1. Mole Valley Spatial Strategy – time for a rethink?

    There’s a new Spatial Strategy in development now that forms a foundation for a new Local Plan, which will be guided by National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and South East Plans. It’s inevitable that more dwellings will be required and 90% of MVDC land is categorized Green Belt or Countryside. The result could be further intensification of construction within Ashtead if the current Spatial Strategy is maintained.

    Many Ashtead residents have accepted this as inevitable and a price worth paying to save the Green Belt. But already these planning applications have caused massive objections for reasons that include loss of gardens and green spaces (such as Parsons Mead) and concerns for local services such as schools, doctors, roads, drainage, water etc. The look, feel and not to mention the bio-diversity of Ashtead have been changing bit by bit.

    What are there alternatives? The Government- not to mention MVDC – is struggling with this. There are some articles written by the Economist for further reading such as ‘Hardly Groundbreaking’ and ‘The Green Belt Delusion’ from Feb 11-17th edition for their comments on the White Paper. But what’s your view?

    Through our own Ashtead Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), we all see that the Green Belt has enormous benefits for us all, such as preventing urban sprawl and protecting wildlife and growing food. But this argument ignores the bio-diversity and wildlife of Ashtead gardens that are grossly under-valued compared to some of the species-poor arable fields in the countryside. And by constant in-fill, Ashtead experiences its own form of urbanisation. Its time for a re-think about the balance, and for Ashtead residents to explore all options and respond to consultation on the Spatial Strategy coming later this year.

    For information, here is a map of the district illustrating there is an area the size of Ashtead, Leatherhead, Bookham and Fetcham combined outside protected areas of Green Belt, areas of natural beauty and landscape value.
    Spatial_1

    Stations like Holmwood and Ockley close to the main A24 artery (down the line from Ashtead beyond Dorking) are part of the infrastructure laid down by far sighted planners decades ago, to spread the development around the district.

    Would a change to the Green Belt boundary within 1 mile of Holmwood Station (Beare Green current population 1,323 versus Ashtead 14,059) provide suitable sustainable development land?

    Spatial_2

    Ockley railway station is right on the southern border of the Green Belt. Land to the South of Coles Lane lies outside the Green Belt. Would appropriate development within 1 mile of this station be sensible?

    Do you think development could be considered for these or other areas – which are more or less equally suitable when compared with Ashtead? Or would you prefer that

    buildings in Ashtead increasingly become three or four floors, or intensify further on the ground?

    Spatial_3

    I’m not saying that these areas are suitable or not. But I want Ashtead residents to be cognisant of the fact that if the Spatial Strategy remains the same or similar as last time, then one result could be intensive construction in Ashtead if other alternatives are not found.

    Join in the process by letting us know your opinion, or come to our monthly (first Saturday) surgery at the Scouts’ Hut on Woodfield, 12 noon to 1pm.  In any case, do look out for the consultation on Spatial Strategy appearing on the MVDC website and be sure to let MVDC know your views.

    Note:

    • Google images used under non-commercial licence and their terms and conditions.
    • These comments are by Councillor David Harper do not represent the views of MVDC nor of Ashtead Independent Group.

     

     


  2. Drop-in Surgeries – have arrived

    Ashtead Independent Ward Councillors Surgeries, with other Wards catered for too

     

    Ashtead Independent Ward Councillors are starting monthly drop-in meetings at the Scout Hall, Woodfield, from 12.00-13.00 on the first Saturday in each month, starting on 1 October 2016.

    Cllrs David Hawksworth and Patricia Wiltshire (Common Ward) plan to be there on each occasion, and at least one Councillor from each of Park and Village Wards will also normally be present.

    Come by to discuss any issues they may be able to help you with, or just to meet them and have a chat.

     

     


  3. A comment on the District Council Elections Results, 2016

    “We are delighted that all our four candidates retained the seats we fought at the recent District Council elections. We had the largest overall majority for many years and each of our candidates achieved very good personal majorities, particularly Mary Cooper in Village Ward which was especially targeted by the Conservatives after their win last year (the General Election year).

     

    The detailed results were as follows and profiles of your new Councillors appear elsewhere on this site”

     


  4. Putting the record straight: Village and Common Wards

    What the Ashtead Independents say:

    Election letter from Mary Cooper

    Electors in Village Ward will have received a letter from Ashtead Independent candidate Mary Cooper within the last few days.  A copy of this letter follows for reference

     It has been brought to our notice that this letter failed to display the required election “imprint” as follows:

    Printed by: Surrey Litho, Units 48 & 49 Bookham Industrial Park, off Church Road, Great Bookham, KT23 3EU

    Promoted by Roy Ronald Guy, 26 Cray Avenue, Ashtead, Surrey KT21 1QX

    On behalf of the candidate Mary Cooper, Oakwood, Farm Lane, Ashtead, Surrey KT21 1LR

    We apologise for this omission and to any elector who has been misled or inconvenienced by it.

