|The Mansion Gardens|
I have in mind writing a pantomime in 5 acts. Here is the draft ……
ACT I – FIRST HUMBUG
Once upon a time many moons ago when five traveller families wished their temporary residence on 4.7 hectares of green belt to be be made permanent, a certain councillor opposed this because that councillor was a “passionate defender of the green belt.”
Several moons later the same councillor opposed the recommendation of the Council Officers and voted to allow some 83 hectares of green belt to be developed as an exclusive golf course with luxury hotel and spa facilities.
ACT 2 – SECOND HUMBUG
When the application for the exclusive golf course was referred to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, as it was a departure from the approved development plan, our MP asked Mr Pickles not to call the application in for public enquiry. Mr Pickles agreed, saying that the issue “was not of national importance and should be considered locally.”
When the traveller families applied to take their application to appeal, our MP asked Mr Pickles to call the application in for public enquiry. Mr Pickles did so.
So five traveller families on 4.7 hectares really are of national importance but a 83 hectare exclusive golf club isn’t!
ACT 3 – THIRD HUMBUG
Mr Pickles said the five traveller families could not remain where they were permanently because their occupation of 4.7 hectares was causing “substantial harm to the green belt.”
Our wise councillors propose to create up to1000 dwellings on 23.8 hectares.
– 5 families on 4.7 hectares = substantial damage to the green belt.
– up to 1000 dwellings on 23.8 hectares = ???
ACT 4 – THE THREE SPIRITS
Like Mr Scrooge, the Mole Valley councillors are visited by three spirits. They are:
Also like Mr scrooge, our councillors repent and are changed persons after their visitations. They call upon their fellow councillors in Reigate & Banstead, in Guildford Borough and, indeed, throughout Surrey to resist mounting pressure from the Government and from developers, crying:
“Hands off the green Belt! Enough is enough! Surrey is full!”
What a fine turn-out for the meeting on the 2nd December! The room was packed and and we ran out of chairs. Was it the thought of mulled wine and Christmas fare to follow that brought in the crowds? I think not; it has not had that effect in previous years.
So what drew people there? The answer was very clear – the Green Belt. Or rather the threat to the Green Belt both around Leatherhead and throughout Surrey. Guilford Borough’s proposal to remove Green Status from 16 of its villages is very worrying, especially with MVDC’s proposals to “fill in” the gap each side of Junction 9. Apparently the M25 is deemed sufficient to separate Leatherhead and Ashtead – no green belt is needed. If all this goes ahead we’ll finish up with urban development in a continuous strip from Guildford to Epsom and on into London. Greater London will get still greater.
Mr Roland McKinney and Mrs Irene Seifert gave us stark warnings and encouraged us to work together with other similar groups both in Mole Valley and throughout Surrey. We heard also from Poors Allotment holders whom MVDC are still trying push out in order to attract a housing developer to the Green Belt area by Junction 9.
The message is clear: people are worried and concerned at the present attack on the Green Belt. So were our councillors there to hear their constituents’ concerns? Well, no, not exactly. County Councillor Tim Hall was there (and I thank him for that), but planning is a MVDC matter. Cllrs Philippa Shimmin & Bridget Lewis-Carr sent their apologies; and Cllr Lewis-Carr did manage to get there in time to mix and talk with people during the eats and drinks after the main meeting. But where were our other district councillors?
In last Thursday’s Leatherhead Advertiser Raymond Brown asked “How long before Surrey is covered in houses and golf courses, and the Metropolitan Green Belt is a dream of the past?” Two weeks before, Andy Smith of CPRE had written that Surrey was already full as far as housing is concerned. So it is. We need to protect our green spaces while we still have them. London has already swallowed up the whole north-east of the former county of Surrey. Don’t let the rest of Surrey be swallowed up by London, as the old county of Middlesex has been.
1. Welcome to visitors and to current members who have volunteered for extra duties.
2. Apologies for absence
3. Minutes of the last Open Meeting on 4 Nov to be approved. (Can be viewed on our Website)
4. Matters arising – most will be dealt with in full under AOB.
5. Correspondence – mostly emails on the 4 above and will be discussed under AOB
6. Highlights from Reports from sub-groups:
b. Environment Report Including remarks on Norbury Park, The Rivers Mole and Ryebrook and the Waterworks.
d. The Chairman will add some remarks concerning LAP and BLeAF, if not mentioned earlier.
7. AOB At least 3 people have kindly agreed to explain one or most aspects of the Green Belt Review and its likely impact on the MV in general. If MV has made known any decisions by the time of our meeting, then one of the speakers below will announce them.
a. Mr. Roland McKinney will be speaking about those (many) areas in Surrey which stand to lose some of their non-developed parts. He will also mention the type of Consultation being offered by Guildford and by MV and what we, the general public, can do to help or hinder.
b. As a microcosm of Surrey in general, Leatherhead’s position will be explained by Mrs. Irene Seifert of “Save South Leatherhead.”
c. Mrs. Flip Cargill will try to push the search for unnoticed brown field sites.