Countryside campaigners fear meeting the projected increasing need for housing in Epsom and Ewell over the next twenty years will put pressure on local services, damage the green belt and damage the quality of life within the borough.
Epsom and Ewell Borough Council predict there will be an extra 7,246 households built within the borough by 2035, at an average of 381 a year.
The main reasons for this increase were natural change and internal migration, and “to a much lesser extent” net international migration.
Councils across north east Surrey jointly produced a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), which sets outs projected housing demand in Epsom and Ewell, Kingston, Elmbridge and Mole Valley. The growth rate of housing demand in Epsom and Ewell was second only to that in Kingston.
A spokesman from Epsom and Ewell Borough Council said the data within the SHMA would help inform the review, preparation and production of the council’s housing policies, but does not offer any unilateral recommendations for how to address the need for housing.
But members of the Surrey branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) nevertheless fear building on the scale required could mean the loss of much of the borough’s Green Belt and other open spaces and would put pressure on local services.
Tim Murphy, the CPRE’s local Chair, asks: “How much of our cherished open land will we have to give up to development? Will our roads, hospital, surgeries and schools be able to cope with a massive increase in population?
“Is there money available to provide new facilities? Will the new homes to be built here actually meet the needs of local people, particularly the affordable housing that is needed by key workers and those setting up home for the first time?”
Mr Murphy also said that London should provide more brownfield sites for housing, so that it can accommodate its own population without spilling out into neighbouring areas.
He added: “Better use should be made of our existing housing stock. Above all, there needs to be a concerted effort to spread growth and development more evenly around the UK rather than continually concentrating it in the already congested South East.”
A council spokesman said: “This is very much a starting point of a process and should not be taken out of context. The SHMA looks at housing demand in an unconstrained environment.
“The SHMA is not an executive document – it makes no unilateral decisions or recommendations.
“It is very important to stress that the production and preparation of the SHMA is a key but necessary stage in the review of the Local Plan (the decision-making mechanism for the preparation and production of new policy).
“It is a technical exercise that plots and projects future housing demand in a very specific way. The SHMA is the first stage in the wider process of identifying a new Borough-wide housing target.”
What do you think? Email email@example.com