Rome wasn’t built in a day – and it will take time to change years of Tory-controlled Waverley.

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Cllr Paul Follows even found time during the last knockings of the election campaign to take a picture and stop to appreciate this beautiful site in his home ward of Godalming. 

Now that the dust has settled – and Jeremy Hunt is firmly ensconced back into his ‘entrepreneurial’ MP role at Westminster, let us reflect for a moment on the amount of criticism heaped upon the new coalition administration of ‘Your Waverley,’ that is beginning to feel more like “Our Waverley.’

 

Every new administration – regardless of its political allegiance – needs time to settle in. When that new administration is comprised of Labour; Liberal Democrat; Farnham Residents’ and an Independent – it could take a little longer. Let us be patient?

However, the borough’s residents are already beginning to feel the wind of change and each day that goes by, are beginning to feel considered, and more involved. Watching the webcast run properly, the ability for residents to ask questions – and more important, getting answers.

Fairer hearings for the public at planning meetings, and a Mayor who has asked members not to stand, as is customary, to speak during Full Council meetings. If they do, their heads are chopped off. Saying she will only vote on items where there is a tied vote, and generally assists in lightening the mood.

It is refreshing to see the new portfolio holders getting to grips with their briefs without point-scoring and continuously thanking officers for reports. That’s an officer’s job, that is what officers are paid for.

It is great to get regular up-dates on social media about the issues of the day – and the public welcomed The Listening Panel on oil and gas exploration which was presented by the portfolio holder with the experience of one who had been in the job for years. Steve Williams did what it said on the tin – he listened. Likewise with the Climate Emergency declaration – which everyone recognises will take time to bed in. and requires commitment from the council, developers and residents’ alike. The Green Party is a welcome addition to Waverley.

The public like the fact that the new guys and gals are questioning how and where Waverley spends its finite resources. Resources which diminish by the day due to Government cuts.

The Waverley Web joins others in being particularly impressed that the new administration wants funds distributed more equally between the major settlements in the borough. Over here in Farnham, we have received more than our fair share of Waverley handouts over the years. So too, the decision to meet with the residents of the small rural villages, often forgotten in the past.

WW remembers only too well the commitment made by the Tories to commit £12m to a new leisure entre for the benefit of the eastern villages, just a month before the May election. Did it have the money to make such a pledge? Will Cranleigh see that new Leisure Centre soon, or did the Tories commit a new council to a pledge it could not afford to keep?

As for Brightwells – the fact that New Waverley intends to look at the scheme with different eyes is welcomed by most here in Farnham. But is it too late?

 

Even if nobody else does. The Waverley Web fully appreciates the transparency of John Ward, Paul Follows and their team. So let’s give them a break and if then, they don’t deliver then we will be among the first to say so.

POSTSCRIPT

 

We are relieved for the residents of the borough that the deputy leader Lib Dem Paul Follows failed to win the SW Surrey seat in the General Election. And join others in congratulating Mr Hunt, and in particular, Cllr Follows a 33-year-old working man, of modest means, who doesn’t drive, and who leads both Godalming Town Council and Waverley Borough Council.

Although he certainly gave Jeremy Hunt a run for his money by polling 23,374 votes against JH’s 32,191. Labour’s Tim Corry 4,775.

Even Mr Hunt admits that it was the toughest campaign he has fought since standing 14 years ago, as the Lib Dems gained 28.9% of the vote share since the previous election.

 

Tis the season to be merry as a bit of a spat takes place at ‘Your Waverley?’

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There we were thinking that the last Full Council meeting before Christmas would be full of bonhomie and Christmas spirit – before everyone slopes off for a Christmas drink in the Mayor’s digs – than wham bang and off go the fireworks!

 

image002-1Cllr Carole Cockburn had obviously been sucking lemons before bowling down the A31 to Waverley Towers. She grabbed the opportunity of commenting on the Council’s new Communications Strategy to settle old scores with two of her colleagues.

No sooner had the new administration presented its new strategy for communicating with councillors and the public, than out came Carole with all guns blazing.

