Executive Summary of the Neighbourhood Plan
Our area is undergoing significant change from a number of perspectives. A key objective of our Neighbourhood Plan is not to resist change, but to harness and shape the change so that our area is improved in a way that satisfies the needs of the residents who live within our Plan's boundary.
There is a fear that the changes coming down the track may not benefit local residents. However, not everything is perfect now. There are regular concerns about traffic delays, dangerous junctions, inadequate public transport and poor facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. But there is little that can be done about many of these issues without significant infrastructure investment. These can only be funded off the back of major development projects. What has to be achieved is a balance between taking the opportunity to support such developments and gaining the benefits that they can offer, while minimising any negative impacts.
It was to address these various issues and to propose potential solutions that the decision was taken to establish a Neighbourhood Forum to create a Plan for our Neighbourhood. At the many workshops that the Forum has held, a number of common themes have emerged which we have endeavoured to capture and propose solutions for in this Plan.
The power of our Plan is that once it has been accepted in the public referendum it will form part of the Planning Policies for our area. These policies will carry significant legal weight. However, many of the ideas and observations that residents have come up with at our workshops are not necessarily suitable to make into planning policies, but would nevertheless improve our area. So these ideas have not been lost, but have been included into our Plan, and identified as "Projects". It is hoped these can be implemented when suitable funding sources (or volunteers) are identified.
What does our Plan propose?
The Policies and Projects in our Plan are many and varied and cover a wide range of topics. Below is a brief summary of the issues we have addressed in our plan. The sections later in this document set out the issues and opportunities in more detail and show the Policies and Projects that we have defined to address them.
The London Cancer Hub (LCH) and the proposed new Hospital (Section 3.1)
One of the hot topics that our Plan has considered is the implications of the Council's aspirations for the London Cancer Hub and its impact on the surrounding residential area. This development could see an additional 9,500 people working on the site. If the plans for a new hospital on the site also come to fruition in addition to onsite staff, there would be even more trips by ambulances and visitors.
A key driver behind many of the policies and projects in our Neighbourhood Plan relate to the area around the London Cancer Hub. We want to take the opportunity of exploiting the funding that it will bring to improve a number of existing problems in the area for the benefit of local residents, while minimising any negative impact.
In particular our objectives are to:
ensure that the main "umbilical" links to the LCH are in place from all directions so that the surrounding roads are not clogged or made more dangerous for local residents by the additional traffic that the LCH will inevitably bring.
ensure that appropriate public transport capacity is provided in the area around the site so that the existing services are not congested and ideally greatly improved.
consider the needs of pedestrians and cyclists travelling to/from and in the vicinity of the LCH.
ensure that suitable parking controls exist around the perimeter of the LCH site and to press for suitable parking space to be made available within the site.
Unfortunately the Plan cannot specify policies or projects relating to what goes on within the LCH campus as it was a condition of establishing the Neighbourhood Forum that the LCH campus should be excluded from the Neighbourhood Plan Area.
Housing and Design (Section 3.2 and 3.10)
The Neighbourhood Plan Area is predominantly residential with a significant proportion (by area) being low density. There are relatively few sites that are either vacant or could offer potential for regeneration. (Note that the London Cancer Hub site is outside the scope of this Plan). However, in the Plan some locations have been suggested that might be candidates for redevelopment.
We are aware that there are a lot of residents who have lived in the area for many years and who would like to continue to live nearby, but perhaps in a smaller property. Policies have been included to resist the loss of suitable downsizing properties and to reduce the risk of them being snapped up by developers whose sole intention is to make a quick profit by making them bigger.
From a character and design perspective, notable areas within the Plan's boundary are:
South Sutton and South Cheam, typified by low density housing
the Victorian terraces in Belmont Village which were originally built to house workers at the South Metropolitan Schools and the Banstead Asylum
Pine Walk which has low density housing in a woodland setting (the clue is in the name!)
