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170 flats at Ashford Hospital site exposes "useless" LDF

June 1, 2008 10:01 AM

Ashford HospitalSpelthorne Council's Local Development Framework (LDF) - the blueprint for the Borough for the next 20 years - was totally disregarded as the Conservative-dominated planning committee passed an application for 170 flats at Ashford Hospital on the West Wing site.

The proposal ignored two key provisions of the LDF relating to density and the need for amenity space in new developments. The LDF has not even been formally approved by the government inspector and already core parts are being ignored.

Local Liberal Democrats are deeply critical of certain aspects of the LDF but we are in favour of effectively enforcing the policies as described.

The LDF contains a policy on density, which is variable depending on the nature of the area. Policy HO5 clearly states that the area around Ashford Hospital would be suitable for developments of between 45 and 70 units per hectare. The Ashford application was for 170 flats on an area of just under 1 hectare (actual density of 185/ha) - over two and a half times the maximum density proposed in the LDF. Spelthorne Tories simply do not care about density. It is a complete mystery why they voted for the LDF when they clearly have no intention of applying its provisions.

The second LDF policy to be ignored was the one that requires a minimum level of amenity space for developments of above 30 family units (policy CO3). For this development a total of .39 hectares (3,900 square metres) should have been the minimum provision. Instead only 1,508 square metres of amenity space will be created. This will make the site feel very crowded and there will be almost nowhere for children to play. A small area will be set aside for a children's play area, but there will be nothing for older children. The applicant will be making a financial contribution to small community area near Edward Way, but this is the other side of the A30 dual carriage-way over 500 metres away.

Councillor Colin Strong, Leader of the Opposition said "It is very sad for Spelthorne that we are not prepared to use our LDF to defend our Borough. This decision effectively renders the LDF useless as it is clear that the Tories are prepared to ignore or compromise any aspect when a developer bullies them. There is no way this development should have been allowed - it is a gross over-development and those on the planning committee who voted for it should be ashamed of themselves".