“The irony of this is that Cllr Paul Follows is telling us how to communicate when it was his wild accusations when he first took office that `Local Plan Part 1 would basically be torn up, which almost scuppered the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan (2) before it had a chance….. to …

At which point Cllr Follows interjected – but was stopped in his tracks with… “I am speaking – and I am allowed to speak without interruption.” And she did, by now firing on all four cylinders and with a face resembling a patient after root canal treatment turned on Farnham Residents’ Cllr Jerry Hyman.”

Who she claimed, – “came along to preliminary hearing to communicate directly to a Government inspector – correct me if I am wrong – and repeated what Cllr Follows had said  ‘thankfully’ the Comms Team had issued a press release on the eve of the public examination refuting this.

This was a good example of uncontrolled communications. We need more control of media and communications.

Cranleigh’s Ruth Reed swung in behind to congratulate the Portfolio holder for providing the new strategy and  lightened the mood with something along the lines of “it’s not what we do it’s the way that we do it – it’s not what we say but the way that we say it”

Then upshot Tory Michael Goodridge still smarting from having to earn his council seat at the May polls – full of the same festive goodwill stoked  CC’s flames – in his own pompous inimitable way by saying the new Strategy was “similar to ours.” He argued that communication was a two-way matter and there were 57 members of the council, with whom the new administration should be communicating.

Then used the same document as an excuse to fire another missile into the new Administration for not going out yet to consult on Local Plan Part 2. Which was a bit rich bearing in mind it was the TT’s who postponed it due to the damage it may do them in the May elections? An outrageous use of political advantage to serve political ends. 

Cllr Hyman ended the debate by saying he had had no communication with the Lib Dems – Paul Follows -before the Farnham NP hearing – and he was happy to provide Cllr Cockburn with a full recording of the hearing which would confirm exactly what he did say.

So ended the last council meeting of the year in the true spirit of Christmas. A year during which there was more togetherness in Eastenders than between the Tories and the new Coalition of Greens, Labour, Independent and Farnham Residents.’

 

https://youtu.be/XQw6rfuXeXU

Country Park in Cranleigh given the go-ahead.

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Is it all happening in Knowle park in Cranleigh?

Approval has been given by Waverley’s Joint Planning Committee for a new country park, which includes lakes, adventure play area – and a bridleway, which magically meets up with an emergency access road at the other end of Knowle Park. Quelle surprise!

The need for an emergency access road was questioned by councillors when the Knowle Park Initiative was granted detailed planning permission for 75 homes in Alfold Road, earlier this year. Cllrs Paul Follows and Jerry Hyman wanted to know why an emergency access was required by the developer when none existed for any other developments?

Officers just looked dumb, and said in future before any other such requests were made they would determine why? Just goes to show how easy it is to pull the wool over officers’ eyes at ‘Your Waverley?’

The Park was part of the pay-off for the development in Knowle Park – which has no affordable homes at all, these were removed at the detailed stage  – and another which totals circa 270 at the former West Cranleigh Nurseries site, also in Alfold Road, where the developer must provide affordable homes.  

The deal was – we will hand over a park to a Trust for villagers use, which villagers have been using for decades – and once was the venue for the annual Cranleigh Agricultural Show,  in return for another shedload of housing. Ah well – you get ought for nought as we say in Yorkshire.

So the question is? When will the new bridleway become a new road?

Thankfully, it appears this time planning officers were wide awake and imposed a condition on the use of the “bridleway and footpath 393,” which must be gated and not used for vehicles, without approval.  WW wonders, how long will that continue?   The council has also imposed a shedload of conditions to ensure the wildlife, the Littlemead  Brook, trees and hedgerows are not disturbed or damaged in any way.

The Environment Agency has raised concerns of the detailed design of the proposed lake and wants full details on how it will affect Littlemead Book, which boasts otters, how the lake will be filled and water levels managed?

All roads lead to riches​ , ​don’t they? Especially when they live in Cranleahy.

Will a Folk Concert herald the opening of the new Cranleigh By-Pass?

