Just hours after villagers delivered a crushing blow to plans to build a private care home in Cranleigh, the application​ was refused.

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A deputation led by Andy Webb delivered petitions containing four thousand signatures to the Deputy Leader of Waverley Borough Council today Monday as officers were preparing to notify the applicants – its scheme was REFUSED.

The decision was made by planning officers under their delegated powers – and will not now be heard by the Joint Planning Committee. The reasons for refusal have not yet been announced. But it is believed the scheme was not appropriate in its present form.

The unprecedented deluge of objections against a Cranleigh Charity’s planning application has almost buried ‘The Bury’s’ in Godalming – Waverley’s headquarters. It is the largest number of objections the authority has ever received for a village application, rivalled only by over 5,000 objections made against the huge redevelopment in the centre of Farnham.

Its planning portal has also registered a staggering 300 letters of objections from residents of the eastern villages, including donors from all over the country and abroad.

Cranleigh Village Hospital Trust lodged a planning application in February 2018 to build an £18m care home for the national private home operator HC-One. However, its Its 20-year quest was to build a Hospital. This became a 60-bed care home including 20 ‘community beds’ and a 28-bedsit hostel for health workers for the Guildford & Waverley CCG. Soon to become a huge organisation covering Surrey and East Hampshire – to be called Surrey Heartlands.

Anger has mounted among thousands of small and larger donors of the £1.5m plus collected by Cranleigh Village Hospital Trust for a replacing the old Cranleigh Village Hospital. This was intended for the exclusive use of the eastern villages. This then morphed into the facilities mentioned above for the CCG area, giving rise to a tidal wave of anger which has multiplied into an uproar in recent months. Public meetings have brought calls for land donated by Cranleigh Parish Council to be returned to the village, and a land-swap quashed.

Much of the frustration has been prompted by a lack of transparency by the Charity who have stubbornly refused to face villagers and explain reasons for its change of plans. It argued it would update everyone once permission was in the bag. 

Forensic accountants have also poured over the charity’s accounts, and want numerous questions answered on how public donations were spent.  The upset has caused a breakdown in relations between the charity and its partners, the parish council and the Cranleigh Village Hospital League of Friends. The latter organisation operates outpatient clinics and a  new £500,000 X-Ray department.

Villagers are now fundraising to improve the facilities there – and, it is believed it has been short-listed to become a new Urgent Care Centre.

The bid to stop the development escalated this week when the petition was handed over to Waverley’s Deputy Leader Paul Follows by its instigator Alfold villager Andy Webb founder of the Cranleigh Community Group – that has championed villagers fight to stop the scheme in its tracks. Cllr Follows attended the public meeting called by Mr Webb.

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 16.32.48.pngIn addition to the local protest – The Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford has also issued a press release this week condemning the project.

There are doubts whether the applicant (CVHT) two of whose Trustees are successful developers, will appeal the decision. Already villagers say they will fight on until the bitter end.

 

 

Democracy and transparency reforms are on the way to ‘Your Waverley,’

 

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Will ‘Your Waverley’ be there to listen to what YOU have to say – not just for YOU to hear what IT has to say? 

 

DEMOCRACY AND TRANSPARENCY REFORMS @ WAVERLEY BC

Tonight the Deputy Leader of Waverley Borough Council’s new administration will be introducing some of the changes he promised in the May elections.

Cllr Paul Follows, on behalf of the new administration,  seeks to change the council’s Constitution and re-introduce the formal public question-time at the start of Full Council sessions. A function that has been a constant source of frustration to members of the public since it was removed by the previous administration. 

Said Cllr Follows:

This is something we recently did at Godalming Town Council and for meetings of the WBC Executive.

We think it is important that residents can just come along to council sessions and speak.

It is also intended that there will be full electronic voting at all full council and planning committee sessions (these will be displayed on a screen during webcasts).

Great! At last, the public will know how their elected representatives vote on issues affecting theirs’ and other people’s lives.

We understand, this equipment was installed in the council chamber some time back but has not been used during the course of several former administrations. Now the new boys and girls on the block intend to turn it back on and make its use mandatory from now on.

 In future, all votes will be ‘recorded votes’ and the outcomes published on the Waverley Website.

At last, we will all be able to see what our councillors voted on, and how they voted. A practice that is long overdue.

The WW has noticed, that already the Chairmen of planning committee’s have adopted a more civilised approach to public speakers during meetings when applications are being considered. Formerly, some chairmen had public speakers’ many unfamiliar with public speaking, quaking in their boots. Some of whom, unless they had timed their allotted 4 minutes to the second, were cut off in their prime.

