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Local residents are right to oppose London Irish plans

February 17, 2010 9:54 PM
Mark Chapman and Caroline Nichols at London Irish

Mark Chapman and Caroline Nichols are supporting residents in their opposition to the London Irish proposals

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Mark Chapman and County Councillor Caroline Nichols are certain that the London Irish plans to move to Hazelwood Golf Centre and redevelop their current site would damage the local area. Caroline said that "This development would be a disaster for Sunbury and nearly every resident I have spoken to has been against it".


The key issues that Mark and Caroline are highlighting are:

• The loss of Protected Urban Open Space and its replacement with houses and flats that are out of keeping with the locality. Building 194 houses and flats, with space provided for a Health Centre and a Care Home, would give rise to a density and type of building completely out of character with the area.

• The downgrading of the Green Belt land at Hazelwood by flattening the pitch areas and removing all the current landscaping that is only just maturing. Additionally three of the pitches will be floodlit with permanent pylons. The character of the area would be completely changed by the replacement of a golf course by rugby pitches.

• There will be a net loss of sporting facilities in the Borough in contravention of the Council's stated policies. Spelthorne cannot afford to lose these scarce facilities.

Cllr Caroline Nichols has met with the local NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) and asked them about the proposed Health Centre on the site. Caroline said "The PCT told me that there was no money available for a new Health Centre in Sunbury."

Caroline is also very concerned about the lack of public transport close to this development. She said "There are no buses on the Staines Road East and the closest bus stops are on Green Street over half a mile away and a similar distance for any shops. If the Avenue development is built It would be impossible to live there unless you have a car. This development will not be sustainable."

Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate, Mark Chapman, is very concerned about the nature of the planning permission being sought. He said "London Irish are seeking outline permission so that they can sell on the site as quickly as possible to another developer. There will then be nothing to stop the owner submitting a completely new application which will be totally out of the control of London Irish. Outline applications are the way developers get their foot in the door, and once in they will push the boundaries up to and beyond the limits of acceptability."

Mark has also questioned whether the proposed Health Centre and Care Home would ever get built. He said "The planning permission sought does not include the Health Centre or the Care Home and so it is far from certain that they would ever materialise."

Mark and Caroline have both voiced their concerns about the way that London Irish have chosen to bring this site forward for development. Over the last few years Spelthorne Council has been going through the process of getting the new local plan, known as the Local Development Framework (LDF), approved by the Government Inspector. In this process the Council was required to demonstrate that there were adequate sites available to meet the Government housing targets. London Irish had the opportunity to have the Avenue site included in this list of housing allocations.

Mark Chapman and Caroline Nichols at Hazelwood

Hazelwood - are floodlit rugby pitches still Green Belt?

Mark Chapman said "London Irish chose not to ask for the site to be included because they knew that it would conflict with its existing designation as Protected Urban Open Space. In its LDF Spelthorne has demonstrated that it will more than meet its housing targets without this development."

Councillor Caroline Nichols added "We want London Irish to stay in the area but this development is not acceptable to local residents. If the club feels that it must expand, then they must think again about how this might be achieved."

Both Mark and Caroline have attended the open days, where they have inspected the proposals and taken the opportunity to talk with London Irish and local residents. Following the submission of the application they have looked closely at the proposals.

Local Liberal Democrats have no wish for this proposed development to be seen as a party political issue. Individual members and Councillors have supported the efforts of the local opposition groups, Lower Sunbury Residents Association (LOSRA), Sunbury Opposes London Irish Development (SOLID) and Hazelwood Action Group (HAG), none of which have any political affiliations.

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