Another planning application now in the pipeline proposes to build on to the existing Knowle Park Nursing Home, pictured in brown at the bottom of the diagram. The Caring Homes Health Group wants to build 23 additional bedrooms onto the long-established nursing home.

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The WW has been warned by its readers to keep off the B-word and the E-word and concentrate on ‘YW.’

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Never let it be said that the Waverley Web doesn’t listen to its followers – so to-day its back to business the Waverley Way.

Last night’s motion put forward by Farnham Firgrove councillor Jerry Hyman at first appeared to be a potent firework, but when he couldn’t find a seconder to debate the motion – it went off like a damp squib. His comment after the Full Council went completely silent for a few moments? – “How sad.”

Wouldn’t it have been great to see just one of his Farnham Residents colleagues, give the man who founded the group in 2015, a break and support him, so that at least the subject could have been given an airing? Exactly! “How sad.”

Despite his challenge to the Chief Executive to give a straight answer to a straight question, Tom Horwood stayed shtum. But then doesn’t he always? We have hardly heard him say a word since he arrived from the depths of Hampshire. Unless of course, when he wrote to the people of Farnham to tell us all what a wonderful development Blightwells, East Street would be and how Waverley would collect up all the golden eggs from the golden goose, once they were laid. Of course, now his predictions have been laid bare –  he has gone back into silence mode! Will ‘Your Waverley’ be shaken and stirred by the shocking revelations on Blightwells?

So, it was left to Solicitor Daniel Bainbridge, who seemed rather reluctant to even speak on the knotty subject of the  Special Protection Areas surrounding Farnham – and the  “truly appropriate assessment”  that Cllr Hyman was calling for, was it exasperation, or was it hesitation. Suffice to say, Barristers have told them that Waverley is doing everything right and is obeying environmental law. So that’s alright then. Cllr Hyman can put up and shut up? However, We think not.

Suffice to say – nothing changes – everyone sticks their heads back in the sand – and Farnham Park a SANG ( the area of natural greenspace) which is the mitigation that is regularly offered up to offset the harm caused by housing development, loses another deer or two or maybe three… or even more, torn apart by dogs. Try ringing ‘YW’ to report an attack and all you will get is the bums rush because it is only interested in stray dogs!

Anyway – who cares about deer – Mr Nick Macfarlane, the countryside ranger at the medieval deer park says he cares. He says Farnham Park is a nature reserve and wildlife should live “free” from fear and attack. So while shedloads of new homes are built, and occupied by shedloads more families with lorry-loads more dogs, how many deer will exist in Farnham Park in another decade?

 

Are councils taking notice of the new Habitats Directive – everywhere – except ‘Your Waverley?’

Are councils taking notice of the new Habitats Directive – everywhere – except ‘Your Waverley?’

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Despite election fever hitting a crescendo – remember – it is business as usual at ‘Your Waverley.’

Tonight (Tuesday) a Farnham councillor will call on the council to suspend the granting of planning permissions for more housing, in the light of more Government guidance on habitats regulations.

Jerry Hyman the councillor for Firgrove Ward will propose a motion calling for the suspension pending “appropriate assessment” of the heathland surrounding Farnham due to fears the impact new housing is having on wildlife and the environment in its Special Protection Area (SPA.)  This follows action already taken by other councils in the country.

Will the new coalition administration, which declared a climate emergency just weeks ago, back the motion? Or will it stick its head in the sand just like the former Tory administration has for more years than we care to remember?

We vividly remember one Cranleigh Tory councillor suggesting that Farnham’s problems could be sorted by Climate Change.  He predicted the Dartford Warbler, flying to the warmer climes in the North of England enabling more development in Farnham! 

The Cranleigh Warbler…warbling…

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Waverley Cllr  Jerry Hyman has been banging on for years, even ended up before the Standards Board – due to his insistence that the council was continually ignoring the Habitats Directive and forging ahead with development that is having a detrimental effect on Special Protection Areas including those in Farnham.

It has been a year since a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the environmental impact of nitrates from new developments which threw plans for thousands of homes in England into doubt.

