As a resident in the crowded public gallery at Tandridge District Council’s Planning Policy Committee , I heard a Conservative councillor sneer at his colleagues that supporting the residents wish to protect Tandridge’s Green Belt was populist when the committee met to decide on their ‘preferred strategy’ for the delivery of homes in Tandridge up to 2033.
Needless to say this strategy is not the approach preferred by the majority of residents who responded to the consultation. A welcome amendment to protect urban green space for the health of residents, unanimously agreed, was proposed by a Caterham councillor who was then happy to condemn residents in the south to the destruction of the character of their rural villages.
The Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group’s Cllr Jackie Wren was the only committee member to vote against the proposal to concrete over Green Belt around the towns and existing villages AND create a small town sized ‘garden village’ of 4,000 homes at one of five sites – all in Green Belt, four on flood plain, the fifth in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Surrey Hills. They were, the councillors boasted, only ‘sacrificing’ 1% of Green Belt.
Conservative councillors, unworthy of the name, failed to understand the difference between people from London boroughs and other parts of the UK buying Tandridge properties as they become vacant, as many of them did, and actively encouraging inward migration of London commuters by building thousands of new properties. Neither did they have any grasp of the failed government policies that have allowed London properties to be purchased as investments and left empty and house prices to rise unchecked by natural factors – except in areas where the government failed to stall the loss of employment. Laughably our elected representatives thought letting the developers loose on the Green Belt would bring down the ridiculously high Tandridge house prices.
All it would take to protect our way of life would be for Mrs May’s government to state that no consent would be given for a ‘garden village’ on Green Belt land and acknowledge that councils with large amounts of Green Belt were its custodians. Tandridge could then argue that it is a special case, as indeed it is.
Helena Windsor, Bletchingley