Here are some of the bigger news items just now.
Scroll down for the following topics:
At the bottom of the page is information about a few recent former 'hot topics' and what has happened about them.
Elmbridge Local Plan and Green Belt Review
Elmbridge Borough Council is consulting until 10th February about the strategic options that the Council is considering for meeting development needs through to 2035 as part of the preparation of a new Local Plan. Visit Elmbridge Consultation for details. They have held a number of Drop-in Sessions to inform residents about this. If you missed the earlier ones then we urge you to try and visit one of the final two sessions.
Thu 26th Jan, 7-9pm Civic Centre, Esher
Members of the Cobham Green Belt Group, which includes the CDRA, have been examining the Council’s wide-ranging proposals and are working together on this issue. We have met to share findings and discuss the way forward. Others involved in this collaboration are Stoke d’Abernon Residents’ Association, FEDORA on behalf of Oxshott, Cobham Conservation & Heritage Trust and the Chamber of Commerce.
We have jointly put together suggested responses to the consultation questioannaire which can be found by visiting www.cobhamgreenbelt.org.uk .
Of particular concern to local residents will be the proposal to remove three areas of the Borough from the Green Belt, making them available for development. Two of these are in Cobham and Stoke d'Abernon and the third is in Long Ditton.
We have been told that these areas would only be open for developments where there was at least 50% affordable and social housing on the sites and that any developer would still have to go through the normal planning process to gain approvalt.
The Council’s thinking behind the Green Belt review has been explained to us as follows. There is said to be clear demand for further housing in the Borough which cannot be met on brownfield sites, and if the Council does not take the lead in releasing Green Belt sites then there is a risk that developers will do so via appeals to the Planning Inspectorate or that the Government will instruct Surrey County Council to prepare the Plan.
M25 Junction 10/A3 Wisley Interchange Re-Design
A consultation is in progress on proposed improvements to the interchange and will continue until 6th February 2017. Painshill roundabout would also be affected. A series of public drop-in sessions about the proposals has been taking place. You can find out more, including dates and locations for the sessions, at interchange consultation or pick up a copy of the plans with a response form at the Cedar Centre in Cedar Road.
Former Wisley Airfield (see www.cobhamgreenbelt.org.uk)
The applicants submitted an appeal on this in mid-October.
A huge development is proposed for Three Farms Meadow, the former Wisley Airfield, which adjoins Ockham and is close to Downside. The outline application was for 2068 houses plus associated infrastructure, with changes to roads and junctions, in a phased development over 12 years.
Despite the application being turned down, the site remains in the draft Local Plan as a strategic site. On 24th May there was a very important Councillors Meeting at Guildford Borough Council to agree their Local Plan. A proposed amendment to remove the former Wisley Airfield site from the Plan was rejected. The Councillors voted to send the latest version of the draft Local Plan out to consultation for a period of six weeks that finished on 18th July. Visit www.cobhamgreenbelt.org.uk to see a copy of the advice that was sent out via the Cobham Green Belt Group on responding to the consultation. The CDRA submitted an objection.
Wisley Action Group has raised concerns that the recent publication of the new Housing Bill creates further problems with the concept of “Planning in Principle” which appears to mean that any site listed in a neighbourhood plan or a local plan will have planning and just be subject to details.
(Cobham & Downside Residents' Association, Cobham Heritage Trust and Cobham Chamber of Commerce together formed the Cobham Green Belt Group to promote and encourage retention of the Green Belt in and around Cobham, keeping local people informed of Green Belt issues. Visit www.cobhamgreenbelt.org.uk to register your interest, to sign up for the free newsletters and to find out the latest news about about the current threats to our Green Belt.)
Outcome of Some Recent Hot Topics
Re-development of 1-7 Holly Parade, High Street, Cobham
The South Area Planning Sub-Committtee considered and approved this application at a meeting in December 2016. A final decision was made by the full Planning Committee at their meeting on 17th January 2017. The plans were approved.
A revised version of the fascade to the building was put forward by the developers after the application was submitted and was on show at the CDRA Residents' Meeting on 6th October. Representatives from the developers were there to discuss it with attendees before and after the main meeting.
Here's some background to the application:
This will be a very substantial re-development of a prominent site in the centre of Cobham. CDRA representatives had a meeting with members of the development team on 28th April 2016. Other local organisations and Councillors also had individual meetings with them. We discussed the proposals for the site and gave some preliminary comments on the version of the plans we were shown, covering both pros and cons and flagging up some concerns. In summary the developers intend to provide 5 commercial units at ground level with 24 retirement flats on three further floors and around 20 parking places.
