Woldingham Parish Council – News Update December 2020

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Tandridge District Council Open Space Strategy consultation 

Tandridge District Council (TDC) recently held a consultation on its proposed new strategy for Open Spaces in the District.  The Consultation ended 9th November and TDC are expecting to publish the new strategy in early 2021.  Along with the Woldingham Association, the Parish Council have jointly submitted comments on the Tandridge District Council draft Open Space Strategy, as part of the formal consultation process. 

The Open Spaces Strategy sets out the District Council’s 5-year plan to manage open spaces so that they support the health and wellbeing of residents, support biodiversity and climate change mitigation, support educational and cultural events, and ensure that grounds and equipment are safe and well maintained. The Strategy aims to work with local communities to deliver this objective, with action plans for each Parish. The intent is to be welcomed; as ever the devil is in the detail. 

Our response focused on ensuring that the detail of the Strategy was fully consistent with the Woldingham Neighbourhood Plan, which includes our own clear and detailed Open Spaces Policy. The Neighbourhood Plan is locally consulted and reflects the concerns and aspirations of our community and should form the bedrock of any broader, district approach. Specifically, we are seeking reassurance that nothing in the Tandridge strategy supersedes the extensive surveys done for and the needs and priorities identified in the Woldingham Neighbourhood Plan. This can be achieved very easily by simply using the Neighbourhood Plan as the Parish specific plan in the Open Spaces Strategy. This approach also means any anomalies, inaccuracies or inconsistencies between the two documents would disappear. 

We will continue to seek these assurances as the Tandridge draft document develops. The full Woldingham Association and Woldingham Parish Council response is available on our website, Woldingham.com. 

Councillor Alex Foulds 

Government White Paper on Planning for the Future 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government recently ran a consultation on their White Paper: Planning for the Future.  The Planning for the Future consultation proposes reforms of the planning system to streamline and modernise the planning process. It also aims to bring a new focus to design and sustainability, to improve the system of developer contributions to infrastructure, and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed.  

Under the proposed new system local areas would develop plans for land in three categories: Growth areas for development with automatic plan approval; Renewal areas suitable for some development which could allow automatic approval if high enough quality, otherwise normal planning procedures would apply; and Protected areas in which development would be restricted (e.g. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks). We believe the key objective behind the proposals is to speed up the planning process to fit the national need for more housing (300,000 units per year). 

Each District Council is under huge pressure now to satisfy the demands of the Government. The White Paper, which is in the consultation review phase, lays out plans to change the planning process to the detriment of many towns and villages. It proposes setting out general development management policies nationally in lieu of the detailed local policy in Local Plans such as the Tandridge District Council (TDC) Local Plan.  The TDC Local Plan contains policy that, although aligned with national policy, is specific to the needs of our District and to our cities, towns and villages and of course our precious Greenbelt. The general policies proposed would be so high level that they could not take account of local needs, rendering Local Plans, Neighbourhood Plans, such as our own Woldingham Neighbourhood Plan, and other local policies virtually unenforceable or unnecessary.  We believe such a high-level approach would be to the detriment of our local area and all local areas. 

The consultation ran from 6th August to 29th October and the WPC has responded to the White Paper questionnaire very robustly to reflect the concerns of our village. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is analysing the responses and we will hear the outcome in the near future. The full WPC response can be found on our website, Woldingham.com.  

Councillor Peter Holbrook and Chairman Deborah Sherry 

WebmasterWoldingham Parish Council – News Update December 2020