It took an unlikely duo of a Godalming Liberal Democrat and a Farnham Conservative to overthrow officer approval for a development that reduced the number of affordable homes by 5 at Green Lane Farm, Badshot Lea in Farnham last night.
It might have been a sight to behold as Councillor Paul Follows proposed rejection of the scheme seconded by Carole Cockburn – except of course the webcast went down…again…and again throughout the debate.
However, the vote was still narrow – won by just 9 votes to 7.
The developer was asked to reduce their affordable housing contribution from 40% – agreed at the time of Waverley’s draft Local Plan in June 2016. Since then Waverley Tories took it upon themselves to change their draft plan down to 30% affordable housing with the aim of asking for greater S106 contributions for infrastructure – that is of course when they can remember to ask for them!
The developer had already taken account of the policy when purchasing the land beyond the greenbelt claiming ‘exceptional circumstances’ to gain consent for 45 homes – granted at appeal. It now wants to change the housing mix by adding several larger detached homes and tacking on a load of conservatories. It is believed, this would add over £1-1.5million to the developer’s profits by permitting the changes.
Changes that the officers were quite happy to rubber stamp with the support of seven Tories.
Pity Farnham Councillor Chris Storey was prevented by the borough solicitor from reading out an -email sent a planning officer?
He said “We are well used as members of this planning committee to being threatened with appeals by developers. But perhaps my fellow councillors would like me to read out an e-mail sent by this developer…
… when he was suddenly stopped in his tracks by the solicitor saying “It would not be sensible to do so.”
If developers are using threatening behaviour to councillors or officers, why shouldn’t the public be told?
This Inspector’s decision was deeply unpopular with councillors and officers alike, but none more so than for Councillor Carole Cockburn who had walked every inch of Farnham with colleagues to devise Farnham’s Adopted Neighbourhood Plan. A plan which had been well-supported by the residents of Weybourne and Badshot Lea, and whose views had now been trashed by a Government Inspector – and not by Waverley.
She said “The people who live there will soon see for themselves how much the place “STINKS – IT JUST STINKS!” The band sits between the sewage works and the rugby field. Funny that! She was quite happy to consent to a similar site on a floodplain adjacent to a sewage treatment works in Cranleigh!
However, a man who can always be relied upon to stick up his mitt, that is of course if he’s awake! Councillor Michael Goodridge – who said his colleagues should set aside the “emotional baggage of fewer affordable homes and grant the application.”