Members of McCarthy & Stone, retirement accommodation specialists, and Levanter Developments, a Cobham based developer, arranged a Public Exhibition about the development on 2nd June in Cobham Village Hall. They invited local residents to view their plans for the site and to give feedback before the planning application is submitted. The CDRA Chairman attended a follow up meeting with the developers, also attended by the CCHT, at which some revisions to the plans were presented. So there was a bit of progress in the light of residents' comments, although not all the concerns were addressed.
A planning application was then submitted, Application No. 2016/2185, for 1-7 Holly Parade (High Street), Cobham. The official closing date for comments was initally set by Elmbridge at 2 September and then extended to 9 September.
The CDRA sent the following email to members in August:
The planning application for the redevelopment of the empty premises in Holly Parade is now in and Elmbridge Borough Council has set a deadline of 2 September for responses.
As expected, the application seeks permission to demolish the existing buildings and redevelop the site to form 4 retail units (A1,A2 use) and 1 retail unit (A1,A3) at ground floor level and 24 residential apartments for older persons including communal facilities and parking. The existing 50 car parking spaces would be replaced by 18 places plus 2 disabled parking spaces.
The CDRA are pleased, in principle, that the application envisages the inclusion of five retail outlets, but this is a once in a life-time opportunity to enhance our High Street.
There has been public consultation at an earlier stage and some amendments to the original design have been made as a result of the adverse comments made. However, it is believed further improvements can and should be made.
The building looks very bulky and although it is stated it is a three-storey building, it is in fact 4 storeys in part. This fourth storey may not be too visible when seen from the High Street but could seem overbearing when viewed from the rear.
Although some effort has been made to improve the look of the building, more effort should have been made in this regard.
The proposed balconies at the front should not be permitted. They would cause a Health & Safety hazard – principally from pollution being emitted from vehicles moving along Cobham High Street, causing risk to those residents who might use the balconies. In addition, these balconies would become unsightly once furniture and other items from different flats were placed on them.
32 car parking spaces will disappear. Not only are there insufficient spaces for each dwelling, there appears to be no facility for visitors or for other vehicles which need to be parked (for example for deliveries to the flats).There is already a woeful lack of car parking spaces in and around Cobham. If the Council were minded to approve this application, it should be made a Condition that additional car parking be provided by the Applicants elsewhere near to the centre of Cobham, possibly by an extension to the Downside Bridge Road car park.
All residents should be entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their homes and the CDRA are concerned that the occupiers of Longboyds may well be overlooked due to the external amenity spaces envisaged on the upper floors.
Changes to Bus Services
The Abellio bus company is withdrawing at the end of 2016 from a number of bus routes in Surrey including those through Cobham. New providers have been found by Surrey County Council and will take over in the New Year. There will be changes to routes and timetables. For us in Cobham the headlines are:
513 Downside/Kingston – the operator will be Cardinal buses. There will still be two round trips per day Monday-Friday. Route now to include Thames Ditton Village.
Guildford/Kingston – The operator will be Stagecoach. The new 715 bus service will deliver this route instead of the 515.
Overall it could have been worse. Cobham has its hourly service to Kingston back six days per week (albeit not via Surbiton station). Time to/From Kingston will be quicker. Evening services stop earlier. There will still be a 515 bus but it will have a different route and no longer come to Cobham.
This is our understanding as at November 2016 but check for actual routes and times once the new timetables have been published.
Cobham Free School Premises
The following was emailed from the CDRA Chairman to CDRA members on 12th September 2016:
"A press release has been issued by Cobham Free School announcing that they have secured a permanent site in Cobham for their junior and senior departments, with the recent purchase of Munro House office on the Portsmouth Road. The existing office building will undergo a complete renovation and conversion internally. My understanding is that planning permission is not required for the establishment of the Free School at this site.
Your Residents’ Association has consistently opposed the use of Green Belt land for this, or any other purpose, and I believe this acquisition is a good solution for all concerned."
Community Hospital Review
At the CDRA Residents’ Meeting in April 2015 we heard about the review of NHS community hospital services by Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group. This has examined inpatient and outpatient services across Cobham, Dorking, Molesey, Leatherhead and the New Epsom and Ewell Community Hospitals.
A report was published with a number of recommendations plus some options for further investigation. These involve choices about which community hospitals remain open and which services are provided at each site. Two of the four options that have been short listed for consideration would involve transferring in-patient services from Molesey Community Hospital to an empty 18-bed ward at Cobham Hospital.
