Will the Campaign For The Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and Protect Our Waverley (POW) succeed with their High Court bid to scupper Waverley’s Local Plan at Halloween?
The final act in the fight to reduce the housing requirement for the whole of Waverley will be staged in the High Court tomorrow Thursday.
So here goes another shedload of our council taxpayers’ money going down the proverbial legal eagle’s pan?
Out of the cupboard come all the Rollicking Rumpole’s wigs in readiness for yet another High Court drama between the Campaign for The Preservation of Rural England, Protect Our Waverley (Campaign Limited) and ‘Your Waverley.’
Earlier this year CPRE/ POW was granted leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal against the judgment delivered in November 2018 concerning the housing requirement set in Waverley Borough Council’s Local Plan Part 1. That November judgment said that the housing requirement of 590 a year should be maintained, including 83 to cover Woking’s perceived “unmet need”.
So ‘YW’ may have to build 498 fewer homes and no doubt POW/CPRE hope that will rule out Phase 2 at Dunsfold, as it certainly won’t want to stop development on the countryside – will they? Or, perhaps they will want to stop another 80 homes in Alfold, shedloads in Farnham, Godalming and on the treasured countryside of Haslemere? Or, will they disappear in the same puff of smoke, having burned the public’s money they were backed with?
The appeal centres on how a shortfall in housing provision – unmet need – in one borough is allocated to neighbouring boroughs. The clarification of this issue has implications not just for Waverley but for Guildford and across the country. The Right Honourable Lord Justice Singh said:
“I AM PERSUADED BY THE APPELLANTS SKELETON ARGUMENTS THAT THERE IS A COMPELLING REASON WHY THESE TWO APPEALS SHOULD PROCEED, NAMELY THE GENERAL IMPORTANCE OF THE ISSUES OF PRINCIPLE RAISED. IT APPEARS FROM THOSE SKELETON ARGUMENTS THAT THEY HAVE NOT BEEN CONSIDERED AT THE LEVEL OF THE COURT OF APPEAL AND IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THEY SHOULD BE.”
This latest appeal comes against the background of two important changes. First, Woking Borough Council has declared that it now has no unmet need. Second, new demographic numbers recently released by the Office for National Statistics imply a much-reduced need for new housing.
On nearing of the decision to allow the appeal, Dunsfold resident Bob Lees said: “This is great news! It provides Waverley Borough Council with a golden opportunity to significantly reduce the mandatory number of new houses to be built in the Borough over the next 14 years. POW fought against the housing requirement at the Examination of the Plan in the Council Chamber. POW fought again in the High Court. POW will fight in the Court of Appeal.
POW is fighting to protect our Waverley against unneeded development of our towns, of our villages and in our beautiful countryside.”
Well – if you believe that you will believe in fairies! Because this has nothing to do with protecting Waverley – it is all about preventing development on the largest brownfield site in the borough close to the home of Bob Lies, and his running-mate Alfold Councillor Little Britton who both live in spitting distance from Dunsfold Park. A development which was .given the go-ahead by the High Court in November. POW is still smarting from this decision
Incidentally, the application for the new entrance into Dunsfold Park goes before Waverley’s Joint Planning Committee on the same day. On Thursday evening councillors will receive officers’ recommendations to approve two schemes.
The Dunsfold Masterplan – which includes 1,800 homes, the first phase of the total of 2,600 in the Waverley Local Plan will go out to public consultation shortly.