letter to council 31 may 2011

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  • 1.Unit 11 Bridge Wharf156 Caledonian RoadLondon N1 9UUTel: 0845 481 8136Fax: 020 7147 1374 www.sarahyouren.comPlanning DepartmentMole Valley District CouncilPippbrookDorkingSurreyRH4 1SJ30 May 2011Dear Sirs,Planning Application Reference MO/2011/0528Development of land at Springfield Road, Westcott, SurreyWe act for the Westcott Meadow Action Group (WMAG) which represents 757members who are residents of the village of Westcott. 44 of those members are onthe committee of WMAG and the names of the committee members are listed on adocument appended to this letter. We trust this illustrates the breadth of objection tothe proposed development throughout the village and that the views of localresidents will be given significant weight in the determination of this application.The proposed developmentTaylor Wimpey have submitted an application for planning permission to construct14 dwellings (including affordable housing) together with vehicle and pedestrianaccess from Westcott Street, associated parking, landscaping and public openspace.The application proposes 2 x 3 bed houses and 8 x 4 bed houses plus 4 affordableunits however the submitted plans do not show this mix of dwellings rather theyshow 5 x 5 bed houses, 5 x 4 bed houses and 2 x 2 bed affordable houses and 2 x 3bed affordable houses. The exact mix and size of houses should be clarified. 1. Prematurity based on overall housing targetOne of the fundamental flaws with this application is that it would be premature togrant planning permission for this site at this time. The site remains a reservehousing site. It has not been released for development for housing and should not bedeveloped until other more suitable sites identified in the Strategic Housing LandAvailability Assessment (SHLAA) as being currently available for development forhousing have been exhausted. Only then should the Council consider releasing thereserve housing sites in the order required by policy HSG6 as set out in the MoleValley District Local Plan 2000 which is the adopted local plan for the area withinSarah Youren Planning Solicitors Limited is registered in England No. 06866594. Registered office: Unit 11 Bridge Wharf, 156Caledonian Road, London N19UU. Director: Sarah Youren LLB Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority authorised number: 511854.

2. which the application site is located. We set out below a more detailed explanation ofwhy this is the case as it is important that committee members are very clear aboutthe actual current status of this site which has been misrepresented in the supportingstatement submitted with the planning application.Policy HSG 6 in the Mole Valley District Local Plan 2000Planning applications must be determined in accordance with the policies of thecurrent development plan and any other material considerations (section 70 of theTown and Country Planning Act 1990). The current development plan for theapplication site is the Mole Valley District Local Plan 2000 (the Local Plan) whichprevails until such time as the replacement policies in the Local DevelopmentDocuments have been adopted.When the Local Plan was adopted the housing policies were based on the housingtargets set out in the Surrey Structure Plan 1994 (the Structure Plan). Policy DP4 ofthe Structure Plan required that provision was made for a net increase in thedwelling stock of Mole Valley of about 1,900 units in the fifteen years between 1991and 2006 and it highlighted the need to provide smaller dwellings in the 1 or 2bedroom range.The Local Plan therefore aimed to identify sufficient land to allow for a net increasein dwelling stock in the period to 2006 in line with the requirements of the SurreyStructure Plan. To safeguard the land supply position in case identified housingrequirements could not be met from land within the built up areas, Policy HSG6 inthe Local Plan identifies five reserve housing sites of which the application site isone.Policy HSG6 states that the District Council will continue to monitor housing landsupply on an annual basis. If, as a result of this process, the Council is satisfied thatland is required in addition to that allocated in Policy HSG5 to meet the identifiedhousing requirements of the Surrey Structure Plan 1994 for the period between 1991and 2006, one or more of the reserve housing sites will be released: the plan listsfive sites of which the application site is the fifth. It goes on to say that if, as a resultof monitoring, a deficit is anticipated then the sites will be released so far as possiblein proportion to that deficit but with a safety margin in favour of exceeding therequirement as follows:Anticipated deficit sites to be released25-50 site 150-75 sites 1 and 275-100 sites 1, 2 and 3100-150 sites 1, 2, 3 and 4Over 150 All sites (ie including site 5)Therefore site 5, which is the application site, should only be released for housing ifthere is a deficit of over 150 