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

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

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