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Council leader outlines garden village proposal

Words: Laura Edgar
Garden villages / Shutterstock_280811615

The leader of Tandridge District Council, Surrey, has outlined his plans for a strategic approach to development as part of the area’s creation of a local plan, including a new settlement.

Martin Fisher said at a council meeting last week that a new settlement of about 4,000 houses, developed around garden village principles, will be pursued as part of the local plan.

This was just one option put forward during the 'Local plan: Issues and approaches regulation 18 consultation', which took place from 18 December 2015 to 26 February 2016 and then the site consultation, which took place between 4 November 2016 and 30 December 2016.

The council wants to provide a mix of affordable and starter homes in the village, which would also comprise new schools, a doctor’s surgery, supermarket and investment in roads.

The aim is to have a local plan that is infrastructure-led and that seeks to relieve the pressure on existing facilities.

The Tandridge district is currently 94 per cent green belt and, the council explained, development has been concentrated within the remaining 6 per cent. These areas however, “are now at risk of unsustainable levels of infilling”.

The creation of a garden village is expected to require the release of 1 per cent of the green belt and is considered to be an “appropriate and proportionate approach to the government’s requirement to significantly boost the supply of housing”.

“Releasing this small amount in one particular area would make it easier to protect the rest and prevent a scattergun approach to the release of green belt,” said the council.  

Without considering the green belt, the council stated it would be able to deliver just over a third of the housing needed. It noted this would neither boost housing supply in the area, nor pass local plan examination.

Fisher said: “The vision I have outlined, if agreed by the planning policy committee, will aim to meet the requirements of the district over the next 20 years and help the council retain control over future development. We have to be realistic about our ability to meet future housing need. We have the largest amount of green belt in the entire country and will fight to maintain this position.”

He said that by releasing a small amount the council would have a better chance of deciding where development can go and protect the green belt into the future.

“As a passionate defender of the green belt, I would find its wholesale and uncontrolled loss unacceptable, this approach has to be the best way forward,” he said.

He noted that house prices in the area are 14 times the average earnings – “that is unsustainable”.

Without a different approach, young people would have to find homes elsewhere, while the population would become increasingly elderly, causing a knock-on effect on the economy and on public services, he said.

“We have to ensure this district continues to be a vibrant place to live, work and visit.”

The proposal is due to be considered by the council’s planning policy committee in March.

Image credit | Shutterstock