    Click on the link  Village Ward’s Response

    Click on the link  Common Ward’s Response


  5. Green Lane Crossing – Petition

    Surrey County Council says:

    Your petition has been approved, and is now available on the website at the following address:

    http://petitions.surreycc.gov.uk/GreenLane/

    Your petition reads:

    We the undersigned petition Surrey County Council to support the retention and improvement of the railway line crossing between Green Lane and Links Road, Ashtead.

    The Green Lane footpath crossing over the railway line has been in use consistently and openly as a public path since the advent of the railway in 1856 and Network Rail’s own website describes this crossing as a ‘Public Footpath Crossing’.

    Surrey County Council’s own Definitive Map shows this crossing as a Public Footpath. This crossing is used by an average of over 230 people a day, in excess of 1600 per week, amounting to over 80,000 crossings every year, figures which indicate the importance of this crossing to local residents.  There has not been a serious accident here since 1967, a remarkable fact given the frequency of trains and that in the intervening 50 years, millions of pedestrians have responsibly and safely traversed the track. Given the extraordinarily high level of pedestrian usage and the unusual geographical predicament of the ‘landlocked’ residents to the north of the crossing who are isolated by the railway tracks, this public footpath crossing is a vital link for cyclists and pedestrians to local shops, schools, and bus routes, while many residents south of the crossing use it to access the common for recreation.

    Please sign it folks (I’ll be checking!) and spread the word.

    I should point out that the rules say one signature per email address.

    Paula


  6. John Northcott

    Visitors to this site will almost certainly have seen the many fulsome eulogies, in the local press and on the Ashtead Residents Association website, to John who sadly died on 16 March having resigned from the Council only a few days previously due to his deteriorating health.  The Ashtead Independent Councillors would like to add the following brief tribute.

    John had had an exceptionally good grounding in the ways of local government, having been on the Ashtead Residents’ Standing Committee for many, many years before he stood as an Ashtead Independent for the Common Ward in 2000.  He had a prestigious appetite for “reading the paperwork” and you knew that we would always be fully briefed on the topic in hand.  What he didn’t know about Planning wasn’t worth knowing and the fellow Councillors and Council Officers listened carefully when John spoke about Planning matters.  He was extremely well respected at Pippbrook by his fellow Councillors & Officers;  so much so know that, on learning of his death, the flag at the Council Offices was lowered to half-mast and as his funeral began, there was a minutes silence at Pippbrook – a mark of respect from those there and a mark of the man.

    John also “took on” Thames Water when there was a spate of flooding in his Ward;  unsurprisingly, John prevailed and the matter was dealt with.  He also took a very keen interest in the Level Crossing, a feature of his Ward, and was frequently seen visiting the overnight works in the early hours of the morning, making sure he knew what was happening, in case he wanted to revert to Network Rail.

    It may seem from the above that John was “all work and no play” but that would be very far from the truth:  he had many other interests and enjoyed a good laugh, often at his own expense.

    He was a lovely man, who will be sorely missed by his fellow Ashtead Independents, and Councillors of other hues, along with many in Ashtead.

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gill, his wife, and his children, Richard and Clare, and the wider family.


  7. Resurfacing of the A24 through Ashtead

    Surrey Highways had intended to carry out resurfacing between Bowyers Close and Parkers Hill and between Uplands and the Knoll roundabout imminently but the latest we hear is that this may not happen until April or May 2016.  Whenever it does happen, considerable disruption is likely, especially if it coincides with the expected second closure of Pebble Hill.


  8. Statement of Community Involvement

    This public document which forms part of MVDC’s local plan is currently being revised and will shortly be available for public comment. Amongst other things it sets out how and to what extent neighbours will be consulted about individual planning applications. At present only very close neighbours are notified for reasons of economy but an internet based system is being suggested which will allow residents to opt to be notified of any applications within specified distances of their properties.  If this interests you, keep an eye out for the consultation on the MVDC website.


  9. Esso Filling Station site in The Street

    Tesco have recently taken steps to meet all the pre-commencement conditions attached to their planning permission, and so they are likely now to carry out enough preliminary groundworks to preserve the permission which otherwise would lapse in November.  The site is still on the market and we have been informed that at least one buyer is negotiating with Tesco but no announcement has been made so far.  We assume that as the planning permission is for a retail shop, it would not be worth Tesco’s while to preserve it unless the potential buyer was itself a retail shop.


  10. School Places and provision of Youth Services

    It has recently been announced by Surrey County Council that Barnett Wood Lane School will NOT now be expanded.  Apparently, the birth rate locally in 2013 and 2014 has dropped and the expected numbers will not now materialise.  Taken together with the cutbacks expected at the Youth Centre and the uncertainty over the future of the Surestart programme, this is yet another blow to the children and young people in Ashtead.  Councillor Chris Townsend drew attention to this in a recent Surrey County Council meeting, and his thoughts were reported in the Leatherhead Advertiser.