Spelthorne Borough Council held a public meeting on 3rd February 2015 to address concerns about an alleged scheme for a 1500 housing development on the green belt at Kempton Park. The meeting was at the Hazelwood Centre (London Irish), Croysdale Avenue, Sunbury.
The meeting was chaired by Spelthorne Chief Executive, Roberto Tambini
Councillor Robert Watts, Leader at Spelthorne Council, started the meeting with a statement outlining the Council's strong commitment to protecting the Green Belt. "We can't stop developers putting planning applications in," he said. "But we can be clear about how we will deal with them if they do." "We have a very clear Green Belt policy and it is backed up by an equally clear government policy."
Head of Planning, John Brooks, then gave a presentation on the Planning Context, an overview of what Green Belt means, planning for future needs and associated issues.
After the presentation a panel that included Michael Graham, Head of Corporate Governance, Councillors Vivienne Leighton, Alfred Friday, Ian Harvey and Tim Evens and, later (due to a Parliamentary vote) Spelthorne MP Kwasi Kwarteng.
Questions were also taken about the Sunbury Health Centre
Key Information – Kempton Park
Is there a planning application?
- No. The Council has not received any planning application for the site, nor have any detailed proposals been discussed.
- The Council are not in any way involved in submitting an application.
- It would be the role of the Local Planning Authority (acting through the Planning Committee) to consider any application which might be submitted. We cannot refuse to deal with an application.
- Before an application came in (if it did) the developer would need to consult the local community and others to get their views.
- If an application is submitted the Council would consult with the local residents and amenity groups, and organisations such as Surrey County Council on any highways issues, Natural England on nature conservation and adjoining Councils.
What is the Council’s position on Green Belt?
- The National Planning Policy Framework has a clear policy on only allowing development on Green Belt sites which would protect their permanence and openness (e.g. open air recreation).
- What are called ‘very special circumstances’ need to exist to allow any exceptions.
- Nationally the Government has issued a statement saying that housing needs in an area do not mean it is acceptable to build on Green Belt land.
- The Council’s Green Belt policy reinforces the national policy position.
Why did the Council hold meetings with Kempton Park / Jockey Club?
- Government has urged all Councils to develop (as a matter of good practice) much closer links with their major businesses to help stimulate economic growth.
- We need to have a full understanding of their needs and requirements to help appropriate growth, take on more local people, and keep them in the Borough.
- Regular meetings are held with businesses including BP, Shepperton Studios, Heathrow, Two Rivers, Elmsleigh Centre, d’nata, as well as Kempton Park. Additional meetings may be held with these businesses whenever any specific issues come up which they want to discuss with the Council.
Are there other Considerations?
Agreement on the land (called a “Deed of Rent Charge”)
- In 2005 the Council surrendered a lease of some land at Kempton Park to permit the development of the all-weather track at the site.
- As part of the agreement to surrender the lease the Council entered into a “deed of rent charge” which applies to a section of the site immediately east of the current race track. Although this does not restrict or prevent development taking place, it acts as a financial disincentive to develop the land that is subject to the rent charge because the Council would be entitled to a payment representing the enhanced land value.
- Critically, this is a legal document relating to land ownership and lease surrender and is completely separate from the issue of whether or not anything other than Green Belt uses are acceptable on the site from a planning point of view.
For full details of the meeting, including an audio recording of the meeting are available on the Spelthorne Borough Council website. Click here