Sutton North Lib Dem Councillors

Cllrs Ruth Dombey, Marlene Heron and Steve Penneck working hard for Sutton North all year round Learn more

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Meeting the needs for housing in Sutton Town Centre

by Ruth, Marlene, and Steve on 15 June, 2020

There is a shortage of housing in this country, and all local councils have to agree Government-imposed housing targets as part of their Local Plan.  Sutton has agreed a target of 427 homes for the Borough each year over the next few years.

When we consulted on the Local Plan, residents told us that whilst they understood and supported the need for more housing, they were concerned about losing the suburban character of the borough, which would have resulted from the continued development of back gardens. To respond to this the Council is focusing most of the new housing in the town and district centres, protecting the suburban character and green spaces outside of these key areas.  As a result we have successfully resisted many planning applications that threaten that character.   Increased housing also brings greater footfall which helps our high streets, which are struggling across the UK.  Interest in Sutton town centre is mainly for the building of apartments; this is balanced by substantial building of new family homes in Hackbridge.

Developments bring in funding for infrastructure so the council can invest in improving the public realm, transport, schools and green spaces for the benefit of everyone.  More housing means more schools and the Local Plan included site allocations for two new secondary schools (one already built at Belmont, the other planned for Rosehill) and three primary schools (one already built at Hackbridge). Identifying sites for schools and for new housing has strengthened the protection for the remaining green spaces in the borough.

Changes to our high streets are largely down to market forces and it is for the owners of prospective sites to bring forward proposals for their development.

Sutton High Street is unusually long and, like high streets across the country, is seeing the impacts of the decline in retail due to online shopping. However despite this, thanks to the efforts of the Council to attract business and investment to our commercial areas, we have seen good numbers of new businesses opening up including pubs, restaurants and retail, with Sports Direct putting a lot of investment into Times Square.

The council is also seeking to stimulate the town centre by investing directly in some of the empty buildings and using that space for creative ventures such as ‘Sound Lounge’, food hubs and start-up ventures.

The developer interest in our town centre is positive, but often their proposals are not to a good enough standard. In those cases we work very hard to push for well-designed buildings and more affordable housing units. This has been the case for both the Helena House and Prince Regent proposals, where planning applications are now being considered, where we have successfully argued the case for improved schemes.

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