“The effect of [the ruling] is colossal,” says Seán Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council and chairman of PUSH (the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire), a group of 11 local authorities that says some of its members cannot grant planning consents for fear of breaching European Union habitats regulations.

“Planning in south Hampshire has ground to a halt.” David Hayward, planning policy team leader at Havant Borough Council, adds: “We deal with habitats laws as par for the course here as we’re in a protected area, but on this issue there was, and still is, no resolution.” Hayward and Tim Pike, Havant’s deputy leader and the councillor responsible for planning, regeneration and communities, are hoping a solution can be found quickly.

On November 7, 2018, the ECJ ruled in two joined cases related to the EU Habitats Directive, known together as the ‘Dutch case’ (C-293/17 and C-294/17). Its judgment raised the bar that development projects would have to clear when being assessed to see if they breached rules protecting sensitive habitats, such as EU “special protected areas” (SPAs). During these appraisals, known as “appropriate assessments”, promoters of such projects will often cite measures that they argue will mitigate any habitat harm. The ECJ judges said that assessors should not take these measures into account…

…”if the expected benefits of those measures are not certain at the time of that assessment”.

The decision has had far-reaching repercussions for developers. In June, wildlife regulator Natural England responded to the case, and other ECJ rulings by issuing new guidance to councils on compliance with habitats regulation assessments (HRAs) taking a much tougher stance. 

Tonight ‘Your Waverley will consider the following motion. Which if agreed could bring a moratorium on housing in parts of the borough.

  1. MOTIONS ON NOTICEIn accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12, Councillor Jerry Hyman proposes the following motion:

    “That the Council instructs Officers to

    1. (i)  reinstate the moratorium on the granting of consents to new housing within the visitor catchment zones of the Thames Basin and Wealden Heath SPAs (which was implemented temporarily from May last year), with immediate effect, and to
    2. (ii)  suspend the Waverley Avoidance Strategy,

(and to advise relevant developers and other interested parties as appropriate), until such time as the requisite evidence and appropriate assessments have been produced in accordance with all relevant legislation;

and in order to enable limited development to be lawfully consented through the ‘exceptions tests’ of ‘Habitats’ Art.6(4) and Reg,64,

that the Council further instructs Officers to write to Natural England requesting that they provide the information necessary for Waverley to conduct complete appropriate assessments of the Local Plan, Avoidance Strategy and relevant planning applications, to specifically include all currently available and relevant information evidence in respect of

  1. (iii)  the robustness of the current (2009) TBHSPA Delivery Framework strategy and SANG Standards,
  2. (iv)  population data and dynamics (historic to date, and trends) for the 3 relevant bird species, for the Thames Basin and Wealden Heath SPAs,
  3. (v)  the current Conservation Status, and the necessary specific Favourable Status Conservation Objectives for the habitats and species of those SPAs,
  4. (vi)  the measured effectiveness of On-site, Local and Strategic SANGs in displacing visitor pressure and disturbance from the SPAs to SANGs,
  5. (vii)  the extent to which SANG provision and promotion encourages dog ownership in the area over time, and
  6. (viii)  the measured effectiveness of the SAMM Strategy,

and if any of that requested information is not currently available, that Officers request that Natural England advises when that information is likely to become available.”

 

 

Nobody says it better than Farnham’s David Wylde?

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It cannot be true – can it? Crest Nicholson pressurising shopkeepers to move out of Farnham’s high street in return for two years rent-free in East Street just so they can get some stickers on our Waverley Web book? They cannot be serious?

So exactly when will Waverley’s new administration decide that it wants an Independent Audit of the Blightwells scheme in Farnham?

And who will be held accountable for the damage that has been done, and continues to be inflicted on our lovely town? And why has Waverley’s  Chief Executive Officer Tom Horwood gone silent on us? Perhaps he should be writing another little letter to the people of Farnham – and not leaving it to David Wylde to pin the tail on Farnham’s donkey?

Will ‘Your Waverley’ be shaken and stirred by the shocking revelations on Blightwells?

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How Jeremy Hunt protects Whistleblowers.

