ECS Response to the Epsom & Ewell Draft Local Plan Consultation

The EEBC Draft Local Plan Consultation has now closed, but proved the biggest consultation challenge for the ECS Committee in recent years. The main document itself setting out the Plan runs to more than 300 pages, including 5 Appendices, but there is even more detail in the underlying evidence base. So a lot of hours’ work just to read it and absorb its implications.

Although many members of the committee (and some other Society members too) had a hand in the preparation of the Society’s response, the main credit must go to our Chair, Margaret Hollins, who has laboured long and hard pulling together the disparate comments and views of other contributors.

Your Committee were all agreed, however, on the main issue, highlighted in our Executive Summary, namely how many houses do we actually need? And how little resemblance the result of using HMG’s “standard methodology for calculating housing need” (which is based on 2014 population data) bears to the likely answer for Epsom and Ewell. Indeed the Draft Local Plan makes no attempt to reach the nearly 600-dwellings per annum total reached using that methodology, but still proposes significant development in the Green Belt, which the Society believes is both undesirable in principle and possibly unnecessary in practice to meet actual need.

Nor does HMG’s framework actually address the critical need for affordable housing and, especially, social housing, since in Epsom & Ewell even a 30% reduction in rent from market prices would in practice be completely unaffordable for many of the existing households on housing waiting lists at present.

The full response can be read here.

The Society has therefore also written to Chris Grayling, our local MP, asking him to raise with the government the need to convert policy into statutory framework in a timely manner.