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Tandridge Councillors Hope They Will Not Have to Start Again on 6,000 Home Local Plan

Published on: 21 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 23 Jan, 2022

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

A Surrey council’s long-term plan to build 6,000 homes hangs in the balance as planners put forward four options, with one including scrapping it and starting all over again.

Tandridge District councillors debated their response to a letter sent in September by the planning inspector in which the withdrawal of the plan entirely was suggested as the most appropriate action.

The authority’s local plan was delayed after the proposed South Godstone Garden Village was scrapped in 2020 over concerns it would put too much traffic straight on Junction 6 of the M25.

The district council’s response will put four options to the inspector for the way forward for its Local Plan.

Tandridge District, one of the 11 lower tier local authorities in Surrey. Image Wikipedia

The four options ranged from withdrawing the plan and starting again – option one – to shortening the length of time the plan was in place for, and introducing a five-year review, or continuing with the plan and current modifications process.

A council’s Local Plan set out how many homes will be built, and areas set aside for building them, and once agreed goes to public consultation before being looked at by the inspector again.

Some councillors at the planning policy meeting on Thursday (January 20) questioned the wisdom of sending multiple options to the planning inspector.

Cllr Jeremy Pursehouse (Ind Group, Warlingham East Chelsham & Farleigh) said he felt that putting multiple options to the inspector showed a lack of leadership at the council.

He said: “To me, the inspector is a referee; it’s like going to a referee in a football match and saying: ‘What should I do next?’”

Others pointed out that putting all options to the inspector showed they had considered the routes available to them.

A motion was finally passed to re-word the letter to show the “impossibility” of withdrawing the plan as it exists so far, both in terms of not having the money required to draw up a new one or being able to do it in the time required by central government.

Council leader Catherine Sayer (Ind and OLRG Alliance, Oxted North & Tandridge), chair of the meeting, said it was “so important” to keep option one in the letter because it set out to the inspector the exact position the council would be in if the plan were to be abandoned.

She said: “As I understand it, we’ve got £170,000 in unallocated funds, and £500,000 in reserve, and that’s not going to buy us a new plan.”

The inspector’s letter of 13 September said key decisions needed to be made in consultation with the local community, saying that “the most effective and transparent way to do this would be through the preparation of a new plan.”

He said he appreciated the council’s efforts to get a sound plan and the suggestion to continue with the plan given the work and investment that had gone into it.

He added: “However, although I will not reach a final decision on the way forward until I have had the opportunity to consider the councils’ response to this letter, I am of the view that withdrawal of the plan from examination is looking like the most appropriate option given the circumstances.”

Cllr Jackie Wren (Ind and OLRG Alliance, Oxted North & Tandridge) said she felt that giving options to the inspector offered the best chance of getting a plan in place, and hoped everyone recognised the importance of the plan for the district.

She said: “I think it’s really important that we support the officers and all the hard work that’s been going on at the moment to get this Local Plan through and not put any obstacles in the way because the detriment that will have to this whole district and for the residents that we all represent is going to be a disaster.”

Members agreed to send the letter after some rewording of the option one section for review by the chair and the vice-chair of the committee.

In Elmbridge Borough, which borders Guildford Borough to the north, the Local Plan has faced a fresh delay.

Elmbridge Borough Council’s local plan should have been brought to a specially-called Cabinet meeting next week, on Thursday, January 27, with full council considering the document the following week.

Elmbridge borders Guildford Borough to the north.

But current delays to the draft of the document are due to needing “to make it as robust as possible”, according to the Lib Dem group leader and community and corporate development portfolio holder, Bruce McDonald.

In an email seen by the LDRS, councillors were told on Wednesday (19 January) “there had been a review of progress with the council’s planning QC” following a meeting of the cross-party Local Plan Working Group on January 13.

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test One Response to Tandridge Councillors Hope They Will Not Have to Start Again on 6,000 Home Local Plan

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    January 22, 2022 at 5:37 am

    If Tandridge has the option of scrapping their Local Plan, and starting again, then the same must be true for Guildford. I believe this is the preference of the majority of residents.

    Editor’s comment: The Local Plan for Tandridge has not yet been adopted.

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