Is Waverley’s new boy concerned about his role on the planning committee​?


Paul Follows the new Liberal Democrat Councillor elected following  the sudden resignation of Simon Thornton, the recently disgraced Mayor of Godalming and member of ‘YW’ Executive, said on FACEBOOK that he had  deliberately waited a few days before posting on this because of his frustration after a recent  Joint Planning Committee (JPC)

He said:

Several weeks ago we were asked to review a development – the Woolmead in Farnham. 134 homes, no affordable housing (despite our apparently fantastic local plan demanding at least 30%) – and we were told that was because the developers had convinced the borough that the scheme was not viable (also known as they were not making enough money) with the affordable component. We were told an ‘independent viability assessment’ made that all clear – but we were not sent copies of that assessment. I voted against it – but in this incarnation of the council, the application was passed anyway!

So, we asked the officers to ensure that if any more came forward in the future with 0% affordable we wanted to see the full financial assessment as part of our papers. Within two weeks we get another one – this time in Haslemere. Now because these were put on pink paper (confidential) I am not allowed to go into the figures – but let’s just say most firms wouldn’t baulk at this kind of profit margin and then use the sentence ‘not financially viable’ when it comes to affordable.

I made the case that the expert assessment merely formally confirmed what the margin was, it did not and cannot make a judgement as to what level we think it is acceptable to remove the affordable housing numbers. That judgement was for elected councillors. I asked for the application to be rejected – for them to come back with at least one affordable residence because last time I checked there actually are numbers between 0% and 30%. The argument is always for NONE not LESS for some reason.

Several councillors agreed, but not enough. It passed!

Where and when will the Conservatives take a moral stand in this area?

The Conservatives had already watered down their local plan from 40% to 30% in the drafting stages – but now they keep exempting developers from even that!

Oh – and not a Social Housing (better known as Council housing) proposal to be found. Something we desperately need!

DEMAND MORE from your elected councillors because a great many of them are failing you and this community at every turn. Bring on May 2019 so we can start trying to get the council we deserve.

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 10.03.02Guess what? ‘Your Waverley’ intends to get smarter in future about the way it extracts money from developers! You read it here first … remember!



6 thoughts on “Is Waverley’s new boy concerned about his role on the planning committee​?”

  1. Well said Cllr Follows – it was terrible to watch – I am afraid I still do not understand why it had to be confidential. If Developers wish to develop on Land in any Village/Town, it should be transparent and to simply say it is NOT VIABLE is NOT good enough – I thought I heard something about 15% margin – But I could have misheard but if I made 15% on a limited risk investment – I would say that was pretty good in the current climate.

    I agree – I do not understand why it has to be 30% or NOTHING – who decides that? I am afraid I feel that the Planning Officers (Who are unelected) have far too many powers. They can sign off on small developments (unless called in by Councillors or others) with impunity – How do we know that they are impartial in all instances? We know nothing about them – do we??

    On my Holibobs and just downloaded an App to help me identify a Plant – I would like something similar to help me identify Planning Officers – Any ideas?

    1. Crikes Overtaxed – I am on hols and on my 2nd Sundowner!! (we are 2 hours ahead of the UK – Please note) What does the above mean? Apart from we don’t seem to have many rights here in the UK?? All I would like to see is transparency – If all the Exempt items were simply about not naming individuals etc… Then surely they have a Sharpie.

      Redacted information is better than No information – which is what we seem to get

  2. As a qualified surveyor, I am used to looking through costings for new housing estates and other construction projects.

    A whistleblower at Waverley sent me a copy of Berkeley Home’s Cranleigh report stating that they would not make any profit from building affordable houses (Waverley subsequently let them off).

    In my opinion, the report was deeply flawed. It way overstated base costs like prelims (health and safety, welfare provision etc). Far in excess of any percentage costs used as industry standard, or anything in the RICS “Standard Method of Measurement”.

    Which leads me to conclude that Waverley either:

    1. Does not actually employ properly qualified independent surveyors to examine house building “no affordable homes” claims or

    2. The people they do employ are inept, or

    3. There is a more fundamental reason why Waverley planning staff waive affordable housing. You may have your own thoughts as to why.

    The Leader of Waverley Borough Council personally arranged secret meetings with developers and excluded the public so there could not be any independent scrutiny. This was exposed by the Surrey Advertiser.

    I think this is more a matter for the Police to look into.

  3. You are 100% right Sir, except on one point. It was the Waverley Web that revealed the secret meetings between planners and SOME Cranleigh borough councillors, and then it was picked up from here by the Surrey Advertiser! However, we are not complaining because it is all about telling the public how it is! Needless to say, WBC said the meetings were not secret – they were just behind closed doors where the public was not admitted! In other words IN SECRET!

    Some councillors – Patricia Ellis and Mary Foryszewski (who did not say anything!!) will also be seeking re-election in May and just watch the people of Cranleigh send them right back in again to do even more damage to Cranleigh? The remainder of its elected representatives will have achieved what they set out to do… cover the place in concrete. Perhaps they should be invited to stand before the residents of Elm Bridge? Or perhaps – someone like you Mr Clarke should be seeking their votes?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.