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This excerpt from another website makes interesting reading. However, all you whistleblowers out there in South West Surrey don’t be put off – keep whistling in  Jeremy’s ear… and tell him – that whistleblowing is professional suicide!

P.S. If he has a moment – perhaps he should pop down to a few of his local acute hospitals. Ambulances stacked up, A & E’s overflowing, waiting rooms resembling war zones, and some “very, angry and totally demoralised staff.” 

All that – and patients driving around car parks losing the will to live.

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Is MP Jeremy Hunt exploiting Haslemere minor injuries unit?

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As far as we can ascertain Mrs Chowdhury has been unable to find work in the NHS and is suffering from stress and cancer. WW wrote to her website for a comment, but have not received any at the time of posting.

 

 

New head honcho for planning arrives soon at ‘Your Waverley,’

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As Zac Ellwood prepares to take over as Chief Planning Officer, at Waverley Towers it would appear that the former Major Projects Portfolio Manager at Guildford Borough Council is leaving just in time!

 Let us all hope that Mr Ellwood can help knock the planning department at Waverley into shape when he arrives next week. 

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Here’s a recent article from the Guildford Dragon. Showing that Guildford may soon be following Woking’s example and going for high rise?

Shock North Street Developer’s Scheme Catches Councillors By Surprise

By Hugh Coakley

A preliminary application for large-scale, 15-storey development in North Street seems to have caught many, if not all, borough councillors off guard.

The request, sent to GBC on November 15 by Savills, on behalf of developer St. Edward (Berkeley Homes Urban Renaissance), is for “an opinion on the information to be supplied in an Environmental Statement (a ‘scoping opinion’)”.

The information will be used in an Environmental Impact Assessment and gives the first outline description of the much-discussed town centre development, as envisaged by the developers.

The application shows the proposed development will comprise “residential-led, mixed-use redevelopment, consisting of up to 90,000sqm total floor space”, and include:
• Up to 850 homes;
• Retail and leisure use;
• Food and drink use;
• Flexible commercial, retail and leisure use;
• New civic squares and pedestrian routes through the site; and
• A new bus and coach station.

The buildings would range from five to 15 storeys, Commercial Road and Woodbridge Road would be permanently closed and the bus station relocated further east, towards Leapale Road.

Cllr John Rigg, (R4GV, Holy Trinity), a former Savills director, who leads for the council on Major Projects, said angrily: “The application for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) scoping opinion ahead of a planning application was a surprise to me and every member of the Executive, including the leader.

“I welcome any sign of progress with this long-running saga but councillors should not be the last to know, especially on a site we partly own.

“I have been actively requesting a briefing or sight of a development brief from our Planning Department since our election in May.

“Our residents deserve to know what is happening on this important site. I was able to meet the developer recently and I am surprised he made no mention of submitting an application.”

In a frank admission of dysfunction within the council, Cllr Rigg said he did not even know whether a development brief existed. “I have asked but received no reply,” he added.

Council leader Cllr Caroline Reeves, (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas), said: “After years of waiting for progress on the redevelopment of North Street, this is a step in the right direction, but it is only a first step. The scoping request submitted by Savills is part of the usual process, but it is nowhere near what the final development would look like.

“Any scoping request will always look at the maximum levels of development both in height and number of units. This is not a planning application, and no project of this scale can proceed without first going through full and wide public consultation.”

The Guildford Dragon NEWS asked Cllr Reeves and Cllr Jan Harwood, (Lib Dem, Merrow), lead on Planning, Regeneration and Housing Delivery, to confirm they had been unaware the application was to be submitted but no response has yet been received.

In a Dragon interview earlier this month, Cllr Rigg expressed guarded optimism in the choice of developer, Berkeley Homes. But this optimism and the hope that owning part of the development land would give the council a measure of planning control appears to have been shaken.

He said: “It is our role to either lead from the front in identifying the right scheme or at least working as valued partners with the developer.

“It is a critical site and the community want a new approach after recent planning failures such as the Solum Station scheme. We simply cannot permit a repeat of that project on North Street.”

