Is Waverley Council turning property developer?

Tonight – in secret – no, we now hear from  a contact, last week in secret! Waverley Borough Council  decided  to spend almost £1m of your money to join forces with a developer to provide a £10m industrial estate on Green Belt land in Cranleigh.

Yes, “Your Waverley” has decided  to use “your money” to strike up a partnership with Hamish Robbie of  Crownhall Estates – nearly £1m of council taxpayers dosh to develop seven  industrial units  on Green Belt land adjoining the Mansfield Park Industrial Estate in Guildford Road, Cranleigh.

Right here! And…don’t you worry all you people living in the adjacent homes – we are sure they will not fill in the remainder of the Green Belt land any time soon!

Manfield Pk Cranleigh RedLine-Access copy.jpg

Described as “a terrace of units, totalling some 10,000 sq.ft” councillors will decide tonight (Tuesday.)  But of course behind closed doors, after all we wouldn’t want the plebs out there to know that we want to help a developer to build on vital wedge of Green Belt, once described by a Government Inspector as a vital wedge of land which separates Cranleigh from the settlement of Rowly – would we?

Councillors’ will be told the £917,340 needed to construct the proposed  terrace of seven units does not include the cost of financing the development. Based on previous experience they’ll be back with cap in hand asking fore more! Members will hear the council want to create the new  units to maintain a stock of industrial units in Cranlegh” and to: “facilitate the release of the existing industrial units at the Hewitts’ Industrial Estate in Alfold Road, Cranleigh” –  for guess what? “Affordable housing”

Well isn’t that interesting!  Isn’t it the very same council that late last year refused  Threadneedle Investments’ application to build 120 houses on that very same site. And  hasn’t that company recently lodged an appeal against Waverley Planners’ decision? And..isn’t WBC using “our” money to defend it. Rumour has it that Councillor Stewart Stennett aided by officers, tried to tempt Threadneedle into carrying out the same development in return for consent at Hewitts, which they refused, because it was on Green Belt. Wow! an honourable developer – praise be to God!

Well – when there is something in it for them – and there sure is – seven units, potential income for the future of £75,000 p.a. and a capital value of £1,296,000, in fact this deal is quite a nice little earner.

One little snag that has to be overcome though?  Not only is the five +  acre site on a green field – it is on Green Belt land. You know the stuff that was once sacrosanct! And the people we elected promised to defend! Members will hear that that insignificant little problem will have to be dealt with by – non other than guess who? The Waverley Borough Council Planning Authority – no problem there then?

Members will be told Crown Hall Estates approached WBC to grant an easement to access the land opposite Hollyhocks Place and Hollyhocks House,  opposite  an access to the Notcutts Garden Centre (who, no doubt, will soon be banging in its own planning application? However WW sources within the council tell us a different story. It was all down to the good offices of Councillor Stennett.

The access will be across land owned by the council (probably Surrey County Council land as well ) because SCC Alan Young – he of the secret meetings – has his sticky little fingers in most of the mire going on in and around Craneigh) and the developer Hamish Robbie,  will pay £400,000 for the easement or,  “gift” an area of land to the council so that he can then develop the remainder of the land for – yes you guessed – more industrial units! In fact about 50,000 sq ft, worth about £6m. So crossing the council’s palm with silver is well worthwhile – not withstanding of course the damage to the Green Belt.

Waverley expects there to be  “good demand” and are assured this will  be welcomed by the Chamber of CommerceWell – of course it will, after all they opposed housing on the Hewitts’ Industrial Estate – a brown field site –  on behalf of ,”all its members”because they wanted to retain employment land at Hewitts.”

Members will hear that  the site lies in Green Belt so, ” very special circumstances would be needed to grant planning permission  for industrial units on this site, after the council had managed to achieve the removal of restrictive covenants that affect the site. But that would  be a judgement for the Council, as planning authority.”

 No problem there then – deal done!

All with the help of Cranleigh borough councillor Stewart Stennett who hawked around the Hewitts Industrial Estate knocking on the doors of Threadneedle’s tenants and having a cup of coffee with whoever would invite him in, saying he had a cunning plan to provide industrial space in the heart of the village. He will have no problem with building on the Green Belt, though his own planning application to build on GB land near his home  further down Guildford Road was refused, but only after his council mates having tried hard to support it  were thwarted by the officers. Sure bet he will be in with a chance once this little lot gets through!

Oh What a Tangled Web they do weave. No wonder Cranleigh feels it’s  being deceived

This was the recommendation:

“In return for the developer agreeing to gift the council the land, the Executive    recommends the easement across the council’s land to facilitate access to the site be granted.

That  £917,340 incurred on  design and construction of  the terrace. of 7 industrial units to provide 10,000 sq ft of industrial space.”











3 thoughts on “Is Waverley Council turning property developer?”

  1. Would it appear to be a coincidence that Crown Hall Estates are applying to build 27 dwellings on land at Little Meadow, Alfold Road, Cranleigh (yet to be decided) and are now offering to build industrial units to keep employment in the area? Is this for the people that might live in the proposed 27 houses?

  2. You may very well be right – though we suspect this is more about making money than providing anyone with either homes or employment! Sadly this particular Spider is the cynic of the species. WW

  3. This is almost unbelievable – the sort of ‘political cr*p’ which might cause a Head of Planning to decide to jump overboard ?
    One thing – I’m pretty sure this isn’t being decided tonight, because there is a Dunsfold Briefing for all Councillors this evening.

    My concern is that this Hewitts & Mansfield Park scandal may already have been agreed in secret by the Exec on Feb 2nd and by Full Council last week (Feb 16th). It looks like the decision may have been slipped through under Exec Item 12 (i.e. Minute 132 to Council).

    Unfortunately the webcast of the Council Meeting stopped abruptly after 45 mins due to a ‘streaming failure’, so there’s no recording of what happened when the Exempt “Property Matter – Cranleigh” Item came forward, but I’m told that at no point did the Meeting go into Exempt Session. Thus we can assume that the Resolution was agreed without debate. Indeed, as no Councillors spoke on the matter, it might also be reasonable to assume that the Conservatives had agreed it at their pre-Meeting. You’d expect there’d be a couple of decent Cranleigh Councillors who’d kick up a fuss about this, so I can only imagine they were shackled in advance. What a way to run a ballroom.

    Does this mean that when the Hewitts Appeal comes forward, the Inspector will be able to conclude that the Council has overcome its own ‘loss of employment land’ objection, by its presumption that alternative employment will be allowed in the Green Belt? Or does it mean that WBC will soon be announcing that they will not be contesting the Hewitts Appeal ?

    If they were in the real world, tonight’s Dunsfold Briefing could only conclude that the current Executive is not fit to make any more decisions on our behalf.

    You should see what the Leadership have planned for Farnham in the Agenda papers for next Tuesday’s Executive Meeting. “There may be trouble ahead”.

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