KA-POW!

paul_highcourt

In three short paragraphs, Waverley’s new Deputy Leader has put the kybosh on CPRE and POW’s fantasy of working with the new Waverley Dream Team in order to quash Waverley BC’s requirement to take a share of Woking BC’s unmet housing need.

In less than a month since taking over at Waverley, Councillor Paul Follows has met with Anthony Isaacs and Bob Lies, (CPRE & POW’s head honchos respectively), listened to their arguments, assessed their plan and found it wanting.

No surprises there then!

Whilst the Waverley Web entirely understands the New Broom’s desire to be seen to be listening to the voices of dissent, it didn’t take him long to detect and highlight the holes in the dastardly duo’s argument, which leaks like a colander.

No doubt Messrs Isaacs and Lies won’t take a blind bit of notice of Councillor Follow’s pithy assessment of the risks they are running. Why would they? After all, it’s not their money they’re frittering away on feckless and frivolous arguments. Not on your nelly! It’s ours – the poor, beleaguered Waverley Council Tax Payers’!

And for those of you who are still under the illusion that these bumbling buffoons only have the best interests of the residents of Waverley at heart, let us attempt to reset your perception:

• CPRE & POW claim they are seeking to remove the Woking unmet need number and not quash the whole of the Local Plan.

• The problem with that, as Councillor Follows pointed out in his recent letter to them, is that the Court is highly unlikely to get involved in setting housing numbers.

• The Court of Appeal’s task is simply to consider whether the Inspector and, subsequently, the High Court Judge erred in law in how they applied the Woking unmet need amount to Waverley.

• If the Court of Appeal decides that they did err, it will remit the decision back to an Inspector and the process will begin all over again!

Meanwhile, all reasonable and sensible advice leads to the conclusion that this high stakes strategy carries a very real risk of:

• increasing, not decreasing the future target
• strengthening the argument in favour of consenting the planning appeals against Waverley in the short term
• increasing the uncertainty that currently surrounds the draft Local Plan as a result of the appeals.

Of course most people – including councillors – are concerned about the housing targets and housing delivery in the Borough but the difference between them and CPRE and POW is that they aren’t engaged in a game of high stakes Russian roulette with other peoples’ money!

Suffice to say if Messrs Isaacs and Lies’ great gamble doesn’t pay off they are going to be as popular in Waverley as skunks that have rolled in fox poo!

The Deputy Waverley leader’s response ( below). 
The hearing on Monday 24th June will be webcast here, so pull up a chair and bring some biscuits! The background of the case is on the Court site here.

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10 thoughts on “KA-POW!

  1. I’m just getting up to speed with this topic so apologies for asking what may appear to be obvious questions of Mr Follows, please forgive me for being Cranleigh-centric.

    Context – Ongoing housing developments have flooded the area with stock and there appears to be no market. Cranleigh has a high number of unsold new-build houses. New developments look like ghost villages.

    How would the plan going back to the Inspector run a risk of increasing not decreasing the overall number in the plan?

    If the Inspector did find a reason for restarting the process and that the current LP number is too high, could that reduce the number allocated at Dunsfold Park?

    • Hi – so couple of things on this. First of all you have to take into account that the court isn’t reviewing the housing numbers, it is looking at one very specific element of it – and even then not at the merits or demerits of that, only if the inspector made an error having it there at all.

      The risk comes from that if the plan was opened up (essentially at the order of the court) the court will not just decide numbers – it will refer it back to the competent authority for review and modification. This would be calculated at the current variables and everything I have seen suggests this would end up with much higher numbers. This is of course disputed by the appellants.

      • Hi Paul, can you share more on what you have seen that suggests to you that if the plan were reviewed the numbers would go up?

        What are you views on the development at Dunsfold Park? Are you supportive of a bigger development there?

      • Hi / so I can probably share a bit more following the conclusion of today I expect.

        Dunsfold broadly seems to be a good idea as far as I can see (a decision way before my time) – as ever I’m concerned about infrastructure to support it (particularly road) but that’s probably my view of every development in the borough. I do think having these sorts of strategic sites make sense as they are usually of a scale that we can talk about better infrastructure provision.

      • Hi Paul, did you find out anything else you can share on why you maintain that the number could go up if CPRE and POW are successful? Many thanks in advance 🙂

      • Absolutely spot on with your explanation as always Cllr Follows.

        But not only could the Court’s decision affect Waverley’s Local Plan – it could have implications for other local authorities around the country.

        Will every Inspector have to do a complete root and branch investigation and review of homes that may, or may not be consented. Or, assess all the employment, migration, and other statistics that may or may not affect every authority’s housing numbers?

  2. Bunty – there is little comfort in this case for those hoping that the Dunsfold Park impact will be reduced. The planning for that is done and dusted and not up for reduction. Pragmatically I doubt we’ll see much in the way of a New Town there soon. As you say, the market is swamped and not selling (irony: what housing crisis?). Dunsfold doesn’t look like a great site to build £600,000+ houses – near a bio-digester, a traveller site, and possibly an oil exploration site.. and of course miles from a rail station and ~40 minutes from Guildford. Maybe Trinity College would be better advised to expand on an automotive science campus?

  3. True – little hope of reducing Dunsfold Park’s numbers, though we predict that is what POW/CPRE are intending, though they say that boat has sailed – or perhaps they mean that plane has flown?

    We disagree with you on this one Paul, close to a biodigester? Hardly – the site is almost 700 acres and growing by the day. Access will not be from the road- sorry cannot remember the name – that passes the gypsy sites, but from the A281 Horsham/Guildford Road and the oil exploration site, which may not be approved, is a good distance away.

    If you read Berkeley Homes sales literature Guildford Station is 9 minutes from Cranleigh, and according to Millwood Homes and Cala Homes – Cranleigh has its own railway Station!!!

    Of course most developers have come off the Planet Zonk.

    Dunsfold Park may just have the infrastructure that people want- like GP surgeries and schools – yes schools – not a school. It may even listen to the Waverley Web and build homes where people in their old age can downsize and where the young can bring up families near a village school.

    Roll on Dunsfold Masterplan. Perhaps if someone, other than developers and planning inspectors’ had produced a PLAN for Cranleigh, and for that matter here in Farnham they would not be in the mess they are to-day?

    • Weren’t the Parish Councils meant to create Neighbourhood plans to provide protection ? Did they just get bored and give up?

  4. Yes, Neighbourhood Plans have, and are being prepared by towns and villages across Waverley. However, most are very late due to the huge confusion prompted by the borough council’s advice, which delayed most until after the horse had bolted. So – no they didn’t get bored and give up – they just began the process far too late. It is the early developer worm that catches the consents.

    Hence Neighbourhood Plans – which are resident-led have been superceded by all those crafty developer led-plans, already consented, and now being built. Minus Community Infrastructure Levy!

    Why? We hear you cry! Because Waverley Borough Council didn’t have a Local Plan because Tory Councillors led by Robert Knowless, resisted getting a Plan off the ground, and it took the supreme efforts of former Leader Julia Potts to get one in place.

    A Local Plan that is now being challenged in the Appeal Court – as you will see from the latest WW post.

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