Residents in Stoneleigh announced a coordinated campaign to oppose a proposed development in the town.

Stoneleigh and Auriol Residents' Association (SARA) said they had launched a crowdfunding campaign that seeks to gather funds from residents who oppose the plans, while a "planning expert" has also been recruited to examine the legality of the proposals.

As the Comet reported last month, plans to build a seven storey block of flats on Station Approach, near Stoneleigh Park Road, in Stoneleigh were published on the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council (EEBC) website after being validated on June 12.

The proposals prompted an angry response from residents in the area, with several hundreds taking to EEBC's site and posting comments on why they opposed the plans.

The sizeable backlash from residents in Stoneleigh was referenced directly by SARA Chair Richard Harris with the group's campaign launch.

"There is immense anger locally at this proposal.

"Planning officers have actively encouraged the developer to increase the size of their build as part of a new strategy adopted by the council to ‘talk up’ planning applications," Mr Harris suggested.

The SARA chair also accused EEBC of rolling out the proposals "without proper disclosure".

"It concerns us greatly that this new strategy is being implemented without proper or full disclosure to Epsom and Ewell residents and without the full implications that this action will have being understood and fully shared," he said.

"The council have shown a complete disregard for the damage that such developments will do to our communities," Mr Harris added.

EEBC said previously they had opened the plans up for public consultation and would listen to residents before anything was finalised.

Surrey Comet: Artist impressions of the proposed developmentArtist impressions of the proposed development

In a statement sent to the Comet back in June, a spokesperson for EEBC said:

"The Local Planning Authority have received the planning application 19/00668/FUL and as part of the process of assessing the application, will have regard for any comments that are made."

The Neighbourhood Consultation on the proposals was closed on July 3.

On announcing the launch of the campaign to oppose the development, SARA revealed that it had drafted in an "independent planning expert" to assess whether the development and EEBC's facilitation of it contradicted existing planning regulations.

Pursuing legal action against the development was not being ruled out, Mr Harris said.

"We question where the council’s new strategy sits with existing planning policies and regulations and if their position is actually lawful.

"SARA has decided to appoint an independent planning expert who has experience of contesting such applications and if necessary this will be followed by legal action," he said.

"If we don’t contest this development it will set a dangerous precedent for more inappropriate expansions of this type to be built across the whole of our borough. This will impact on us all and will change the face of Epsom and Ewell forever," he added.