If these reforms pass tonight (Monday evening) they will go to the Full Council meeting in October for ratification. 

 Whisper who dares – to object?

Full agenda for the Standards Committee can be found here:

https://modgov.waverley.gov.uk/…/Agenda%20frontsheet%2030th…

A bit​ like Cranleigh new ‘Hospital’? Out goes the word ‘Hospital’ from the Royal Surrey.

The Royal Surrey is changing its name. 

The Royal Surrey is changing its name from today

The Royal Surrey in Guildford has revealed it has a new corporate identity.

The Trust has decided to change its official name from Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to just Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust.

It started providing adult community health services for Guildford and Waverley in April 2018.

The organisation felt that it was important to recognise the contribution of community staff and reflect that it is now providing more than acute hospital care and bridging the gap between the wards and the community health services.

Louise Stead, Chief Executive said:

“I think the Royal Surrey County Hospital will still be the main site of the Trust.

“But to reflect the fact that over the last eighteen months, we’ve also taken on community services and we’re doing much, much more working in collaboration with GP Federation Pro Care and are really trying to put care back into the community. 

“But having ‘hospital’ in the title seemed to not really describe what we do as a healthcare provider. So, hence the change.”

The Trust says it has a strong focus on trying to get patients back into their homes and ensuring people only come to the hospital when they really need it.

“The word hospital isn’t the prime focus of care and healthcare anymore,” Stead added. 

It is also launching a new website, after close work with patients, to make it easier for them to find essential information very quickly. 

Will it be 3rd time lucky for Woodside Park, Catteshall Lane, Godalming?

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During an excellent night in defence of Neighbourhood Plans across the borough a twice deferred detailed scheme to build 100 homes at Woodside Park was  UNANIMOUSLY thrown out… AGAIN!

Poor old Crest Nicholson is getting nowhere fast these days with ‘Your Waverley’s Planners. 

Following a blistering debate on the viability of the borough’s Neighbourhood Plans, a revised scheme for the controversial development was thrown back to the developers to come up with something the borough could accept, and neighbours could live with. 

You can read the post and listen to the debate here: Has the defence of Waverley’s Neighbourhood Plans begun?

Councillor Paul Follows motioned for the plan’s refusal justifiable based on a policy of  Godalming and Farncombe’s Neighbourhood plan.   If Neighbourhood Plans were to have any credibility when decisions were taken they must take local views into account. He claimed the outline scheme for up to 100 homes, should never have been allowed in the first place –  an application which he had voted against.

“But this is fundamentally a completely different scheme which is simply shoehorning homes onto a site.”

He said Godalming and Farncombe residents believed when they signed up to their Neighbourhood Plan, just like the people of Cranleigh and the rest of the borough, they would have some protection, and expected that Waverley would back them up?

A neighbour Mrs Pinner (The chairman never announces the public speaker’s names clearly) maintained the revised plans had not overcome their objections. The three-storey block on the road frontage overlooked neighbouring homes and would add to parking congestion in Cateshall Lane. She called for another deferment and a re-design. The root cause was, she said …

“the site cannot support 100 properties.”

Councillors, even those sympathetic to the efforts made by the developer to overcome members objections, voted against amendments, which included obscure glazing; Prompting the question of –  how would this help when windows were open? removing balconies; increasing car parking by six spaces, and providing electric vehicle charging points for every home.

Godalming Cllr Peter Martin supported parts of this scheme for mixed development even though it …

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Elstead’s Cllr David Else said:

Not even a snip of me would be able to support this – it just gets worse. Ever since Crest Nicholson got hold of it – out went the underground car park, and the green spaces and now you have to get halfway across the site before you find a garden. Rows and rows and rows of car parking. – We have now ended up with the most awful layout I have ever seen in my career and all to make it profitable. I am never going to vote for this! 

After a bruising night in the chamber, officers witnessed another major application UNANIMOUSLY REFUSED.

Has the defence of Waverley’s Neighbourhood Plans begun?

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Waverley’s senior planning committee threw out two planning applications last night – both against officers’ advice. Is it now hell-bent on defending the Neighbourhood Plans (NP’s) of every town and village in the borough?

 

Wednesday was an extremely positive night for ‘YW’s Joint Planning Committee.

To a man and woman they stood up with members of the public to defend existing and emerging Neighbourhood Plans* against the advice of officers.

* Grassroots Plans that shape their communities and that have taken years to produce. These truly local documents underpin Waverley’s Local Plan.

