Farnham garden saved from the diggers? But for how long?

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!

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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.

 

Biodiversity

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:

5 thoughts on “Farnham garden saved from the diggers? But for how long?

  1. One of the problems posed by development applications on flood planes, is that any modelling done by the applicants or requested by the planning officers is ALWAYS going to be “flawed” as they will be based on old data and assessments from the Environmental Agency. The data used for last nights planning meeting clearly does NOT represent the flooding caused by the recent storms nor what might happen in the future with climate change. Planning officers can only go by the data they are provided with, and they are NOT allowed to use crystal ball,
    So perhaps its about time the EA (who must be struggling to cope) or the Government brings in some new legislation that DOES predict the future?
    Otherwise applicants such as the one being discussed can continue to manipulate flawed planning regulations.

  2. Yesterday’s Telegraph front page: “Flood prone communities may have to be abandoned and residents moved elsewhere”, the head of the Environment Agency will say at Tuesday’s World Water Tech Innovation Summit in London. Sir James Bevan will also say building on flood plains should only happen if there is no real alternative”

  3. We wholeheartedly agree with your comments, and we feel quite sorry for officers who can only use the policies and modelling data they are presented with. As one said, I am not an expert on flooding, neither am I a Civil Engineer.

    However, there have been some dreadful mistakes made in the past by Waverley Planners, and the chickens are coming home to roost in our borough. Homes under consruction in Flood zones are displacing the floodwater to other properties. Despite being warned, and however loud residents shouted, they were totally ignored.

    Now home-owners nearby are living in fear, and until someone, somewhere takes note of local knowledge of areas that repeatedly flood – then we are going to hell in a handcart – or an inflatible dinghy?

    Sir James Bevan is right. No building on flood plains should be allowed. Full stop. Alternatives must be found.

    The WW well remembers a Chief Planning Officer saying in response to residents’ and councillors’ fears over a large development next to Cranleigh Waters. That the properties would be built higher. This has happened elsewhere too- HGV’s delivering aggregate to build platforms on which to build new homes. So what about the surrounding homes, on lower ground?

    • That is the whole point of the argument – No-one thinks of these applications as a whole – they are told they must do each on it’s Own merits – and yet the cumulative effect is far greater for existing and New residents – Just look at the Executives papers on How GREEN We are going to become 3rd March 2020

      “Countryside and Biodiversity
      WBC will improve and protect the biodiversity and ecology of their green spaces and protect them against the negative impacts of climate change. Tree planting and biodiversity policies will be prepared and delivered to ensure they are considered both in policy and practice across the Council’s services. Across the borough existing trees will be protected and sustainable tree planting expanded for the sequestering and storing of carbon.
      And yet they seem to think this is of no importance when someone chops down trees for a new Drive for an un-approved application – they are obviously on private land and not TPO – but there does appear to be a presumption in favour of this development on behalf of the applicant.

      NO building should be allowed on or adjacent to Flood Plains – It is not rocket science and moving a tarmacked drive a few feet is not going to help the situation. It is a desk based answer to a problem and someone needs to pull their finger out and come up with an answer to this and look at how this will effect the adjoining properties …. Water HAS to go somewhere and when you Tarmac over a floodplain there is only one way.

      So glad they refused – But no doubt this applicant will return Yet again! – Good Luck!

  4. I also heard of a case where a Waverley Officer carried out a Permeable Surface test with a watering can. When he saw his water drain through the surface, it passed his “test” and was able to declare at the planning meeting there would be no run-off from the driveway into the neighbour’s property!
    Logic tells us that Storm Dennis = one billion watering cans, BUT logic is not a material consideration.

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