The Campaign For The Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and Protect Our Waverley (POW) failed in their High Court bid to scupper Waverley’s Local Plan on the eve of Halloween?
The final act in the fight to reduce the housing requirement for the whole of Waverley was thrown out yesterday Thursday by the Court of Appeal. It is believed there will be no legal challenge by the litigants to the Supreme Court – so Part 1 of Waverley’s Local Plan is now beyond legal challenge.
However, after numerous High Court appearances – in excess of £200,000 – of our council taxpayers’ money has gone down the legal eagle’s drain. But yesterday’s decision thankfully means this is the end of the road for the objectors.
The latest High Court drama between the Campaign for The Preservation of Rural England, Protect Our Waverley (Campaign Limited) and ‘Your Waverley,’ now ends the long fight. The dismissal brings to close years of legal wranglings, which until earlier this year, included a bid to scupper a 2,300 home development at Dunsfold Aerodrome.
It is due to the dogged determination of the former Tory-led administration and in particular former leader Julia Potts, (pictured left) that the blueprint for the borough’s development is now safe.It is a vindication for Julia Potts’ decision, to press ahead with a Local Plan that was fit for purpose. No one should under-estimate La Potts’ achievement – together with former Chief Planning officer, Liz-the-Biz she single-handedly took the helm of the stricken tanker that was Waverley’s planning disaster, under the grave mismanagement of former has-beens Mary Orton-Pett and Richard Shut-the-Gates. Slowly but surely, steady-as-she-goes, she turned it around and made it fit for purpose. No small feat but one that was entirely justified by today’s High Court decision.
We never thought we’d write this but, praise where it’s due: Three Cheers for La Potts!
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”.
If the JR had gone the other way, ‘YW’ may have been forced to reduce its target and build 498 fewer homes. A reduction in housing numbers that both POW/CPRE hoped would rule out Phase 2 of Dunsfold in the Local Plan which provides for a total of 2,600 homes on the former airfield at Dunsfold. The garden village scheme is a pivotal component of the blueprint for development in the borough until 2032.
Last night two applications – including a new access road and roundabout on the A281 Horsham to Guildford Road into Dunsfold Park was approved by Waverley Planners. The first step in the creation of Dunsfold Garden Village.
Will these two organisations want to continue fighting against development in the countryside? Perhaps they will want to stop another 80 homes in Alfold, shedloads of homes proposed in Farnham, Godalming and on the treasured countryside of Haslemere? The question on everyone’s lips now is? Will the CPRE/POW duo NOW disappear in a puff of smoke, having burned the public’s money they were backed with? Or will they be satisfied that their legal challenges have effectively prevented up to 500 homes being built on the brownfield site at Dunsfold due to legal challenges during the past years of legal challenges, leaving the council without a 5=year land supply?
The appeal centred on how a shortfall in housing provision – unmet need – in one borough is allocated to neighbouring boroughs. The clarification of this issue had implications not just for Waverley but for Guildford and other councils across the country. The Right Honourable Lord Justice Singh said in June:
“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.”
On hearing of the decision to allow the appeal in June, 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 had nothing to do with protecting Waverley. – It was 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 of Dunsfold Park. A development which was given the go-ahead by the High Court in November 2018. POW was still smarting from this decision but continued the fight doggedly determined to Keep Calm and Carry ON, using public money!
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.