OH WOE, WOE AND DOUBLE WOE!
Inspector Bore made his views very clear at the end of the first week of his Inquiry into Waverley Borough Council’s now, not-quite-so-daft looking, Draft Local Plan. And he left no room for equivocation in that, given a choice between having a home and being stuck for a few more minutes in traffic on the A3, he knows what his choice – and the Government’s choice – will be!
Cue deeply indrawn breaths from all those present in the Waverley Council Chamber who are opposed to more development!
Inspector Bore also made it very clear that Waverley’s housing numbers will need to increase!
Cue another collective intake of breath from the anti-development-brigade, spear-headed by Protect Our Waverley (who else?!) and the Man from CPRE (well he would, wouldn’t he?!).
Inspector Bore indicated that Waverley does not have a five-year housing supply and concurred with the view of a ‘housing forum’, made up of interested developers, that the Council simply cannot rely on a 100% achievement rate because, not only is that undeliverable but unreasonable.
A: Because no one ever gets a score of 100 / 100. Ergo, Waverley’s housing numbers will have to go up.
Graham Parrott – looking as sick as one – gamely tabled a plan designed to demonstrate how constrained the borough of Waverley is in development terms but Inspector Bore was having none of it. He told the Chamber that Waverley was not nearly as constrained as either Guildford or Woking … Oh, and by the way, Waverley’s going to have to take 50% of Woking’s unmet need!
Forget indrawn breaths, at this point the POW collective nearly choked on theirs! Had they really heard that right? 50%? They thought they had enough to worry over where Waverley was planning to put its existing numbers and now they’re expected to take 50% of another borough’s unmet need! This was beyond their worst nightmares!
But Inspector Bore was in a benevolent mood; he assured those assembled in the Council Chamber that he wasn’t there to hinder them but to help them get their plan adopted. And, in order to help him to help them, the planners needed to go away and think about how and where they might accommodate their – and Woking’s – increased housing need.
Our spider, nearly strangled itself in its own web hanging from the public gallery as it frantically tried to do the arithmetic on the back of an envelope, as the day progressed, and reckoned, by the end of it, the numbers are going to be not far south of 600 per annum!
Had they been on hand this was the point that the stretchers would have been rushed into the Council Chamber … but Inspector Bore hadn’t finished. He had some hints, some helpful suggestions, as to how Waverley might go about opening their door to the developers and rolling out the red carpet. Elsewhere, he offered, planners had adopted a policy whereby they decided, all other things being equal, development would be acceptable if it was proposed adjacent to existing development …
It took a few moments for the import of his words to sink in but when they did the blood drained from the faces of those representing the Parish Councils and Protect Our Little Corner …
Was he really suggesting …? Did he honestly think …? Surely not …? He could not possibly mean …
Yep, they got there … eventually! The Inspector was giving Waverley Planners a prod in the ribs – and the Parish Councils and Protect Our Little Corner a massive punch in the gut!
He was actually daring to propose the previously unimaginable: that the villages – and, yes, that’s all of the villages (even the oh, so precious, we are an isolated rural idyll and therefore an exceptional case, villages of Alfold and Dunsfold, Shamley Green, Wonersh, Ewhurst, Elstead, Milford and on it goes around Farnham ) – will have to take more houses!
Yes, that means every last damn one of them – even the oh-so-precious, we are an isolated rural idyll and therefore an exceptional case villages of Alfold and Dunsfold! It means Alfold, Bramley, Busbridge, Chiddingfold, Compton, Cranleigh, Dunsfold, Enton, Ewhurst, Godalming, Hambledon, Hascombe, Hydestile, Milford, Munstead, Shalford, Witley, Wonersh and everywhere in between.
Not one of them is going to escape unscathed, untouched and any protestations about congestion on the A281 are, we have no doubt, going to be met with the same brisk rebuttal that was delivered with regard to congestion on the A3: both Inspector Bore and the Government consider delivering homes more important than a couple of minutes additional delay on the daily commute!
So, there you have it folks, unless someone, somewhere can pinpoint a large, empty, brownfield site that’s going begging – and, let’s face it, there aren’t too many of those around, are there? – all of the villages are going to have to take a far greater number of houses than they previously imagined – even in their worst nightmares! So much for Protect Our Little Corner’s dastardly plan to push it all onto Cranleigh and Farnham. It would appear to be blowing up in their faces for the Inspector has them in his sights.
Stand by your beds!!! In the Second World War they dug up the cricket pitches to plant vegetables … in 2018 they might be digging them up to pour concrete!
PS Our advice to local Councillors this week-end:
Take the landline off the hook, switch off your mobile phone and ignore your email because when Wild-of-Waverley gets wind of development on their doorstep they’re not going to be pleased. But it’s not Richard Shut-the-Gates, Robert Know-less and Mary Orton-Pett and all those Cranleigh Councillors who did/didn’t attend secret meetings – the architects of this developing disaster (no pun intended – oh, ok, maybe just a little one!) they’ll be ringing to berate. Oh no, they’re yesterday’s (wo)men. Between them that lot triumvirate have done untold damage to the Borough with their insistence that Waverley, on their watch, behave as if it were an island, a special case, a forbidden fruit where developers crossed the borough line at their peril. Now their chickens look as if they’re coming home to roost, thanks to all those Cranleigh councillors who did/didn’t attend those “secret meetings.” However, it’s not Shut-the-Gate, Know-less and Mrs MOP the residents will be ringing, its poor old – and those are words we never thought we’d hear ourselves say – Gone-to-Potts and that Dick D’Anus!
PPS Our advice to local would-be-developers:
Pull out those old plans to develop on greenfields and gardens, dust them off and totter down to the hallowed halls of The Burys where Liz-the-Biz-Simms and her planners will greet you with open arms – unfortunately, the red carpet’s not an option due to ‘elf and safety concerns … But never mind, there’s much to celebrate if you’re a would-be-developer in Waverley, cos there’s a Concrete Fest coming to a field, in a village, near all of us!