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?
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!