So said Shula Hebden Lloyd, with exquisite timing, in Thursday’s edition of The Archers, as PoW & the Parishes filed into the stalls of the public gallery for their moment in the spotlight. Needless to say many of the other 120,000 Waverley residents… were out earning a living! The rest obviously support development.
The usual suspects were present and, with one notable exception, not one of them was under 70! And… we suspect they all owned their own homes!! A special prize for guessing which objector this was!
Now we know our readers – many of whose bums were on seats in the aforementioned stalls – wait eagerly to see whether they made the cut and get a mention here but, in the interests of keeping brevity, many will be disappointed. Why? Because, most of the arguments were the same old, same old from the same old, same old – with the emphasis on the OLD! The young, those who actually need homes, were slaving away at work trying to earn enough for a deposit!
Our spider, busy spinning in the Bury’s ceiling was struck by the locals’ sun-kissed complexions. Obviously they don’t spend as much time in the borough as they would have the Inspector believe. Incy-Wincy had never seen so many shades of Cuprinol and Ray Bans outside a St Tropez beach in mid-August!
One ‘lady’, said she represented Ifold, Loxwood & Plaistow parishes and was offended that none of the QCs was remotely inclined to question her so was reduced to challenging, them – somewhat aggressively – over their lack of interest! Clearly, she’d psyched herself up for her 15-minutes of fame and was determined to revel in the moment! It was left to Rumpole – he of the ‘silken tongue,’ if The Stinch was to be believed, – to put her out of her misery and make a few minor enquiries, purely as a matter of good manners you understand.
Gordon MacLean, President of Shalford Cricket Club, was next up. Suffice to say Mr MacLean was worried about recovering his balls – cricket balls, that is!
Alexander Cresswell who, in his Gallery bio, describes himself as ‘an internationally acclaimed artist with a natural fluency with his medium which, coupled with his extraordinary knowledge of architecture and history,..’. clearly thought he knew a thing or two about views and architecture – all entirely self-taught too! Get the picture – no pun intended? Mr Cresswell, who also likes the sound of his own voice, didn’t have anything new to say, just the same old, same old, that he trotted out at the last Inquiry. His dad, the late Sir Michael, would have been horrified by his son’s NIMBY attempt to preserve ‘his’ view from six miles away. When Sir M chaired Waverley’s planning committee, he backed new homes around the borough for those who are now objecting to others who want the same opportunity.
Sarah Sullivan, a self-confessed/self-serving conservationist and designer who wants to preserve Dunsfold Aerodrome’s runways in aspic then took the stage. According to leaks from ‘YW’ officers, Ms Sullivan couldn’t afford to live in the borough but had a lucky break when she netted an old agricultural building in her parents front garden that was ripe for conversion. Waverley Planners objected but a Hascombe councillor fell for Ms Sullivan’s hard-up-hard-luck story and supported her application. Lo-and-behold, she now lives in the very desirable village of Hascombe. But, having achieved her own ambition of a des-res in Waverley, she wants to pull up the drawbridge so no one else can emulate her.
But the person who really takes the juice is OJ. OJ’s naturally oleaginous persona fell away to reveal the nasty under-belly of PoW & the Parishes when, speaking on behalf of Chiddingfold, Hambledon and Hascombe, he not once but twice referred to Dunsfold Park’s proposal to build a new village as the creation of a ‘SINK ESTATE’!
Begging your pardon, Charles William Orange Esq, but we can’t all live in 18th Century Grade II Listed, six-bedroom splendour with an in / out drive! With an awe-inspiring lack of self-awareness, OJ went on to complete the image of the well-to-do middle-class smugness of Waverley’s worried wealthy by referring to the fact that he was only sorry the Inspector had missed the opportunity to see local roads at their most congested because the schools were now all closed for the holidays …
The fee-paying private sector schools that Charles William Orange Esq and his cohorts patronise might have closed but the state schools that serve those who will be living on the so-called Dunsfold Park ‘SINK ESTATE’ are still open!
Tell us, OJ – ‘cos we’re all dying to know – as a director of Buchanan Real Estate Plc, Grosvenor Waterside Developments and Millbay Developments whose lawns have you been parking your concrete mixers on? As a well known local NIMBY, we assume it must be some other poor sod’s back yard!
Patrick Molyneux, (Bramley Parish Council), was nothing short of a swivel-eyed sensationalist in his oratory. His pitch became increasingly hysterical and in a tone reminiscent of the voice-over for a B-List horror movie, he actually admitted to, ‘Not having the facts …’ Never was a truer word spoken!
Predictably, both Anthony Isaacs, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and Clive Smith, of Surrey Hills AONB, were opposed to the development. Although it’s hard to take the pair of them seriously when they’re known locally as ‘Rent-A-View’. In a nutshell, their views / opinions are varied and variable … and for sale to the highest bidder. It’s a well known fact, much sniggered over locally, that having objected consistently, repeatedly and vociferously to Lakshmi Mittal’s proposals to build a £30 million country pile with two huge towers, resembling oast houses, slap-bang in the middle of the Surrey Hills AONB, despite all their posturing, they rolled over when presented with a hefty cheque by the steel magnate billionaire. Just goes to show, everyone’s got their price and the Dunsfold Developer just needs to take a leaf out of Mittal’s book and up his offer!
Clive Smith droned on … and on … causing Councillor John Gray to doze off while others stifled their yawns. When asked by Rumpole if he had attended the Local Plan Inquiry. Mr Smith said, without even a smidgeon of irony, that he found it, very frustrating having to sit and listen to other people’s views! And this after the Chamber had sat listening to Mr Smith’s views for nigh on half an hour! Oh to see ourselves as others see us …
Paul Osborne, from Hydestile, who, having made a nice life for himself and his family in Waverley, doesn’t want anyone else to. He’s firmly in favour of pulling up the drawbridge too, and he roundly chided the Dunsfold Developer for not offering suitable employment for his son, a biologist. ‘Where’s he going to work? he sneered, ‘Cranleigh Freight?’ Why so disparaging, Mr Osborne? What’s wrong with working for Cranleigh Freight? A family owned business that grew from a kitchen table start-up to a 250-employee enterprise is a local company that the borough is justly proud of. But, clearly, that’s not good enough for Mr Osborne’s son! The Waverley Web is no expert on the businesses at Dunsfold Park but if Mr Osborne had taken the trouble to read the Dunsfold Planning application he might have noticed that there are a diverse range of companies based at Dunsfold Park, including fuel cell technology and bio-waste solutions. Maybe, just maybe, the clue’s in the name?
At the end of his tirade, Mr Osborne announced he was moving! We’ve said it before and, no doubt, we’ll say it again before this Inquiry is over,
You couldn’t make it up!
Paul Sutcliffe declared that he’d been accosted in Waitrose, only yesterday, by a local landowner who had land for 100 houses that he’d been begging ‘YW’ to consider, and, there were dozens more like him. Sadly, like so many before him, Mr Sutcliffe didn’t get the irony of his statement. The reason local landowners like Waitrose Man can’t interest the Council in their land is because people like Mr Sutcliffe will be the first to object when Waitrose Man actually puts in a planning application to build 100 homes!
Then came Ceceila Sanders, a breath of fresh air! Not only did she wish to speak in favour of the Dunsfold Park project but she spoke briefly and succinctly, pointing out that, in her view, Dunsfold Park presented a very real opportunity to ‘protect our Waverley’.
The Inspector, who has demonstrated a light touch and a well-honed sense of humour throughout the first week of the Inquiry, expressed the hope that Ms Sanders would not need a bodyguard as she left the Chamber!