ASHTEAD RESIDENTS OFFER THEIR VIEWS ON FUTURE OF GREEN BELT
Ashtead’s residents have contributed with their comments in response to their Neighbourhead Forum’s thoughts on the review of the Green Belt which surrounds the village. This review was conducted at the request of Mole Valley as a part of their review of all Green Belt areas within the district. The Mole Valley review is driven by pressure to identify land that could be available for development. CLICK HERE for the current Mole Valley planning position, which changed during the last few months of 2014.
In the largest consultation exercise since the Forum was created in February 2013, members of the Forum distributed a newsletter, communicated through the ACV website and held an open morning so that residents of the village were given the opportunity to review the Green Belt work undertaken. A total of 529 responses were received in answer to the survey, plus a number of comments provided through the website, email and by letter.
That work consists of a report – which subsequent to the consultation period, went to the February 2014 meeting of the Forum – and was approved for submission to Mole Valley District Council.
The Forum’s report
The report, which is on the website and also at Ashtead Library, describes how the Green Belt has been divided into different “broad areas” – manageable chunks that could be studied in more detail. In particular, each of the ten broad areas around Ashtead have been considered to see they function in terms of ‘merging’, ‘encroachment’ and ‘setting and character’. These criteria are the three most significant of the five purposes of the Green Belt.The report then scores each broad area as ‘minimal’, ‘moderate’ or ‘significant’ for each of these criteria.
ACV also applied nine sustainability criteria to add to its views on merging, encroaching and setting/character.
Of course, it is this detailed assessment which makes the Forum’s report so comprehensive. It is the thoroughness of the work undertaken by ACV which ensures the final version is robust enough to properly inform MVDC’s decision making about the Green Belt and any future enquiry concerning potential development challenges in the Green Belt.
So what were the report’s conclusions and what is the Forum proposing to Mole Valley?
For eight out of the ten areas considered, the Forum recommended that there should be no change to the boundary, and this was endorsed by an overwhelming majority of the respondents to the survey. For the two remaining areas, The Forum concluded that there might be some scope for change.
One of these two areas consists of three elements: J1, J2 and J3 (marked on the map above). J1, off Pleasure Pit Lane and J3, which straddles Farm Lane, have been identified as areas where the Green Belt Boundary could be changed, when measured against the purposes of the Green Belt. However, 50% of the survey respondents disagreed with this conclusion on the grounds that there are significant heritage and nature conservation assets in this location as well as concerns about highway safety. The final report was therefore amended to reflect these issues.
The second area, Ermyn Way Fields (West), was considered to contribute little towards the purpose of the Green Belt. It has limited landscape significance and abuts the M25 motorway. It is also intensively farmed agricultural land with little bio-diversity. However, the report makes it clear that there are some significant issues to be considered because of the richness of ancient and bio-diverse boundaries which define the area to the north and a site of archaeological interest. Any proposed development would need to address the high noise levels associated with the M25.
Mole Valley District Council will review this report and the comments received, amending the conclusions where necessary to ensure consistency with the treatment of other areas of Green Belt within the district. Those amended conclusions were to have been incorporated into their draft Housing and Traveller Sites Plan, which was planned for publication early in 2015. However, a change in government guidance has meant that Mole Valley will no longer do so and they have issued the following statement.
It is expected that Mole valley will now embark on the production of a revised Local Plan, which will not be available until 2018 at the earliest. The work done by the Ashtead Forum in the production of this report will be incorporated at that time.