Elmbridge New Local Plan Exhibition & Consultation

There are four further dates for the public exhibition outlining Elmbridge’s proposals for providing more affordable and social housing.  This is in response to the government’s call for local authorities to produce proposals for meeting housing needs in their areas.

Exhibition Dates
Thursday 18 January, 7-9 pm, at Hinchley Wood School, Claygate Lane, Ditton
Monday 23 January, 7-9 pm, at The Cecil Hepworth Playhouse, Walton
Thursday 26 January, 7-9 pm at Civic Centre, Esher
Saturday 4 February, 10 am – 2 pm at Civic Centre, Esher

Key documents will be available in hard copy and councillors and staff and will be there to talk with you about the proposals.  Key features for residents to consider are around what happens to existing Green Belt boundaries.

The public consultation on these proposals closes on 10th February.  Post  your views here…

With regard to developing in the Green Belt, he Council’s three options are:

British Government orders Green Belt Review

Green Belt CountrysideAs many of you will know, the British Government has told the English boroughs to review their Green Belts with a view to opening land for development.  If a borough refuses to do so then the British government has said it will take direct control.

This has left the Liberal Democrat led Elmbridge administration little option but to revise our own local plan.  We wish to built a broad local approach and the Conservative opposition has been very much involved in every stage of the development.

Before we can agree a new local plan we have to pass though a number of stages and we need you to help in that process so we have published a strategic options consultation.   The document asks many questions and raises a number of issues.

We want to consult as widely as possible and will use every available means to engage with the public.  Part of this process is to have a number of consultations at various stages in the drafting of the plan.  The first drop in sessions will be at:

7pm – 9pm, Monday, 23 January at the Playhouse, Walton
7pm – 9pm, Thursday, 26 January at the Civic Centre, Esher
10am – 2pm, Saturday, 4 February at the Civic Centre, Esher

The events will consist of exhibition boards where the headlines of the consultation document will be displayed.  The evidence base documents supporting the consultation will also be available to review and representatives from Elmbridge’s planning policy team will be on-hand to answer any of your questions.

Your can attend any of the events.  The exhibition will be borough-wide, that is not specific to any particular town.

This process is subject to the agreement to the borough’s council  on Wednesday, 7 December

Insulate your Home

ecowise_houseAction Surrey has published a series of short films on YouTube and Vimeo showing the benefits of solid wall insulation from the point of view of four Surrey residents. In each film the residents explain how receiving a solid wall insulation grant through Action Surrey made a huge difference to their property’s warmth and energy bills. There is one master film showing all four stories with the four shorter films portraying different housing scenarios:

  • James & Carolina were very acquainted with the problems of excess cold and damp from uninsulated walls.
  • Gillian & Richard are a retired couple who have recently moved into their property.
  • Russell & Christine, landlords of three student let properties in Guildford, discuss how they and their tenants have benefited from insulation.
  • Mark was the first park home owner in Surrey to have his property insulated through Action Surrey’s funding, and he discusses his experience and benefits felt.

The films are available here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXUhjfO5S9tjASRWKpihmNg

https://vimeo.com/163235917

Housing

monopoly_housesThe new Elmbridge administration is to energetically pursue the rebalancing of housing in the borough.  Elmbridge’s population is growing rapidly by national standards and the number of household is increasing even faster.

The cost of housing in Elmbridge compared to the average salary is the highest in the South-East of England (after Camden, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster).  It is nigh impossible for young people who have lived in Elmbridge all their lives to buy a new home here and even renting is out of reach for many. In order to do so most have to leave the borough.   Imagine if it were expected that English people had to move to Belgium, Wales, Scotland or France to start a family.

The administration is studying various mechanisms that will allow our housing stock to be increased without the national government taking away Elmbridge’s investments in housing in the future (as it has done in the past).

Elmbridge requires more of each size of house except in the category of houses of five bedrooms or more.

What would you like Elmbridge to do regards to housing?

 

Winter Shelter to Help Homeless People

HomelessTransform Housing & Support will be operating a winter shelter for homeless people from Elmbridge, Spelthorne and Runnymede from 5 January to 31 March. The shelter will run in a Surrey  owned building in Staines and will accommodate up to ten clients a night, offering dinner and breakfast and a safe place to stay. The project follows on from the tri-borough shelter hosted by Whiteley Village last winter. Elmbridge has committed a contribution to the running costs of the project, along with the two other boroughs, whilst a range of locally-based organisations have pledged support of various kinds to help get the project up and running . Visit the transform housing website for more details.

Elmbridge Tackles Tenancy Fraud

tenency fraudInvestigators have been successful in recovering three houses that were occupied by fraudsters.  This has saved Elmbridge tax payers an estimated £54,000.  Elmbridge is working in partnership with Surrey to put a stop to tenancy fraud with the launch of a new campaign to encourage greater reporting of suspected cases.

In launching a new poster campaign, “Don’t stop his family having a home!” the borough asks for the public’s help in reporting any suspicions they might have about fraudulent tenancy activity and allowing those in real need to occupy available homes.

Anyone with information or suspicions of tenancy fraud can call the borough’s confidential fraud hotline on 01372 474 291 or email fraud@elmbridge.gov.uk.

Housing and the Green Belt

Suburban spreadLast year I posted that Elmbridge planners were busily re-examining the borough policies with a view to protect ourselves from the national government’s changes in planning policy contained in the new NPPF.

Now new threats emerge with the demands for more housing.  One can easily see the need from a national perspective: people are living longer, having more babies, getting divorced – all cause greater household formation.  On top of that London – the premier city on earth – is a magnet for people throughout the world.  Is there a better place to learn globish than in London?

So our planners are revisiting our borough policies again to ensure we are protected against unwelcome developments and consequent planning appeals.  It has to be done thoroughly to avoid the accusations of nimbyism.  In area Weybridge is not much smaller than Hackney but Weybridge has less than a tenth of Hackney’s population.  It is only planning law that stops Weybridge having a much higher density.

Is reasonable for Elmbridge to maintain a low population when so many are in need of a place to call their own at a price they can afford?  Should we at least grow at the same rate as Britain as a whole?  We are already short of schools – where do we built the schools we need?

Housing advice – drop in sessions

Housing adviceAre you considering moving or perhaps thinking about adapting your home to better suit your needs? A Housing Options Officer for Older People (HOOPS) will be available over the next few months for advice and information.  There will not be advice surgeries in Weybridge but they will be available in the following centres as follows:

  • Cobham Centre at 10am-12 noon on Tuesday, 24 November
  • Walton Centre at 10am-12 noon on Friday, 27 November
  • Hersham Centre at 10am-12 noon on Friday, 29 January
  • Molesey Centre at 10am-12 noon on Tuesday, 9 February