Summary of Epsom & Ewell Liberal Democrat's submission on the draft Local Plan
The Epsom & Ewell Liberal Democrats have today submitted their detailed response to the 50 questions set out in the Council's consultation on the draft Local Plan. It is clear the officers have carried out a large amount of work and we thank them for their efforts. However, despite the work done we have made suggestions for improvements as follows:
Given the timescale for the Local Plan process, and the government's dillydallying around the Planning framework, we propose that the assessment of actual housing need is based on the most recent ONS projections of future need. The government have themselves admitted that, while still requiring the standard methodology to be use the out-of-date 2014 projections, the results of that work should not be treated as a firm target.
Assessing the Borough's actual need using the most recent, 2018-based, projections results in only c2,600 new homes being needed between 2023 and 2043. The figures in the draft Local Plan (Table 3.1) suggest that this target could be met without building on ANY of the proposed Green Belt sites.
We recommend that efforts should be made to build new social housing rather than rely on the misleadingly defined "affordable" housing. Other councils, including those led by Liberal Democrat administrations, are successfully building new social housing.
Although many of the proposed new Policies are sensible in principle, they could be made more effective by being more detailed and more prescriptive.
In particular we have proposed more rigorous and detailed requirements around preserving our environment, protecting bio-diversity and tackling the climate emergency.
It will be important for the new Policies to be strictly adhered to, and to reduce the potential for "wiggle-room" by developers and residents.
The overarching Vision could be improved by bringing the various strands together to recognise the importance of quality of life within an area.
The stated 9 Objectives do not meet the normal business or managerial standard for a good objective, with insufficient detail and metrics against which to measure success.
The full response can be read here.
For and on behalf of the Epsom & Ewell Liberal Democrats 11 March 2023