Author Archives: Mike Axton

Funding To Improve Local High Streets

Elmbridge Council is making funding available from its Civic Improvement Fund (CIF) for projects which improve the sustainability of local high streets. Up to 90% of the project costs can be funded, up to a maximum of £2,000.

More than 280 projects have previously been funded from the Elmbridge CIF, many for shop front improvements. The Council is now has committing additional funding to the scheme and extending its operation until 31 March 2021, and we hope business owners in Molesey will take advantage of this money. Further information on the scheme, including the application form and guidance notes, is available on the Council’s website: elmbridge.gov.uk/business  If businesses have any questions about the scheme or other business support please contact the Council’s Organisational Development team at business@elmbridge.gov.uk or telephone 01372 474 216.

Elmbridge Council Local Plan Consultation: MRA Response

MOLESEY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION  

RESPONSE TO ELMBRIDGE COUNCIL LOCAL PLAN CONSULTATION

Overview

Our response to the consultation consists of two parts: our observations on the five options presented by the Council; and our specific comments on what we consider are some of the priorities for Molesey and its current and future residents.

We have listened to the views of our residents and the comments and observations made by those who attended the Council’s presentation on the Local Plan. In summary we do not believe that any of the five options in the consultation document achieves an acceptable solution on their own, and that and a modified version of Option 2 would be a preferable way forward.

Consultation Options

We recognise that there is a need for more housing in the Borough, in particular more one, two and three-bedroomed homes. However, we do not accept the Government’s assumption that simply concreting over large parts of the Borough will in itself reduce the affordability gap. It may simply suck more people into the area.

Elmbridge has unique characteristics and we would want to ensure that any new measures preserve and enhance its character. At first sight the easy option might be to support Option 4, which would not involve any loss of Green Belt land. However, it would be wrong to assume that this option would have no unintended consequences. The Government has made it clear that 9345 new homes must be built somewhere in the Borough over the next 15 years, and Option 4 would therefore result in more building in urban areas. We continue to believe, however, that the Government’s target is too high, and should continue to be challenged by the Council.

Although we do not like the idea of allowing any building on the Green Belt, the alternative which would result from Option 4 would be to accept more intensive development in the Borough’s more urban areas, including Molesey, Hersham and Walton, which have already absorbed more than their fair share of development over the last few years. This would involve higher density developments per site, more flats and higher buildings in these areas to achieve anywhere near the Government’s target. This would also apply to other urban areas in the Borough which are currently encompassed by Green Belt, as development would need to be spread across Elmbridge.

We believe that a more pragmatic approach should be taken, with new development being spread across the whole Borough. This would be fairer for the residents of Elmbridge as a whole, but it would inevitably mean allowing some limited development in areas which are currently within the Green Belt. We believe the principle, along the lines of Option 2, (though not necessarily with the designated areas outlined in Option 2) would be a better way forward, even though some small, carefully selected areas would need to be released from the Green Belt.

We recognise that this is “Hobson’s choice”, and that it is not an ideal outcome, but doing nothing is not an option, and this approach would help to provide more of the smaller sized homes that are desperately needed. Releasing just 3% of the Borough’s Green Belt, whilst clearly not something we want, would at least enable the remaining 97% of the Borough’s Green Belt to be more robustly defended against future development. We would also expect the Council to ensure that mixed housing, including an appropriate proportion of Social and Affordable housing, would be a priority when considering any building on the Green Belt.

We also believe it is vital to ensure that developers will be required to make a significant contribution to the additional infrastructure which would be needed to accompany new development. This should be a pre-requisite before a developer can build on any Green Belt land. A major concern, however, is that is that other agencies which have the responsibility for providing the infrastructure to support new development (such as the Government, utility companies, the NHS and Surrey County Council) appear to have no long-term plans in place to provide it, and insufficient funding to provide the extra services which will be essential to maintain and improve the quality of life for our residents.