dwellings in the Plan period against the numbersrequired by the Structure Plan. Paragraph 6.32 in the Local Plan explained that theorder for release of the sites has been arrived at by taking account of their locationalcharacteristics and respective relationships to the Districts major urban centres as 3. well as their size and potential contribution to affordable and other identified housingneeds. In other words, the application site was to be released last as it wasconsidered that sites1-4 were preferable housing sites in planning terms.The supporting statement submitted by the developer with the planning application isdisingenuous as it states that the site is one of 5 reserve housing sites which are tobe released if based on the results of monitoring housing delivery there is likely to bea deficit. The applicant fails to mention that Policy HSG6 relates strictly to thehousing target of provision of 1900 dwellings in Mole Valley as set out in theStructure Plan and that in fact on those figures there is no deficit. The 2009 SHLAAwas finalised on 20 October 2009 and identified that if the housing figures in theStructure Plan were used, there would be no shortfall of available housing land forthe period 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2014. As there is no shortfall of housing landover the five year plan period to 2014 any release of the application site fordevelopment would be contrary to Policy HSG6. It is therefore premature to evenconsider the release of any of the reserve housing sites for development.MVDC Statement March 2010The supporting statement submitted with the planning application is misleading inthat it states that the MVDC statement dated March 2010 justifies the release of theapplication site, confirming the principle of providing for the development of the siteas a result of its long standing allocation as a housing site is well established.It is important that committee members are made aware that the statement referredto was based on a decision by the Council in October 2009 to release the reservehousing sites because the Executive had received a report that based on thehousing targets in the South East Plan the Council could not show a five year supplyof housing land sufficient to meet this target. However, that decision was thenrescinded in June 2010 because the housing targets in the South East Plan havebeen revoked by central Government using their powers under section 79(6) of theLocal Democracy Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. TheGovernment expressly stated in a letter dated 6 July 2010 from the Department forCommunities and Local Government to all local planning authorities in England that,with immediate effect, regional plans no longer form part of the development plan forthe purposes of section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.Whilst the Courts subsequently decided that the Government could not abolish theSouth East Plan without enacting primary legislation, that primary legislation is thecurrent Localism Bill which is expected to become law toward the end of this year. Inthe meantime the Government issued a statement in November 2010 to all planningauthorities to say that RSSs including the South East Plan are re-established as partof the development plan at present but that the Government expects local planningauthorities to have regard to the Governments intention to abolish RSSs in theLocalism Bill. This statement of intent is a material planning consideration that mustbe taken into account in planning decisions being taken now. The Courts ruled thatthis is entirely appropriate and the Governments statement of intention is a materialplanning consideration. In addition, in line with the desire to see housing targets setby local people rather than central Government Mole Valley District Council is in theprocess of revising the housing targets in the Core Strategy to reflect what local 4. people in the area want and need rather than the current target which simply statesthe central Government housing target for the area.Committee members must therefore take into account and give weight to the factthat the Core Strategy is based on central Government housing targets set out in theSouth East Plan, by the end of 2011 the South East Plan will be abolished and withthat in mind the Council is currently revising the housing targets in the Core Strategyto reflect the needs and wants of local people. It would be premature to release landfor housing at this point based on a housing target figure which the Council itself is inthe process of revising and the revision of which has the full support of theGovernment.Core Strategy October 2009In the Core Strategy adopted on 1 October 2009 in paragraph 6.1.6 it states that theindicative housing trajectory in appendix C of the Core Strategy illustrates theforecast supply of housing land over the period to 2026 based on the 2008 StrategicHousing Land Availability Assessment. It shows that there is sufficient land to