03:10PM, Tuesday 28 February 2017
Greenbelt campaigners have slammed the ‘hurried, awkward and less than open’ consultation by the Royal Borough on its latest local plan.
The amount of greenbelt land given over for development has been a particular source of anger for many – especially conflicting figures given by the council over how much will actually be built on.
Figures released in January under Freedom of Information (FOI) rules showed 86 per cent of the area allocated for new homes in the draft policy fell within the greenbelt.
The figure has been disputed by the Royal Borough, with Cllr Derek Wilson, the cabinet member for planning, telling the Advertiser it is only taking out 1.7 per cent of the borough's greenbelt land.
Speaking at Monday’s meeting of Bray Parish Council, Steve Adams, chairman of the Bray Parish Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, blasted the Royal Borough for its approach.
“Many residents are dismayed that it took a private FOI request to reveal the extent of the borough’s plans to build on the greenbelt,” he said.
“Particularly as that was not disclosed as part of the consultation process.
“It is clear that building more dwellings in London and the South-east does not remedy the area’s chronic shortage of housing.
“Quite the reverse – it adds to its mass and attraction.
“Even the most cursory examination of the borough’s infrastructure shows that services are at or beyond breaking point.”
Mr Adams said he and others on the group were now looking at forming a non-political group to fight for the greenbelt’s protection.
It comes after Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray), who is also a member of Bray Parish Council, was sacked as chairman of the borough’s Planning and Housing Overview and Scrutiny.
He claimed this was because he had highlighted the amount of greenbelt development to his fellow councillors.
Cllr Ken Elvin, the parish council’s chairman, said he was ‘extremely concerned’ by the figures.
The meeting also approved plans to spend £9,460 on road repairs at several locations around the parish and agreed to write off £20.80 in ‘bad debt’ left over after non-payment of allotment rent.
And responses from Prime Minister Theresa May and Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling to letters written by the parish council opposing the expansion of Heathrow Airport were presented as well.
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