Surrey news and views - your letters - March 2015
PUBLISHED: 14:20 18 February 2015 | UPDATED: 14:50 18 February 2015
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Guilty as charged…
I declare I am GUILTY! Guilty of not reading and understanding the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), guilty of not investigating the legal definition of “Rural Exceptions Site” and guilty of not understanding the current interpretation of Affordable Housing. Worst of all, I am guilty of assuming that Green Belt land and that designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) within the Surrey Hills would be protected from housing development.
Finally, I am guilty of assuming that our elected, political representatives on Parish and Borough Councils would protect our Green Belt and AONB sites... wrong, wrong, wrong!
To add to my guilt, I can also add a lack of knowledge about a new breed of “no win, no fee” organisations. I thought this designation was the sole preserve of solicitors. Alas not.
We have organisations who pride themselves on defeating the planning system by never accepting “no, you will not build”. They market their tenacity to appeal, appeal and appeal and proceed to Judicial Review until they obtain a “yes”. Then use this “win” to declare precedent for future building. This is all marketed under the altruistic and philanthropic strategic corporate statements pertaining to Affordable Housing for key workers and those on modest incomes. Then read their financial statements!
I agree and support the need for genuine Affordable Housing developments for those who genuinely qualify. The problem is, since 2012, open market, full-priced, profit earning houses can be built using Affordable Housing as the leverage point. So I also declare my guilt in spending too much time working, commuting, supporting my family and assuming that our Green Belt/AONB/Surrey Hills is/are protected from profit-driven organisations using the socially emotive Affordable Housing argument to build on what I thought was protected land.
There are many genuine brownfield sites available, as well as flats over high street shops that are unoccupied, such as above charity shops and estate agents. We need to invest more effort in investigating these opportunities first, however difficult, before allowing developers, some in conjunction with Housing Associations, to destroy an asset protected for many years by our predecessors.
Please don’t be guilty like me; be aware, be well educated in these matters and ensure you have input to your Neighbourhood Plan, so that future generations can enjoy what is a national asset – our land.
Editor’s Note: Thanks Steve; we couldn’t have put it better ourselves. We’re all aware that we need more houses, just in the right places. Thank you for taking the time to write. Best wishes, Caroline
I recently read a report in the local newspaper pertaining to the number of deer that are culled each year in Richmond Park, and have to say that I was horrified to learn that any were culled at all.
I love going over there with my camera to photograph these beautiful animals, which I have seen pictured many times on your own pages, and I think most would agree are a key feature of Richmond Park.
To discover that for one part of the year they are paraded as a tourist attraction while at another time shot in cold blood – under the guise of “controlled culling” – left me feeling slightly sickened.
In the report, it claimed that around 200 deer a year are “culled” in this way because the park only has enough grazing to sustain a finite number of healthy animals. Can this be right? The park is a pretty big place! And could they not use birth control as an alternative to shooting?
If it is all true, it sounds to me like an excuse for game hunting right here in Surrey. What do other readers think?
The birds on a wing and a prayer
Hello Surrey Life,
I’ve just read your article on Surrey’s parakeets and would like to express my pleasure in seeing these colourful birds in my garden.
I’m originally from Yorkshire, but now living in and loving Walton-on-Thames, and when I send my photos to my family back up north, they are amazed that we have such exotic birds in our garden.
As you can see from these images, I love to photograph them and I cannot believe that people are talking about culling them. Defra have already culled the monk parakeets at Mudslide in east London and I sometimes wonder if that organisation is funded by some sort of gun lobby, as they seem far too keen to kill anything. I understand that the people of Mudslide spoke in favour of their exotic wildlife, but it amounted to nothing once Defra got wind of them.
I hope Surrey’s parakeets are here to stay.
Through the lens
I am glad you liked my photograph enough to publish it. Also, I was out walking with my dog and camera this morning and took the attached photograph at Abinger Roughs, which I hope you will like as well.
Editor’s note: Thanks so much, Anthony, and we certainly do! It’s a beautiful photo – as are Alan’s parakeet pictures above. If any other readers are interested in submitting photos, please visit our website at surreylife.co.uk/photos. Best wishes, Caroline
Wheel of fortune
Your January issue referred to complaints from businesses regarding the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey cycling event and, indeed, the loss of revenue is substantial. I know of one small business locally that loses £3k each year because it is on the cycle route and therefore inaccessible to its customers.
Many residents are also complaining, particularly the thousands of households that only have access via the cycle route, which is closed to traffic; there are about 500 such households just in my village of Oxshott. None of these households can go anywhere by car or be visited by car by friends and family, which seems an unreasonable prevention of leisure activities at the weekend.
Also, sports clubs on the route have to cancel their activities because they are inaccessible for their own members as well as visiting teams.
There was no public consultation before this annual event was imposed on Surrey residents.
The gloves are off
I write to say how much I enjoyed your recent feature on boxing (Surrey Life, February issue).
I notice that you don’t tend to cover a lot of sport, so it made a nice change.
On another note, I can’t be the only one to have been surprised how this sport is thriving in Surrey; who’d have thought it?!