Letter from the Chairman
In the pages of this venerable Woldingham publication I have been updating you about a number of major initiatives and government consultations that, depending upon the outcome, could create long lasting changes to Woldingham. The three most prominent that we have been working on are: the Chalkpit Quarry housing estate proposal, the Surrey AONB consultation and the Tandridge District Council Ward Boundary review.
Chalkpit Quarry housing estate proposal
The owners of the quarry, Southern Gravel, presented their latest proposals at a high level to the Council and the community at our May meeting. They are working to vary their minerals license for the quarry and asking to be allowed to build a housing estate in exchange for ending the license 19 years early. The latest proposal is for 75 houses on roughly 6.4acres. The average plot size of house and garden would be roughly 40×93 feet. Circa one third of the houses would be affordable housing.
The positives are that it would yield more housing for Tandridge and possibly more clientele for the golf club, shop and social club in Woldingham. It would also stop quarry lorry traffic roughly 13 years earlier than the license allows. In addition, the proposal would make improvements to Chalkpit Lane to make it safer for both cars and in some sections for pedestrians.
The negatives are that it would violate not only protected Green Belt but the AONB (Area of Natural Beauty). If approved, it would be the only development of this scale in the AONB or the North Downs of Surrey. It would create intense light and noise pollution that would harm wildlife in this protected area and be visible from across the Downs, the M25, parts of Woldingham and Oxted. Quarry lorry traffic is already diminishing due to the economy and importantly competition, who are in much easier to reach sites that are winning contracts from this quarry, thus the lorry traffic is already becoming less problematic and the amount of car traffic, deliveries etc to and from the new development would exceed the quarry traffic. It would likely be 2029, after closing the quarry and recontouring the land before work could commence meaning that for the sake of 13 years of no truck traffic, we would blight the AONB forever when under the current license, in 2042 the land must be returned to its natural contours and nature. For both Oxted and Woldingham, the roads, parking, educational, medical and other infrastructure are not in place to accommodate such population growth in this location.
We were disappointed to learn that the touted consultation actually had only somewhat over one hundred respondents. And we note that bar a few homes, the developer acknowledged that Woldingham was not consulted. We have yet to receive detailed information about the proposal to properly evaluate it and we also await detail from the developer regarding traffic estimates and survey respondents. There remains disagreement between Surrey County Council (SCC) and Tandridge District Council (TDC) over the jurisdiction of the housing approval. As the quarry operates under a minerals license, which is the domain of SCC, SCC maintains that it has the authority to grant or deny approval for the housing estate. TDC does not agree, as planning approval it the domain of the District. We continue to review the matter, as well as coordinate with Oxted and TDC. And we await the actual housing proposal so we can review it in detail.
Surrey Hills AONB Review
The Surrey Hills Area Of Natural Beauty (AONB) review is in process and the first phase of evidence gathering concluded and a proposed map of new areas of AONB designation is now under review. The consultation period for commentary on the proposed new areas for AONB designation closes the 13th of June so will be closed by the time this reaches you. The whole of Woldingham has been proposed to be included in the AONB. Should this remain unchanged after this consultation period, there is still a lengthy process ahead with Natural England and the Secretary of State before any additions to the AONB are confirmed.
The Tandridge District Council Ward Boundary Review
The boundaries for Tandridge District Council (TDC) were under review as required by statute. These boundaries were last reviewed 25 years ago. Since that time, the Local Government Act revised requirements for the number of Councillors per ward. Given that TDC holds elects one-third of its Councillors every three years, the Local Government Boundary Commission of England (LGBCE) is now bound by statute to try to achieve wards with three Councillors per ward, only with rare exception. This may well have resulted in Woldingham district ward being merged with another larger ward on its boundary and losing some its voice in the District.
However, the Parish Council and the WA made submissions to the LGBCE, as did a dozen villagers – far more than any other ward in the District – and together we successfully argued that Woldingham’s unique community and geography meant it should remain a one Councillor District. Although other Parishes also argued for this, we were the only community to successfully achieve it. The new District Ward map has proposed wards of three Councillors each except Woldingham (a distinct ward with one Councillor) and Warlingham East and Chelsham and Farleigh (a two Councillor ward). While we are now in a consultation period over the proposed map, it is unlikely to change.
A huge thank you to everyone who helped with this initiative and to all who participated in the brief survey on this topic. Together, we helped protect the needs of the village.
With great thanks,
Chairman Deborah Sherry
Speeding in the Village
As a reminder, we have reinvigorated Speed Watch. We are now actively planning a series of vehicle speed readings at key sites in the village. We have a number of volunteers and (after a delay over the Covid years) on-line training is now available. The speed recording gun is being recalibrated and readings will commence once training is complete. We have previously collected data using wires across roads at key locations and we will now be able to add to this data and collect at other sites to give us a complete picture of vehicle speeds across the village. We will, of course, report results. If anyone is interested in getting involved in this project or if you want to suggest locations where you feel a speed check is needed, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Councillor Alex Foulds