Now even Farnham Town and Waverley Borough Councillor Carole Cockburn is throwing her toys out of the pram as the long-awaited demolition of Blightwells begins! But she is angry, and when Our Carole gets angry she roars!
Because most of the redevelopment of Blightwells in East Street by the poisoned partnership of ‘Your Waverley,’ Surrey County Council and Surrey County Council has been drafted on the back of a fag packet, using tens of millions of our money – developer Crest Nicholson has had to change tack.
WAVERLEY councillors recently gave Crest permission to build a larger temporary construction access bridge connecting the East Street redevelopment site to the A31 Farnham bypass – controversially using a ‘haul road’ along Borelli Walk.
Charles Borelli, the famous town architect the walk was named after, must be spinning in his grave?
The decision, agreed by Waverley’s joint planning committee, gives Crest leave to construct a two-lane, 12-metre wide prefabricated steel bridge across the River Wey and Borelli Walk – replacing the single-lane, five-metre wide bridge approved in 2012.
The bridge forms a pre-commencement condition of Crest’s 2012 planning permission for Brightwells, which councillors demanded in a bid to take construction traffic away from the town centre.
Waverley leader and Upper Hale councillor Julia Potts said the bridge, “has always been a red line and remains that today,” while planning officers also “reminded” councillors that, as the principle of taking construction access from the A31 has already been established, it would be “unreasonable” to reject Crest’s latest application, resulting only in a less desirable construction access and increased tailbacks on the A31.
Most councillors accepted this view, because they are heartily sick and tired of hearing the word Blightwells and are demob happy as many will be leaving the council in their droves next year. Haslemere’s Stephen Mulliner, tried to curtail the debate (there’s a lot of that about at ‘Your Waverley 2018!- in particular the exhaustive objections of Farnham Residents member Jerry Hyman, who expressed concern at the proposed lane closures on the A31 to facilitate the bridge works., and a potential clash with the 2021 opening of Brightwells.
Shock, horror all around when it was revealed that Crest now proposes building the bridge using a temporary ‘haul road’, complete with a site office along the picturesque Borelli Walk from South Street – despite the developer admitting in 2012 that the haul road would have a “highly damaging impact” on the character and amenity of Borelli Walk and South Street!
Waverley’ planners (we use the word sparingly because there is little or no planning going on in ‘Your Waverley” these days, failed to stipulate how the bridge should be constructed in 2012 – which now allows the developer’s stooges, council planning officers, to decide that if it’s alright with them to establish a haul road through the discharging of conditions under delegated powers. then it’s OK!
Not so said Carole Cockburn, Farnham Town Council’s leader a member of both the 2012 and the present planning committees. She took umbrage that this key decision had been taken without councillors’ express consent!
Whoops – another one who realises there is a borough election next year?
She told members: “When this came forward and I saw that as a result of the discharge of a condition the haul road along Borelli Walk was established my heart did sink. I’ve got no problem with a two-lane bridge at all, in fact, I wonder why it wasn’t done before. But when we granted consent for the bridge [in 2012], I think we all imagined that it would be built from the East Street site – I don’t think any of us imagined that we would go down Borelli Walk.
Borelli Walk holds special significance in the town, not only because it is “one of the most attractive walks in Farnham” – as stated on Waverley’s own website – but also because it was opened in 1953 to honour the great 20th-century town architect Charles Borelli.
TheWalks boasts commemorative benches and ornamental trees donated by members of the public – many of which are to be removed or “pruned” to make way for the haul road. It is also opposite Homepark House, a block of sheltered flats located just 30 metres from the proposed bridge.
ONE MAN’S MEMORIAL TREE TO ‘YOUR WAVERLEY’ IS ANOTHER MAN’S CHAINSAW MASSACRE OPPORTUNITY!
“I’m sorry, I cannot believe this is acceptable, I really can’t,”Councillor Cockburn cried. “Yes you can re-plant the trees, but if somebody’s donated the tree in memory of somebody, a special person, and we’re going to hack it up to bring a couple of lorries down there – I just cannot support this.”
Her outrage was backed by Bramley’s By-Pass Byham shared her concern that the “desecration” of Borelli Walk had been agreed behind councillors’ backs!
Farnha’s former Mayor Councillor John Ward, said: “The whole point of this bridge was to avoid destruction of Borelli Walk. The haul road is an appalling idea, it should not be considered and I beg councillors to throw this out.”
But, needless to say, they didn’t and they won’t because this Conservative administration has pinned its colours to the Crest Nicholson mast, and it can do anything, just anything including killing off all the bats, because it’s called …
P R O G R E S S
Almost 40 trees have already been cut down to make way for the bridge, but officers reassured members that only one further tree – a cedar – is set to be removed in Borelli Walk, with several others including two lime trees flanking South Street set to be pruned and protected with temporary fencing, and three hawthorns coppiced.
No surprise there then – we all know what Betty Boot aka Liz Simms said when Crest Nicholson needed to remove ancient woodland in the east of the borough. “you can always plant some more.”
Leader Potts assured everyone the commemorative benches would be “safely stored” and reinstated after the works.
The Borelli Walk access would be in place for the duration of the bridge construction period, “a maximum of 40 weeks”, including an initial six weeks to construct the bridge and a further 11 weeks to remove it.
Crest predict an average of three HGVs will use the track daily throughout the bridge works, and a condition of its consent stipulates that any lane closures on the A31 “shall not take place before 9am or after 5pm Monday to Friday”.
The bridge will remain in place for the four-and-a-half year construction of the Brightwells scheme.