Councillor Ruth Lyon has sent the following letter for publication in the Surrey Advertiser on 25 March 2013:
Planning under threat
Members of council planning committees will not be surprised to read the exposé in the Daily Telegraph of the way some councillors use their position to help their developer friends and then appear happy to boast about it. Readers may ask themselves how councillors with known connections with developers can be allowed to sit anywhere near a planning committee and then, in the words of the Daily Telegraph, use their position to “effectively circumvent the rules”, but this is just part of a system which is constantly allowing inappropriate developments to be approved.
Our local - Conservative controlled- council of Elmbridge, which includes Esher, has recently approved draft development plan proposals which would considerably damage the environment, allow an automatic 30% increase in the size of buildings in the Green Belt, seriously weaken protection for local employment sites and shopping centres, allow building on playing fields such as the Old Paulines in Thames Ditton and identified as “opportunity sites” for development valued sites such as Esher public car park which serves the public who wish to visit the Civic Centre, the Police offices, the shops, restaurants, the CAB, Esher Library, the cinema and St George’s Church.
Only the independent - Residents Association - councillors opposed these proposals.
What is sad from Elmbridge's point of view is that our neighbouring Conservative borough of Richmond has brought in more robust protection. It is not as if Elmbridge cannot meet targets for house building as our record shows. If implemented, these proposals would seriously affect the character of our borough. Why is Elmbridge seemingly wanting to paint itself as the developers' friend?
Elmbridge Councillor, Thames Ditton Ward