Campaign coalition to hold rally over "inappropriate developments" in Epsom
Anger at the Epsom Station development has sparked a demonstration on Saturday by a coalition of groups determined to oppose any further "carbuncles" in the historic market town.
The groups, which include the Friends of Epsom Parade (FOEP) and the Horsley Close Action Group (HCAG), have agreed to work together with MP Chris Grayling, members of Epsom Civic Society, local Conservatives and some local residents’ associations representatives to pressurise Epsom and Ewell Council to adopt a local development plan they feel is more in keeping with the area.
The campaign was conceived at a meeting at Epsom Golf Club last Thursday of residents concerned about forthcoming developments in the town including the old police station site and Upper High Street.
On the same day this newspaper revealed how the station development will look when it is finished prompting a wave of angry letters and emails from people savaging the council for allowing it, with one describing it as "an enormous carbuncle on the face of Epsom."
Mr Grayling said: "I don’t want Epsom to become like Sutton. Once a place loses its character, it can't get it back.
"We need a complete re-think of planning locally, and the council needs to listen to what local people want and are saying."
Tina Mountain, who is organising the campaign, said Epsom will be "changed for good" if changes are not made soon.
She said: "If these inappropriate developments aren't stopped now Epsom will be changed for good.
"Of course there needs to be some development in the town, but at the moment the buildings being built are all too often completely wrong for the area.
"We want a complete re-write of the local plan to set much tighter rules for developers about what they can and cannot do in Epsom."
But Councillor Graham Dudley, chairman of the planning committee, said the council cannot control whether the Government approves on appeal applications it has rejected.
He said: "The council will shortly be consulting on its development management policies and this will provide an excellent opportunity for residents to make their views known.
"However, both the government and the planning inspector are likely to continue to support high-density town centre developments even when, as with the recent Magistrates’ Court site, such developments are refused by the council’s planning committee."
Janet Burgess, of the HCAG, welcomed the rally and the coalition, and said it "was a pity it wasn’t around during the station development".
A spokesperson for FOEP agreed: "It's really important that all of those who want to protect the character of our town work together.
"The planning department needs to do things differently.
"We can't just let developers have free rein in Epsom."
The rally will take place outside the old police station site, on Church Street, at 10am on July 7.