Neighbourhood Plan

Guidance Notes on the Pre-Submission Plan Policies
The following information was provided in April 2015 to help residents understand the Pre-Submission Plan policies.

POLICIES 1-6: Design policies

Like all planning policies, these will need to withstand examination and challenge. However, our strong and declared intention is to use them to defend the special character of Woldingham. Tandridge Council’s planning policies are designed to cover the whole of the District. Despite our best efforts to keep them, most previous policies that were specific to Woldingham were omitted from the new Local Plan (Part 2, July 2014), including the 0.2ha minimum plot size requirement. We have merged elements of the Woldingham Design Guidance and the Woldingham Village Design Statement with elements of TDC’s former Woldingham Policy (BE7) to form a new composite policy which would reintroduce the 0.2ha minimum plot size requirement throughout the built-up area of the village, in accordance with the preference expressed in the January consultation. A point for those not familiar with the ‘character areas’. They were established by the Woldingham Character Assessment and the Woldingham Design Guidance (2011). Woldingham’s character areas vary according to factors such as their layout, topography and development history. We had hoped to boost Green Belt protection through the Plan, but have not found it easy to do so, since Green Belt is a strategic matter reserved to Tandridge. Policy 6 (Landscape) is our attempt to reduce the harm being done by large extensions and replacements to the open landscape, and particularly to the Green Belt in which much of the village lies.

POLICY 7: New dwellings suitable for downsizing

We are responding here to considerable documented local interest in downsizing as well as to a national housing priority. Our intention is to make it easier to build a small number of dwellings suitable for downsizing in the centre of the village. The policy includes both general and site-specific elements, as supported by the recent consultation. In response to some concerns expressed about ‘policy creep’, we have strictly defined the area to which the policy applies. We also need to include an exception to the 0.2ha minimum plot size requirement. Without this exception, we belive that Tandridge would have to refuse non compliant site-specific development projects, even though many plots in the central area are already less than 0.2ha. We would have thrown away the opportunity to facilitate downsizing through the Plan. The policy reflects views, both from Tandridge Council and from our consultants, that this policy is the best way to achieve our aim. The policy ‘strikes the right balance between being permissive of a type of housing to meet a specific local housing need and reflecting the character constraints that apply in the village.’

POLICY 8: Community facilities

In recent years the organisations that provide recreational and sporting facilities in the village have faced stiff competition from other local providers. This policy is intended to facilitate future improvements to village facilities over the next fifteen years. The frontrunner for a possible development is The Glebe. The Trustees have identified the need to redevelop their pavilion facilities to enable them to serve better the aims of their charitable trust. This, however, is at a very early stage and timing will be dependent on many considerations, not least funding.

POLICY 9: Regeneration of The Crescent

Through this policy we offer to work with the residents and those operating businesses in The Crescent to improve the vitality of this key area. Residents place particular value on the village shop and post office. We shall look for ways to help all businesses in The Crescent to thrive, for example by improvements to parking. We shall resist any reduction in retail outlets.

POLICY 10: Parking at Woldingham Station

Our purpose is to make it possible for residents to have reliable access to parking at the station. It’s a long way back up the hill! Station parking problems appear to be highly dependent on levels of usage by non-residents, over which we have little control. Parish Council records show that the problems always comes back even after parking charges have gone up. We have a new opportunity to look for at least a partial solution through dedicated parking. Some additional options are available to explore, but we shall remain mindful of the sensitivity of the location in Green Belt.

POLICY 11: Broadband & mobile communications

We intend to press for better signal coverage and quality around the village. We would also like more say in the placement and appearance of equipment, which can be a controversial matter, and to make sure that reinstatement work is carried out to a satisfactory standard.

POLICY 12: Local Green Spaces

The formal designation of eight areas around the village as Local Green Spaces (in accordance with
paragraph 77 of the National Planning Policy Framework) should help to increase their protection and give them recognition as important parts of the local green environment.

