EWCA contacted each of the four Epsom West Division candidates in the upcoming 6th May SCC elections, to ask their views on the Wells Centre and the future of the Karibu children’s home.
Epsom Wells Community Association – article – Neil Dallen RA candidate
I believe that Surrey County Council have decided to sell the site for development (probably housing), now that they no longer intend to have a care centre there, either for children or adults. But no details on this have been made available as yet.
Any planning application is likely to be determined by Epsom and Ewell Borough Council and, as I sit on the planning committee, I am limited in what I can say.
I am concerned about –
- The likely height and density of any development, giving the pressure from the Government for the Borough to meet a very high house building target.
- The loss of natural habitats and trees
- The lack of consultation and information already provided by SCC
- The unlikely provision of consultation and information in the future
- The lack of infrastructure projects being provided by Surrey County Council and its unlikely review of the situation despite additional developments that will affect:-
- Bus services to/from the Wells Estate
- Local, convenient, school places for children living on the Wells Estate
- Maintenance of roads on the Wells Estate
If elected I promise to –
- Challenge the above at Surrey County Council and represent the residents’ views.
- Continue to be open and honest about any development.
- Explain the rationale behind any decision making.
- Keep residents regularly informed of County matters that affect them.
THE WELLS CENTRE
Although the Wells Centre is a Borough issue and nothing directly to do with this COUNTY election, I would like to put the record straight. I was involved in the decision and have always been open and honest about the situation even though I know it is not what residents wanted to hear and I have listened to the residents and tried to explain the rationale behind the decision making.
I am a long term resident of Epsom and in the past have frequently used and run activities in the centre so I am aware of its facilities and shortcomings.
Your Surrey County Councillors were offered the opportunity to get Surrey to assist with the centre and the provision of Adult Social Care services a number of times but nothing was done apart from complaining about the borough council.
Wells Centre – The truth!
There has been a lot of misleading information circulated about the Wells Centre which has unnecessarily caused considerable upset and harm to many residents just for Political gain. The facts below are all taken from documents in the public domain.
The Council decided to amalgamate the two social centres in Epsom as it faced a huge government funding shortfall of around £2.5 million by 2019/20.
At that time the services being moved were being subsidised by £362 per member using the services.
At the same time the Council committed to providing up to £70,000 to improve services at the Sefton Road Centre.
It also agreed to ensure that a community facility would be a part of any development on the site.
This was a result of a cross party working group who unanimously agreed
The social centre services provision ceased after all current users were shown round the Sefton Road Centre and almost all were happy to reallocate.
Current hirers were allowed to continue using the centre providing they supplied their own caretaking services and had appropriate insurance.
The Council agreed to set up an ‘arms-length’ company to “acquire, hold and trade in property”.
The Council agreed to engage PwC to advise on development of the site for residential purposes including the provision of a community centre up to 1,500 sq. ft. to be run by the community.
A consultation was held on the proposed development plans. A public exhibition was held at Wells Centre and display at the town hall for two weeks. 40 responses were received and minor changes were made as a result of comments received.
The Council agreed to formally submit a planning application. (Even though it is effectively a Council development the planning process must be followed and, legally, a decision made based solely on national and local planning policies)
The Planning committee deferred the application that provided 23 units of accommodation (40% affordable), a new community hall, playground and associated car parking and landscaping.
The application was deferred
As a member of the planning committee I seconded this deferral due to –
- Highways and parking concerns
- Housing mix
- Privacy to neighbouring residents
- Style and suiting of proposed development
I personally was concerned about
- Insufficient car parking spaces
- Fire safety – sprinkler systems could be fitted to mitigate delays
- Affordable housing – although it offered the compliant 40%, I believe that most, if not all, of the development should be affordable as it is Council land.
To find out more about EWCA and our campaign to reopen The Wells Centre, please send us an email or join our email list.