Here’s the latest message from Cranleigh’s ‘former rather weary watchdog’ that suddenly appears to have a new lease of life. But, as Cranleigh sits on the cusp of becoming Waverley’s fourth town, is it now too late to save its rural character?
The Committee of Cranleigh Civic Society announced this week that it has been strengthened and energised to fight the growing avalanche of proposed housing.
In the wake of the adoption of ‘Your Waverley’s’ Local Plan, far be it for us at the Waverley Web to want to pee on anyone’s fireworks, but isn’t it all over bar a lot of shouting? 41 councillors voted for – one was against – and three councillors abstained! All Cranleigh members voted for the plan, which will undoubtedly lead to yet more housing in Cranleigh. But then, why wouldn’t they?
Most of them were taking part in secret meetings with developers and planning officers long before the ink was even dry on the Daft Local Plan to determine just where thousands of new homes on the countryside would go! And, as one Cranleigh councillor, the late Brian Ellis, stated at the time – Cranleigh shops need more footfall!’ Now those same councillors actually believe an adopted local plan will minimise the harm! Do they? Do they really? Whilst most of them were busy opposing development at Dunsfold Aerodrome, believing Cranleigh should become a New Town, they were also busy meeting with developers, even in their own homes, planning Cranleigh’s demise. They should be careful what they wish for – soon they may get the worst of both worlds!
The new man heading the CCS, Terry Stewart, was Chair, then President, of Dorset CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) for eight years. Whilst there he was faced with the threat of housing developments throughout the Poole and Bournemouth Green Belt so lead a team of six villages and communities to defeat the proposals. This included MPs speaking to a demonstration outside Parliament and a procession to Downing Street to present a petition to the Prime Minister (see photo). The proposals were defeated – as were plans for a new village at Lytchett Minster. (See photos below).
It says experience shows that attacks on the Green Belt and unprotected beautiful countryside can only be defeated if there is a strong, professional team leading an active, widespread community with clear objectives. So the new Civic Society Team includes a retired Solicitor, two experts on building and infrastructure, an insurance expert and environmental and wildlife specialists – meeting on a fortnightly basis or more often if needed.
The society understand that villagers may believe that, whatever they feel, the Council and Government will do whatever they want to do, but the successes referred to above demonstrate that these battles CAN be won! Apathy only plays into their hands – do you really want this to happen?
It claims, ‘CRANLEIGH IS UNDER AN INCREASING THREAT FROM DEVELOPERS – changing your quality of life and the Cranleigh we know and love.’ Since 2014, Waverley Borough Council has approved the building of over 1,300 houses in Cranleigh. Think for a moment the huge impact this will have on the A281, our B-roads and country lanes, our already overloaded and inadequate sewage treatment works and the crumbling infrastructure – and the increased flooding risk. Also, please remember that we are the only main settlement in Waverley without a railway station.
Despite all this, more and more new planning applications are regularly being received.
Just a few days ago we heard that Dunsfold Park is virtually assured of being given approval for 2,600 new houses – and that is just the beginning! Just think of all those extra cars entering and using the A281.
We have heard credible accounts of a developer acquiring “options to buy” large tracts of land down Knowle Lane – is the idea for Cranleigh and Dunsfold to merge? Are we to become another Crawley?
Or does the Waverley Web dare to suggest … Crandun-for!
Cranleigh Civic Society needs YOUR support so please visit our website – www.cranleighsociety.org – Facebook and Twitter links and join our membership. We are working hard on YOUR behalf to protect our very special village, its environment, and wildlife.