The phone lines between Waverley East and West hummed last night as those who attended the first day of the High Court battle between PoW and it’s bosom buddies CPRE versus Waverley Borough Council and the Secretary of State chewed the fat over the wires.
It was Ground Hog Day with all the usual suspects present and correct in Court 76 – the same tired old room in the nether regions of the High Court that hosted the first Hearing earlier in the year. WW just hung on in there…
La Potts was a resplendent Josephine in a technicolour dream coat boasting colours of the rainbow – red and yellow and green and blue … and put the more conservative Liz-the-Biz, Daniel Bainbridge, Tom Horwood and Paul Fellows in the shade. Although Denise Le Gal, Waverley’s Mayor, did her best to rival La Potts by turning up late in Leopard Print!
Alan & Sarah Ground – still, to their chagrin, of The Old Rectory on The Green. Regular readers will be aware they’ve been trying to flog their Dunsfold pile since March but, sadly for them, there are no takers. That’s what happens when you spend 15 years dissing your neighbours. You’d have thought they’d have realised that given their collaborator in Stop Dunsfold Park New Town (Rupert Howell of Trinity Mirror and Sorry Advertiser fame) has been trying and failing to sell his bigger and better pile, adjacent to the airfield, on and off for years now.
Bob Lies, CEO of Protect our Little Corner, huddled on the back bench next to instructing solicitors.
John Jefferies, a PoW supporter, rocked up late and plonked himself down next to Dunsfold Park’s legal team. Had the boot been on the other foot, you can bet your bottom dollar, PoW would have been hollering ‘Spys in the camp’ from the High Court turrets but the Dunsfold Developer clearly couldn’t give a toss.
The Judge, refreshing young – not in the first flush, we understand, but young for a member of the judiciary – was female and clearly mistress of her brief and keen to lose no time in getting the ball rolling.
First up was The Grinch – oops! we mean The Stinch – on behalf of Protect our Little Corner.
Predictably, he had nothing new to say and bored the pants off everyone by harking back – yet again – to 2009 when permission to develop housing at Dunsfold Park was ‘emphatically refused’ because the site was ‘inherently unsustainable’. Oh, change the record do! The world’s moved on since 2009 but, clearly, The Stinch hasn’t. All his harking-back revealed he had nothing new to say and was relying on old arguments that have been repeatedly and soundly rebuffed, thrown out both by Waverley’s Planners and the Secretary of State no less.
By mid-morning, we’re told, even the Judge had had enough and was beginning to bore of his arguments. The Stinch bandied numbers around like confetti as he tried to justify his badly mangled argument which boiled down to PoW’s contention that Inspector Bore had started with the wrong figure in relation to Woking Borough Council’s unmet need and because the figure was wrong he had no business allocating 50% of it to Waverley. The Judge seemed unconvinced, questioning whether The Stinch was trying to argue that a 50:50 split on its own was wrong in law?
PoW looked pained as the Judge sliced and diced The Stinch’s waffle and cut to the chase. They weren’t remotely interested in Waverley’s housing numbers per se, they were simply interested in stopping housing development at Dunsfold Park, at any cost, and if crying foul over housing numbers helped them achieve that goal that was all they cared about, regardless of the outcome for the rest of the Borough which could well end up without the protection of a Local Plan by the time they’re finished!
Then up came Mr Westway on behalf of the Campaign to Protect Rural England – that’s the bunch who’s nationwide cri de coeur is ‘Brownfield first’ everywhere … except at Dunsfold! They’d rather Waverley built all over green fields and greenbelt than laid a single brick on the Borough’s largest brownfield site.
If the Judge was bored by The Stinch, her Clerk’s eyes glazed over listening to Mr Westway. Indeed, so did everyone else, when the Judge livened things up by accusing Mr Westway of ‘trying to argue the inarguable’ and levying ‘very unfair criticism at Inspector Bore’ but Mr Westway was unrepentant and well and truly cooked his goose when the Judge explained to him, very gently, that she knew where he was coming from and where he was trying to get to and he really didn’t need to spell out every single syllable of his argument for her as she had – ahem – read her brief! Unfortunately, the Patronising Puppy didn’t take the hint, droning on for another hour. By the end of his oration, the Grounds were dozing on each other’s shoulder, Bob Lies had his head in his hands and those on the opposing side had given up all pretence of polite attention and were busily tapping away on their ipads, catching up on the day job.
Wayne Beglan, for Waverley Borough Council, finally got to his feet mid-afternoon but the main thrust of his argument and that of the Secretary of State and the Dunsfold Developer will have to wait until today.
What of Aarhus we hear you ask? We know many of you are very anxious to know if you, the Waverley Council Tax Payer, will have to pick up Protect our Little Corner’s costs or whether the Judge will rule – as Waverley Borough Council and the Secretary of State contend – they pick up their own. The Judge deferred this decision to the end of the Hearing, at which point we understand Capt’n Bob and his cohort, Chris Britten, rushed for the loos, leaving skid marks in their wake!