Most residents love the character and feel of the area that they live in and don’t want to see it destroyed. Fortunately all of the above areas are defined as Areas of Special Local Character (ASLC) which means that development proposals within their respective boundaries are scrutinised more carefully to ensure such proposals are sympathetic to their local area. As a parallel initiative to preparing this Plan, the Forum has been instrumental in producing and getting adopted Character Appraisals for both the Sutton Farm Estate ASLC in South Sutton and the Burton Estates ASLC in South Cheam.
The ASLC status is not as restrictive as a Conservation Area and allows householders a lot of flexibility to enhance and improve their home. The adopted Character Appraisals are intended to capture the essence of the character of the area. The Forum hopes that any developments that residents propose will echo the flavour of the character of their area in line with the guidelines from the relevant Character Appraisal, albeit possibly with a modern twist. In this way the look and feel of the ASLCs can be maintained.
Our Local Shops (Section 3.3)
Our local shops are a vital resource with an important role in a rapidly evolving world of online shopping. They provide facilities for picking up last minute purchases that may have missed the online delivery, provide postal and returns capability to complement online shopping and offer newsagents, pharmacies, restaurants and personal care facilities (e.g. hairdressers). This has become of increasing relevance during the 2020/2021 COVID-19 pandemic where shops within walking distance have proved to be of great value and with many small, fresh produce retailers offering vital local delivery services. The Upper Mulgrave Road and Belmont Village shopping centres are both within the Plan Area and there are proposals for both of these Local Centres. For Belmont Village in particular there are proposals to make it more of a "go to" destination and be a pleasant place to shop and eat. Rat-running through the Village detracts from its appeal to shoppers and residents, although measures to reduce this flow must be balanced against the possibility of losing passing trade. Our approach is to make it more attractive for through traffic to go round the Village rather than to prevent vehicles going through it. There are also proposals to reduce the risk of shops being lost to offices or residential uses, and to give the Village more of a café culture feel.
Schools and Education (Section 3.4)
Our area is well served with a wide range of schools from early years through to secondary education. We do not see the need for further expansion either of buildings or of roll. In many cases the school buildings have facilities that could be used more widely by the local community for activities such as sports, keep fit and evening classes and our Plan encourages this. However, this extended use should not be to the detriment of local residents, nor should it be exploited purely for profit by members of the public who do not live locally. Early Years Care are often run from small premises set in residential areas. The Plan sets out guidelines to prevent such an establishment having a negative impact on the amenity of its neighbours.
Health, Well-Being and the Environment (Sections 3.5 to 3.9)
Environmental considerations figure extensively throughout all sections of our Plan, but, in addition, we have dedicated a special section to this vital aspect of our area. Issues of air quality are summarised in this section and cross refer to proposals elsewhere in the Plan. Policies and projects relating to protecting and increasing the number of trees in streets, parks and private gardens are also included. Parks and open spaces within and adjacent to the Plan's area are documented and readers may find the write ups of interest. Ideas from contributors to the plan for projects to improve these open spaces are also included in the hope that we can obtain funding to implement some, if not all, of them.
Sustainable Transport (Section 3.11)
This section of the Plan pulls together many of the policies and projects relating to getting around our area by car, train, bus, cycle or on foot. Some of these are free standing projects while others have implications which we want to see considered as part of larger developments. For vehicles, the area is already congested and has a number of dangerous junctions; in our view these will not be able to cope with a greater volume of traffic without causing significant congestion and increasing the risk of accidents. Improvements are urgently needed for Downs Road, Chiltern Road, Cotswold Road and Brighton Road to name but a few. But it is not just the car driver that is considered; there are also proposals for additional rail and bus services, facilities for cyclists and improvements for pedestrians. Although not wholly planning related, many of the issues identified in this section are probably the most widely discussed and contentious.
Once the Neighbourhood Plan is adopted, the Neighbourhood Plan Area will benefit from a percentage of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) collected by the London Borough of Sutton for new developments. This money can be used to fund some of the notable projects that have been identified (see Chapter 4.2).
It is hoped that residents will find the sections on the history of our area interesting and the review of parks and open spaces informative. But mostly it is hoped that local residents will endorse the Policies and Projects that have been set out in this Plan for the Belmont, South Cheam, Shanklin Village, South Sutton and Carshalton Beeches area.