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Local plan frequently asked questions

What does a Local Plan do? 

Our Local Plan for Tandridge will set out the vision for the district until 2033 and provide a framework for the future improvement, development and protection of our local area and the Green Belt. 

Producing a Local Plan is a complex and lengthy procedure. The legally prescribed process, which must comply with the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), ensures the different ways of meeting future employment, housing, retail and leisure needs are considered.

Our Local Plan will be shaped by: 

  • The issues facing the district.
  • Community and other feedback gathered through formal consultations.
  • The requirements of national planning policy in the NPPF.
  • Evidence from a range of assessments. 

It is important to get it right so we can get a Local Plan in place which residents and businesses can rely on to provide communities with the right development, in the right places and for the right purposes. We have to use robust evidence and justification to convince an external inspector our Local Plan is sound and complies with the government’s requirements. 

Importantly, the Local Plan needs to support Tandridge as an environment where people want to live, work and visit. 

What is the Sites Consultation? 

In this consultation we have looked at the sites submitted to us and have applied three main pieces of evidence.  We have looked at the landscape implications, the ecology implications and the impact on the purposes of the Green Belt. 

As a result we have identified which sites: 

  • Could be realistically developed.
  • Cannot be recommended for development,
  • Need more investigation before a decision can be made either way. 

We are asking residents for their views about the sites. 

Why has the Council looked at the Green Belt? 

Because it is necessary to consider the Green Belt. The National Planning Policy Framework says Green Belt boundaries can only be amended as part of a Local Plan and only in exceptional circumstances.  

When the Local Plan is examined by an Inspector, they will need the Council to prove whether or not there are exceptional circumstances.  To be able to answer that question, the Council needs to ensure it really understands the current Green Belt and how it performs against the purposes of including land in the Green Belt.  Understanding the Green Belt means the Council can make decisions that will stand up to scrutiny.   

The consultation shows whether the sites are in an area of the Green Belt that does not meet any of the policy purposes of Green Belt land. It also shows whether a site is in an area of Green Belt that meets at least one of the purposes of Green Belt land. This assessment is part of the evidence that allows the Council to consider whether any exceptional circumstances exist. 

The Green Belt Assessment, which is at a second stage and is a refinement of the previous one, identifies a number of areas where it is considered none of the purposes of the Green Belt are met.  Many of these areas are places where there is already a large amount of development, ie they are brownfield/previously developed sites.  

There are a small number of undeveloped areas where it is considered the purposes of including land in Green Belt are not met. These areas are shown in the documents and the Council would welcome comments. 

What are exceptional circumstances and why hasn’t the Council decided if they exist yet? 

The National Planning Policy Framework says Green Belt boundaries can only be amended as part of making a Local Plan and can only be moved in exceptional circumstances.  The government does not provide any guidance as to what would be an exceptional circumstance, but it has said unmet housing need alone is unlikely to be an exceptional circumstance. 

The Council will have to be able to set out clearly and robustly in all cases why it thinks exceptional circumstances exist, as well as and no less importantly, why exceptional circumstances do not exist.  This requires looking at all the evidence. 

The Spatial Approaches Sites Consultation Topic Paper sets out what the Council believes are the questions it should ask when considering whether exceptional circumstances exist. The Council does not yet have enough evidence to answer the relevant questions and as such it is not able to be conclusive at this time. 

Why does the Council need to look at the settlements in the Green Belt? 

The way settlements in the Green Belt in Tandridge have historically been treated is in accordance with national Green Belt policy that has now been deleted.  The government’s National Planning Policy Framework sets out in paragraph 86 a new and different way of treating settlements within the Green Belt.  

This explains that if it is necessary to prevent development in a village primarily because of its important contribution to openness it should remain in the Green Belt.  If this is not the case the village should be removed from the Green Belt and other protection should be applied if necessary to protect its character.  

As such it is necessary to look at settlements where it is considered that they do not make an important contribution to the openness of the Green Belt. 

Why are you saying the Council needs to build 9,400 houses? 

The Local Plan needs to meet the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework.  One of the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework is for local authorities to significantly boost the supply of housing as far as is consistent with the other policies in the National Planning Policy Framework.  

To do this the Council is required, using a prescribed method, to identify the total need for housing in the district. This is made up of predicted population change and predicted household formation. 

