TIME TO SAY GOODBYE!
So said Rumpole (AKA Christopher Katkowski QC) when speaking of his client’s and their proposal to build 1800 homes at Dunsfold Aerodrome.
The Public Gallery at Waverley Borough Council was full to bursting on the last day of the Public Inquiry into the Dunsfold Park planning application.
The Stinch – speaking on behalf of his clients, PoW & the Parishes, made much of the fact that his clients represented 20,000 residents. As with much of his argument, in his closing submissions both he and his clients stretched the truth so far Incy Wincy, from his position – somewhat precariously balanced in the coving of
the chamber – was astonished that their noses didn’t grow like Pinocchio’s! Though of course, he did tell one very significant TRUTH AT LAST – that DUNSFOLD PARK IS PREVIOUSLY DEVELOPED LAND – ERGO; IT IS A BROWNFIELD SITE!
Rumpole, with supreme dignity and just a hint of sarcasm, dispelled the myth put forward that everyone in Waverley was against the scheme when he spoke of ‘the silent majority.’ Those, who, unlike the worried-well-to-do (all 30 odd of them) packed into Waverley’s stalls had jobs to go to, and a crust to earn?
Lynch The Stinch!
The Stinch, spoke at length – boy, did he go on and on for TWO whole hours!!! Incy reckons he had a bet on with his Junior as to how many times he could mention the word ‘unsustainable’ in his closing arguments.
Both Rumpole and Waverley BC’s barrister, Wayne Beglan – succinctly argued much of The Stinch’s rhetoric was refutable. Rumpole even wondered aloud, “If the Rule 6 Parties have not been here as their case unravelled?” Now that was a bit below the belt – albeit entirely justified!
The ladies who lunch obviously turned down invitations to lunch instead cheered on the Stinch, from the sidelines. The stalls awash with florals, and gummy smiles, sage nods and gentle “Hear, hear’s” accompanied much of his performance and when, at last, he reached the end of his perorations, there was a resounding round of applause from the local ladies.
Everyone was in dire need of a strong, black, coffee by the time The Stinch wrapped up! – PoW’s clash & clout brigade shimmied over and attempted to cosy up to the Dunsfold Developer – by which, we mean, representatives of Trinity College Cambridge, who turned up for the finalé. It was two-faced smiles all round as, we assume, Messrs Britten & Lees (POW) tried to explain their case to one of the wealthiest institutions in the country, “No, hard feelings, old boys. But could you just go and develop in some other borough; how about where you come from – Cambridge, isn’t it?”
Incy found it kind of odd that neither Charles William Orange Esq (AKA OJ) nor Nik Pidgeon (AKA Not-in-my-Columbier) was present. Two of the key architects of PoW & the Parishes’ case have not been seen in public since they were outed as Nimby Developers who, having spent years parking their concrete mixers in other peoples’ back yards now want to move in on their own patch and dig up the village greens of Awfold and Hascombe. KERCHING! Apparently, no pigeons flew into the Springbok Inquiry?
Strange that? Should we, instead, start digging up their patios – oops! Pardon us! We should say terraces as, clearly, Charles William Orange Esq wouldn’t have anything so pedestrian as a patio at his Grade II Listed Georgian des res!
Maybe, the police should be putting out an All Points Bulletin for Messrs Orange and Pidgeon just in case they’ve been lynched by a mob of angry Alfold residents …
Thankfully ‘YW’s Mr Beglan, made by far the better and, thankfully, shorter speech, which, – unsurprisingly – didn’t go down nearly so well with the noises off.
LESS IS MORE
The Inspector was forced to remonstrate with the worried-well-to-do at one point when they began to chortle derisively at one of Mr Beglan’s remarks. Clearly, they left their manners in reception. Suffice to say, Mr B’s closing submissions ran for less than an hour and were all the better for it – definitely, a case of less is more!
By the time Rumpole’s spoke for the Big D, the stalls had thinned out considerably. Perhaps the worried-well-to-do had taken umbrage at the Inspector’s ticking-off or maybe they just weren’t interested in listening to “the evidence and the facts,” which, Rumpole insisted, “must prevail over fantasy and fiction!”
He asked the Inspector; “To report to the Secretary of State based on the evidence you have heard. I say this because the Rule 6 Parties’ closing submissions, characteristically and literally, completely ignore the many concessions made in Cross Examination by their witnesses on a host of fundamental matters. It is as if the weeks between the Rule 6 Parties’ opening and closing submissions never happened. But they did! It is as if the Rule 6 Parties have not been here as their case unravelled. But, rest assured, our closing submissions will be based on what actually happened at this Inquiry rather than blithely ignoring it!
For the evidence and facts must prevail over fantasy and fiction!”
Later Rumpole said, “We note that the Rule 6 Parties have, today, written to the Secretary of State, requesting his intervention, in the Local Plan process. Doubtless, the Council will be writing to the SoS to resist this, as will we. This is not the place to debate the lack of merit of their request, as it does not fall to you [the Inspector] to deal with it. I will simply say that the Rule 6 Parties’ letter is characteristically misleading and myopic!
Tellingly, he went on to say,
“There is a deep hypocrisy about the Rule 6 Parties’ case on sustainability. A village on this site [Dunsfold Park] with the mix of uses and facilities proposed, coupled with bus services which are to be secured in perpetuity, would be considerably more sustainable than any of the villages in the parishes represented at this inquiry. In effect, the objectors are objecting to residents in the new village living markedly more sustainably than they do. I had originally written a good deal more about the rank hypocrisy of the Rule 6 Parties and then decided that politeness should prevail over emotion. However, having now listened to the Rule 6 Parties’ closing repeatedly describe proposals as ones involving ‘the dumping’ of people’ and ‘sink estates’, I consider it only right to add a few words. To describe the proposals in this way is shocking! But the very fact that the Rule 6 Parties speak in such terms shows what the planning system has to grapple with and face down here in Waverley.
WILL THEY STOP AT NOTHING?
In common with Mr Beglan, Rumpole’s closing arguments were short and succinct and completely at odds with The Stinch’s 60MPH delivery But, as Rumpole stressed. His client’s case was a simple, straightforward one!
It was not a complex case and there was a “clear and easy route to the conclusion that permission should be granted.” In short and in summary, Rumpole stated, “There is a real sense of momentum in favour of our proposals. Their time has come.”
But has it? Only time will tell and it will be a nail-biting few months for all concerned whilst they await the Secretary of State’s decision.
Meanwhile, in case you’re thinking it’s nearly all over, it isn’t!! The Stinch is already threatening further legal challenges and much resistance on the part of PoW and the Parishes should the Secretary of State dare to rule against his clients! No change there then!
In the meantime hold onto your hard hats – and watch those HGV’s and earthmovers roll across our countryside!
The Waverley Web predicts even more public money going down the pan!