Environment and Planning

Chipstead is a village struggling to retain its village status and rural charm and to resist the clutches of suburbia. In planning terms, Chipstead is currently part of an area known as the "London Fringe", which includes the Metropolitan Green Belt, which was designated in 1947 in response to the need to control the rapid outward spread of London suburbia. More than any other, the Green Belt legislation has helped to protect Chipstead from inappropriate development over many decades, and perhaps the most worrying issue for a village like Chipstead is the prospect of a fundamental Government policy rethink on the Green Belt.

There is unceasing pressure from developers to increase the density of residential accommodation in Chipstead and adjacent areas which is aided, from time to time, by the changing policies of successive Governments. This results in the creeping effect of incremental development with its impact on local services, the environment and infrastructure. With each planning approval comes further pressure on already stretched health and social services, on limited school places, and on an under-funded road network.

The CRA must therefore maintain a constant watching brief on planning applications affecting land and property in the local area. It must be said that most of the applications are for sympathetic development of individual properties which are usually evaluated without objection. However, there is an increasing number of applications from property developers which involve demolition of existing property to create high density 'mini-estates' which can be incompatible with surrounding property and the wider area. A proliferation of this type of development would fundamentally change the character of the village and increase pressure on the road network. These applications are therefore normally resisted.

Effective resistance to planning applications is no easy task and requires a lot of careful work. To this end the CRA enjoys the continuing support of our three borough councillors who are, of course, in a strong position to present a balanced case before the borough planning committees.

But not all development is inappropriate. Preserving the village is not the same as opposing all development. Several successful developments have gone through unopposed, such as Gatwick Farm, the School Mews on the original site of Chipstead First School, and the Farm Close development in Doghurst Lane. The CRA constantly seeks to capture the balanced view on development and its impact on the village in the longer term.