On day one of an eight-day public inquiry a Government Inspector was warned by Thakeham Homes it would be asking for its thumping great legal bill to land in ‘Your Waverley’s lap – or in other words – our laps!
Despite having seven days to go it was immediately evident that Thakeham’s appeal against Waverley’s refusal to allow a ‘Urban Village’ of almost 500 homes to be bolted onto the rural idyll of Alfold is hanging on the coattails of … the Big D.
The appeal on proposed development of 1,800 homes at Dunsfold airfield went before a Government Inspector on the same day!
No not a BOGOF! Or two for the price of one! The ratepayers are dishing the dosh in bucketfuls.
WOW! A couple of legal and highway ‘experts’ from ‘YW’ were lined up against the might of 14 Thakeham legal eagles headed by David Elvin QC before Government Inspector Richard Clegg in Cranleigh on Tuesday. It kicked off with ‘poor old Waverley’ learning it may need deep pockets if the Inspector heeds its call to fund Thakeham’s appeal team. The developer even had lackeys heaving a small mountain of paperwork!
It was soon apparent that Surrey County Council’s ‘B’ Team was fighting Alfold’s corner as the A Team was otherwise engaged at the Dunsfold Inquiry being played out on Godalming’s stage, see report below! You couldn’t Adam and Eve it could you? Even the Inspector was perplexed to hear that objectors, including the Cranleigh Civic Society and Protect Our Little Corner of Waverley, were going to race between hearings to give their two pennorth !
Suffice to say – Thakeham appears convinced Dunsfold will be approved and will provide the employment, and most likely the infrastructure necessary to enable its scheme on Sachel Court’s green and pleasant agricultural land to be deemed, sustainable, by the Inspector.
WHY? To Save Care-Ashore, the Seaman’s Charity that is on its beam-end and heading for the rocks, and trouser tens of millions in the process?
Thakeham’s QC said improved cycle and footpaths would lead from the Springbok development (a critical mass) into nearby Dunsfold Park where, Waverley’s Local Plan predicted, there would be 2,330 full-time jobs housed in 68,866 sq metres of employment space.
According to several attendees who kindly informed us that – (WW was, as usual, hanging from a web above the head honchos at the Dunsfold Inquiry) Mr Elvin annihilated the poor beleaguered B team highway officer from Surrey County Council (we here at WW have resisted calling him an ‘expert’ in the interest of honesty! (SCC’s) Richard Cooper was chewed up and spat out by Thakeham’s QC for being unable to provide any material evidence of what was, or was not, sustainable in highway transport terms. Could not provide the Inspector with reasons why it, and it alone, must handle any funds from third parties for bus service provision, or provide reasons why was piecemeal developments in Alfold supported, including: Wyevale Garden Centre’s (27) Sweeters’ Copse (55); Brockhurst Farm (35) as ‘sustainable’ in transport terms, but Springbok wasn’t?
Could other developers provide infrastructure – schools; shops; a care home; bus services, he asked?
As ‘ Cooper wriggled and squirmed, prevaricared and stumbled, even the Inspector reached for a glass of water!
To be continued…
Meanwhile back at Waverley Towers…
THEY’RE OFF …
The usual suspects rocked up for day one of the Public Inquiry into the Council’s decision to grant outline planning consent for 1800 homes at Dunsfold Aerodrome.
Some were overheard musing about a sense of déjà vu and well they might for two of the four QCs representing the major parties have been there, done that and have the t-shirts to prove it.
In the Brown Corner, on behalf of the Dunsfold Developer, Christopher Katkowski QC and in the Green Corner, on behalf of Protect our Little Corner & the Parishes, we have Paul Stinchcombe QC, both veterans of the last Inquiry into Dunsfold Park.
Indeed, Mr Stinchcombe, who bears a striking resemblance to David Rintoul – in his Mr Darcy Days – seemed to be having some trouble putting the last Inquiry behind him but that could be something to do with him having won it! Given that his entire argument appears to be based on the question of sustainability, he might have been forgiven for dropping the word ‘unsustainable’ into his opening speech once or twice … maybe even three or four times but 144 times?! OK, so we might be exaggerating – just a little! – but our spider with lots of legs , lost count! Maybe The Stinch thought if he said ‘unsustainable’ enough times he might hypnotise the Inspector into believing him …
Talking of the Inspector, there was another character straight out of Central Casting! He’s the spitting image of Sir Tony Robinson, of Black Adder fame. Whilst Mr Katkowski might, in candlelight, be mistaken for Rumpole of the Bailey!
The public gallery was full of the usual suspects – at least those who could be spared from t’other Inquiry, mentioned above, Our Alfold correspondent said he was somewhat surprised, given how regularly Thakeham Homes reference Dunsfold Park and their apparent reliance on a new settlement there, that the two Inquiries are being run concurrently. Rumours abound that Waverley BC decided to divide and conquer the opposition to both schemes but, given the Council has no say in the timing of Inquiries, this can reliably be dismissed as a cockup rather than conspiracy.
Most of those at the Dunsfold Park Inquiry are a little greyer – where they’re not a little balder! – a little grimmer and a whole lot more tired than they were back in 2009.
PoW and the Parishes were up to their usual tricks, not content with being a Rule 6 party (that’s interested parties with a substantive case to make), the Parish Council Chairmen want a second bite of the cherry and are demanding they each be given a speaking spot. The public gallery was half empty after the coffee break and three-quarters empty when the Inquiry resumed after lunch. We predict it will be utterly deserted if the Parishes are let loose on the poor unsuspecting public. Anyone who missed Alan Drone’s (oops! We mean Alan Ground) spiel last time is in for a … well, let’s not go there. Suffice to say, he likes the sound of his own voice and hasn’t yet cottoned on to the fact that he’s the only one that does!
Quote of the day on the Dunsfold Inquiry goes to The Stinch who announced in suitably sombre tones: “Once made this decision cannot be unmade.” No shit, Sherlock! The challenge now is for tomorrow’s observer to come up with words of wisdom that will rival today’s!!! No pressure there then …
To be continued…