Buildings development within Fetcham continues to be monitored by the FRA.
During the past year (Apr 2019 – March 2020) there have been some 240 Planning Applications for sites within Fetcham published for consideration by MVDC’s Planning Department. Of this total, 66 were specifically applications to manage, reduce or fell trees subject to TPO’s (Tree Protection Orders).
These headline numbers suggest a significant 40% increase of proposed property development within Fetcham over the year, much of which has been approved. As reported at the FRA’s 2019 AGM, there were ’only’ 170 applications in total during the previous 12 months.
Much of the increase in building activity appears to have been in extending existing properties sideways, rearwards, upwards and even forwards; as owners alternatives to finding and moving to larger houses.
This form of development does create its own issues by gradually altering street views, increasing building density, reducing green space, and increasing paved areas, overlooking, noise and light pollution … all eventually impacting upon the residential character and ambience of Fetcham.
There is some lessening of infill proposals, due perhaps to an ever-dwindling availability of sites commercially suitable for development. Those infill developments that we are seeing, are typically seeking to build either large high-end executive housing or high density multiple units.
During the past year, we have actively supported residents objections to 8 applications. 1 was subsequently WITHDRAWN, 4 appropriately REFUSED, 2 were still APPROVED and 1 is yet TO BE DECIDED. We also followed 2 Appeals against REFUSAL of applications, about which we had already objected, reiterating those objections to Inspectors. 1 Appeal was ultimately DISMISSED and 1 was ALLOWED.
When initial proposals for Traffic Calming in the vicinity of our schools on Bell Lane and School Lane were first notified by Surrey Highways, there was a mixed response from residents and parents. In conjunction with our District and County Councillors we met with Surrey Highways ‘on-site’ to discuss the plans. Concerns about the locations of some of the measures proposed in School Lane and of the need to maintain surface water run off to drain gullies were aired and addressed in the final details later implemented.
We also asked during the meeting for consideration to be given to extending the 20mph zone to along the full lengths of The Street and School Lane, as well as along the interconnection stretch of Cobham Road. We have been considering that the calming of traffic along that length of Cobham Road, particularly at the bend outside the Orchard Cottage Dental Surgery and where it passes between the parades of shops, would be significantly beneficial for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike.
Regrettably funding even for the required monitoring and surveying of those roads prevented the idea being considered further. We did also ask that the centre line road marking in Cobham Road, outside the Dental Surgery could be very readily off-set to help avoid head-on encounters of traffic at that location. Unfortunately, no action on that either.
We have in past few weeks been suggesting to SCC Highways a change in the criteria for filling potholes occurring within 1 meter of the kerb of all highway carriageways that do not have separate designated cycleways. We are proposing that Potholes reported in these zones of 2cm or more in depth should be promptly filled, just as they would be if occurring in a designated cycleway, and not have to be at least 4cm deep before being prioritised for action as applies to the main carriageways.
The FRA would be interested in residents’ views on such a proposal.
The site continues to be a source of extreme frustration to residents, traders, the FRA, as well as to MVDC Planning Officers.
With the current unlikely prospect of an early start of work to actually build out the approved plans for the site, we have in conjunction with the support of both County and Local Councillors, been applying pressure on the site owners to improve the appearance and safely of the site, as has MVDC also been imposing enforcement notices. As we have seen in the last few days, some improvements has been achieved. We are now lobbying to have the redundant signage taken down that remains outside the hoardings.
The Public Meeting the FRA arranged on 1st March to discuss aspects of the Local Plan affecting Fetcham directly and indirectly was extremely well attended. Our MP, Councillors and Panning Officials present all went away with no doubt about your very clearly expressed and strongly held views on the protection of our Greenbelt in the north the district and particularly in the preservation of Fetcham Springs as a natural habitat.
It is the FRA’s intention to establish and lead a team of representatives of relevant bodies to consider how Fetcham Springs might be secured from any threat of development.
Meanwhile we await MVDC’s response to the relatively significant level or responses they received during the consolation. Significant amendments to the Local Plan as presented may be expected ,,, we certainly believe they are needed.
PLANNING ISSUES and the FRA WEBSITE
As part of the relaunch during the year of our website, a more visual presentation of the Planning Applications has been attempted. We hop these are useful. We have also provided scope for posts about particular planning issues of note to be available and readily located within an altogether busier, broader and hopefully useful range of content.
My personal thanks to Patrick Bisgood & Martin David for their increasing input and involvement in Planning issues, to Betty Williams for the tlc administered to Fetchams public trees, and to Mark Robinson for the weekly insertion of the latest Planning Application lists into the FRA’s noticeboard outside Sainsbury’s.
Thank you all.
Vice Chair &Planning
Fetcham Residents Association