The Liberal Democrats running Mole Valley District Council have given the go ahead to the next step in the process that clears the way for using the Green Belt for house building around Ashtead.
Ashtead Independent Councillor David Harper said the Lib Dem administration never asked the Councillors to agree to the Plan so it is not a Council plan but, “A Lib Dem Cabinet plan”.
“The Lib Dem controlled Cabinet at Mole Valley, supported by their whipped Lib Dem Councillors, voted in favour of the Local Plan at the Extraordinary Council Meeting on 3rd February, despite the fact that many of them spoke vociferously against strategic Green Belt sites being develop in their area. Nevertheless, when it came to the vote, the crumbled and waved it through – illustrating how loyalty trumps principles in national parties at local level”, said Councillor Harper.
He went on to say that apart from the Green Belt proposals, there were a number of other policies that were beneficial from an Ashtead perspective and so, with that in mind, he had proposed a motion be put to the Full Council that the draft Local Plan be submitted to the Government without including the strategic Green Belt sites. However, the officers and the Chairman refused to hear the motion as it was a yes/no vote.
He said that he had made the case, on behalf of the Ashtead Independents, that recent changes had materially impacted the house building target citing the fact that both Brexit and the Pandemic had materially reduced immigration and household forming. He also pointed out that the pandemic had brought about a re-think on how offices are used, so increasing the opportunity for more brownfield use where offices stand empty. Locally, he pointed to the fact that the Police were no longer relocating to Leatherhead whose area could be used for town centre high density housing.
Councillor Harper said, “The fact is that in the current environment, now was not a good time to impose unwelcome development on Green Belt in Districts like Mole Valley. The Conservatives have already been defeated at Chesham thanks to their plan to build on the local Green Belt. Yet despite being in a strong political position, the Liberal Democrats voted to offer up our Green Belt for housing.”
Councillor Harper reminded voters in Ashtead that the May elections were approaching and the administration at Mole Valley needs new leadership to change with the times.
“So please stand with your local Ashtead Independent Councillors, who alone represent a credible defender of the Green Belt in these changing times,“ said Councillor Harper.