Mole Valley facing increased housing targets

Government ministers look set to impose higher housing targets on Mole Valley.

Until now district planners and councillors were working to a target of 7,700 new homes between 2020 and 2035.

But new proposals announced by Whitehall, to change the way it calculates 'housing need', will raise Mole Valley's target by a further 1,870 dwellings.

Councillor Margaret Cooksey, Cabinet Member for Planning, said:

“It is of course frustrating that, having consulted on a draft Plan earlier in the year, it appears the goal posts are being moved. MVDC is essentially being put under more pressure to consider Green Belt development and increased densities in our towns - two areas where residents have expressed dissatisfaction with the draft Plan. 

“I have already written to the Secretary of State expressing my unhappiness at the approach to housing requirements. I cannot see it as tenable to simply agree to higher and higher housing requirements in a beautiful district that has huge Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and important Green Belt.

The proposal to change the way in which housing quota is calculated comes only weeks after the government published plans to make wholesale changes to the current planning system.

Under the proposed new system, case by case scrutiny of planning applications will be replaced by a zonal system, with many applications likely to win automatic approval.

Councillor Cooksey warns that both sets of proposals are likely to have a 'significant impact on the content and timescale' for producing the already delayed Local Plan for the district.

And she urges residents to make their voices heard.

“MVDC will be responding to the government’s consultation on their proposals, and residents may wish to express their own views. Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-current-planning-system to do so. We will also be responding to a second consultation proposing wholesale changes to the planning system available here ...  https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future."

Councillor Cooksey's letter to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick can be downloaded here.

The FRA's Richard Bradfield, who monitors planning matters, says:

"It is more than disappointing that significantly increased housing requirements and dangerously simplistic criteria for planning approvals are now being proposed by central government. Fetcham could face the dual prospect of uncontrolled infilling of the precious little remaining spaces within the village, and un-challengeable development of equally precious Green Belt within and around our borders. Do we really want to become just another district within a vast urban sprawl? "

Do make your feelings known about such possible changes by visiting  https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-current-planning-system

...and do also please summarise your feelings and opinions in the Comments box below.

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