Round here, communities without planning blight are about as rare as FIFA officials in betting shops. Whether it’s the third runway, flood defences, the relentless mining of gravel, the
unwanted cuts to the Fire Service, the scandal of Ecopark I (with Ecopark II just having popped up over the northern horizon) or whatever, a permanent attritional war exists between residents, and developers, the Borough or the County – and sometimes two or three of them at the same time.

Where I come from in Sunbury, the latest blazing row concerns plans by The Jockey Club to build 1500 homes on Green Belt land at Kempton Park. You would be forgiven if you thought this would have no impact on the rest of Spelthorne. Unfortunately, it will. One of the few obstacles standing in the way of this plan is the fact that Spelthorne is ahead of its own housing target, as set out in the Local Plan. That Local Plan is being reviewed, however, and the risk is that pressure from developers (not only The Jockey Club) will result in the housing target being increased. That in turn means Green Belt land (not only at Kempton Park) losing its protected status, and greater housing density on both Green Belt and brown-field sites.

That Local Plan review is (or was) scheduled for this year. We have no idea whether it will actually happen in 2014, or be postponed until after the elections in May 2015. But it will happen, and whenever it does, we cannot let it be hijacked by developers.

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