Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust

"Planning for the Future" Consultation

The Ministry for Housing and Local Government have recently published two papers for consultation. The first, which is now closed, was all about housing numbers and its flawed algorithm; we objected strongly to this consultation and over 100 of you wrote in and we discussed this fully with our MP.

The second is a more eclectic bunch of proposals endeavouring to make planning more simplified and speedier. As is often the case the devil lies in the detail. Adrian Wise, one of our planning officers, has studied these proposals carefully and believes they would be highly disadvantageous to us. There are three main areas we take strong issue with:

Categorising land into three zones

All land is categorised into three zones and to codify designs so that planning decisions can be made with less local involvement - from residents or councillors (in many cases no local involvement). This is intended to increase the number of planning permissions being granted and thus houses being built. Even plans that are not passed automatically will be fast-tracked – less deliberation and consideration to get decisions more hastily. We are against these changes as we believe that they will risk not only the conservation of the character of our area but also its heritage assets. Consideration of style and character must take precedence over haste.

Contributions to local infrastructure levy

It is also proposed to exempt projects of fewer than 50 homes from contributions to local infrastructure, affordable home provision, etc. This would exempt the majority of development in Elmbridge from such contributions, the opposite of what is required. Elmbridge needs far more investment in infrastructure and far more affordable homes – now is not the time to starve them of the funds for each of these.

Enshrining the Algorithm into an Act of Parliament

Some aspects of this concentration are designed to enshrine the 'mutant algorithm', to set house building targets, into an act of Parliament. If this algorithm or similar were adopted (and we remain hopeful it will not be), making it law would make it even harder to change it in future. We remain adamantly opposed to this algorithm - the prospect of making it even harder to repeal should we not succeed, should be resisted.

You can read the full consultation here and you can read our response here. If you agree with our analysis please consider submitting a response via email to

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as there is so much detail, if it is easier for you, please cut and paste from our response into your email.

Please note the closing date for responses is 11.45pm Thursday 29th October 2020.

Become a Volunteer with Cobham Heritage

The Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust is a local charity which relies on vounteers to help run the Trust, promote local history and conservation issues and organise fund raising events such as our annual Cobham Heritage Day. If you think you might like to join us, visit our Volunteer Vacancies page to find out which roles you might like to get involved with. We always try to make it fun.

Queens Award for Voluntary Service

Riverhill Greenflag Award

Green Flag Award

Open Spaces Award

Open Spaces Award