POLICIES 13-16: Promoting residents’ safety around the village; Improving Local Transport; Improving Pedestrian and Cycle Routes; Networking

These policies are not classed as ‘land use’ policies and as such might have been omitted from the formal Plan. However, they have plenty of importance for those living in the village. The opportunity comes perhaps once in a decade to hold a comprehensive village survey and draw up a wide ranging plan. The Residents’ Survey and the project groups that followed it up identified these four policy areas as priorities. We have put them under the loose title of ‘getting around and getting involved’. They will feature in the Parish Council’s priorities for action along with the other policies.

It’s your turn to comment on the Plan!

We hope that by now you will be reading -or may even have sent us your views on – the “Pre-Submission Plan” version of the Woldingham Neighbourhood Plan. This has taken a great deal of the time of many volunteers, for which we are very grateful. The Neighbourhood Plan is important, because, once in place, it forms the basis for all planning decisions for the next 15 years. It will have a status in law that requires the planning authority, Tandridge District Council, to take it into account in their planning decisions. It therefore needs to be forward looking and to anticipate the changes that are desirable over the next 15 years.

The process of developing a Neighbourhood Plan includes surveys to identify issues that are important to the local community. It also includes a pre-submission consultation process to ensure that the proposed Plan reflects the views and needs of residents and other interested parties. The final stage, a referendum, gives local people the chance to vote for or against the whole Plan.

So far, we have been gratified by very positive feedback to the Plan. One policy has sparked some debate. Policy 7 (Downsizing) is a policy intended to make it more possible for older residents to move to smaller dwellings in the centre of the village instead of having to move elsewhere.

Where did the downsizing policy come from and why is it needed?

The policy comes out of support for it in the 2013 residents’ survey, in residents’ input to various consultation events and working groups and in the recent consultation on downsizing and minimum plot size. It also reflects a national priority and is backed up by the rise on the number of older residents.

In our January consultation, out of 319 respondents who replied to the question: ‘Please indicate whether you might look for a smaller property for downsizing within Woldingham during the life of the Plan (15 years)’ 103 (32.3%) said they might. Not unexpectedly, most of these 103 respondents (83.3%) were 55 years or over.

Policy 7 intends to remove the proposed 0.2ha (half an acre) barrier to downsizing in a small area of the village. Our recent experience is that when a site becomes available for re-development in or near the village centre, it is likely to be used to create a large dwelling. Commercial considerations will continue to influence whether sites will be used to build smaller dwellings suitable for downsizing. More and more of our smaller houses are being replaced by larger ones.

How many downsizing units might get built in the village centre?

We would expect only a very modest number to be built in the village centre over the next 15 years. This is because of commercial factors and through the strict conditions that would have to be met for relaxing the 0.2ha requirement.

To qualify for the relaxation, the purpose of the development would have to be downsizing and the developer would have to show how any conditions such as age and residency were to be met. Also, as Tandridge Council is a statutory consultee and is the authority responsible for implementing the policy, we expect them to advise us on any policy strengthening that may be needed. The downsizing policy would not be the only set of restrictions in force. The Design Policies 1-6 that protect character would apply, as would other Tandridge polices. Thus, if for any reason the proposed 0.2ha policy fell, the Tandridge policy of ‘minimum plot size prevailing in the area’ would still be in place.

Is it all sewn up or can the draft policies be changed?

That is the whole point of the consultation! Do we have it right as currently drafted? The Parish Council is the first to recognise that while the intent of all the policies including Policy 7 has been supported, the drafting of any policy is subject to change. We are ready to modify a policy where justified in terms of its aim. So please, as a part of the consultation, give us your feedback, telling us which parts of the Plan you agree with, as well as any suggestions for improvement. We cannot guarantee that all suggestions will be implemented, but we do guarantee that you will be listened to and that we value all input.

Published by Woldingham Parish Council
. April 2015

Jacqui RourkeNeighbourhood Plan