The men in grey suits could soon be on their way to ‘Your Waverley.’

threegents

WAVERLEY Borough Council faces an imminent threat of being placed in ‘special measures’ and having planning decisions taken out of its hands, as a consequence of it undermining the newly-made Farnham Neighbourhood Plan earlier this year.

 

welcome_developers

Your Waverley may welcome developers – but not enough!

In a report to the council’s executive committee on Tuesday – updating Waverley’s performance against Government targets for the ‘speed’ and ‘quality’ of determining planning applications – officers warned that should several appeals go against the council in coming months, its powers of determination could be withdrawn and handed to the Secretary of State.

The borough council’s current performance on speed of dealing with ‘major’ and ‘non-major’ applications is “excellent”, say officers, and its performance on ‘non-major’ appeals is “well within target”.

However, executive members voiced “grave concern” on Tuesday night about the authority’s impending failure to meet the government’s target for the number of major planning applications refused by the council but allowed at appeal.

Against a target threshold that no more than 10 per cent of major appeals should be allowed, Waverley’s record is currently 6.4 per cent.

But officers predict that, subject to the result of several appeals yet to be decided, and refusals not yet appealed, this figure could soon rise to 16 per cent in the “worst case scenario” breaching the Government target.

Pending appeals outlined by officers as putting Waverley at risk of special measures include plans to build:
• 157 homes in Waverley Lane, Farnham,
• 140 in Lower Weybourne Lane, Badshot Lea,
• 56 to the rear of Bindon House in Monkton Lane,
• 102 in Upper Old Park Lane, Folly Hill,
• 254 opposite the Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham Road,
• 43 at Baker Oates Stables in Gardener’s Hill Road,
• 97 on the site of Farnham Park Hotel in Hale Road, and
• 43 at Green Lane Farm, Badshot Lea.

With the exception of Tongham Road, each of the above appeals hinge on the weight afforded to the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan, which excludes the sites as either inappropriate for housing or for falling outside of Farnham’s Built-Up Area Boundary.

Waverley adopted the Farnham planning blueprint in late July after a huge 88 per cent of voters backed the plan in a referendum in May.

However, the borough council then undermined the document just weeks later when, announcing modifications to its own Local Plan, it proposed that Farnham find space for a further 450 new homes, requiring a possible early review of the Neighbourhood Plan.

It now appears Waverley’s decision, to cast doubt on the borough’s only up-to-date planning blueprint, could come back to haunt it should its major appeals target tip over 10 per cent as a result.

Addressing the damning report on Tuesday, Farnham Town Council leader Carole Cockburn highlighted the problems caused by Waverley’s decision to propose a review of the adopted Farnham Neighbourhood Plan.

“I assumed you were aware how important Farnham Neighbourhood Plan was in defence of appeals,” she said. “As soon as the Waverley executive declared the plan out of date within weeks of its being made, developers wrote to the Secretary of State, asking him to allow the three recovered appeals.

“Without the protection of a made neighbourhood plan, the developers claimed that the evidence was not convincing enough.”

Waverley’s performance was described as a “significant concern” by Liz Sims, the borough’s head of planning, who recommended more training workshops for councillors and officers and the need for councillors to “recognise and engage the presumption in favour of sustainable development” to avoid “unnecessary” refusals.

She also urged that Waverley’s new Local Plan should be progressed “as quickly as possible” to strengthen the council’s defence against harmful developments.

But hopes that Waverley will meet its timetable target of getting the first part of its Local Plan adopted in December, now look increasingly unlikely, after government inspector Jonathan Bore posed a new set of questions this month on the latest modifications to the plan, which have not yet been answered.

One question relating directly to Farnham, asks how Waverley can ensure the 450 houses on top of the 2,780 allocated for Farnham can be built, due to the timing of the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan review and Natural England’s objection the Local Plan does not identify enough mitigating land, or Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space.

It was also revealed at Tuesday’s meeting that Waverley has spent more than £500,000 fighting appeals against its planning decisions in the last two years alone – equivalent to 3.5 per cent of the council’s total budget for 2016/17. This includes £51,000 Waverley has been ordered to pay developers in costs for “behaving unreasonably”.

 

Waverley leader and Upper Hale councillor Julia Potts said: “To see more than £500,000 spent on defending appeals is absolutely horrendous and it’s partly because we don’t have a sound Local Plan.

“Hopefully we are well on the way to that now and can adopt one to ensure appropriate plan-led development. Think what all that money could have been spent on, such as services to vulnerable residents. We need to make sure we invest in planning services and officers. If we don’t we will continue to have issues. We must ensure the Local Plan is adopted as soon as possible.”

 

17 thoughts on “The men in grey suits could soon be on their way to ‘Your Waverley.’

  1. WW you are confusing me – Are you saying the only Appeals that are causing a problem are those listed above – In Farnham?
    Pending appeals outlined by officers as putting Waverley at risk of special measures include plans to build:
    • 157 homes in Waverley Lane, Farnham,
    • 140 in Lower Weybourne Lane, Badshot Lea,
    • 56 to the rear of Bindon House in Monkton Lane,
    • 102 in Upper Old Park Lane, Folly Hill,
    • 254 opposite the Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham Road,
    • 43 at Baker Oates Stables in Gardener’s Hill Road,
    • 97 on the site of Farnham Park Hotel in Hale Road, and
    • 43 at Green Lane Farm, Badshot Lea.
    Or are you only reporting on Farnham? – Please clarify
    I can read this 2 ways either Farnham are in trouble because of their local plan or they are just turning down too many applications because they want them in Cranleigh and DP
    Open to your comments but a bit confused
    DD( That is Dear Denise)

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    • We hope the comment below answers at least some of your very pertinent questions. However, as you so rightly say, it is all very confusing – and yes you are probably right in thinking that the planners have their eagle eye on the East – for all the reasons that were given at the Springbok Inquiry. The East just doesn’t have the environmental and habitat constraints that exist in and around Farnham. And, as far as we are aware, Cranleigh and none of the villages around have a Neighbourhood Plan. The main reason being, that they have all been overtaken by the shove and shunt brigade of developers who are lobbing in speculative planning applications rendering them useless.

