depending on the inspector’s response, and availability.


Share This Post

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 *