Wellfield Grazing Green Belt

Date petition submitted: 
08 June 2016
Petition presented by: 
Steve O'Connell AM,
Petition presented at: 
London Assembly Plenary

Summary of petition

“Mr Khan, you made an explicit pledge in your recent Election Manifesto of “Making renting more affordable and protecting the Green Belt”. We are asking you to honour this pledge by supporting our campaign to save the Wellfield Grazing Green Belt in Sutton. As part of the 2031 Local Plan, the London Borough of Sutton is reviewing a proposal to re-define the Green Belt as a step towards developing the Wellfield Grazing land for residential family housing, even though there are currently around 150 brownfield sites in Sutton which are prime sites for housing developments instead. The Council’s proposal to de-designate the Green Belt status generated over 400 strong objections from local residents and over 2300 signatures so far to a petition from riders, parents, carers, volunteers and supporters of The Diamond Centre for Disabled Riders. This land forms London’s southernmost edge of the Green Belt, and is protected by a covenant which permits only grazing and fencing. Erosion of Green Belt is a permanent and irrevocable loss for all future generations. The Wellfield Grazing land is used on a daily basis as paddocks for the 30 horses owned by The Diamond Centre for Disabled Riders, a self-funded charity established over 40 years ago and a member of the Riding for Disabled Association (RDA). The RDA President, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, is a great supporter of RDA, and an enthusiastic advocate of the therapeutic benefits of horse riding for people with physical disability and learning difficulties. The Princess Royal, then Princess Anne opened the Centre in 1974 and has made several visits to Diamond since and has always taken a great interest in Centre. The loss of the 5 acres of Wellfield Grazing is a serious concern to Diamond as it would seriously reduce the number of horses that could be kept which obviously would have a huge impact on the riding activities for children and adults with disabilities. The Diamond Centre Trustees and its supporters would appreciate Mr Khan’s support in rejecting Sutton Council's ill-conceived proposal and uphold their agreement to allow the Centre to continue using this land for grazing the horses, which provide valuable therapeutic riding for many people with disability and learning difficulties. The loss of this grazing land would have a significant and adverse effect on the excellent and unique work of the Centre and would have serious irreversible impact on the local community and especially the disabled riders and their families who rely on the Diamond Centre to improve the quality of their lives. In summary, we sincerely hope Mr Khan will lend his voice to our campaign by notifying Sutton Council of his heartfelt objection to their proposal, and requesting its withdrawal as it directly contradicts his election pledge.”

Response information

Response title: 
Mayor's Response
Name of person responding: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
Response date: 
25 July 2016
Thank you for your letter of 13 June forwarding a petition with over 2,200 signatures from the Diamond Centre for Disabled Riders that was placed before the Assembly by Steve O’Connell AM. As I have stated in my manifesto and subsequent speeches I am committed to protecting London’s Green Belt. Local Plans have be in general conformity with the London Plan and the Plan contains strong protection for both Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land, in line with national planning guidance. The initial consultation on Sutton’s Local Plan, which proposed to de-designate the Wellfield Grazing site as Green Belt, was responded to under the previous administration. This response made it clear the previous Mayor strongly supported the current extent of Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land (MOL), however the response did not object to the de-designation of any specific Green Belt or MOL sites. When the next consultation stage is submitted, I will review the latest evidence regarding Sutton’s Green Belt. Whilst legally, I cannot respond to the specific points raised in your letter ahead of my formal response, I would like to reassure you I will be keen to take account of the ways in which existing uses, such as the riding centre, contribute towards achievement of the aim and purposes of the Green Belt, not least the importance of maintaining its openness. I will ensure my officers work closely with Sutton to identify housing capacity in other locations such as its town centres and Housing Zones and by aligning its approach to density more closely to that in the London Plan in order to address pressure on the Green Belt.