He also wants public consultation on a range of style options to be presented by the developers. It is uncertain whether the GBC Planning Department agreed with this approach.

Let’s all hope Anne Milton has a smoother crossing next week than her daughter Nikki Henderson.

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Whilst her mother former Guildford, Cranleigh & Villages MP Anne Milton has been pounding the pavements in her general election bid, and her doctor father has to battled away in A & E  – their daughter has been on the high seas.

Greta Thunberg’s Atlantic crossing: ‘Why I wanted to help’

Greta Thunberg and Nikki Henderson

Greta Thunberg was on the wrong side of the world.

She’d taken 14 days to cross the Atlantic on a carbon-neutral journey via boat for climate change summits in the US and Chile.

But at the last minute, political unrest meant the Chile talks moved to Spain.

She needed a crew to take her back to Europe – and she needed them quickly.

That’s when Anne Milton’s daughter Nikki Henderson stepped in.

“I helped because I wanted to see what Greta was really like, get to know her and be able to educate myself about what she represents,” said the 26-year-old British sailor. 

The problem was that Nikki was in the UK when she was asked by Australian YouTubers Riley Whitlum and Elayna Carausu to join them on their yacht, ferrying Greta back to Europe.

The crew who sailed Greta from the US to Europe
Nikki and Greta were joined on the boat by Greta’s dad, YouTubers Riley Whitlum and Elayna Carausu and their baby, Lennon

And with just two days notice she had no choice but to fly to meet them she was criticised for that decision as the whole mission was supposed to be carbon-neutral.

“In an ideal world, yes, I would have sailed there and sailed back,” she says.

“But this is a more symbolic trip. Greta wanted to sail because it’s a good way to send a message to the world that there is no real sustainable option to travel.

“She’s not telling anyone how to travel, she’s not telling anyone how to live their life.”

‘We spent nights in a lightning storm’

So, Nikki, Greta, Greta’s dad Svante, Riley, Elayna and the couple’s baby Lennon set sail from Virginia, US on 13 November and spent nearly three weeks at sea on a 48-foot boat.

“We spent quite a lot of time together in quite a small space,” Nikki says.“We had most of our meals together. We sat outside together and had lots of conversations. We looked after Lenny the baby together.”But crossing the Atlantic in the winter isn’t all about cosy dinners and sitting under the stars.

“We had a couple of nights in a lightning storm which was both amazing and, I suppose, quite scary,” says Nikki.“I saw a couple of streaks hit the water and spark quite close to the boat so they were quite tense nights although most people are looking out the windows and staring and saying: ‘Wow’.”

‘Greta is obviously very brave’

As a professional sailor, Nikki says that she knows to be prepared for the unexpected, but weather like this, 40-knot winds and five-foot-high waves were “pretty nerve-wracking.”

However, experiences like these also helped her learn more about Greta.

“I think it takes a certain type of person to cross the Atlantic in the winter – she’s obviously very brave,” says Nikki.“I take my hat off to her and her father for joining us. That was a pretty courageous thing to do.”

“They didn’t do it for themselves, they did it to send a message. It felt very selfless.”After spending 19 days with her at sea, Nikki describes Greta as “friendly, quiet and kind” and says the experience has taught her why she is so “captivating.”

“Her passion comes across if you know her as a person as well as if you see her on stage or you see a setting aside parliament on the floor,” Nikki says.“She’s so captivating because she genuinely, authentically is true to her message in every way.”‘I’m sure we’ll be in contact forever’

After reaching land, Greta and Nikki will travel on to Madrid, but she believes the experience they shared with the boat’s crew will make them friends for life.

“A trip like that across an ocean builds bonds that are very, very hard to recreate in any other areas of life.”I’m coming off with four very good friends, which I’m sure we’ll keep in contact with forever.”

Nikki will return to the UK by train.

While most people aren’t able to sail across the Atlantic, Nikki believes there are lessons to be learned from their journey.

“I think we did show that sailing across the Atlantic isn’t very practical and that we do need more sustainable options available to the everyday person,” she says.

