“Your Waverley” is becoming very adept at contravening its own planning rule book… isn’t it!
When the Waverley Web makes a mistake, we say Mea Culpa … what does Waverley Council do? It is economical with the truth- and blames someone else?
Farnham Herald reporter Daniel Gee was interviewed this week on BBC Radio Surrey News about Farnham’s Great War Memorial legacy and how it is being rubbished by “Your Waverley” – “Oops, we did it again”.
You can watch it here: Please see attached and slide the link to 52.42 minutes.
WAVERLEY Borough Council has admitted to yet another embarrassing breach of planning rules at the Memorial Ground in West Street.
Farnham Town Football Club, which leases the sports ground from Waverley, recently undertook engineering works at the ground to extend its car park and offset the loss of spaces during the refurbishment works at the adjacent Farnham Memorial Hall.
However, following concerns expressed by a member of the public, the council – which is currently working alongside the football club to improve the Memorial Ground’s facilities – has confirmed the engineering works “should have had planning permission”.
It comes just months after Waverley was forced into another embarrassing admission that planning permission should have been sought for the club’s new changing rooms, built at the sports ground in July.
The council has not yet revealed what action, if any, it now plans to take against the football club for the engineering works.
Says the WW: Of course it cannot, and will not take any action against the FC because it went ahead with Waverley’s blessing – didn’t it ?
However, a council spokesman confirmed that a long-awaited retrospective planning application for the changing rooms is imminent. Adding “The council is aware that the improvements made to the car park should have had planning permission. Waverley is working with Farnham Town FC to resolve the issue.The planning application for the temporary changing rooms is currently still in the pre-application stage.”
The latest saga has prompted an indignant response from Mark Westcott, a Rowledge-based architect who brought the changing rooms issue to light earlier this year.
“It’s appalling behaviour and I’m utterly speechless,” he said. “But sadly I can’t say I’m surprised as this is typical of Waverley and again shows the incompetence of our local authority.
“At least they’re not denying it, but what is rotten is that they will in all likelihood grant themselves planning permission for both the changing rooms and the car park extension after the event.
“You have to ask would they grant permission if it was anyone else?”
Mr Westcott said the latest engineering works also contravene the restrictive covenant placed on the land by Farnham United Breweries, which gifted the Memorial Ground and adjacent community hall to the town in 1947 in memory of its five employees who lost their lives during the First World War.
The football club has confirmed its intention to rent out some of the parking spaces at the ground during the week.
Concerns have also been raised over the materials used in extending the car park and the possibly heightened flood risk, after 150 tonnes of un-permeable ‘scalpings’ were reportedly delivered to the site by builder’s merchants Chambers.
John Williamson, leader of Waverley’s opposition Farnham Residents group, joined Mr Westcott in expressing disbelief at the latest planning breach at the Memorial Ground, stating the works are “clearly not permitted development”.
He added he raised the issue with council leader Julia Potts and director of operations Damien Roberts last week.
But despite Waverley’s close dealings with the football club and the council assigning “two planning officers” to oversee the improvements to the ground following the changing room saga, both Miss Potts and Mr Roberts “knew nothing about it”.
Waverley helped fund Farnham Town FC’s new changing rooms at the Memorial Ground after the club was displaced from the Memorial Hall, which is being refurbished to provide a new home for the Brightwells Gostrey Centre and Waverley Training Services.
Of course it did because it had a cunning plan to re-develop East Street move the Gostrey Centre and build houses around it?
In February, the council also signed off £50,000 for a feasibility study into relocating the club to the former Weydon Lane landfill site, known locally as Brambleton Park, and in turn redeveloping the Memorial Ground for housing.
However, while the feasibility study is yet to be completed, the council has agreed to support the club in improving its current facilities at the Memorial Ground to meet league requirements.
Explaining the reasons for the recent engineering works, Mick Morgan, committee member at the club, said: ”Farnham Town FC, in order to meet FA ground grading requirements and to remain financially viable, require additional parking spaces to accommodate players and officials on match days and training sessions.
“Therefore the car park at the ground has been expanded to provide additional off road parking; adjacent to the clubhouse. The spaces will also provide additional parking for local businesses during weekdays and some additional parking for residents.
“Farnham Town FC is an important community asset and Waverley Borough Council has been very supportive, providing new changing rooms and working with us to explore the possibility of whether the former landfill site at Weydon Lane could be used as a potential new home for the club.”