Two major developments are being proposed by developers for sites in Lower Sunbury. Between them the developments would comprise about 400 units with over 300 on the London Irish site and 88 at the Environment Agency on Fordbridge Road.
A planning application has been submitted (09/00523/FUL) for the Environment Agency site. This location was identified in the Local Development Framework (LDF) as being suitable for 50 units and should be built at a low density, due to the sensitivity of the location and the relationship to adjacent properties. This view was upheld by the Government Inspector who reviewed the allocations in the LDF. The developer, Linden Homes, held "consultations" during 2007 but has now brought forward a scheme that does not address any of the concerns raised by the local residents.
London Irish have been holding discussions with Spelthorne Council for some time and recently held a public exhibition of their plans. No planning application has been submitted although they did indicate that one would be forthcoming before the end of this year. This site was not identified in the LDF as a potential housing location, in fact is was designated as protected urban open space and as such an area of public amenity value that should be safeguarded.
In both cases local residents' groups have stated their public opposition to the proposed schemes. The main concerns centre on the challenge to the character of the area that these schemes propose. Between them they would increase the housing stock in Lower Sunbury by somewhere between 10% and 15%. The London Irish scheme alone represents 10% of the housing that Spelthorne is required by the Government to build over a 20 year period.
Local Liberal Democrats are supporting the work of the resident's group and these developments have already attracted considerable public attention. Liberal Democrat Councilors have consistently voiced their concerns about over-development in Spelthorne and the way the LDF has failed to protect the local environment in which we live.
Local Liberal Democrats are also worried that there are local issues that need to be addressed before these types of developments can even be considered. For example the GP provision in Lower Sunbury is inadequate and not capable of handling any increase in population.
London Irish are proposing to relocate their ground to the current Hazlewood Golf Centre. This is a Green Belt site and the transformation into rugby pitches and associated facilities would involve substantial change to a large area of Green Belt.