MVDC Seeking Agreement to Remove Green Belt Sites from Draft Local Plan

At an Extraordinary Council meeting held on Monday 16 January 2023, Members unanimously voted to seek the Inspector’s view on removing all green belt sites from the draft Local Plan, Future Mole Valley.

Councillor Margaret Cooksey, Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “Having requested this meeting alongside five other Members of the Cabinet, it was gratifying to see the overwhelming level of cross-party support for us to seek the Inspector’s view on removing all green belt sites from our draft Local Plan.

“Now that we have the backing of all Members, as a matter of urgency we have already approached the Inspector. Once we have heard back from the Inspector with confirmation as to whether there is support or not for removing green belt sites, we will be in a position to plan what the next steps will be.

“To recap, we have reached this position after having taken the step to pause the progress of our Local Plan process. We took this decision in light of the government’s plans to consult on proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, which directly shapes the framework of Local Plans.”

Action against Mould and Damp in Social Housing

Landscape architect Allen Scott begin work on Riverside Park

Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) and award-winning landscape architects Allen Scott Ltd have begun work on plans for the Riverside Park, a key project of the Transform Leatherhead regeneration programme.

The first stage of the development process focusses on feasibility and involves a number of ground surveys (topographical and arboricultural surveys, plus an ecological assessment) that have been commissioned to take place around the riverside site.

MVDC and Allen Scott are currently finalising the engagement strategy that will outline opportunities for stakeholders to participate in consultation activities.

The consultation process will begin shortly with a range of community groups, organisations and businesses, before opening up to a wider public consultation in early 2023.

Allen Scott – winners of multiple Landscape Institute awards for park projects around the country – aim to publish the Riverside Park concept Masterplan in spring 2023.

Councillor Keira Vyvyan-Robinson, MVDC Cabinet Member for Projects, said: “We are really excited to begin work on this project with Allen Scott. We look forward to hearing the views of local residents, organisations and businesses, and working together to create a park that showcases our beautiful riverside setting.”

Marc Tomes, Director of Allen Scott, further said: “We are delighted to be involved in this exciting project for Leatherhead. The project presents fantastic opportunities to re-imagine and transform this part of the river and its setting, making it better connected to the town and to the community.”

To keep up to date with consultation activities, please follow Transform Leatherhead on Facebook and Twitter.

For further information on the Riverside Park project please see the Transform Leatherhead website or sign up to our e-newsletter.

Review of MVDC Services and Finances 2021-22

 At its most recent meeting, Mole Valley District Council’s (MVDC) Cabinet considered a report outlining the performance of the local authority’s finances, services and key projects to deliver on its priorities over the 2021/22 reporting period.

Councillor Bridget Kendrick, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “2021-22 saw our finances and level of service delivery still impacted by the results of the Covid-19 pandemic but we remained prudent in our approach to resuming many of our activities. I am pleased to report that this decision had a positive effect, both on our ability to deliver a range of services our residents and businesses expect of us, and on the financial position of the organisation during a period of national and global economic uncertainty. Due to significant Government funding, higher than expected number of planning applications as well as quicker than anticipated recovery of MVDC key revenue streams such as car parking and Dorking Halls, we were able to report a £60,000 underspend on the annual budget, rather than initially forecasted overspend of £800,000.

“The vast majority of projects from our annual plan were on target and the remaining ones, are still progressing, but perhaps slower than we would have wanted.

“I am really proud of what MVDC have achieved over the last year in all three areas: Community, Environment and Prosperity.

“We used Contain Outbreak Management Funding (COMF) to support residents and businesses throughout the year – from running public health awareness campaigns and promoting vaccinations to providing free transport to vaccinations appointments and running wellbeing events for those disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. Support for rough sleepers and assistance to homeless families had also been extended and we made good progress in securing funding for new accommodation.

“We continued our work in supporting businesses with compliance and assisting them to return to normal operation whilst meeting the Covid-19 requirements as well as providing them with training and business consultations. A new initiative – Pop Up Leatherhead had been launched providing a starting point for online retailers wishing to try their products on the high street.

“Our Climate Change Action Plan is moving forward and the key achievements include: implementation of Air Source Heat Pumps at Pippbrook and Dorking Halls, installation of LED lights at the Halls, promoting the Low Carbon across the South and East grand funding (LoCASE) to businesses and organisations looking to implement de-carbonisation initiatives and successfully increasing the base of good causes and community support through Mole Valley Community Lottery.

