As the Secretary of State for Environment warns councils not to build in areas that flood – ‘Your Waverley’s planning officers wanted to – Carry on Regardless!
However, councillors refused to follow their advice and ditched proposed development in Frensham Vale due to flooding environmental and other concerns.
Almost 50 letters of objection have been received by ‘Your Waverley’ planners including those from Farnham Town Council, Frensham Vale Action Group and the Farnham Society all opposed to build a dwelling in the gardens of Springfield, 30 Frensham Road, Lower Bourne. The applicant had wanted to build three.
However the list of objections as long as your arm did not deter the planners from recommending approval, and neither did the fact that councillors were prevented by the owners from entering for a site visit, due to the area being flooded. But pictures sent in by residents, but not revealed by officers, showed serious flooding issues.
Councillors said the owner had already created large swathes of bituminous macadam to create a driveway across a flood plain which had already exacerbated flooding in the area. Nearby roads and properties are affected. They claimed his bid to create an alternative 195 metre driveway to serve the new dwelling in his grounds, would only make things worse.
One councillor after another, asked officers what was the point of having a Farnham Design Statement or a Farnham Neighbourhood Plan if nobody took any notice of them?
Photographs of recent floods there provided by nearby residents, said Cllr Carole Cockburn – ‘were enough to make you weep.’ She knew the site well, and had thought there was a lake on the property, it was flooded so often.
Others asked – had everyone lost sight of the fact that both Waverley and the county council had declared ‘A Climate Emergency,’ and the likelyhood was, that things could only get worse?
Trees had already been felled, without consent, to make-way for the development, at a time when everyone in the country was being encouraged to plant trees.
Cllr Gerry Hyman, who gains more support each day for his stand on environmental issues affecting the Thames Basin Heath, said no proper assessment had been made for the development’s effect on Farnham’s Special Protection areas. He said it was “scandalous” that officers had not adhered to the reasons spelled out in detail by an Inspector’s where his refusal given on two other properties were on Habitats Grounds.
“And as for asking anyone to drag bins down a 195m drive to the main road, against the council’s own policy, and objections from the Council’s own Refuse Teams, made a nonsense of the officers’ recommendation to grant consent.
Objections included …
The proposed house is situated beyond the Built-up Area Boundary and would have a harmful impact on the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, in an Area of Special Environmental Quality.
Would erode the rural and wooded landscape adding to the ‘urban creep’ and leading to infilling of the gap between Lower Bourne and Rowledge.
- lead to the pressure of fragmentation and overdevelopment.
- The provision of a driveway has already contributed to the erosion of the semi- rural character of the area.
- The removal of the existing fence should not be regarded as a planning benefit for the proposal and Flood Risk
The proposal would increase the risk of flooding to nearby properties;
The culvert running parallel to the road is often at full capacity and frequently spills onto the road;
- It has not been demonstrated that the site is sequentially preferred or meets the exception test with regard to flooding.
- No evidence of safe escape has been provided in the event of flooding as the only escape route is across the flood plain and there is no dry escape route beyond local roads (as required by the Flood Risk Practice Guide.
- The site is within Flood Zone 3
- Owners have erected a fence which interferes with the Flood Zone.
- The Flood Risk Assessment is not robust.
- Trees have been felled pre-emptively leading to a loss of privacy to neighbours at No 28.
The urbanisation of the site would harm the biodiversity of the area and erode the Frensham Vale Wildlife Corridor.
The flood risk assessment undertaken by the applicants is flawed and does not account for climate change.
Contrary to Farnham Neighbourhood Plan and the Farnham Design Statement.
The development is not sustainable as it does not accord with the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan (outside of Built Up Area Boundary) and there are no extenuating circumstance to warrant a departure from the Plan; as it is not required in order to meet housing allocations.
The application was unanimously refused – at least – the WW thinks it was – as it is too much trouble for anyone to actually announce the result! Just an almost silent counting of hands. What’s happened to the electronic voting system?
You can watch it here: