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Tandridge Council Put ‘On Notice’ by Planning Inspector Over Local Plan

Published on: 12 Mar, 2022
Updated on: 13 Mar, 2022

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

A Surrey council has been put “on notice” by the planning inspector over work needed on its plan for 6,000 homes in the area.

A meeting of the Tandridge District Council planning policy committee on Thursday (March 10) heard that clarifications would be sought to the inspector’s latest letter about the Local Plan, with the proposed South Godstone Garden Village deliverability being a key part.

Tandridge district is the easternmost local authority area in Surrey. The plan risks being taken off the table altogether after concern about work needed at Junction 6 of the M25 to accommodate housing and while costs continue to rise.

Tandridge District Wikipedia

Cliff Thurlow, the council’s interim chief planning officer, said other authorities had “foundered on the rock” of being able to show that their plans could be delivered and the inspector had made clear he would be “quite a hard taskmaster”.

He said the inspector’s letter made clear that if at any point the council was “faltering” on its plan he would recommend withdrawal of the plan altogether.

Mr Thurlow said: “We’re on notice, no doubt, from him that we can’t falter along the way.

“And there are risks, to be absolutely honest about that. There are real risks here.”

The council is also planning to “bolster” its current policies as a fallback position to protect the area from applications for large developments if the Local Plan does not get over the line.

According to council documents, the allocated funding for the local plan up to March 2024 is £1.6 million, though officers admitted not knowing if that would be enough money to complete the plan.

Council leader Catherine Sayer (Independents and OLRG Alliance, Oxted North & Tandridge) said the “possibly changing” landscape in planning was an important factor to remember.

She said that seven of the ten Local Plans to have been withdrawn, paused or delayed in the past six months were in the South East, amid rumours that plans may change at central government.

Currently, all councils must have a Local Plan in place by December 2023.

She added that the council had been given “an absolute mountain of work” to do in a very short period of time with very limited financial and staffing resources.

She said: “We are between a rock and a hard place and we’ve inherited this [plan].

“We’ll do our best to find a fallback position. It’s not going to be ideal. It’s not necessarily going to protect everybody, we can’t just find a panacea to all of this.”

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