Last night after a four-hour debate Waverley Planners granted permission for a scheme they dubbed as `”the most important the borough of Waverley had ever considered” and made a very simple choice.
Should development and accompanying infrastructure be built on a Brownfield Commercial centre and a working airfield – or in the countryside.
It was a no brainer really – and the people who know the area – its commercial uses over more than 70 years – by giants such as British Aerospace, Hawker Siddeley and Skyways the time had come to open a new chapter in the history of Dunsfold – ‘Surrey’s Secret airfield.’
Councillors voted 10 votes to eight to allow Dunsfold Park to provide homes and work for thousands of the young and the old in a new community that will, eventually, embrace the villages around. Time will tell if life for the villages of Cranleigh/Dunsfold/Alfold/Loxwood and beyond will be improved by the creation of a new settlement.
We have heard from many villagers that life there has been far from rosy as they witnessed the closure of their treasured village schools, pubs, restaurants, and shops.
The Protect Our Waverley Group was given a serious drubbing from Cranleigh Councillor Mary Foryszewski last night when she asked them? – Where were you POW when Cranleigh and Farnham were thrown before the bulldozers?”
Earlier she heard POW’s Bobby Lee, make the case for refusal against a background of mournful violins playing- only joking – but they might as well have done. He told a bedtime story of the Brothers Grimm variety. Describing a bleak, abandoned airfield where no one would want to live – we could almost see the dustballs rolling down the empty roads of Dunsfold Ghost town.
Desperate Dan continued with this grim tale which had no place in a serious, intellectual discussion about a major planning application which, whether it failed or succeeded, will have an impact on a significant number of people. However, if he keeps this up Jackanory may commission him?
Nic Pidgeon Chairman of Alfold Parish Council) bemoaned the fact that he had only four minutes to speak despite the Council’s Planners having had an hour in which to make their presentation. Well thank the Lord for that!
Not only is Mr Pidgeon one of those who has happily made his money representing developers he’s now moving out of Alfold for Happy Hampshire so why he thinks it’s acceptable for him to voice an opinion on the future of the borough is anyone’s guess.
With nothing new to say, he Pidgeon-toed harked back to 2009 despite the fact that we’re now in 2017 and a huge sea change and a housing crisis has occurred in the intervening years.
A man in a pin-striped suit OJ radiated what he is – a Luddite and Chairman of Hascombe Parish Council who is constantly looking to the past rather than the future. but then…….
References to 5000 objections to the scheme were mentioned but, somewhat deceitfully, failed to to mention that many were duplicates submitted after the Council consulted twice.
Alfold Councillor Kevin De’Anus, red in the face and bursting with so much indignation we feared he might burst his buttons, cast multiple aspersions on both Waverley and Surrey County Council officers that made the hackles rise.
He was roundly rebutted in no uncertain terms by Chief Planning Officer Liz-the-Biz-Sims with school marmish authority. Living up to her name she stripped bare his objections reminding him that the Council had not made its recommendation lightly, realised its importance to Waverley’s housing and economic prosperity and was guided by Counsel’s legal opinion.
Mike Green, of Surrey County Council Highways, was equally robust in pointing out that without the HUGE package of transport mitigation measures proposed by the developer the A281 would be considerably worse off.
Oh Carole (Aka Farnham’s Carole Cockburn) congratulated the Officers on their handling of the application and their diligence in keeping every one up to speed – “for years.”
The 2009 application she said – rather bravely – might now with hindsight be considered ‘ahead of it’s time’! She showed herself to be a woman of intellect with a very clear grasp of her subject. So much so, that – many in the public gallery held their heads in their hands. She spoke loquaciously about the site visit, waxing lyrical about an exciting, dynamic place, both vibrant and accessible. The words ‘brownfield site’ littered her speech. She recognised there would be some harm – but the benefits were demonstrable.
And… after hearing that £35m (sorry it may have been mucho mucho more we couldn’t hear) for infrastructure improvements… said:
All A-roads in Surrey are congested and of course there will be more traffic; you don’t need to tell a resident of Farnham about traffic, we’re surrounded by it,” “but WHAT A GENEROUS PACKAGE OF MITIGATION MEASURES ARE BEING OFFERED! “
No other developer in the borough, to her knowledge, was coming anywhere remotely close to what this application offered!
Councillor Stuart ‘Stemmit’ – who recently gained is own consent to build on the Green Belt in Cranleigh – objected to development on brownfields. Why ? Maybe because he’s a supporter of otheer developers he has been working with,or wants to build an industrial estate at Cranleigh’s Manfield Park Estate? Developments that may not receive consent now Dunsfold Park has the go-ahead. The Cranleigh digger driver (his description) rattled on about one of his lorries getting stuck in Guildford and how it had cost him big bucks to get it removed!
