What is being proposed at sandown park?
The Jockey Club proposes to build 318 flats (up to 6 storeys high) and a 150 bed hotel around the race course. To give some perspective of the scale of the scheme we calculate this is approximately the size of 11 x Moore Places.
Why are we against this?
The whole of Sandown Park is in the Green Belt. We know the Council is under pressure to find more sites for houses. However, both National and Local Planning Policy state there is a presumption AGAINST new development on Green Belt land unless it can be shown there are very special circumstances. The Jockey Club say their 'special circumstance' is to upgrade facilities at Sandown Park to keep the racecourse viable. However they state themselves they have doubled revenues over 10 years to £200 million in 2018, creating their largest-ever profit of £44.8 million. Why can’t some of this profit be used to upgrade their facilities?
Why is Sandown Park an important part of the Green Belt?
Sandown Park has been identified in the Council’s own review as being strategically important and strongly performing Green Belt. It prevents Esher merging with Thames Ditton and Weston Green, keeping Esher a distinct town rather than being merged into a continuous urban sprawl. In this part of North Elmbridge the Green Belt is often just one site deep. If it is breached, the primary function of the Green Belt is dramatically weakened. This could be the beginning of the end for Sandown Racecourse. Other Greenbelt sites in Elmbridge could also be at greater risk from developers.
Why does the Green Belt matter?
Green Belts prevent urban sprawl, keeping inappropriate development in check and ensuring towns and cities don’t join up into one huge urban mass. Demand for housing is not in itself an exceptional circumstance that should pave the way for Green Belt development. There is plenty of other, more suitable land that could be built on. In 2014, a CPRE report found that there is enough suitable brownfield land, available now, for at least one million new homes in England. With the increasing global pressures from climate change and population growth, our greenbelts will become more valuable in the future, not less. In the face of climate change, they have an increasingly important role in storing carbon and preventing flooding. The calls for more development in the Green Belt assume this land is only valuable if built on, an assumption that is fundamentally flawed. The Green Belt is needed now more than ever.
What other negative impacts could this scheme have?
Our roads are already gridlocked for much of the day, particularly around the racecourse. 320 dwellings and their related traffic journeys will have a very negative impact on our overstretched traffic system, causing even greater traffic and parking chaos, and contributing to ever greater pollution.
what if the jockey club threatens to close the racecourse?
If the Jockey Club did decide to close the racecourse, they could only use or sell the land with the strict restrictions of the Green Belt still in place. Housing developers would not be able to develop the site for housing as they would not be granted planning permission. The land could however continue to be used for other sports facilities, or indeed become wonderful parkland for the benefit of the whole of Esher. If, however, the current proposals were to be given planning consent, it could in fact increase the likelihood of the racecourse being closed in the future – it may only be 5% of the course now, but the precedent would have been set for more and more of the site to be developed in the future.
what about public amenities the jockey club propose?
The Jockey Club are proposing a new footpath to the station, a family zone with a play cafe and a cycle track. While this will be open to the public, it is highly unlikely these facilities will be free to use, they are far more likely to be a commercial venture. There is already a successful play cafe within the race course, along with a golf course, café, gym and ski centre. The footpath would be cheap and easy to implement – it does not need require the construction of 320 flats to deliver. All the other improvements are to the racecourse facilities themselves and therefore are not a public benefit.
how do we make our objections to this planning application?
Objections can be made by following this link to the application and clicking on the 'comment on this planning application' button.
do we need to include specific information in our objection comments?
Objections should be based on planning matters - there is some advice available on Elmbridge's website. To assist, below is a brief list of suggested grounds for objection:
In breach of both local and national planning policies (this is well-performing Greenbelt Land)
Loss of openness and views across the racecourse
Sets a dangerous precedent – once the Greenbelt land in North Elmbridge is breached, other Greenbelt sites in Esher, Thames Ditton and Claygate will be at increased risk from development too.
Hugely increased traffic generation to our already gridlocked streets
Overlooking/loss of privacy for those living near the racecourse.
Density and height of the buildings (4-6 storeys totally inappropriate for Esher)
Impact on natural & historic environment
Loss of trees (some of which have TPOS)
Impact on Conservation Area (Esher Green)
Impact on Locally listed buildings (Horseshoe Nursery – Esher’s former Toll House)
Increased Flooding Risk (Lower Green Road)