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Shaping Elmbridge

Shaping Elmbridge

Your questions answered on the draft Local Plan

What’s happening?

  • On 16 March 2022, the Elmbridge Draft Local Plan is being debated at Elmbridge Cabinet.
  • The recommendations of the Cabinet will be presented to a Council meeting on 22 March 2022. 
  • If approved by Council, the next stage on the way to adoption is a ‘Regulation 19 representation’, after which the Plan will then be passed to the national Planning Inspectorate for examination.

Why does the Local Plan matter?

  •  A Local Plan is considered an incredibly important and challenging document to develop.
  •  It is not just a collection of policy reports detailing housing development, it is instrumental in the shaping of an area, involving much consultation and debate, with legal and political views weighing in, and in the last couple of years, COVID-19 has also impacted both the process and the thinking behind the Plan.
  • However, when approved by the national Planning Inspectorate, it is fundamental to an area – determining how sustainable communities are given the fundamentals to thrive – green spaces, transport network, schools, medical practices, high streets etc.

What are the key points I should know about the Draft Local Plan?

  1. The Draft Local Plan is vital for shaping a sustainable and thriving Elmbridge.
  2. It will protect and enhance the character of Elmbridge. To take all that we love about Elmbridge – the 550 hectares of green space, commons and woodlands, the parades, the high streets, the sense of community - and find a way to enhance it, not only for the world we live in now, but also for the next 15 years.
  3. The good design principles outlined in the Draft Local Plan will help us live more sustainably through improved walking and cycling infrastructure, increased numbers of electric vehicle chargers and improved air quality in our homes. The Plan offers Elmbridge the opportunity to embrace sustainable living more than ever.
  4. It also brings that sustainability to our high streets, acknowledging that our high streets are evolving beyond places to shop. To thrive, they will need to offer retail, entertainment and socialising experiences. More than ever our high streets will provide that community buzz, that sense of togetherness and socialisation that makes Elmbridge a place people want to live in, work and visit.
  5. The Plan being offered to Cabinet, protects Elmbridge’s Green Belt; it offers a way forward for Elmbridge, a way to deliver a wide choice of high-quality homes based on the differing needs of our community.

I have noticed lots of potential site allocations in my area. How has the list been collated?

The sites listed in the Draft Local Plan document being debated by Elmbridge Cabinet on 16 March show how Elmbridge can meet its housing development numbers as outlined in the draft Plan. To protect green belt in Elmbridge, the list has been collated through consultation with landowners to identify sites for redevelopment (brownfield sites) in the borough.

These sites have been assessed to be both available and deliverable over the next 15 years. However, inclusion in the Draft Local Plan does not mean development will happen and any future applications will go through the same process as any other application in Elmbridge. Additionally in many cases, the existing use could be retained as part of the redevelopment through optimising and increasing the density on site, which would allow any community facilities to continue operating.

It is also worth noting that we are required to review the Plan against housing delivery every 5 years to test whether the sites are coming forward as we anticipated. Some may remain and some may not. 

How will it impact the roads around me?

Planned, sustainable and controlled development through the Local Plan, allows us to work with our partners at Surrey County Council and Surrey Highways to always consider the impact of development on roads, as well as other infrastructure elements such as school places and access to medical centres.

It is also clear that our future, not just in Elmbridge but around the country, has to include more sustainable travel including walking and cycling.

This Draft Local Plan, has sustainability at its heart and seeks to place more responsibility with developers to ensure they are creating connections to community facilities, for example, they may need to work with Highways on a zebra crossing to allow access to a play area or they may need to consider cycle path access. The Draft Local Plan allows us to consider the needs of our residents first and foremost.

Will this Draft Local Plan destroy the character of my area?

On the contrary, the Draft Local Plan is the implementation tool which will help to protect the character of the borough. It is based on the needs of our borough rather than focussing on targets, Through the design code principles in the Plan, we can ensure housing development in the borough has quality and sustainability, as well as curb appeal.

The Plan allows us to develop our town centres into vibrant hubs designed around the needs of our residents, incorporating retail and entertainment options. For our industrial estates, the Plan shows a vision to make these more appealing for companies and employees, considering the move to more hybrid working practices and the shift away from large and expensive city office development. Through the Plan, we can foster growth in a controlled way.

The Plan also seeks to bring more connectivity to the borough through walking and cycling paths, to allow the school run for example to leave the car at home and instead walk or cycle safely – also improving physical and mental health.

How will the Draft Local Plan help car parking?

We know our residents are concerned with parking in their towns and streets, but we also know they are concerned about air pollution, climate change and ensuring a sustainable future for their children. In working towards a sustainable and thriving Elmbridge, our role is marrying their concerns with the future needs of the borough.

The Draft Local Plan cannot not allocate more parking spots in our residential areas, but it does support sustainable travel and improved walking and cycling infrastructure to reduce the reliance on our cars. The Plan sets out that all development proposals will be required to provide cycle and vehicle parking as well as associated facilities, including electric vehicle charging points.

The existing planning document on parking (Parking Supplementary Planning Document -‘SPD’), sets out standards for parking spaces and when the Draft Local Plan is agreed, the parking SPD will be updated in keeping with the sustainable policies of the Local Plan.

What is the Draft Local Plan doing about affordable housing?

In recent years, we have prioritised council land for affordable housing as witnessed at Barnett House in Weybridge and Albemarle House in Thames Ditton. The need for more affordable homes will always be challenging in an area with property prices as high as Elmbridge, but we will tackle that challenge through providing affordable housing on our council-owned land, as well as always collecting development fees on sites including those with under 10 properties (in fact we are one of the few councils in the country to do this).