Bearing a striking resemblance to Pippi Longstocking with her plait slung over her shoulder, Mary Foryszewski, reminded everyone what was happening in Cranleigh – and the multiple applications now sitting in Waverley’s in-box awaiting decisions on more of its green fields! She too dared to question 5,000 objections saying she’d had only received 15 objections personally whereas she had received hundreds in relation to the application for Amlets Lane!
Pippi ticked off, one by one, the positives for granting permission reminding everyone s that they had voted in favour of the Council’s draft Local Plan of which Dunsfold Park was a crucial part.
£46 million in return for 1800 homes compared to £3 million from Berkeley Homes for 425 was “totally, totally ridiculous” and it would be madness to ignore DP’s “massive contribution towards the borough’s infrastructure and economy. She said – “The key question is ” If not there, where? Do we open up the Greenbelt and start building there?” Dunsfold Park offers an opportunity to protect our green fields and belt in Cranleigh and Farnham and we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today if we had given this scheme the go-ahead in 2009!”
Councillor Peter Martin agreed saying he was “impressed” with the size and suitability of the site, it being previously developed brownfield land. It had been included in the emerging local plan only recently approved by the Council. If this site, as had been claimed, was “unsustainable,” then he demanded someone show him a site that was!
All-at-Sea bourne put up a good showing for beleaguered Bramley but By-Pass Byham, who has proudly supported the expansion of St Catherine’s 700 pupil school, could not understand why a bus service to be provided by DP ‘in perpetuity’ was needed and wished the existing bus stop could also be … By-Passed/moved too.
Stephen Mulliner – said this was the most significant decision the Council had taken since he joined it in 2007 saying the site, albeit a contentious one, had rightly been included in the list of strategic sites. But, he wanted the decision deferred until the Local Plan was adopted – or not! Clearly a man who prefers to do bugger all and keep moving the goal posts until all concerned are worn down and then out! Grasping at straws he dared to suggest that his response to Pippi’s question,of, ‘If not there, where?’ he responded – “Nowhere!” Dear God!
He bemoaned the rise of White Vans on borough’s roads as more and more people buy on-line. How dare they?
Councillor Grey – sadly, no Christian Grey he! – feared councillors were trying to justify a view taken in the Local Plan. Saying – “What’s the rush?” – What’s the rush? Was he serious? Apparently so! No one, in their right mind, should ask that after a 10-year wait for a decision on this site’s future!
He claimed the site was a green site because it “looked green,” and not brown. So please stop telling him it was brownfield! OK, we give in! But sadly you’re not fit to hold the office of Councillor if you cannot grasp the facts. Only a week earlier he was expounding the merits of building two houses in ancient woodland in the countryside outside Dunsfold village completely ignoring officers’ strong advice to – refuse!
Councillor Jim Edwards boomed his sympathies to residents of the East of the Borough. “But we have to build houses somewhere and this is a brownfield site! He felt sorry for Cranleigh because the Council should have agreed to build homes at Dunsfold Park in 2009 and if they had maybe Cranleigh wouldn’t be in the position it is now. People need to stop complaining about more traffic. Farnham is a disaster as far as traffic is concerned.
Anal De’Anus wanted to go back to his original questions regardless of the fact that they already been roundly routed. And, ye Gods, he said he had other points he wanted to raise! Clearly the man was hoping to wear everyone down and out!
He wanted to save the runways and perimeter tracks for heritage purposes. Grasping at straws or what?! twittered on about it being wrong to make a decision with a heritage application underway. You had to give it to him, he was certainly trying – very trying! Poor Pippi, sitting behind him, was clearly exasperated and other Councillors were suppressing their yawns! After droning on , oblivious, of everyone around him he quoting directly from the PoW website about the height of the Angel of the North and comparing it unfavourably with the height of the proposed buildings on Dunsfold Park.
Apparently, Fifty Shades of – doesn’t want low paid jobs at DP. He wants high-end jobs instead. Is he completely unaware that highly paid executives don’t want to commute miles to work. Captains of Industry, by their very nature, work long hours and resist a long commute at the end of a long day. What’s he suggesting – they helicopter in and out?
No truer word was spoken than by the Councillor Hyman who wryly remarked, “We’d get no development whatsoever if we take our steer from local people!”
It must be said, Waverley and SCC’s officers – loads of them – were at the top of their game. It isn’t often that Waverley Web praises Waverley Borough Council but, credit where it’s due.
Now they must continue to work to ensure this historic decision provides the borough with an exemplary home/ work settlement of which the borough can be proud.