Be careful what you wish for!

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We at the Waverley Web have read Paul Follows latest Twitter postings with interest. Should Paul Follows spin the wheel?

Like many of our followers, we have welcomed the ‘new brooms’ at Waverley and their commitment to open and honest dialogue with the electorate, as opposed to the secret squirrel stuff that went on under the previous Tory monopoly administration. But …

Yes, of course, there’s a but! This is the Waverley Web and when have you ever known our spiders roll over and wave their little hairy legs in the air?

The but is that the new brooms need to be exceedingly careful that they don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

It’s all very well for Paul Follows to sit down with CPRE and Protect our Little Corner (POW) but this isn’t just about CPRE and POW and what they want. If Paul Follows wants to jaw-jaw (or, in this case, pow-wow – or do we mean wow POW?!) he will also have to jaw-jaw with ALL the stakeholders, not just CPRE and POW – just because the usual suspects shout the loudest doesn’t make them the only toddlers in the playpen!

Jaw-jaw is all well and good but it would be naive in the extreme for Paul Follows to assume that the new brooms at Waverley are going to solve the issues surrounding housing numbers by just engaging with POW and CPRE about them.

A review of the Local Plan isn’t within the gift of the Lib Dems, the Farnham Residents, CPRE or POW and whilst we would all like to see less housing cluttering up our countryside, the reality is there are VERY REAL RISKS that in lobbying for this review all these good-intentions could go horribly awry and the upshot could be that Waverley’s housing numbers DO NOT DECREASE and, instead, they INCREASE! Thanks-a-lot POW!

This isn’t a case of the only way is down – a review could go either way!

Like them or loathe them, the previous Tory administration at Waverley spent years with their heads up their … – oops! we meant to say, in the sand – denying that there was a need for any more housing in Waverley. They firmly believed that if they said No! No! No! And denied, deferred, delayed and procrastinated it would all go away or, as so often happened, be superceded.

But it didn’t and when, under La Potts’ aegis, she recognised and accepted that Waverley couldn’t and wouldn’t be allowed to continue taking the *iss any more and decided to grasp the nettle, she did us all a favour.

Why? Because that denial, deferral, delay and procrastination policy has cost us, the Waverley council tax payers, dearly. Not only financially but in concrete terms, because it is the reason developers and anyone with a paddock at the end of their garden have had – quite literally – a field day! With no Local Plan in place, it has been a developer’s and would-be developers’ charter to build on every green field, paddock and bit of redundant farmland they can lay claim to.

If Waverley BC, under the direction of Matthew Evans, Mary Orton-Pett (AKA Mrs MOP), Richard Shut-the-Gates and Robert Know-Less – not to mention POW’s mother, Stop Dunsfold Park New Town (SDPNT) – had accepted the inevitable and acquiesced to the Dunsfold Developer’s original scheme to build 2,600 houses at the aerodrome in 2009 not only would a great many of those houses now be built and occupied, Waverley BC would have been able to defend its green fields and belt and Cranleigh and Farnham – not to mention the villages of Awfold and Duncefold – would not now be turning into concrete jungles with housing estates popping up like mushrooms all over their formerly green and pleasant environs

At the end of the day, CPRE and POW are arguing about a measly 80 houses per annum. And in running that argument they risk another Inspector concluding that Waverley’s housing numbers are not too high but too low!

We, at the Waverley Web, have the greatest respect for Paul Follows and the Farnham Residents and their ambitious plans for the Borough but they need to bear in mind that it’s very easy to stand outside the tent and throw brickbats but it’s not so easy to be in the tent trying to reconcile the bickering factions and ensuring, in the process, they don’t all end up costing us yet more money we can ill afford and land we’d rather not lose!

Paul Follows and his colleagues need only look at the internecine battles that are going on in the Tory party and the Labour party at the moment and the damage that is doing to the country and take heed!

6 thoughts on “Be careful what you wish for!

  1. Good morning! I think you have essentially summed-up where I am coming from (and speaking just for me here) I think that in all things like this you have to properly assess the actual risk of what you are doing rather than rushing to a judgement and making knee-jerk decisions. This is a complex subject and to do that on this would be cavalier to the extreme.

    But it’s quite possible to game-out scenarios on the local plan without triggering a formal review and therefore look at the potential dangers (or benefits) of such a formal review.

