The Inspector conducted Local Plan hearings in November 2019, following which, the Council was unsuccessful in securing a bid for Housing Infrastructure Funding to improve traffic capacity at Junction 6 of the M25. The Inspector published his findings in December 2020, setting out further work required to the Plan.
In February 2021, Cllr Tony Ellias who was the Conservative Leader of the Council, committed to meeting with our MP Claire Coutinho, Highways England and Surrey Highways to resolve the impasse and to updating the Council fortnightly on progress. At no point did he update the Council on progress despite requests at Planning Policy meetings and Full Council.
The Conservatives lost control of the Council in May 2021, with the Residents’ Alliance taking control. Initially, activity focused on traffic issues at Junction 6, with work commissioned and due to be completed by the end of Summer 2021. This was not completed until January 2022 due to repeated delays. A timetable of activity was agreed by the Planning Policy Committee and submitted to the Inspector on 27th April 2022. Throughout 2022 questions were raised with regard to progress of the activity to which the Council had committed. It became clear in September 2022 that this work had not been completed and there was no time to complete it to meet the Inspectors deadline. The Residents’ Alliance proposed an amended plan, that ditched the bits of the original that they didn’t like which the Inspector which has now rejected.
Cllr Jeffrey Gray, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, says “The old Conservative administration got us into this mess, but the Residents’ Alliance showed extreme naivety in thinking they could get round the Inspector by keeping the bits of the plan they liked and binning the rest. Obviously, that has failed. The whole process has been a disaster”.
“We now have a situation where we are without a Local Plan. Tandridge will be exposed to speculative development by developers that we know to be circling the District”.
“There is a housing crisis in the country and the Planning Inspector has made it clear that we are not exempt from that. We will need to build houses, and it is much better to build them in a planned way, addressing infrastructure issues such as roads and schools, rather than be done to by deep-pocketed developers being granted permission via appeal”.
With over £3 million having been spent, the Council will now need to agree a new way forward to develop a Local Plan that enables appropriate development alongside infrastructure.