Over 100 people turned out to hear Waverley’s Joint Planning Committee refuse the KPI application to build 265 houses at West Cranleigh Nurseries despite a Herculean attempt, during a two and a half hour debate by the Council’s new Chief Planning Officer, to persuade them otherwise!
Another application for 75 houses nearby was deferred to a later date.
Cranleigh Councillor Mary Foryszewski fought like a tiger to persuade her colleagues to join her in opposing the scheme claiming its accumulative effect, following a spate of recent permissions for 800 homes, would “ruin” Cranleigh’s character.
Brian Freestone said the parish council objected because the location was remote, unsustainable and the Country Park could become a burden on the ratepayers – a responsibility, which he warned, it, would definitely not pick up.
The Cranleigh Civic Society spokesman Liz Townsend, provided some highly technical reasons why the application should be refused siting very serious issues with Cranleigh’s water and sewage systems should any more development be allowed. All of which had been recognised by Thames Water and the Environment Agency. “Every day – two Olympic size swimming pools of effluent are discharged into the Cranleigh Waters” and the system would not cope.
Unfortunately, due to technical problems with the microphone, Martin Bamford for the KPI Trust – could not be heard and neither could the Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce President Richard Graham – except to say Cranleigh definitely “needed” more homes.
However Councillor Foryszewski didn’t need a microphone, she made her voice heard by everyone in the Chamber and in the extra room set aside to hold the huge crowd of villagers who turned out to opposed the scheme.
She congratulated the developer on a “first-class marketing campaign” but I am very disappointed at the lengths that some people went to to prevent me from being here this evening which I find quite disgraceful !”
“But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognise – Cranleigh cannot cope – this application is wrong and if you allow it you will be letting the people of Cranleigh down! She said she would not sit back and watch Cranleigh robbed of – yet more green fields.
And I want to assure everyone here – I was not one of the Cranleigh Ward members that worked with the officers to bring forward this application”
She warned officers and colleagues they were putting the cart before the horse by not ensuring that Infrastructure – water; drainage; transport issues; congestion; and the fact that Cranleigh had a poor road network was taken into account.
Planning expert Liz Sims claimed the officers were not drainage experts – “neither are we expected to be. and members should trust the statutory authorities.” However, when she introduced the application at the outset she said: “It is this council’s strong preference and generally acceptable to build houses on Brown Field sites.”
Members said it just didn’t wash that they could rely on Thames Water siting how many times they had been letdown by them.
Michael Goodridge (Wonersh) and Maurice Byham (Bramley) were satisfied all the sewage/water problems could be overcome by imposing conditions. Not a word was spoken by By-Pass Byham or Goodridge on traffic congestion on local roads or the A281!
Nick Holder (Witley) said “come hell or high water” either Thames Water or the developer should be forced to pay for sewage treatment improvements.
But it was Councillor Pat Frost (Farnham) who argued the development, a mile from the village, was too remote , “who’s going to walk with buggies and bags of shopping into the high street?” This application is detrimental to the countryside and the residents nearby. I don’t like the design,or inadequate parking, so I am voting against.”
Farnham councillor Andy McLeod said Cranleigh was being asked to take too many houses, and would end up as “one great big building site” for the forseable future. His colleague John William argued the Environmental Impact Assessment was not adequate, and the impact of yet more development on Cranleigh people would be “huge.”
Said Councillor Cristiaan Hesse (Hindhead ). “Cranleigh will end up looking like Poland in 1939 – if we allow this we will fundamentally change the character of this village for ever more.” Others said they felt “sorry for Cranleigh” which was under siege. Another claimed he certainly wouldn’t want to live there.
The Application was refused after two and a half hours of heated debate by 12 votes to seven.