It was during the consideration of two completely separate planning applications –

  • One for 50 homes on Green Lane Farm, Badshot Lea.
  • Another for the reserved matters for 100 homes in Catteshall Lane, Godalming.

–  that Waverley councillor, regardless of party, stood together to lambast recommendations to approve schemes, they claimed, made a complete mockery of every single town and parish Neighbourhood Plan.

 One councillor after another asked what was the point of years of tireless commitment to the preparation of The Farnham NP and Badshot Lea NP’s? The application before them was (a) not included and (b) was against a policy of protecting the important strategic gap between Farnham and Aldershot.

Officers had based their advice on an Inspector’s decision to allow 43 homes on a site, on the opposite side of Green Lane. (A scheme which an Inspector recently allowed an appeal to drop the affordable element from 42% down to 30%.

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The outline scheme for 50 homes was a “windfall site,” of which 145 windfall homes were allocated, borough-wide in the Local Plan. 

A figure, queried by |Cllr Paul Follows, who asked? How many “windfalls” had already been allowed? Unable to answer, Interim Chief Planning Officer Chris French apologised saying members would be provided with this information.

Cliff Watts of the Badshot Lea Residents’ Assoc claimed as the scheme was not included in the BL’s NP, – a plan which Cllr Carole Cockburn described as one of the best and most collaborative –  why should it now be trashed to the delight of every developer in the area?

The recommendation made nonsense of the NP carrying any weight. This was not a “preferred site.” To say it is a “windfall site” was a serious error. It sets a dangerous precedent that would enable every speculative application in future to see itself as windfall development including the field next to this, or next to Folly Hill.

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He slammed the officers’ update sheet which claimed their recommendation did not conflict with the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan when 311 homes in the village were allowed on four sites, when windfall sites in Farnham had been identified.

Objection followed from Farnham Town Council. Who claimed the recommendation to approve flew in the face of the Localism Act and a whole string of planning policies which were reeled off in quick succession. She highlighted the road dangers to pedestrians and vehicles alike saying county highways had produced an unprecedented 13 pages of comments.

If Waverley is serious about its Neighbourhood Plans this must be  REJECTED

Councillors from around the borough unanimously agreed – though a few remained silent!

Ward Cllr Mark Merryweather accused officers of “cherrypicking” the appeals referred to in their report.

Cllr Daniel Hunt said, that everyone. the town council, residents, and I won’t support it. In a letter, Waverley’s CEO Tom Horwood had underlined the council’s support for Neighbourhood Plans. Yet, if this is allowed, it will make a nonsense of the examination of the Farnham LP due on October 1.

The future of Farnham’s NP is to be debated at a public hearing next Tuesday. An examiner will gather evidence from local representatives, developers and interested parties to determine whether the revised plan meets all legal and procedural requirements. The Plan was reviewed after its adoption in 2017 following the setting of new housing targets by Waverley including proposed sites for an additional 450 homes. The hearing will be held from 10am-4pm at Farnham Town Council, South St and is open to the public.

Farnham’s Carole Cockburn who masterminded the Farnham LP said residents had spent “years and oodles of money” preparing it, and Badshot Lea’s contribution had been  “exemplary and there was no better example of residents’ co-operation” And a valuable green lung should not be sacrificed.

Godalming’s Cllr Paul Follows said, on one hand, communities were being asked to select suitable sites for development after being told it would protect them, and could then be ignored. 

Councillors asked officers repeatedly – “What are Neighbourhood Plans for?”

In addition to criticising the applicant’s environmental report, Cranleigh Cllr Liz Townsend said:

“We seem to be riding rough-shod over Neighbourhood Plans, plans that are hard to do, I have done one myself.

It is very, very difficult to be saying, on one hand, you can influence development in your area, and then, on the other hand, we (Waverley) will decide on your behalf. She also said after the council’s Declaration of A Climate Emergency, it was high time councillors received proper direction on how it intends to protect endangered species and the environment.

After lengthy debate, during which many of the arguments made against the Farnham development were then repeated on the detailed plans for Woodside Park, Catteshall Lane ( REFUSED – the subject of a separate post)  the Farnham application was REFUSED.  

WW will wait and see if the word ‘Localism’ means one jot to the Planning Inspectorate, or if, as we guess, it just pays lip service to the widely abused term.

*A neighbourhood plan is a community-led framework for guiding future development and growth of a local area. Neighbourhood planning is a relatively new way for communities to decide the future of the places where they live and work.

The process for developing a neighbourhood plan can be a lengthy one.

If you want to hear the debate on both applications: Click here.

https://youtu.be/ob4kZNeR__M