“And I think there’s definitely a message there about what you can achieve if you work together, compromise on certain areas of your life and you work with nature.“You can achieve something really remarkable if you’re if you’re prepared to do that.”

Anne Milton, who has served as the MP for 15 years,  is standing as the Independent Candidate for Guildford, Cranleigh & Villages.

Waverley planners refuse 91 new homes and send the county council back to the drawing board.

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Waverley’s senior planning committee has refused an outline application by Surrey County Council to build 91 new homes on two sites in the centre of Cranleigh.

The Joint Planning Committee refused the application by 19 votes to 2 with one abstention.

The proposed homes, which include 27 “affordable homes” would be divided between the sites of two existing schools. –  Cranleigh Middle School accessed from Parsonage Road and Cranleigh Infants school presently accessed off Church Lane, but with new access off Dewlands Lane off Ewhurst Road.

Two new schools to serve Cranleigh and the surrounding villages will be built on existing playing fields alongside Glebelands School once the principle of development on the existing school sites has been established.

However, although officers recommended approval of both schemes the committee members were not impressed and neither were residents.

Public speaker Marian Und painted a grim picture of living in St Nicholas Avenue where school traffic problems from all the Cranleigh schools had worsened dramatically in the 18 years she had lived there. She described the scene, of coaches, buses and cars forced to drive along verges, lorries backing up, parking chaos, putting children at risk.  The rural character of the area around all the schools had gone and there was now completely unacceptable congestion which would be exacerbated by more housing and larger schools. 

Her concerns were echoed by Cranleigh Parish Councillor Rosemary Burbridge, who said although the density had been reduced from 98 homes to 91, at the expense of affordable housing, the density was still too high and 3-storey homes were out of character with the surrounding area. The proposed development was not consistent with the Cranleigh Design Statement and parking was at a premium in Cranleigh. The parish was concerned about the proposed access in Dewlands Lane from Ewhurst Road, the huge loss of trees and playing fields. The council believed that in a climate emergency declared by Waverley the sites failed the Consequential Test being in Flood Zone 3.

But Joy McLoughlan representing Surrey County Council argued the development was necessary to provide funds for new schools. The present school buildings were “outmoded.” and these would be replaced by high-quality housing in the heart of the village. the new schools would include a new 3G – AG pitch, and footpath links would be restored to the village. She claimed high walls alongside Church Lane had prevented access being provided into the infant school development.

Cllr Liz Townsend said traffic in the area around the schools was particularly bad, and the present scheme which removed the existing lay-bys would create even more pressure on parking for coaches. Glebelands had grown over the years, and the merger of two new schools would also include a nursery school. She could not support the loss of 37 trees, the bat survey was out of date and believed there would be added pressure on the water system.

Farnham’s Carole Cockburn said if this was allowed to go through there would be little the planners could do at the detailed stage asking, “why are so many trees lost?”

Godalming’s Cllr Steve Cosser, the schools desperately needed more accommodation and although sympathetic to traffic problems said:

“Unfortunately traffic problems exist at every school in Surrey – so we cannot use that reason to block this proposal.”

But his Godalming colleague Paul Follows said he wouldn’t be supporting it. “We have been burned before by outline applications like this.”

But as so often before, it was left to Alfold’s Cllr Kevin Deanus to hit the nail right on the head.

“It shows here that 19 properties fail to meet the minimum national space standards and these look to me to be like a load of Butlins Holiday size homes, and our comments need to be fed back to the county.”

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The Middle School site is the larger outlined in red and the smaller on the right. 

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Access to housing on Infants School site from Dewlands Lane with Cranleigh Cemetary in the background. Cranleigh Fire Station out of the picture on the right.

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Cranleigh Middle School to be demolished to make way for housing.

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Two councillors voted for the application – 19 were against and there was one abstention.

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Surrey County Council will determine the school applications on 18th December at its Planning and Regulatory Committee.

The agenda will be displayed in the week before the meeting

Proposed venue: Ashcombe Suite, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN

Contact: Joss Butler  Email: joss.butler@surreycc.gov.uk