As you may be aware from previous messages from me, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is currently embarking on the process of shaping a new local plan. The plan is an essential part of ensuring that the Borough can meet its housing needs while at the same time putting in place strict guidance for developers about what they can and cannot do locally. This can include a clear allocation of land for development, design guidelines, limits on the height of buildings and other guidance.
There will be many people who do not want to see more houses built locally, given how busy an area we already are. I have a lot of sympathy with that view. But equally there are far too many young people unable to get somewhere to buy or rent locally, and too many people waiting to get into affordable accommodation – so I do think something must be done. That’s why areas like ours are being asked by Government to put in place a plan to deliver the housing that people need.
But it’s really important that we get this right, and at the moment it is far from clear that this is happening. There are currently, for example, four proposals to build high rise blocks in the Borough that are as tall as seventeen storeys. This is completely wrong, and would completely change the character of the area. But the Borough Council is currently recommending developers to come forward with proposals for taller buildings. I fundamentally disagree with this, and have asked them to stop doing so.
I have put together an alternative strategy for the area, which involves turning parts of the Kiln Lane and Longmead areas into mixed residential and commercial developments aimed particularly at smaller, creative businesses. The presence of the University of the Creative Arts in Epsom, which has gone from strength to strength in recent years, provides a real opportunity to turn this area into more of a creative hub and also to provide extra homes close to those business opportunities. The benefit of this approach is that it enables the Borough to meet its housing needs in a way that also plays to its potential economic strengths, and without damaging our important green belt areas.
I have set this out in a detailed document which is now on my website. If you are interested in reading it, please take a look here.
I am also asking local residents if they support the strategy of focusing new development in the Kiln Lane and Longmead areas where we can create a new kind of creative centre for the area. I would be very grateful if you could do my online survey and tell me what you think. You can find the survey here.
Finally please let the local Residents Associations know what you think. The Borough Council is controlled by Residents Association Councillors, and it is important that they know what your views are. So please let them know what you think is the right way to provide the housing that is needed locally. And please find a moment to fill in my online survey, as the responses will help me make the case for the right plan for Epsom and Ewell Borough.
For those of you in Mole Valley and Reigate and Banstead, this is something that you may be interested in as local residents, though it is not in your own Council area. I will be contacting people in Ashtead over the coming weeks about the local plan there. For those of you who live in Nork and Tattenhams the plan process is largely over, though I will be keeping a close watch on applications as they come forward and asking the Council to use its full powers to ensure that inappropriate applications do not get the go ahead.
With best wishes
Chris Grayling MP
Information from the office of Chris Grayling MP