Surprising what a little shove from the opposition and a big shove from residents can achieve in Godalming.

Because last night a handful of Godalming Tory councillors shunned officers advice and stuck to their manifesto promise to refuse ANY development on former green belt land.  Does the hypocrisy of Godalming Tories have no bounds? Last week they gave permission for 262 homes on Green Belt at Aarons Hill.Godawfulming – here we come?

Perhaps it was re-reading the manifesto letter they sent to residents in 2015 – that did it?

Godalming Town Council includes many Waverley councillors – but has no planning committee. Due to the importance of development on land taken out of the Green Belt by a Government Inspector. The Town Council considered and objected to both.

  • Ashill’s development of 262 homes atAarons’ Hill, Godalming. 
  • Ockford Homes application for 21 homes in Binscombe Lane.

So residents sat expecting to hear the Tory-dominated Central Planning Committee pass the  Binscombe Lane scheme – just as they did with Aarons’ Hill in Eashing Lane?

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However, one resident reminded them of the little missive featured below in the hope it would bring a volte-face – and it did?

Even Chairman – “I follow officers advice-or Else” voted against – and used his casting vote to send the scheme into Waverley’s trash bin.

Resident, Stephen Clarke – said  they would be  in breach of the Godalming Conservatives 2015 manifesto pledges on the green belt and warned them to take note of the huge amount of local objection to build in a Medieval Hamlet within 30 metres of the Conservation Area, on Green Belt and  land of Great Landscape Value, prompting an 84% increase in its population.

“It would be scandalous if you broke your promise now,” he said,

How could this committee ignore the objections of the Town Council and promises by Waverley’s Leader Julie Potts that  Binscombe was a “Heritage Asset?”

As planning officers argued – “We are satisfied” that benefit would outweigh harm, “we are satisfied” there will be no road danger – “we are satisfied” … that the earth is round, the sky is blue…

Councillor Paul Follows – the only scrap of opposition on the block argued he was anything but-  satisfied! Was vehemently opposed to any building on Green Belt, hadn’t agreed to the Local Plan Part 1, which had taken far too long to prepare, along with the council’s failure to introduce the Community Infrastructure Levy due in March.

The development was “premature” the access would be dangerous – saying – “I am looking at my five fellow Town councillors to oppose this.” But not all of them did! Liz Wheatley (Con) described the scheme as “almost a tragedy” David Hunter (Con) who a week earlier voted FOR Aaron’s Hill said it was “premature” and asked – “The LP is for 30 years, why do we have to build everything in one year.” But Councillor Peter Martin (Tom, Tom the Piper’s son sent his apologies) said there were NO planning reasons to refuse – and despite objections from the CPRE; Town Council; residents and Waverley’s very own Conservation Officer; he went on to attack Councillor Follows, saying he would – “vote with my head – not my heart.”

The WW has worked out on the back of a fag packet that the promised 106 Monies offered by the developer towards infrastructure is around £100,000 – and CIL would be close to £1m! However, at least we made an attempt to calculate – more than all the officers/solicitors could manage!

Whilst Councillor Anna James wiped the crocodile tears (again!!) from her eyes, saying her little village had been completely removed from the Green Belt and forced to take 100 homes, she would  not object to this amazing well-designed little development, and she was –  “really sorry.” What? Really, really, really sorry!

 The real shock came when Chairman David Else said his village of Elstead had been taken out of the Green Belt too, and many of Godalming’s green fields he had enjoyed as a kid were disappearing. This field was one is the last buffer’s he would not wish to see covered in housing – so he and the Vice-Chairman By-Pass Byham voted against.

 With a vote of 5 FOR and 5 AGAINST he used his casting vote to consign proposed development in Binscombe to the bin!

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4 thoughts on “Surprising what a little shove from the opposition and a big shove from residents can achieve in Godalming.

  1. I think this demonstrates one very key, totally apolitical point. No party should ever be this close to total control.

    You need a bit of opposition from time to time to inject fresh ideas and remind you who you are meant to represent (and what you promised).

    It’s a shame though that views expressed this week were not expressed last week on the much bigger and impactful application in my ward. Consistency in your opinion and vote would be desirable!

    The argument about prematurity which I made last week, that Cllr Hunter directly opposed – he this week took up with gusto (again after me).

    For the sake of your residents who contacted me (and for Godalming) I resolved to do all I could – predicting that once again the majority councillors would have to be almost forced to make the right decision if they would be moved at all.

    I calculated that they would not consider it acceptable for a Lib Dem opposition councillor to be the only defender of the ward – and they followed. The chair clearly sensed an unspoken political crosshair forming too.

    Well done to Mr Clarke who spoke and spoke very well – I was proud to pick up the baton!

    ps…Nowadays you know it will be a long meeting if Cllr Peter Martin and I take opposing stances to each other as that’s the way it tends to split at Central now. Something more and more common…

  2. We believe everyone should watch the webcast. It is fascinating to witness the body language of some councillors, who if they have to face up to opposing opinions just have to get up tight and personal.

    Watch out Councillor Follows – the Tories will throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at you come the May elections — they don’t like criticism and they don’t take kindly to any sort of opposition. They have been rubbishing Gerry Hyman and the Farnham Residents’ for years — but maybe, just maybe times they are a-changing?

  3. Yes, Heather – ridiculous housing that Waverley’s Planning Officers didn’t have a hope in hell of coming up with any recommendation other than to approve.

    Why? Because an unelected Government Inspector ruled that certain areas of the Green Belt in and around Waverley’s towns and villages must be sacrificed to satisfy A Local Plan that was so long in gestation it was overtaken b events.

    The failure of Waverley Borough Council to accept the largest brownfield site in the borough at Dunsfold Aerodrome, has cost towns and villages — including Godalming dearly.

    Now with 1,800 homes at Dunsfold approved — everyone is getting the worst of both worlds.

    We fear the fight is not over yet — keep watching and help us keep these local politicians on their toes. Welcome to the Waverley Web.

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