  2. Oh, and yes the other thing I certainly agree with in your post – there are (in my view) material risks that numbers could go up rather than down which is exactly why I believe such care should be taken.

  3. Pow/CPRE seem adamant its just a case of removing Woking’s unmet need. But even then the LP1 spatial strategy and a further consultation on the Plan would need to be done to avoid even further challenge.
    I am guessing that Waverley’s affordable housing need figure is not being greatly reduced (given that not many council houses are being built as they dont own the land, the reduced 30% figure, and that a skewed proportion of current new housing is Office – to – Resi that doesn’t trigger affordable housing). This means any review might still increase numbers to account for the (still) unmet Council House waiting list need.. It is indeed a gamble!

    • But Patrick, to get there they are asking for the whole of ALH1 to be quashed, at least that’s what I make of it from the Lieven ruling which was in relation to

      “Two challenges under s. 113 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (“PCPA”) to the decision of Waverley Borough Council “WBC” to adopt policies ALH1, SS7 and SS7A of the Waverley Borough Local Plan Part One (LPP1); brought by CPRE Surrey (“CPRE”) challenging only ALH1 and POW Campaign Limited (“POW”) challenging all three policies;”

      ALH1 is just the numbers allocation, it doesn’t actually mention Woking’s unmet need. That’s presumably somewhere in the supporting text. The supporting text is just that. It is the policy itself they have to quash and I can’t currently see how you filet out the Woking figures without remitting the whole of ALH1 back for review.

      BTW, I know that PoW has dropped the challenge to the grant of planning for 1800 at Dunsfold but I’ve no idea where the challenge to SS7 and SS7A stand. These were allocating Dunsfold Aerodrome as a settlement (ie putting it up to 2,600) and the design statement. I have no idea whether this bit of it is still going ahead or not. Anybody else know?

  4. I would agree too Paul, but I see very little risk that we could be forced to accept higher numbers, given due consideration of (1) Woking’s own increased numbers, and (2) the overriding environmental constraints limiting development across two-thirds of the borough (which were ignored in LPP1).
    The Ruling of the Advocate General in the landmark case of C-323/17 (People Over Wind & Sweetman of April 2018 was given after LPP1 was adopted, and as it is legally binding upon us we are obliged to implement it, by whatever degree of review necessary to achieve compliance.

    Sorry but for clarity I must at this point explain that the local group called POW (‘Protect Our Waverley’), as in ‘CPRE/POW’, who are challenging the Waverley Local Plan (LPP1) housing numbers, are IN NO WAY WHATSOEVER connected to the Irish POW (‘People Over Wind’) organisation, as in the ‘POW/Sweetman’ case.

    Most importantly :

    To my knowledge the imminent CPRE/POW challenge appears to pay no heed to that pivotal POW/Sweetman Ruling, and if the judge were to conduct his deliberations without due consideration of the entire legal picture then I fear there may be a severe risk of a miscarriage of justice.
    I also think that the Waverley Constitution requires that we act positively to uphold the law.
    Thus whilst many might support the attempt to revoke the imposition of Woking’s ‘unmet need’, Councillors and Officers must go further in order to assert the ‘Whole Truth’ is heard.

    In that respect, I believe that in your current capacity of Deputy Leader (i.e. as Acting Leader) of the Council, you MUST have the authority to ensure that the Hearing is either averted, delayed or suspended, without prejudice, sufficient to secure that Waverley’s defence casework fully represents ALL of the relevant facts, evidence and legal considerations.
    If you don’t have that authority, who does?

    I guess the question you need to ask of Tom and Daniel (urgently) might be,

    “Where, if at all, do the Statements of Evidence of Waverley and of CPRE/POW provide for the necessary consideration and proper application of the POW/Sweetman Ruling, given that no compliant Habitats Art.6(3) Appropriate Assessment exists?”

  5. O.M.G what a can of worms the anti-Dunsfold brigade has wrought upon this poor borough of ours.

    These challenges are costing us, the council taxpayers a small fortune, and the young people who need ‘truly affordable’ homes are being denied the opportunity they so desperately need.

    The WW has heard that Crest Nicholson has flogged off its Phse 2 site in Cranleigh to a housing association? How many more developers will follow? How many more green fields will go under concrete, while all the Rumpoles get richer by the day? And – the largest brownfield site in the borough of Waverley remains – GREEN?

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