M25 Service Station

Councillors generally do not comment on planning applications. This is because they may find themselves sitting on a committee which decides the application, and any recorded comments could be relied upon by unsuccessful parties as evidence of “pre-determination”. Councillors are required to approach planning applications with an open mind, ready to give all the evidence for and against an application a fair hearing.

The prospect of a new service station on the M25 on greenbelt land in Downside is opposed by the Cobham & Downside Residents’ Association, the Cobham Conservation & Heritage Trust and, I believe, the Chamber of Commerce. Dominic Raab, our MP, has written to Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, to ask him to call the matter in. However, outside the town of Cobham, there has been no support for this position at all. At meetings of the West Area Planning Sub-Committee and the full Planning Committee, the Cobham & Downside councillors, John Butcher, Mike Bennison and Dorothy Mitchell, have found themselves isolated in their efforts to point out certain shortcomings in the application as presently formulated. Further, the Surrey Advertiser recently ran an editorial advising the campaigners against the service station to accept defeat gracefully.

Inevitably, certain voices have claimed that the whole process is a “stitch-up”. I would not agree with that. But one does wonder why colleagues of all parties refuse to support the cogent and carefully researched arguments which have been advanced by the three Cobham & Downside councillors. And I also ask myself why it should be, when so many commentators decry the failure of politicians properly to serve the communities which elect them, that the efforts of certain committed and hard working  local councillors are dismissed so lightly by those who will not have to live near to the consequences of their decisions.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “M25 Service Station

  1. Let’s hear from the members of the West Area Planning Sub-Committee and the full Planning Committee.
    Presumably their names are in the public domain and their constituents can make their feelings known.
    We are all in favour of increased local democracy not the diktats of the erstewhile (and now ennobled!) Deputy Prime Minister.
    James, I would suggest you write a letter to the Surrey Advertiser.

  2. Entirely agree. I’d like to see far more cross-party support for all who resist developments on the green belt or which damage our heritage, and support for the principle that those who are most affected by such development proposals should have a greater say in whether they are adopted or not. It is good to see Cobham councillors representing Cobham people.

    Meanwhile I gather that Cllr. Nigel Cooper of Molesey RA is lending his support and participation to the resistance to this unnecessary despoilation, and I hope there are others too.

    • jamesbrowne

      Thank you for this comment. There is an extraordinary Council meeting tonight to discuss the proposed building of a parallel motorway alongside the existing M25 for the duration of the construction. Starts at 7pm at Elmbridge BC’s HQ in Esher

  3. Richard Tebboth

    We look forward to your report & analysis

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