by lesleybushnell on 21 December, 2017
Mole Valley District Council is carrying out a Greenfield Call for Sites between 11 December 2017 and 5 February 2018. This means that landowners and other interested parties are being invited to propose land and sites for development over the next 15 years.
To be clear, Greenfield sites are defined as those which have never been developed before, usually agricultural land, and they can therefore include land currently designated as Green Belt, which is protected from development to safeguard the countryside from urban sprawl. In this area most greenfield sites are within the Green Belt, except for some areas south of Capel and near Ockley.
Recently, Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDPs) have been meticulously carried out by Parish Councils. In the case of the Capel parish, the plan was approved in last month’s referendum, so you might be expecting that our area would be exempt from yet another attempt by developers to get sites released That, apparently, is not the case. The Mole Valley Local Plan would supersede any previous plans, including NDPs. It could result in land being taken out of the Green Belt and the NDP might have to be set aside or revised.
Parish Councils have no authority to change Green Belt boundaries. Consequently, the independent review of the NDP for Capel removed all proposed development sites which were within the Green Belt. Local authorities, on the other hand, have the power to define the Green Belt areas so Mole Valley District Council could release Green Belt sites for development.
You would be forgiven for asking why we have been through all the recent consultations and why so much time, effort and money were expended on our local plan if the results are going to be swept aside by the District Council when they think it is expedient.
Not only are our local views in danger of being be discounted and our Green Belt once again under threat, but we will be subjected to yet another round of consultations.
Furthermore, areas of greenfield countryside south of the village of Capel and near Ockley will be even more vulnerable. People would lose precious countryside for walking, riding, cycling, being out with children or walking their dogs. What a shame to have a concrete jungle instead.
We need to act to prevent this from happening and to insist that Council planning takes into account views of people expressed in their neighbourhood plan. I shall be writing to Conservative Councillor Irvine, cabinet member for planning at Mole Valley District Council Council and would urge you also to register your concern (see link below).
One of the aims of Liberal Democrat Councillors in Mole Valley is to introduce transparency and accountability into the planning system and make it work better for communities. This includes due regard for people’s expressed views, something which, unbelievably, the planning authority is not obliged to do. Another is to build social houses for people to rent. The two aims need not be mutually exclusive – we can achieve both objectives. Working with communities and giving priority to developing brownfield sites, we can build small numbers of low-cost homes for local people, integrated within or near our villages – not large developments that eat up the countryside and leave infrastructure inadequate.
Please write to Councillor Irvine at: [email protected]
For convenience, here is some suggested text
Dear Councillor Irvine,
I am writing to ask you to halt the search for housing sites in the Green Belt. Our Neighbourhood Development Plan has only just been approved following the removal of attempts to build in the Green Belt. Within a month of that decision you are now starting a new process and causing a further period of concern about the future of our village.
The Green Belt is vital for preventing development sprawling across the countryside and needs to be respected.
I do hope that you will recognise the concern this is causing and call it off.
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