Lib Dem Councillors: "We have listened and acted"

28 Sep 2023

Following Claygate Councillors’ recommendation Council has withdrawn from development plan for Torrington Car Park.

Over the past few weeks there has been a great deal of debate on the approach by Marks & Spencer to Elmbridge Borough Council about the proposal for building a store in Torrington Lodge Car Park in Claygate.

We have been grateful for the engagement of our residents. You have raised important points, and have talked to us about running a placemaking exercise for Claygate as we are doing in Esher. You have asked us to consult on options for Torrington as part of a wider plan for Claygate.

There is general acceptance amongst Claygate residents that Elmbridge can’t maintain an under-used, loss-making car park, particularly at a time when central Government is slashing public funding and some Councils are going bankrupt.

Councils are also under pressure by the Government to rip up their Greenbelt and build homes.  We have a plan here in Elmbridge to protect our Greenbelt, but we will only be able to get it past Government Inspectors if we can demonstrate that we have a credible plan to use under-utilised, brownfield sites like Torrington Lodge car park. While some people were in favour of the plans, we recognise that many residents were concerned about the possible impact on the Claygate’s unique nature.  Claygate has a vibrant village centre with many independent stores and we are totally committed to supporting it.

We also recognise that people felt the plans were progressing too quickly, without the proper involvement of the community. We have listened and we are responding.

We Liberal Democrat Councillors therefore recommended to Elmbridge Borough Council that it withdraws from the proposed development. This was agreed in the Council's Extraordinary Meeting on Wednesday 27th September.

Moving forward, we want to ensure that places like Torrington Lodge car park are not looked at in isolation but in the context of how they interact with the wider village. To that end, we will set up a process for consultation where residents are given the opportunity to participate actively and get their voices heard. This will include how we get best community value from under-used assets like Torrington.

We hope you will get involved.  You can click here to share any initial ideas or sign up for updates. Our aim is to consult with as many residents and traders as possible to ensure all community views are listened to. We want to capitalise on the wide range of talents, professional expertise and creative insights in our village – evidenced in recent weeks as residents have put forward alternative options and innovative ideas. We want to do this with you.

All three of your local Liberal Democrat Councillors are Claygatians and have lived here for a long time. One of us runs a local business in the Parade. We share with you a passion for our village and will work with you to making sure it continues to thrive.

From Bruce McDonald, Mike Rollings and Alex Coomes

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