On Monday (January 30), "furious" protest group gathered outside Epsom Town Hall to voice their opinions on the Council’s plan to build new homes on green spaces throughout the borough.

The group Save Epsom and Ewell Green Belt opposes the council's Draft Local Plan which sets out the proposal to build 2,175 new homes on greenfield sites by the year 2040.

The council aims to build 5,400 new homes in total.

Protestors chanted “keep the green belt green” and carried placards with slogans such as “green not greed."

In the council chamber, one protester laid a green belt on the speakers table.

The group said: “Epsom and Ewell Council are about to puncture the unique Green Belt horseshoe around our borough, by including protected Green Belt sites as "preferred options" for large housing development.

“Developing the green and beautiful Green Belt with an abundance of wildlife will set the precedent of horrendously ripping up Epsom’s Green Belt, and changing Epsom into another over-developed urban town forever.”

According to the Draft Local Plan, houses are set to be built on greenfield sites across the borough including Horton Farm, land next to Chantilly Way, Ewell East Station and at Hook Road Arena.

Yufan Si, a member of Save Epsom and Ewell Green Belt said: “We are furious that the Residents' Association controlled council did not fight to keep Epsom’s special character and Green Belt heritage, as is permitted under clear emerging government planning policy."

Urban areas in the borough earmarked for housing development include the area around Dulshot Green, Depot Road, Global House as well as at West Park Hospital.

Cllr Steven McCormick, Chair of the Licensing and Planning Policy Committee said: "The Draft Local Plan has been developed through a robust and extensive evidenced-based approach.

“We believe it provides a framework for the borough to grow in a strong and positive way, so everyone will have the opportunity to live in an affordable, vibrant area with a growing economy.

“It is vital that we address critical issues in Epsom & Ewell such as the need for affordable housing.

"The Draft Local Plan will provide a significant number of affordable homes for current residents including local families and key workers, and it will protect the ability of our young people to afford homes in the future.

“Not only that; it will help us to meet the needs of residents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“The Draft Local Plan takes a ‘brownfield first’ approach and seeks to make as much use as possible of existing suitable brownfield sites.

“However, these alone do not provide sufficient sites and therefore the Draft Plan does propose a small percentage of Green Belt release.

“This has not been an easy decision, but without following this course of action, we would not be doing enough to help meet the housing needs of local people now and in the future.

"The Draft Local Plan is our starting point.

"The upcoming public consultation is critical in the development of the Local Plan and we urge those who live, work, visit or study in Epsom & Ewell to give their views.

"The consultation opens on Wednesday 1 February and will be accessible through our website at www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk, with hard copies also available to view in public libraries and the Town Hall.”

Save Epsom and Ewell Green Belt has set up a petition to protect greenfield sites - it currently has more than 2,000 signatures.