How will the Draft Local Plan support businesses in my area?

The Draft Local Plan, together with the Council Plan and Budget for 2022/23, as well as the Enterprise Elmbridge plan, all come together in support of a thriving Elmbridge; thriving for residents and businesses.

We know our high streets and parades are evolving to become more experience led. We want residents and visitors to come to a thriving town centre to shop, meet friends, work and also take a trip to the cinema, theatre or comedy club. The Draft Local Plan is the tool to allow that to happen by presenting a plan of action beyond unit classifications, with a view to attracting businesses and people.

Will my area see more development?

We are presenting a way forward that distributes sustainable, coordinated development around the borough and that also protects both Elmbridge’s Green Belt and its character, while presenting a vision for a thriving Elmbridge community. This is a 15-year plan for Elmbridge, and while it does contain possible sites for development, many of these will not be considered for 5 years.

Will the CIL charging structure change?

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charging schedule, which sets out the charging rates adopted by the council regarding CIL, will be reviewed as part of the Local Plan process.

As the purpose of CIL is to raise sufficient funds to contribute towards new or improved infrastructure required to support the delivery of new development in the borough, we will consult with local communities on any amends to the CIL charging schedule. We expect that the examination of the Local Plan and CIL charging schedule will be aligned.

For more information on CIL please visit our website.

I have seen that the Weybridge Hospital site is listed in the Draft Local Plan.

The sites listed in the Draft Local Plan document being debated by Elmbridge Cabinet on 16 March show how Elmbridge can meet its housing development numbers as outlined in the draft Plan. To protect green belt in Elmbridge, the list has been collated through consultation with landowners to identify sites for redevelopment (brownfield sites) in the borough.

These sites have been assessed to be both available and deliverable over the next 15 years. However, inclusion in the Draft Local Plan does not mean development will happen and any future applications will go through the same process as any other application in Elmbridge. Additionally, in many cases, the existing use could be retained as part of the redevelopment through optimising and increasing the density on site, which would allow any community facilities to continue operating.

What is happening with The Jolly Boatman development?

In terms of the Draft Local Plan the Jolly Boatman is identified as a development site at the capacity  of the existing permission approved in 2009 (Application 2008/1600). It is included in the Plan as it has a live planning permission.

The appeal on the recently refused application is set for 13 June 2022 and will be in the form of a public inquiry which is open to the public to watch.

I notice the number of housing units in the current application, is the same as the draft Local Plan – how?

Planning permission (application 2008/1600) was granted for the comprehensive redevelopment of Hampton Court Station, the Jolly Boatman site and adjoining land on 16 September 2009. The planning permission is still valid.

The development included 66 residential units and a 61-bedroom care home. When counting these units towards our housing delivery a discount rate is applied to care homes ie they do not count as a complete unit as they are not ‘self-contained’ (they have shared facilities). Applying the discount reduces the housing delivery of the 61-bedroom care home to 30.5 units.

Therefore, in total, this permission provides a residential yield of 96.5 units.

This just happens to be the same number of residential units (97 units) proposed under planning application 2018/3810 for which permission was refused on 19 July 2021 and an appeal lodged.

I have seen that Lower Green is also in the draft Local Plan?

The longer-term development future of the Lower Green area has yet to be agreed. There have been discussions around the possibility of improving connectivity with neighbouring communities in Esher, Hersham and Weston Green and increasing the number of new homes but there are no details yet. For any such project, we would fully engage with all residents and businesses in the area.

What is happening at Whiteley Village?

Whiteley Village provides specialist housing for older people, much of it designed architecturally by Arts and Crafts movement-influenced architect Reginald Blomfield.

The current layout of Whiteley Village is not the full design of the architect, which provides a possibility for a future planning application from the current owners of Whiteley Village. Its inclusion in the Draft Local Plan does not mean a development design has been planned and / or agreed. It is an important facility within the borough and its reference in the Draft Local Plan acknowledges its importance and that development maybe needed to enhance its offering.

Any future applications will go through the same process as any other application in Elmbridge.

Did I see that Brooklands Community College is part of the Local Plan?

Like Whiteley Village, Brooklands Community College is an important facility within the borough and its reference in the Draft Local Plan acknowledges its importance and that development maybe needed to enhance its offering. Any future applications will go through the same process as any other application in Elmbridge.

How can I find out which areas have been proposed for Local Green Space designation?

The council has prepared a map and a list which show those areas proposed as Local Green Space. The details behind the assessments will be published alongside the Draft Local Plan at the Regulation 19 stage.

What protection from development will our green spaces have if they are not proposed for designation as Local Green Space?

The council is aware of local concern that if an area is not designated as Local Green Space, it will be developed.  Areas not proposed for designation as Local Green Space will still be afforded a level of protection in accordance with the policies in the emerging Local Plan (as they are with the current Core Strategy and Development Management Plan) as well as national planning policy.

What’s happens next?

  • If approved Council, a Statutory Regulation 19 representation period will take place among residents, businesses and developers in the coming months. During which would like to hear your views on whether the Draft Local Plan is sound and legally compliant.
  • All of the consultation documents, technical evidence and guidance notes will be available on our website at that time.
  • During this representation, views will collated by the council and  submitted directly to the Planning Inspectorate alongside the draft Local Plan and evidence base.
  • More details and information will be made available in May 2022 (after the Elmbridge council elections in May), via our website and social media channels. If you would like to be notified when the Regulation 19 representation is live, please email tplan@elmbridge.gov.uk.

You may also be interested in

Draft Local Plan statement: Shaping a sustainable and thriving Elmbridge

 

 

 

 

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