Impact on Molesey

The review of the Local Plan does at least provide an opportunity for the Council to amend the classification of some areas in Molesey in order to protect them from the threat of development in the future. The Council can now designate areas as “Local Green Spaces” if certain conditions are satisfied. This is a new categorisation which can offer a high degree of protection against development to areas of importance to local communities. The MRA is pressing for a number of areas in Molesey to be included in this category, including Hurst Meadows, Hurst Park, Cigarette Island, our recreation grounds, Molesey Heath, Nielsons Field and the Wilderness. We also believe that the former Molesey Sewage Farm site, which the Council currently manages as a nature conservation area, should be incorporated into the Green Belt, so that it has the same status as Molesey Heath, which it adjoins.

Policies should also be put in place to protect and improve the air quality in Molesey, as more development will inevitably lead to increased road traffic.

If we are to sustain new development then infrastructure, in its broadest sense, must be improved. We need better bus services to encourage people to use public transport instead of cars. The Hampton Court train service needs to be improved. There are only two trains an hour, and these will be insufficient to cater for increased commuter usage, and the extra demand, particularly in the Summer, by visitors to Hampton Court Palace and events such as the annual Flower Festival. Another issue is that many commuters drive to Hampton Court station because it is within the Oyster & Travelcard Zones, increasing the problems caused by commuter parking in local streets.  If the Zone could be extended to include Esher Station that would relieve some of the pressure on Hampton Court station.

In terms of the provision of NHS Services, there are still issues surrounding the capacity of the current clinical services to provide all the necessary support required by the community. The MRA fought hard to prevent the closure of Molesey Hospital, and we support plans to redevelop it in the future as a modern clinical hub. The NHS should be asked to speed up its plans to bring forward and deliver the improved services that have been promised.

It is difficult to be prescriptive about what should be the maximum height of any new buildings, because with so many different individual settlement areas there must be flexibility in any planning policies to take account of where the new buildings are proposed. Excessive height, however, should generally be restricted in residential areas, and only considered in areas where they would not have a negative impact. The buildings currently under construction in Hansler Grove, for example, are effectively four storeys high, including accommodation in the roof space, and this requires additional height and depth. We would like to see a lower overall profile in future developments, particularly in residential areas.

For many years there has been more development in Molesey, including high density development, than other areas of the Borough. It is inevitable that opposing any release of some small areas of the Green Belt will result in more intensive development in Molesey, and this is why we would support a modified version of Option 2.

Yours Sincerely

Nigel Cooper

Molesey Residents Association

New Development Proposed at Molesey FC

Following the refusal of the previous proposals a new planning application has now been submitted to Elmbridge Council for a major development at Molesey Football Club. The new proposals will include 50 flats, a day nursery, and a new clubhouse and seating for the Football Club. It will also involve the demolition of the existing clubhouse and stand, and some of the empty flats in Grange Close. The full details can be seen on the planning section of the Elmbridge Council website under the planning reference 2019/2569.

Local Plan Consultation Meeting

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On 24 July, Elmbridge Borough Council’s Cabinet met to discuss the upcoming Local Plan consultation and agreed on the options to be presented to Elmbridge residents from 19 August – 30 September 2019.  They also agreed to a series of six public meetings to discuss the options with residents and to hear the views of our residents.

The meeting for Molesey will be at the Civic Centre in Esher in Thursday 29 August from 7-9pm.

Residents should book to attend a meeting using the following link www.elmbridge.gov.uk/localplantickets.

A webcast will be available through this link – https://elmbridge.public-i.tv/core/portal/home.

The format of the public meetings will be as follows:

7pm – Presentation on the Local Plan options

On the panel:

  • Ray Lee, Strategic Director, Elmbridge Borough Council
  • Kim Tagliarini, Head of Planning Services, Elmbridge Borough Council,
  • Rachael Thorold, Local Plan Manager, Elmbridge Borough Council

7.30pm    Questions and answers session

  • Questions should be submitted in advance. Following registration, residents will be sent an email with the opportunity to submit a question for the panel.

