Kempton Park Racecourse - Open letter from the Leader of Spelthorne Council
I was absolutely astonished to receive a letter from Curtain & Co, agents for Redrow, on Tuesday morning (10 January) advising me that they were putting forward Kempton Park for a 3000 home development, following our "Call for Sites."
Many will recall my open letter to Redrow of last April, where I made my opposition, on behalf of the residents of Sunbury and Spelthorne, very clear and the proposal then was for 1500 houses. Nothing has changed except my resolve which has doubled! I cannot understand why the Jockey Club and Redrow continue pushing this hopeless cause!
The reality is that every local planning authority has a statutory duty to maintain an up-to-date "Local Plan" that needs to balance many competing demands including protecting areas of importance. As Spelthorne's is due for a review we are required to ask land owners to submit details of any sites they wish us to consider for future development. This is what has happened and is called a "Call for Sites."
It will be for the Council, through its new Local Plan, to decide how much development is needed in the future and the most sustainable locations for it to go. It is not bound by any particular proposals that are put forward by developers. The Council expects its Local Plan to be adopted in 2020.
I am fully aware of the views of local residents and have consistently made clear my strong opposition to development of this site and my determination to protect the Green Belt in Spelthorne. The Council’s finances are very robust and any suggestion that it needs money from new development is completely groundless.
Cllr Ian T E Harvey
Leader, Spelthorne Borough Council
Spelthorne Borough Council held a public meeting on 3rd February 2015 to address concerns about an alleged scheme for a 1500 housing development on the green belt at Kempton Park. The meeting was at the Hazelwood Centre (London Irish), Croysdale Avenue, Sunbury.
The meeting was chaired by Spelthorne Chief Executive, Roberto Tambini
Councillor Robert Watts, Leader at Spelthorne Council, started the meeting with a statement outlining the Council's strong commitment to protecting the Green Belt. "We can't stop developers putting planning applications in," he said. "But we can be clear about how we will deal with them if they do." "We have a very clear Green Belt policy and it is backed up by an equally clear government policy."
Head of Planning, John Brooks, then gave a presentation on the Planning Context, an overview of what Green Belt means, planning for future needs and associated issues.
After the presentation a panel that included Michael Graham, Head of Corporate Governance, Councillors Vivienne Leighton, Alfred Friday, Ian Harvey and Tim Evens and, later (due to a Parliamentary vote) Spelthorne MP Kwasi Kwarteng.
Key Information – Kempton Park
Is there a planning application?
- No. The Council has not received any planning application for the site, nor have any detailed proposals been discussed.
- The Council are not in any way involved in submitting an application.
- It would be the role of the Local Planning Authority (acting through the Planning Committee) to consider any application which might be submitted. We cannot refuse to deal with an application.
- Before an application came in (if it did) the developer would need to consult the local community and others to get their views.
- If an application is submitted the Council would consult with the local residents and amenity groups, and organisations such as Surrey County Council on any highways issues, Natural England on nature conservation and adjoining Councils.
What is the Council’s position on Green Belt?
- The National Planning Policy Framework has a clear policy on only allowing development on Green Belt sites which would protect their permanence and openness (e.g. open air recreation).
- What are called ‘very special circumstances’ need to exist to allow any exceptions.
- Nationally the Government has issued a statement saying that housing needs in an area do not mean it is acceptable to build on Green Belt land.
- The Council’s Green Belt policy reinforces the national policy position.
Why did the Council hold meetings with Kempton Park / Jockey Club?
- Government has urged all Councils to develop (as a matter of good practice) much closer links with their major businesses to help stimulate economic growth.
- We need to have a full understanding of their needs and requirements to help appropriate growth, take on more local people, and keep them in the Borough.
- Regular meetings are held with businesses including BP, Shepperton Studios, Heathrow, Two Rivers, Elmsleigh Centre, d’nata, as well as Kempton Park. Additional meetings may be held with these businesses whenever any specific issues come up which they want to discuss with the Council.
Are there other Considerations?
Agreement on the land (called a “Deed of Rent Charge”)
- In 2005 the Council surrendered a lease of some land at Kempton Park to permit the development of the all-weather track at the site.
- As part of the agreement to surrender the lease the Council entered into a “deed of rent charge” which applies to a section of the site immediately east of the current race track. Although this does not restrict or prevent development taking place, it acts as a financial disincentive to develop the land that is subject to the rent charge because the Council would be entitled to a payment representing the enhanced land value.
- Critically, this is a legal document relating to land ownership and lease surrender and is completely separate from the issue of whether or not anything other than Green Belt uses are acceptable on the site from a planning point of view.
For full details of the meeting, including an audio recording of the meeting are available on the Spelthorne Borough Council website. Click here