The Government is in the process of finalizing a revision to the National Planning Policy Framework, the document that governs all planning decisions. Many of the changes are welcome but especially important for Mole Valley are directives that local authorities should determine their own housing needs, and that unmet need should not be at the expense of developing on designated Green Belt land.
Our new Local Plan is at the Examination Stage, which means it is in the hands of the Planning Inspector. She finished the public hearings before Christmas but has yet to report.
At an Extraordinary Council Meeting on 16 January 2023, Council agreed to ask the Inspector if the Green Belt sites could be removed and a new housing target be used rather than that derived from the formulaic Government-imposed calculation that had to be adopted in what was presented to the Inspector.
Council currently awaits a response from the Inspector, but if this can be accepted as a ”Main Modification” to the Plan that would immediately exclude 31 Green Belt sites in the District from development – including Ashtead’s Ermyn Way Fields.
The Ashtead Independent Councillors are most excited by the prospect, but at the meeting Cllr Hawksworth cautioned that the delay in finalizing the Plan would extend the window in which developers can put in proposals for building on any Green Belt sites in view of the theoretical “unmet housing need”. It also delays application of the new policies in relation to protection of our environment and both our historic and natural heritage included in the Plan. We therefore hope that a decision can made by the Inspector as soon as possible so the Plan can take the next step towards final acceptance.