MVDC Local Plan had been submitted to the Secretary of State in February and it’s currently going through the series of inspectors’ examinations. By the end of the year, we should have a better understanding if the plan will get a go-ahead for implementation.

“In Summer 2021 and throughout October half term, we ran a successful programme of holiday activities for young people. We also launched a new Youth Forum for Mole Valley schools and youth organisations in order to seek the views of young people in the development of council policies, projects and services.

The Mole Valley Employment & Skills Hub, an MVDC initiative delivered by Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership (SLLP) and funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), was officially launched at the end of July 2021 and had been successfully supporting residents through a range of courses, consultations and workshops.

“Our Transform Leatherhead programme also saw great strides made, with the preferred developer for Claire and James House obtained, and work put in place ahead of the Swan Centre and Bull Hill redevelopment.

“Our £1m car park refurbishment programme is underway with the main focus on Dorking sites, following on from a successful refurbishment of Ashtead Memorial Hall car park last year.

“Whilst recognising the many positives, it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the challenges we faced that year, the majority of which were inspired by factors – besides COVID-19 – that could not have been foreseen nor accounted for, such as the war in Ukraine or the severe storms experienced in February which led to additional and urgent works being required on our tree stocks. Rental income continued to be affected by the pandemic because we were unable to let vacant properties and assets as quickly as we might otherwise. The national lack of HGV drivers impacted on Garden Waste collections for a number of months as waste and recycling services were prioritised, with the suspension of the Garden Waste service being lifted and fully reinstated in April 2022.

“The state of the wider global economy continues to evolve, and we anticipate that, in 2022/23, the effects of COVID-19 will remain. Where new grants can be used to offset MVDC’s direct costs moving forward, we will look to do that to ease financial pressures on our budget.”

Update on Bin Collections in Mole Valley

Caroline Salmon, Cabinet Member for Community Services in Mole Valley said: ‘Due to the extreme heat earlier this week, there have understandably been some delays in bin collections across the district. Our teams have been working hard to clear any backlogs, and we appreciate the patience and understanding of all our residents.

“I also wanted to inform you that we have been notified about a strike action planned by Amey employees working on the waste collection and street cleaning services in Elmbridge and Surrey Heath. This is scheduled to take place from Monday 1 August to Friday 19 August. The action was voted for by GMB union members in a ballot related to pay settlement negotiations that have been taking place between Amey and the GMB. Mole Valley crews were not involved in the ballot for strike action.

“Currently is it not known what form any action might take, nor the extent of its impact across the area managed by Joint Waste Solutions (JWS) who manage our waste services, as well as Elmbridge, Surrey Heath and Woking. JWS are working with Amey on a range of potential contingency plans, to minimise any impact on core services to residents, should strike action take place.

“We do not know yet if this will impact on Mole Valley’s waste services. When we receive more information we will share it with you.”

If you would like to find out more about the planned strike action, please check JWS website with Q&A. The page will be regularly updated, once more information comes to light. Please follow us on Social Media for the latest updates Twitter: @molevalleydc and Facebook:

Raising the Flag in Support of Armed Forces Day

Mole Valley District Council once again raised the Armed Forces flag at its Dorking office in support of Armed Forces Week (20-25 June 2022).

The Chairman of Mole Valley District Council (MVDC), Councillor Paul Potter raised the Armed Forces Flag at 10am on Monday 20th June outside MVDC’s Pippbrook offices. The flag will be flying for the week, and taken down after Armed Forces Day on the Saturday.

Councillor Paul Potter, said; “I am exceptionally proud to have been able to unite with others around the United Kingdom in raising the Armed Forces Flag today. The flag is flying at our Dorking offices as a mark of respect and in recognition of the contribution made by the Armed Forces community.”

Councillor Keira Vyvyan-Robinson, MVDC’s Cabinet Member for Projects and Armed Forces Champion, said: “Armed Forces Week takes place each year and is an opportunity for the whole country to express its appreciation of the involvement and sacrifices made by those who serve, or have served, in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, in addition to Service families and cadets. This special week also recognises the dedication of Reservists who balance their civilian lives with a military career and would be ready to serve, should their country need them. The annual Reserves Day is held on Wednesday 22 June.”

Community events taking place to mark Armed Forces Day 2022 can be searched by visiting the Armed Forces Day website.