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.