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RA Chairman, Graham Cooke, has written to the Local Government Minister, Robert Jenrick, questioning the post Covid-19 relevance of previously-set requirements for Councils formulating their Local Plans for future development.  See below.


TDWGRA new letterhead LR

Rt. Honourable Robert Jenrick
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

11th May 2020     

Dear Mr Jenrick,

Local Plans for a post COVID–19 World

It is apparent from the letter to you of 7th May 2020 (click here to see), that Elmbridge Council, and no doubt many other councils, continue to feel under pressure to produce Local Plans based solely on data and projections made long before anyone had heard of COVID–19.

It is now clear that the world, post virus, or whenever it can be regarded as being completely under control, will look very different from the present one.

Home working, that has been encouraged of late will, clearly, become much more common both in the short and long term. Organisations of all shapes and sizes are realising that requiring their staff to endure expensive and lengthy train journeys to occupy expensive premises in Central London during the day is grossly inefficient.

The economic fall-out from the present crisis is more difficult to predict but, the likelihood is that many older people living in expensive areas close to London will consider ‘down-sizing’ to cheaper areas of the country to assist with their finances.

There will be a huge number of other factors that will emerge over time, in particular, whether there is need or desire to increase capacity at Heathrow or Gatwick, the latter looking vulnerable already given comments from IAG Group.

To proceed with local plans that could threaten Green Belt and/or dramatically change the environment without taking account of the longer term affects of COVID-19 would be at least irresponsible, at worst, pure folly.

Long term decisions always need to be taken based on the most up to date information available, this is what your Government has stressed throughout the present difficulties, the same must apply to Local Plans.

 Yours sincerely,

 Graham Cooke
Chair Thames Ditton & Weston Green Residents' Association

cc:  Rt. Hon Dominic Raab MP
      Cllr Stuart Selleck, Leader Elmbridge Council