Councillor Karen Randolph, Portfolio Holder for Planning Services, would like to encourage residents to get involved in the upcoming consultation:

“The Local Plan is vitally important for the future of Elmbridge and we want to ensure that our residents are fully aware of the options, which is why I would encourage our residents to come along to the relevant public meeting or watch it through the webcast. Please book online to attend and send us your question in advance to ensure we can provide you with a full response.”

Jolly Boatman – Revised Application

We’ve just been advised that an amendment to the planning application for the re-development of the Jolly Boatman and Hampton Court station site in East Molesey has now been received by Elmbridge Council. Details can be viewed on the planning section of the Elmbridge Council website under reference number 2018/3803..


It appears that the amendments concern only the layout of the car parking spaces and alignment of the access, details of the car park surface, and information on the fencing and amended tree protection information. So it looks as if the main proposals for the buildings and site layout are unchanged.

We will be nevertheless be scrutinising the amendments carefully, working closely with the Hampton Court Rescue Campaign and others, and we would encourage residents to look at what is proposed and make their views known.

Royal Cambridge Home – New Planning Application

A new planning application has now been made to Elmbridge Council for a 32 bed Care Home and 60 Extra Care Age Restricted Apartment following demolition of the existing Royal Cambridge Homes buildings.

The application can be viewed online in the Planning section of the Council’s website, under the reference 2019/1813.

The previous proposals gave rise to considerable local concerns, and we will be scrutinising the new plans thoroughly. We would encourage residents to have a look at what is proposed, and to let the Council know their views.

Funding For Community Projects

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a charge payable by developers to local councils as part of the planning process. Elmbridge Council is required to allocate a proportion of the CIL funds it collects (currently 15%) on local infrastructure improvements to mitigate the impacts of development locally.

Applications can be submitted up until 16 June 2019, and after the closing date, applicants who have applied will have a further four weeks to provide any outstanding details needed for a valid application. These applicants will be invited to give a presentation about their proposals to a Spending Board made up of local Councillors later in the year. The Strategic Spending Board will be first in early September, and the Local Spending Boards will follow throughout September and into early October.

Anyone interested in applying can find the application forms, guidance notes and information about CIL in the planning section of the Elmbridge Council website.

Jolly Boatman Planning Decision Postponed

We have been advised by Elmbridge Council that the Special Planning Committee meeting on 4 April to consider the proposed Jolly Boatman and Hampton Court Station planning application has been postponed.

This is because the consultation response from the Environment Agency is still outstanding. The developers had to update the modelling used on their original submission and the Environment Agency has confirmed that they need more time to review this information and write their consultation response.

We will update residents as soon as we have information about a revised date.

MRA Chairman’s Letter about Jolly Boatman Application

MRA Chairman Councillor Stuart Selleck has written to Elmbridge Council raising concerns about the current application for the Hampton Court Station & Jolly Boatman site. His letter is is copied below.

Letter from Councillor Stuart Selleck to Elmbridge Council

As Chairman of the Molesey Residents Association, I am writing with our comments and objections to this proposed development.

The comments are not in any particular order of concern as all the points highlight the serious problems that we have with the current application.

1.  Height and Massing of the Buildings.

      In our view, the height of the proposed scheme exceeds that of the old Gladedale design. The developers have admitted that it’s 5ft 10in higher though we think it is even higher as there is some disagreement as to where the residential base line begins as car parking is to be provided in a basement floor and an undercroft .This is clearly visible from Alexpo ‘s drawings which shows the development to be at least one level too high.

The density of the development has increased from the Gladedale scheme as the space for the Care Home has been replaced with 97 residential units.The proposed Hotel on Hampton Court Way has increased the number of bedrooms to 84 and with the residential units, the building has a much larger footprint than the 2008 scheme.

