A cautious welcome to Drake Park …

Image 24-07-2016 at 19.27

Drake Park (1) are a set of outline plans to build homes on land adjacent to Field Common Lane, Walton-On-Thames. Those plans were withdrawn and some amended plans (Drake Park 2) have been submitted.

There is no doubt that the proposals to build 1024 homes on land adjacent to Field Common Lane, Walton-On-Thames, is a significant development (Planning number 2016/2217). Initially, one must have concerns that it is to be built on what can be described as ‘green belt land’. However, it can also be described as a ‘former quarry site’ that does not readily provide public access.

As somebody who lives close by, on Field Common Estate, I do understand the reservations that many people may have. That being said, I also recognise that there is a massive shortage of housing and we need to see more houses being built in order to met that housing need. It is also the case that more house building will help improve the economy of our country.

The Drake Park [2] Field Common Development (as per Drake Park Consultation documents www.drakepark.co.uk – amended formal plans submitted in July 2016) does provide variety in terms of the provision of housing. Of the 1024  properties proposed, 512 can be expected to be “affordable homes” – with around 150 available under a shared ownership scheme and around 350 will be available for rent from a registered affordable homes provider (discussions have been taking place with Paragon). It is claimed that the scheme will deliver 512 “affordable homes” – which is well over half of Elmbridge Council’s waiting list. What is not clear is the provision for compliance with ecological housing. For example: Will all of the homes meet ecological/climate change aspirations? 

While clearly we can all argue for a different composition of housing, the proposals do provide a balance of variety, which should be applauded. It is also welcoming to see proposals for a new primary school provision, and a significant contribution towards the expansion of Esher High School. I welcome a 70 acre park proposal, a small supermarket, Doctor’s and Pharmacy, but I am less enthusiastic about a possible new pub.

What must be addressed is the need to protect the development from the potential of flash flooding. There is a small lake within the development and the nearby Queen Elizabeth Reservoir. Great care needs to be taken to ensure that there is complete flooding protection.  Likewise, with regard to traffic problems. many people have expressed concerns about traffic flow for those entering and leaving the site.  One proposal to help mitigate this is the establishment of a roundabout near Field Common Lane, Rydens Road and Molesey Road.

All such concerns, including many others, are inevitable when such a significant development is proposed. Indeed, it is the job of planners and engineers to come up with affordable solutions to help mitigate against such concerns.

That being said, it is my view that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Thus, subject to the mitigation of concerns, I welcome the development.

I welcome the development because society needs more housing, and the argument ‘not in my back yard’ does not provide a solution to societies needs.

Dr Peter Jepson

PS. There is concern that Elmbridge Council are failing to meet its obligation to provide adequate pitches for Travellers. This Drake Park development (adjacent to Field Common which has a renowned history associated with travellers) could provide a suitable venue/funding for a Traveller site on land between Field Common and the Drake Park village. What is more, the capital  cost of this Traveller site could be met by the Drake Park Village developers – i.e. as a gesture towards the wider community.

Footnote: I was the Labour Candidate for Walton North (2014 and 2015) and Hersham Village in 2016. However, my limited and provisional support for this development is personal – it does not signify a policy view of the local Labour Party.

About Dr Peter Jepson

Dr Peter Jepson. Libertarian Socialist.
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