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  2. Appeals from anywhere in Waverley would contribute to the percentage of major planning applications refused by the council but allowed at appeal.

    However, WBC’s recent undermining of the newly-made Farnham Neighbourhood Plan has opened the floodgates to a deluge of appeals to the Secretary of State from developers on applications in Farnham – see the comments from Farnham Town Council leader Carole Cockburn above.

    This is unique to Farnham, since only Farnham has had a previously made Neighbourhood Plan rejected by WBC recently.

    According to the report, this figure is currently 6.4 percent but WBC’s own ‘officers predict that, subject to the result of several appeals yet to be decided, and refusals not yet appealed, this figure could soon rise to 16 per cent in the “worst case scenario” breaching the Government target’ of 10 percent – which could result in WBC ‘being placed in ‘special measures’ and having planning decisions taken out of its hands, as a consequence of it undermining the newly-made Farnham Neighbourhood Plan earlier this year.’

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  3. It is a pity that no consideration has been given by the Government to Waverley’s loss of potential revenue from the infrastructure levy. Perhaps this is why Farnham is looking rundown and uncared for.

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  4. WW
    to Quote you……………..”The East just doesn’t have the environmental and habitat constraints that exist in and around Farnham……..”
    I am afraid the East Does… the difference is we don’t have GREENBELT because the East is predominantly Rural so the issue of needing Greenbelt has not arisen

    The Definition of Greenbelt is and I quote again
    “an area of open land around a city, on which building is restricted.”

    We have plenty of GREENFIELDS and plenty of Ancient Woodland which is being destroyed. What we DO NOT have is the Infrastructure that Farnham benefits from, such as good access to Trains, and Major Roads, we have an overstretched Medical Centre in Cranleigh and nearest Hospital in Guildford. The nearest Senior School is in Cranleigh and from what I have heard from people with children is it is already incredibly full. The A281 during Rush hour is congested (but then which roads aren’t?) The issue is that it is a Single Carriage road, so it simply takes a broken down vehical to cause chaos. At least Farnham residents can use Public transport to get to all the amenities you have in Farnham – that just simply isn’t an option here.

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  5. I know what you are referring to and I live in Hope – But somehow I think the Government are going to focus on those lines that were closed by Beeching that are link routes between major towns and cities

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  6. As I said – Live in Hope but not holding my breath!I dont know the story of the demise of Cranleigh Train station – or what land would be available to reconstruct the line – It could be of huge benefit to Cranleigh and neighbouring Villages and I would love it to happen – But I am still breathing

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  7. From Wikipdia
    “Studies of the feasibility of reopening the Guildford – Bramley – Cranleigh section of the line were completed in 1994, 1997 and 2009. The 1994 report concluded that the investment required would not justify reinstatement, but Waverley Borough Council has protected the line from development in its Local Plan. The 2009 report estimates that reopening the Guildford – Bramley – Cranleigh section would have a positive benefit-cost ratio of 1.7 to 1 including capital costs”
    I have no idea if that is good or bad!!

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    • We know you won’t want to hear it DD but the one man who wanted to contribute towards opening the Horsham to Guildford railway line was – Jim McAllister head of the Rutland Group and former owner of Dunsfold Park. Everyone rubbished the man a decade ago, including WBC, when the misguided fools rubbished his scheme, and used the ratepayers money to fight him at a costly public Inquiry. Its lack of vision has cost the Eastern part of the borough dearly. Building all over the countryside, and damn all contributions towards much needed infrastructure. The man was years ahead of his time. But if we at the WW were he, we would have nothing to do with sinking funds into the scheme now. Waverley’s lack of vision has brought all the chickens home to roost!

      If someone else comes up with JMcA’s plan now, we bet Bramley’s By-Pass Byham would do everything he could to stop it!

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  8. WW – Yes I do – I am not a complete ignoramous – But my knowledge is obviously lacking – Just didn’t know this.. so for that I thank you.. and apologise – I have a lot to learn and probably spout off too early – But I can only go on what I do know and I appreciate the info. It doesn’t change a lot of my views about development in unsustainable areas – We just maybe need to refocus on getting new Transport Infrastructure in the East to make these developments workable.
    It wont help with building on Floodplains (oh they aren’t are they??) It won’t stop lack of community infrastructure. It won’t stop the apathy that people feel because they are so worn down by these applications…
    I don’t know what the answer is apart from fighting for each one depending upon the local voice and their local knowledge.
    Best
    DD – Honestly can’t you give me better Name??? I promise I am not over 50 (well a bit)

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  9. You cannot be expected to know everything about the local scene, Denise, and we have a lot to learn too!
    Building on areas that flood should be FORBIDDEN. There is no excuse, and if the shove and shunt brigade had been given the cold shoulder instead of being welcomed into all those ‘Secret Meetings’ in the early days of the Local Plan then more suitable sites could/would have been chosen, and all would be well.

    We fully understand why the public are so apathetic, and we agree, they are worn down. But there will be a By-election in Godalming on the 13th December so perhaps people will wake up and vote.

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    • I wish him the best of luck – unfortunately he will probably be swamped by Tory dogma as per Jerry Hyman. Keep fighting Jerry, you have a lot of support throughout the Borough.

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      • Jerry – You certainly do!! The only one on the Exec meeting that made a point of wanting the Audit Meetings to be Webcast! What does that say?????

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