Councillors hit back at Epsom campaigners' claims
Councillors have hit back at claims that a lack of vision for Epsom is ruining the town by pointing to a robust planning strategy introduced last year.
Residents’ Association councillors Clive Woodbridge and Neil Dallen believe the council is already doing what the campaign coalition is asking for - through its adoption of Plan E, a town centre action plan designed to protect the character of the town.
Coun Dallen said: "Plan E is part of our new local plan, the Local Development Framework, which we are still putting together.
"The public was consulted on it many times and it was well-publicised, and we now have a vision for the town centre until 2026.
"We are already doing what the group is asking for - consulting along the way on each point of the framework and continuing to listen."
Coun Woodbridge said the planning application for the station development pre-dated Plan E and was a "one-off" situation.
He said: "The station, and other recent high buildings in the town centre, have their origins before 2005 and it is extremely unlikely that any comparable schemes will come forward in the foreseeable future.
"Although the current station project was approved in 2009, it was heavily influenced by an earlier decision in 2004 to approve a building there of comparable height."
Both councillors disagreed with the campaign coalition’s plea for the consultation process for Upper High Street’s development to be paused.
Coun Dallen said: "The consultation started a few years ago now and we have asked lots of individuals what their views are on it already.
"From those views, the council’s planners have come up with the current consultation.
"I am not sure how we can give the public more information and how many times we can consult on it."
Coun Woodbridge urged residents to give their views in the consultation and said: "This brief does not envisage anything close to the height, bulk and mass of the station development.
"It is an important document as its sets out what we would like to see, but also what we wish to avoid.
"Without this brief developers would have greater licence to pursue schemes contrary to residents’ wishes."