Green Belt protestors in Epsom

Red, blue and orange go Green in belt protest


Epsom High Street Saturday 3rd February witnessed political parties unite against housing development on the Borough’s Green Belt. The Labour Party, Conservative Party, Liberal Democrat Party, Gina Miller’s True and Fair Party and the Green Party assembled outside the Metro Bank.

Carrying banners and making speeches, the protestors rallied against the Council’s apparent rejection of previous demands to remove Green Belt land from the list of potential housing development sites in the draft Local Plan.

Amid controversy surrounding claims of confidential briefings and secret legal opinions influencing Councillors the protestors called for full transparency.

Gina Miller leader and Parliamentary candidate for True and Fair Party said: “The plan being progressed by the Council to build on precious greenbelt is not based on truthful data, facts,  housing requirements, environmental or full brownfield audits.

Once greenbelt is gone, it’s gone forever.  People across all wards that make up the Epsom and Ewell constituency deserve 100% transparency and honesty and to be assured that decision-making that affects their lives, homes and area are not tainted by conflicts of interest, incompetence or shortermism”

Conservative Parliamentary hopfeul Mhairi Fraser said: “I will fight to the end to save Epsom’s Green Belt, just as your Conservative councillors Bernie Muir and Kieran Persand have tirelessly done alongside Chris Grayling MP – and that is in addition to the thousands of residents who have signed petitions, written to their councillors, and protested in public to make their voices heard. Once the Green Belt is gone, it is gone forever; that would be an absolute travesty, given our entire actual housing need can be met by building on brownfield sites. Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is there to serve us, and it is unacceptable that they are ignoring the very clear will of residents, operating in secret, and threatening to irreversibly destroy the place all of us have chosen to make our home.”

Mark Todd, Chair of Epsom and Ewell Constituency Labour Party said “Over eighty per cent of local residents responded to the recent Council survey saying that they want Epsom and Ewell’s green belt preserved. I have talked to thousands of residents over the past eight years on the street and on the doorsteps of Epsom and Ewell and I believe that figure is accurate. 

I have looked in great detail at Council documents and plans including all the brownfield sites currently available, enough for 3,700 homes. Another 150 can be added by redeveloping West Park Hospital giving us an extra 3,850 homes in the borough. Then there are the Longmead and Kiln Lane industrial estates that can also be redeveloped. These areas could become a mix of residential, retail and office space, generating many more jobs and homes per square foot. 

I believe there is a clear path to preserving Epsom and Ewell’s green belt and building lots of social and truly affordable homes for residents and key workers on these brownfield sites. By truly affordable I mean apartments of varying sizes costing £200-£400,000 rather than houses typically costing £600,000 to £1 Million in Epsom and Ewell that never can be truly affordable.”

Helen Maguire, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in Epsom and Ewell for the Liberal Democrats said: “Local Liberal Democrat councillors have consistently argued that old ONS data is being used to determine the number of houses required but this is falling on the deaf ears of this Conservative Government. If up to date data was used, fewer houses would need to be built in Epsom & Ewell. Not only is Epsom & Ewell Borough Council being forced to use old data, but we know that despite Conservative government promises to allow local Councils to decide what is best for their area and to exclude the Greenbelt if they wish, this is simply not the case!

Local authorities are being forced to build on the Greenbelt because of successive and cynical conservative policies. In neighbouring Mole Valley (where Ashtead and Leatherhead form part of the new constituency), the Liberal Democrat run council have managed to save 99.3% of the Greenbelt. Last week Mole Valley Liberal Democrat councillors were faced with a stark choice between either continuing with the Local Plan as it is with 0.7% in the Greenbelt or to remove the Greenbelt sites which could put the local plan back another year and expose more Greenbelt sites to planning applications from developers.

Simultaneously the Conservative housing minister Lee Rowley sent them a letter informing them they must not withdraw the plan or delay further. An impossible decision! The Conservatives are deaf to local communities and their housing needs. It’s time for them to go!”

Related reports:

When a meeting is not a meeting, in brief.

Mystery Local Plan critic revealed

Councillors belted-up on Green Belt?

and many more. Search “Local Plan”.

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