A widespread consultation on the short-listed options was completed on 5th May. Members of the review team were at the CDRA Meeting in April 2016 to hear views from local residents. A report on the findings, including the recommendations, has been published online. This will be presented to the Governing Body of the Clinical Commissioning Group on Friday 29th July when a decision will be taken on next steps. The meeting, from 1pm-3.30pm, will be at Leatherhead Leisure Centre and will be open to the public. Find out more about the process of the review at community hospital review and read the final report at community hospital recommendations.
The recommendations were accepted by the Governing Body. These include proceeding with an option that would see services based at the current New Epsom and Ewell Community Hospital (NEECH) transferred to Epsom Hospital, with some outpatient services transferred to other nearby locations. This will be dependent on the outcome of the current Epsom & St Helier Hospital Estates Review. Services at Dorking and Molesey Hospitals would stay the same and Leatherhead Hospital would be developed as a planned care centre. There would be no change at Cobham Hospital, so the empty ward would not be opened as an inpatient rehabilitation ward. Potentially there could be other, medical or non-medical, uses for the empty space at some time in the future.
Epsom & St Helier NHS Trust Estates Review
An Epsom & St Helier estates review, ‘Building for the Future’, has been in progress but seems to have gone quiet at the moment. Here's the background to it.
Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles said: “Last year, we set out our plan for the next five years in our strategy, and we are still absolutely committed to that. However, our hospitals are very old – St Helier is almost 80 year’s old and Epsom is coming up to 50 – and the age of the buildings can hamper our staff as they go about their jobs. From the lifts that are so small you can’t fit a patient bed in to them, to the damp problems that damage walls just months after going through an expensive refurbishment, our hospital buildings can sometimes be a limitation to us.
“It’s time for us to begin planning for 2020 and beyond, and that’s precisely why we need to decide how we evaluate building options that are available to us. From June until December of last year, hundreds of people gave us their comments and suggestions about our estates. This first phase of the work was very successful, but we now need to develop the options for the long term future of our estate and make sure we get what we need from our buildings. But before we look at any specific options, we need to agree the criteria that we would use to evaluate them – and that’s where you come in. We need to know what’s important to you!”
The CDRA was represented at a consultation event on 19th March 2016 about these criteria.
Visit Estates Review for more information.
Neighbourhood Policing Changes, April 2016
The guest speaker at the CDRA Autumn Residents' Meeting on 6th October was David Munro, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey.
Surrey Police issued the following announcement about the changes in March:
"The way local policing is delivered in Elmbridge is set to change from 3 April 2016 when a new local policing model is adopted by Surrey Police.
Named ‘Policing In Your Neighbourhood’, the new model is a pro-active response to the new picture of crime in the UK. Across Surrey, burglary and car theft are down but have been replaced by challenging increases in complex and often more hidden offences like child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and cybercrime. These offences require specialist investigative officers who will also work with partners to safeguard the vulnerable, and are essential in keeping the public safe.
To enable Surrey Police to increase the number of officers working in those specialist roles, PIYN will introduce a new approach to front-line service which maintains the commitment to much valued local policing.
Temporary Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman, Chief Superintendent for North Surrey said:
“From April, we will form an Area Policing Team with Officers assigned to a specific borough or district and they will be responsible for responding to all crime which requires an officer to attend. If appropriate, they will then retain those cases from start to finish, giving victims a continuity of care. Neighbourhood matters which require specialist support will be tackled by our Safer Neighbourhood Teams and Police Community Support Officers. These teams will all be led by a named Borough Inspector giving them the flexibility to move resources where they are most needed. Serious and Complex cases will be dealt with by divisional Criminal Investigation Departments and Safeguarding Investigation Units.
“We already have many successful local partnerships and we want to continue to work with you to make sure that we are helping local residents find the right organisation to best tackle their issues as well as collectively problem solving those repeat and chronic local issues we know are of great concern.”
Policing In Your Neighbourhood also aims to reduce demand by helping the residents of Surrey find the right help rather than phoning 999 on initial impulse. Through the #policingmatters campaign, which is currently running online, on radio and on Sky TV, the difference between 999 and 101 is being highlighted along with details about what is a policing matter and what is better dealt with by another organisation.
These changes complement other work including the alliances with Sussex Police, other police forces in the region, and local authority partners (including the other emergency services). Collaboration has already meant that Joint Enforcement Teams (JET) made up of council officers and police officers (already enjoying great success in Reigate and Banstead and Spelthorne, and about to roll out in Elmbridge) tackle low level nuisance crime together, quickly and efficiently using joint powers which can speed up the solution and cut out the need for court cases. Meanwhile some of our specialist and back office functions such as firearms, dogs, major crime, HR and ICT are collaborations with Sussex Police delivering greater resilience at reduced costs across both counties. Further work continues in these areas too."