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'East Dorking Masterplan is Unacceptable’

September 20, 2018 5:28 PM

PippbrookThe latest proposals from the consultants employed by Mole Valley to prepare a Masterplan for the East Dorking Pippbrook Site were revealed at a meeting of 'stakeholders' last night. Liberal Democrat Councillors in Dorking and the surrounding area have labelled the proposals massively disappointing and totally unacceptable.

Councillor Stephen Cooksey - Lib Dem leader on Mole Valley District Council - explains:

"The Plan provides a bonanza for housing developers by removing the 'civic, entertainment cultural, recreational and community' planning designation that has protected the site from housing development for many years and ensured that this site, the only one in Mole Valley reserved for these uses, is not squandered by the Council.

"The proposals centre on selling off part of the site to housing developers, seeking to attract a mid-range hotel chain to the site and hoping that 'Chip', the voluntary organisation established to preserve Pippbrook House for community use, can provide the several million pounds required to repair and maintain the building.

"The consultants have been directed by a brief from the Conservative Cabinet which required any proposals for the site to produce a profit for the Council and that is the fundamental flaw in the whole scheme. Unlike Leatherhead, where the Transition programme has, and will continue to, benefit from £ millions of Council development funding, the Dorking scheme was denied support from the start.

"What we have is a very uninspiring future for the site which Council development funding could change if there was a will to provide it. Consequently there is little help for 'Chip' in its quest to preserve Pippbrook House and if the organisation is unable to meet the conversion costs, the only alternatives appear to be to turn it into flats or a care home. There has been little attempt to pursue any of the exciting alternative uses that local members have suggested such as providing starter facilities and incubator space for new businesses, exploring new facilities for Dorking theatre and performing arts, seeking opportunities for providing exhibition space and dedicated space for fairs and festivals, and new entertainment and sporting facilities - all of which would add to the vitality of Dorking and could be provided with Council investment and external funding, if the Council could be bothered to look for it.

"We will vigorously oppose the current proposals which we believe are not acceptable to the majority of Dorking residents and seek revised proposals based on retaining the present planning designation, providing Council development funding in line with that committed to Leatherhead, seeking external financial support, exploring new and innovative ways of providing facilities for residents and ensuring that the Council does not sell off one of the communities prime assets and mortgage Dorking's future to housing developers."