Dear constituent

I am writing to share with you my contribution to the debate about the Epsom and Ewell Local Plan which is now beginning its formal process. I expect the Borough Council to publish its initial thinking about the plan shortly.

Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is currently in the process of publishing and developing its local plan for the area for the next 10-15 years. Every local authority is obliged to do this, and to explain how it will meet housing need, look after its local economy and protect its local environment.

Each council has also prepared an assessment of local housing need, based on national guidance of how to do this.

We clearly have a need for new homes locally. There are too many young people who grow up or are educated here but cannot afford to remain in the area. And we have a serious shortage of social housing.

The housing assessment for Epsom and Ewell is though impossibly high, and I have been clear both nationally and locally that we need to use the provisions in the National Planning Policy Framework that limit what is expected from a local council. Very probably this involves a battle with national planning inspectors, but I am ready to fight that battle for our area.

But we do need to do all we can to meet the housing need, and I have proposed a comprehensive redevelopment of the Kiln Lane and Longmead areas of Epsom to achieve this without building all over our green belt.

Since that time I have had several conversations with the Borough, and also organised the preparation of a draft masterplan by a firm of architects with local connections.

The picture below gives an overview of the plan:

The plan involves the construction of a mixed use area of development, with retail and offices on the lower floors and flats above, with some terraced housing on the site as well. This kind of mix is typical of what is being done elsewhere. The buildings would be no higher than those already in and around the town centre.

The scheme provides a comparable amount of commercial space to the present plus nearly 5,000 homes. The plan would be to have car showrooms and parking areas built upwards rather than across large areas of parking as at present. But over time I would expect the commercial space to attract more creative businesses, given the presence in Epsom of the University of the Creative Arts which is now one of the country’s leading institutions of its kind. It would also aim to provide more homes for younger people rather than simply building more executive homes on open land. My worry is that developing the green belt is an easy option for the Council. It is always more complicated to reorganise what has already been developed than to build on a green field, but in our area it is much better to take the more difficult approach.

I hope this plan serves as a route for Epsom and Ewell Borough Council to plot a different way forward and protect our open spaces.

Epsom and Ewell Energy Efficiency Scheme

And just a couple of updates about the Energy Crisis locally.

Firstly a reminder that if you do not need your £400 rebate from the Government and are happy to use it to support the Epsom and Ewell Energy Efficiency Scheme, being organised with the Foodbank and Citizens Advice in Epsom to help those struggling with their bills, you can do so via this link.

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/epsom-ewell-energy-support-scheme

Both organisations cover a wider area including Epsom Downs, Ashtead and Leatherhead, and so if you are based there your contribution will also be a big help.

Warm Space Schemes

In addition two local churches have also asked me to let you know that they are running Warm Spaces schemes – where when the weather is colder those worried about their bills can spend a few hours in the warm.

Ruxley Church is launching their Warm Welcome, Warm Space on Thursday 24th November from 11.30am to 2.30pm. As well as a warm welcome, people will be able to enjoy complimentary hot drinks, soup and a roll, read a newspaper or book, play a game, chat with others or simply sit quietly.

The church is in Ruxley Lane, KT19 0AF. People are welcome to drop in on any Thursday between now and the end of March 2023.

And the café at St George’s Church in Barnett Wood Lane in Ashtead is also joining the scheme. People are welcome to come and be in the café for a while or all day…….if they can buy one hot drink the team there will then offer them coffee/tea for free.

With best wishes

Chris