This is the home page of the website for the Epsom Civic Society, which seeks to protect and enhance the heritage and green space of Epsom, while encouraging good design in new building which is sympathetic to the context in which it is situated. We encourage a sense of civic pride in all Epsom residents and workers.
Links to recent posts in all categories can be found to the right on your screen, together with links to recent tweets and our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Most posts relate to Planning matters, both planning policy and individual applications, but feel free to explore the menus for additional content.
If you live or work in Epsom, and care about keeping it as a nice place to live and work, you can join us here.
Stop Press News October 2023 – Epsom Local Plan “un-paused”
Following the public consultation on the Epsom & Ewell Draft Local Plan in March 2023, the Borough planning team received more than 1700 responses, but no analysis of these has yet been published. All the actual responses can be found here together with links to the Draft Local Plan itself and associated documentation, while the Society’s own response is here.
Following the close of the consultation on the Draft Local Plan, on 22 March 2023 an Extraordinary Council Meeting was held where a Motion was debated, with the Council agreeing to pause progress on the Local Plan. Shortly before, HMG had suggested that the proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to be consulted on later in 2023 might allow the use of 2018 data as the basis rather than the 2014 data, the requirement for which was then (and still is now) embedded in law.
The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill became law on 26 October 2023, the government press release here. The new Act includes a number of changes to the Local Plan process and transition arrangements between old and new processes setting a strict deadline of July 2025 for submitting plans for examination. The requirement remains to base housing need calculations on 2014 data (now 9 years old!) but has reduced the resulting number to being an advisory rather than mandatory end point.
Since switching to the new process would mean going back virtually square one on our Local Plan (which has now been in preparation since 2015 or earlier, at considerable expense to local Council Tax payers) the EEBC Licensing & Planning Policy Committee agreed at their last meeting to recommend immediately un-pausing our Draft Local Plan. At the extraordinary meeting of the full Council (required by law) on 24th October the Council voted to un-pause the Plan (votes for un-pausing: 21, votes against: 0, abstentions: 8).
Meanwhile, also in October, the Society responded to the government’s consultation on implementation of plan-making reforms which can perhaps best be decided as a mixture of further attempts to reduce the Local Planning Authorities’ control and ability to respect local democracy and a number of “Aunt Sally” proposals to “improve” the process and help central government track progress against plan-making timetables and subsequent achievement of approved plans. As usual, the consultation was very short on details to enable work to proceed. See our post on this consultation and our response here.
Watch this space!
A brief history of the Epsom Civic Society follows. The Society was founded in 1959 as the Epsom Protection Society, at a time when many historic and architecturally valuable buildings and houses in Epsom and Ewell were being threatened by developers. Then, our primary role was to halt the destruction of Epsom’s heritage and to ensure that new development was compatible with the traditional character of the town. In 2011, our name was changed to Epsom Civic Society. Our purpose continues to be to protect the heritage of Epsom and to encourage high standards of new planning and building; but the change of name reflects the wider concerns of the Society to promote civic pride and to inspire progressive improvement in the quality of urban life for everyone. The Society is a founder member of Civic Voice, the national charity for the civic movement in England, and shares common aims with other civic societies. We:-
- care about the surroundings – the places where people live and work and enjoy leisure
- want to find solutions to environmental problems
- wish to improve the fabric of the town for present and future generations
- help to safeguard the heritage and character of Epsom
- listen to the local community and campaign for their interests
- encourage high standards of planning, design and architecture in the built environment and the retention of open spaces
- aim to promote a sense of civic pride