The final meeting of Waverley’s Western Planning Committee before the forthcoming May election was a shocker.
Farnham councillors accused planning officers of
“Murky practices” ignoring council rules and then turned their venom on the Conservative Government’s “Alice in Wonderland Broken Planning System, and taking developer’s donations.”
At one point, the Chairman stopped Farnham Resident’s Cllr George Hesse from continuing to speak. You can watch it in the clip below.
Cllr Jerry Hyman(Farnham Firgrove) wanted to know WHY planning officers had allowed the 106 legal Agreement linked to a scheme at Coxbridge Farm, Farnham, for 320 homes to languish for more than two years when after six months, under the terms of the 2021 consent it should have been refused.
The scheme is included in the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan and Waverley’s Local Plan.
Chief Planning officer Claire Watson Brown admitted that a series of extensions given to the developer should not have been allowed; the Chairman and vice-chairman did not have delegated powers. However, by returning to the planning committee seeking a further three-month extension until the end of June would legalise the situation. It was hoped the agreement would be signed within a month.
Good reasons were given, including the death and probate difficulties after the death of two of the landowners and complicated issues with Surrey County Council over highway improvement at the Coxbride Roundabout. where Surrey County Council was the owner of some land.
Cllr Hyman argued after the Council’s “murky background to the scheme” and the fact the developer now wished for a significant change of Phasing the scheme, it should go back out for public consultation after such a long delay.
We agreed two years ago for a six-month time limit, and allowing the chairman and vice-chairman delegated powers to extend that time limit was ultra vires. They had no deleted powers. As the council was now in Election Purdah, it was too controversial to allow a further extension of such a controversial scheme and should be refused and Farnham residents should be given a say.
He was reminded that across the country, where developers were building large housing developments, they were being phased due to market conditions.
The extension and changes were Agreed upon by ten votes to one.
You can listen to a couple of the rants – one cut short by Chairman David Beaman here:
However, wouldn’t it be great if the next administration could find someone within the council to properly operate the Webcast so the public who vote councillors into office could actually see and hear their representatives properly and in full view?
WA/2019/0770 – LAND NORTH OF COXBRIDGE FARM, WEST STREET, FARNHAM This application is being referred back to the Western Planning Committee as the completion of the S106 agreement has gone past the six months that the Council originally agreed as the period in which it should be completed by, from the resolution to grant at Western Planning Committee in May 2021. Officers are seeking to extend the resolution to give until 29th June 2023. Revised recommendation As a result of the changes outlined in the report, the amended resolution will be
That, subject to the applicant entering into an appropriate legal agreement by 29/06/2023 (unless an alternative date is subsequently agreed by the Chair and Vice Chair of the Planning Committee) to secure the provision of 30% affordable housing (70% rented and 30% shared ownership) contributions towards SANG and SAMM, travel plan contribution, £25,000 for highways improvement works, provision of car club scheme, sustainable travel vouchers for each dwelling SuDS management/ maintenance, open space management/ maintenance; provision of LEAP/LAP; contribution towards waste and recycling containers; subject to conditions and informatives, permission be GRANTED.