Cash-strapped council secretly backs down over Toby Jug plans to build more than 700 homes

Councillors have secretly voted to withdraw their reasons for refusal for an application on Tolworth’s Toby Jug site that could see the “thumbs up” for more than 700 homes built next to the A3.

European investment firm Meyer Homes, which bought the site off of Hook Rise South from Tesco last autumn, launched an appeal against a refused outline planning application submitted for 705 homes, as well as a doctor’s surgery, cafe, nursery and offices.

Councillors had voted in July to refuse the application, which had removed the two tallest 15 and 18-storey tower blocks and added a “town square”, on the grounds of density and the impact the plans would have on traffic near and around Tolworth roundabout. A Meyer Homes spokesman told the Comet in October that the application had been “strongly supported by officers, the GLA and TfL as well as Design South East”, while presenting separate plans to deliver nearly 1,000 homes in its place, claiming there was an “aspiration to see this site deliver more homes than previously proposed”. The original application was due to go before a public inquiry of the Planning Inspectorate of Kingston Council in April.

But at a behind-closed-doors meeting of the development control committee on Wednesday night, councillors voted to withdraw their reasons for refusal after seeking “independent legal advice from leading Counsel.” Furious Liberal Democrats blasted the decision, saying they believe it will give Meyer Homes the “thumbs up”. An outraged Lorraine Rolfe said the Conservative administration had “sold residents of Tolworth down the A3”.

Lib Dem leader Liz Green said that there were two aspects to the decision – one being to ask the developers to withdraw their appeal, the other being that if it were to go before the Planning Inspectorate, to ask that it be done by written representation rather than by an “expensive” public inquiry.

Council leader Kevin Davis said that the meeting had been kept behind-closed-doors “due to the legal advice” so as not to prejudice both live appeals and new applications from the developers. He blamed the cost of an appeal as the reason why the decision was taken.

Councillor Davis added that a separate scheme for the Tolworth roundabout was being prepared by Transport for London after “intense lobbying”. Vicki Harris, chairwoman of the Hook Rise residents’ association, who has been fighting “inappropriate” development at the site for more than ten years, said challenging the application was like “David and Goliath”. Meye Homes refused to comment.

Comments

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Filtered words will be replaced with the filtered version of the word.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

By posting content on Surbiton.com, you agree to adhere to the following guidelines.

  • Your username and password must only be used by you, keep them safe. If a posting is made using your username and password it will be considered to have been posted by you. If you have a friend who wants to use our site and post messages on the site, show them how to register.
  • Be courteous at all times, inciting racial hatred, posting abusive, obscene, threatening, harassing, defamatory, libellous or sexually explicit material or any material that is found to be offensive is not acceptable and we may suspend your username and password.
  • Retaliating to offensive posts causes more problems for other users on the discussion boards. Just report such messages to us using the Feedback link which is available at the top of every page or the 'report this' link associated with individual postings. We will act on every report we receive.
  • Please respect other people's work and do not post material that infringes copyright.
  • Do not post information that you know to be confidential or sensitive or otherwise in breach of the law. You should only post material that you know to be public knowledge. If you have any doubts do not post it on the site.
  • Never attempt to gain unauthorised access to any area of the site. This is known as hacking and is illegal.
  • Content posted represents the opinions of the author, and does not represent the opinions of Surbiton.com or its affiliates and has not been approved or issued by Surbiton.com. You should be aware that the other participants are strangers to you and may make statements which may be misleading, deceptive or wrong.
  • Spoofing or posing as another user is unacceptable. Anonymous users' postings should always be considered with suspicion.
  • Help keep Surbiton.com a safe place for information and opinion. Please alert us of any anti-social behaviour as described above.
Please note that Surbiton.com does not monitor the comments posted and we are therefore reliant upon users reporting antisocial behaviour.