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Plans for 105 affordable homes on green belt

10/10/2006 (source:

Plans for 105 affordable homes on Green Belt land in Reigate have been submitted to borough planners for scrutiny.

The site, known as Benson's, is in Sandcross Lane, South Park, between Reigate Garden Centre and the Sovereign Youth Centre.

Over the years it has been used as a storage site for fairground equipment and a car park, but has been unused in recent years and is overgrown and dilapidated.

The proposals are only in the outline planning stage - a preliminary application which does not have finalised details - but Reigate company 1st Key plc, in Reigate Road, is hoping Reigate and Banstead Borough Council will ease its stance on building on Green Belt land and agree there are "exceptional circumstances" in this case.

Also planned for the site is a dental practice, eight consulting rooms, and a general surgery to deal with minor surgical operations.

The scheme has been drawn up in partner-ship with social housing landlord Elmbridge Housing Trust.

Jonathan Woodbridge, managing director for 1st Key plc,said the building of 105 affordable homes in one go would boost the council's record in that sector.

When the scheme was revealed last year, Councillor Andrew Mountney, (Con, South Park and Woodhatch) admitted housing was required in the borough, but said the development was not realistic.

He said because of the fact that much of the housing was not "family focused" and would be on Green Belt land, he would not support the application.

A year on, his stance is unchanged. He said: "It is not an appropriate site for a large development. It is Green Belt. Council housing targets are one of their [1st Key plc] key arguments for the development, but the council already goes further than its targets both for overall housing and social housing.

"Allowing Benson's to be developed would set a precedent for building on Green Belt."

Councillor Michael Ormerod (Labour, South Park and Woodhatch) agreed the council was meeting its target for affordable housing, although he believes that, set at 175 a year, it is inadequate.

He said: "The community needs the homes and the clinic but we have to look at the fact that it is Green Belt.

"I think it would be unlikely to get through the planning committee."

Mr Woodbridge remained optimistic. He said: "The scheme would benefit people living in the Woodhatch and South Park area because of the need for affordable housing and NHS services.

"Everyone will benefit from the medical centre. It is a terrific scheme, very sustainable,and I'm very enthusiastic about it."

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