The overall design, especially along Hampton Court Way, is poor. It has no empathy with the surrounding buildings ,the Palace nor the Station itself. There is a lost opportunity for a challenging design to get away from soulless slabs of brick for this very important site.

2.  Car Parking Provision 

    Simply put…the development ‘s car parking provision will be totally inadequate.

    We have serious concerns about how the developer arrived at the proposed number of parking places, the surveys which were carried out and their timings which has produced un realistic results.

Of the 207 spaces advertised by Alexpo, only 169 are unrestricted which would have to accommodate the parking needs of 97 flats and guests, 84 bedroom Hotel guests and staff as well as the current users of the Station car park , including visitors to the Palace, and shoppers at the supermarket and retail units. Common sense shows this doesn’t add up. 

Parking in Molesey is a major problem for our residents and any added cars will only put further parking pressure on all the surrounding roads.

3. Affordable Housing 

   Alexpo’s scheme for 97 market value homes will only provide 12 affordable units set aside as “ shared equity “ . The Council Strategy seeks to provide 40% affordable housing on developments like this determined by particular circumstances including financial viability. The developers viability statement draws its comparison with the 7units agreed under the Gladedale scheme , but conveniently forgets that officers “ reluctantly “ accepted the lower figure because of the provision of the Royal Star and Garter Home with its social and charitable status when deciding on the application.

The current number is way below that which the Council should accept on this type of  intensive  development irrespective of its position in the Borough. 

It’s difficult to make a complete accurate set of costing for the development, nor assumptions on potential sale values of the properties so we would respectfully recommend that the Council undertakes an independent review of the projects viability to challenge the low number of affordable units being provided.

4. Hampton Court Station

    In the 2008 scheme, there was much debate about the refurbishment of the Station ,particularly the maintaining of the heritage features within it. In this application there is very little detail as to what is proposed for the Station which is worrying as it is an integral part of the overall scheme. We believe that it is essential that Network Rail provide comprehensive details on how  they intend to repair and upgrade the Station.

5 .  Other Issues.

    It is not apparent that there has been much consideration of potential environmental features, namely solar panels , green roofs , recycling water etc…Nor  of any proposals to tackle the increased air pollution resulting from extra traffic which would be generated on and around the site. 

The 1999 Development Brief did take into account the Act of Parliament which restricts the height of buildings in and around Hampton Court Palace. Whilst it might be considered secondary to the planning process, in our view the covenant is still a crucial element in the determination of the height and scale of any buildings constructed in the area.

In Conclusion.

We have never been opposed to any development on the site if it is of an appropriate scale and design which   reflects its location and the heritage of the area. Whilst we are pleased to see the ‘ jolly boatman ‘ area landscaped, it should not distract from the fact that this development is too  dense, lacks necessary parking capacity, , lacks quality design , lacks environmental credentials and does not provide sufficient real affordable housing.

We urge the Council to reject this Application.

Stuart Selleck

Chairman of the Molesey Residents Association.

Hampton Court Station and Jolly Boatman Proposals

The formal planning application for a major redevelopment of the area around Hampton Court Station has now been submitted to Elmbridge Council. The detailed proposals can be viewed on the planning section of the Council’s website using the planning application reference number 2018/3810. A separate application (2018/3803) has also been made seeking permission for a temporary 110 space car park on Cigarette Island during the period of the building works.

We will be scrutinising these plans carefully over the coming weeks and listening to the views of residents and local groups such as the Hampton Court Rescue Campaign. Like most residents, we want a solution to this neglected site which will benefit local residents and tourists visiting Hampton Court Palace, but from an initial scrutiny there would appear to be serious concerns about the scale of these plans, the proposed level of on-site parking, and the impact on the local traffic situation.

More information can be found on the developer’s website at http://hamptoncourtconsultation.co.uk/

We would also encourage residents to look at the information provided by the Hampton Court Rescue Campaign on its website.