Essentially it calculates how many people there will be and how many of them will get together to form a household in need of a house.  The calculation, based on a prescribed methodology and data from the Office of National Statistics and the Department of Communities and Local Government, results in a need for 9,400 houses up to 2033. 

Is the district able to deliver the 9,400 houses that the National Planning Policy Framework says we need? 

While it is important for the Council to have identified the need for housing it also needs to look at whether the district is capable of accommodating this need.  This is why the Council is producing robust evidence about the Green Belt, the landscape, the ecology, the flooding, the infrastructure and the sustainability of sites.  

By putting all this information together in the final Local Plan the Council will be setting a realistic, achievable and robust housing delivery target.  The information available to the Council at the moment, suggests that providing 9,400 homes would be difficult. 

The Council will need to co-operate with adjoining authorities to establish what to do about any housing needs that cannot be met and this is done through the duty to cooperate. 

Why does the Council need to look for land for gypsy and traveller accommodation? 

The National Planning Policy Framework, plus the government’s policy on traveller site provision (Planning Policy for Traveller Sites 2015) requires local councils to assess the need for gypsy and traveller accommodation and to identify and update a five year supply of land for gypsy and traveller sites to meet the need.  

Some of the sites in the Sites Consultation have been put forward by landowners specifically for gypsy and traveller needs and we need resident’s views on these sites. 

The infrastructure of Tandridge - roads, schools, and doctors' surgeries - is already under strain and more people will make it worse. What will the Local Plan do to address this? 

Infrastructure will be taken into account in the proposed submission version of the Local Plan, which we will consult on in late 2017.   

At this stage infrastructure providers cannot tell us what might be needed because it is not possible to tell them at this stage where development will be located and how much of it could be in an individual area. 

If the required infrastructure cannot be provided to support a proposed site, the site would not be seen as capable of delivery and is unlikely to be included in the Local Plan. 

What is the Sustainability Appraisal and what do the coloured tables mean at the end of each site page? 

A sustainability appraisal is an essential part of the Local Plan making process.  It is carried out to assess how the Local Plan will contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. It considers those environmental, social and economic impacts that are likely to be significant considerations for sustainability. 

In April 2015, the local planning authorities in East Surrey set out joint key objectives for sustainability, which are used for appraising sites in all Local Plan making work. There are 15 objectives against which we have assessed sites. These include the ability to facilitate improved health and wellbeing, to support economic growth and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Within the Sites Consultation, at the end of each site page, there is a table which summarises the sustainability appraisal information for each site.  More information can be found in the document Sustainability Appraisal October 2016

Why do we need more houses? 

The population of the UK and especially the South East, is growing. People are also living longer. The population of Tandridge is projected by the government to grow by around 15,000 over the next 20 years.

In 2014, of a population of about 85,000, 17,000 (20%) of Tandridge residents were aged over 65.

In 2034 of a projected population of about 100,000, 26,000 (26%) of Tandridge residents will be aged over 65.

This reduces the availability of housing in the housing market area and increases the need for people to support the ageing population, for example, doctors and carers. 

Will a new settlement be built? 

The earlier consultation put forward an option to build a completely new settlement. This is explored in more detail in this consultation, including an examination of several possible locations. 

This consultation asks if this is a strategy the Council should consider further and what people think of the possible locations.  The Council also wants to hear if there are other locations it should consider. 

What is the timetable for the Local Plan? 

The timetable for the preparation of the Local Plan is: 

  • Agenda and documents published for Planning Policy Committee: 24 October 2016.
  • Planning Policy Committee – to agree next stage of consultation: 31 October 2016.
  • Sites Consultation (Regulation 18): 4 November to 30 December 2016
  • Consultation on the Local Plan Preferred Strategy (Regulation 19): Autumn/Winter 2017.
  • Submission of Local Plan to the Planning Inspectorate (Regulation 22): Spring 2018.
  • Public Examination by the Planning Inspectorate (Regulation 24): Summer/Autumn 2018.
  • Adoption of a Local Plan (Regulation 26): Spring 2019.

How can I keep up to date and have my say? 

You can: 

  • Register online and make comments using the consultation portal
  • E-mail
  • Write to Planning Policy, Tandridge District Council, Council Offices, 8 Station Road East, Oxted, Surrey RH8 0BT.  

Please ensure your full name and a contact address, preferably an e-mail address, is identifiable when submitting your comments. This enables us to formally include it as a representation to the Local Plan: Sites Consultation. 

Download Local Plan: Sites Consultation FAQs.