'Green Belt is under threat'

AN ACTION group set up to protect Priest Hill, Ewell, from developers believes a similar threat hangs over 400 acres of other grassland at the gateway of Epsom and Ewell.

So far Northey Fields, off Howell Hill, Priests Hill, smallholdings stretching behind them alongside the Reigate Road to Nork, fields opposite, and land off College Road and Banstead Road have signalled a distinct difference between the semi-rural home of the Derby and more cramped suburban Sutton and Cheam.


But Priest Hill Action Group and Nonsuch ward councillor and Surrey county councillor Nigel Petrie predict all that could change as a planning application for 90 homes at Priests Hill coincides with the Government's restructuring of Green Belt planning laws.

He said: "Surrey is opposing the application on the grounds that it represents harmful inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

"If Epsom and Ewell Council refuses - as it is likely to do - then the applicants, Combined Properties, will go to appeal. "I fear in this sort of Government climate they will win.

"Should Priest Hill go, the rest of the 400 acres of Green Belt in the area would be vulnerable and this would tragically alter the face of this borough."

Developers, Esher-based Combined Counties, are handing over a section of land to Surrey Wildlife for a nature reserve.

The company says the dual use is the most effective way of preventing the whole 43.64 hectares being seized by the Government for mass development.

icsurreyonline.co.uk, 24.01.2006

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