Here are the proposed sites in these two villages now earmarked for development in Waverley’s Draft Local Plan Part 2. The public will have an opportunity to comment on these proposals when the public consultation takes place sometime during October.
However, in Chairman Carole Cockburn’s race to have her say on the next phase of the important new document, she said she wouldn’t refer to residents questions. She told the Overview & Scrutiny committee that the public should refer to the council’s website if they wanted to know what Milford’s Kathy Smythe and Parish Cllr Gillian McCalden had to say.
According to the report considered by the Environment O & S Committee, the allocations for future development now proposed for Milford and Witley comprise three sites. Two of these (Land at Highcroft, between Haslemere Road and Petworth Road and Land at Wheeler Street Nurseries) were proposed allocations in the earlier draft presubmission document. They are relatively small sites (providing 7 and 20 dwellings respectively).
The other site now proposed – (supported by Witley Parish Council in the link above ) for allocation, is the land at Secretts, Hurst Farm, and Milford.
The land and buildings on the Milford nursery site now stand derelict. No more pick your own?
The sites at Coneycroft and Manor Lodge, Milford and Land West of Petworth Road, Witley, that were proposed for allocation in the draft Plan considered in October 2018, are no longer included in the current draft The Secretts site is not within one of the broad locations that LPP1 identified as having potential for removal from the Green Belt and was not, therefore, included as a proposed allocation in earlier draft versions of LPP2. However, officers have critically evaluated the situation and have also been mindful of the community support for the allocation of the Secretts site, expressed through the Parish Council. At a Witley Parish Council meeting on Thursday 27th February 2020, the following resolution was made:
“The preferred location for the majority of the remaining housing that Witley Parish has to deliver by 2032, to meet its target, is the land at the Secretts site in the centre of the village of Milford.”
Given the local support for Secretts to be considered for allocation, the Council sought legal advice on whether any Green Belt sites lying outside the LPP1 ‘asterisked’ areas could be considered for removal from the Green Belt in LPP2. The advice given is that there is nothing in law to prevent the Council from considering sites outside the broad areas identified in LPP1. However, if the Council were to consider a site outside of these areas then there would need to be clear and cogent reasons for doing so.
‘No community wants this’: Sussex new town plans anger local Tories
Although the Waverley Web mainly concentrates on all things Waverley/Surrey – the county is not an island and development on Waverley’s borders – e.g. Bordon – affects all our lives here in Farnham.
This scheme in Adversane adjoins the Surrey/Sussex border near Loxwood and Dunsfold and would mainly access the A281 Guildford to Horsham Road.
The scheme named Kingswood for nearly 3,000 new homes assembled by Sir Michael Hintze, who has given £4.6m to the Conservatives is a hop, skip and a jump from Dunsfold’s new garden village (2,600) homes on the former airfield on the outskirts of Cranleigh
Plans for a new town in rural Sussex backed by one of the Conservative party’s biggest donors and close allies of Prince Charles are exposing a split in the Tory party over how to rapidly accelerate housebuilding.
The scheme for 2,850 homes, is being proposed on open fields at Adversane which has been assembled by hedge fund billionaire Sir Michael Hintze who has given £4.6m to the Conservatives. Its design is partly inspired by Poundbury, the ersatz Georgian town in Dorset created by Prince Charles, and Sir Michael Peat, the Prince of Wales’s former private secretary is a director of the development company.
But it is being opposed by local Conservative MP Andrew Griffith, who said:
“it is the wrong type of development in the wrong place” and local Tory councillors who have warned: “No community wants this on their doorstep.”
It looks set to be a test case for the government’s controversial new planning strategy announced last month which is set to relax national planning rules and set significantly higher local housebuilding targets in areas including Horsham.
John Halsall, the Tory leader of Wokingham borough council in Berkshire, which is also facing central government demands to build significantly more homes warned of a high political cost saying
“You won’t have a Tory left in the south or south-east of England.”
Some of the land is owned by Eton College, the alma mater of the prime minister, Boris Johnson. The largest parcel which would be built over is a farm purchased by Hintze for £10m from Mike Stock, the songwriter behind a string of 1980s hits by Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley and Bananarama.
Local opponents say the project – which could ultimately create a town of around 10,000 people – threatens rare wildlife, an increase in car congestion and risks becoming a dormitory for London commuters.
“There is an enormous amount of antipathy to this scheme,” said Julian Trumper, a local resident organising opposition. “Horsham has already taken enough of Sussex’s requirement to build housing and this potential growth is unsustainable. Infrastructure and road and rail links are insufficient. The displacement to wildlife and established ecosystems by building a new town in the open countryside is incalculable.”
The project claims that it will: “focus on building a community for people of all ages and providing a platform for economic opportunity and sustainable growth” and will champion the principle of “beauty” in town planning identified by Sir Roger Scruton in his report to the government on planning and architecture.
But the row over whether it should go ahead exposes a growing schism in Conservative ranks over two proposed reforms to accelerate housebuilding.
The first is a new planning system that will make it easier and quicker for developers to build on greenfield sites, which Conservative councillors have complained undermines local democratic involvement by proposing zones where detailed planning consents would not berequired.
The second is new inflated house building targets which backbench Conservative MPs and council leaders have criticised as too high and ignoring local needs. The new target for Horsham would see the area required to deliver 1,715 new homes a year, more than double the current target of 800.
The high status of Kingswood’s backers – with close links to the top of government and the monarchy – has also sparked fears that local influence could be further undermined, with opponents citing the planning scandal earlier this year in which it emerged that the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, backed a project by party donor Richard Desmond against the advice of officials.
In other words, it is not what you know but who you know in the wonderful world of developers?
“After what we saw with Jenrick and Desmond, we have the impression that the property developers are doing all this with barely any local democracy at all.
A spokesperson for Horsham district council said:
“Any site that is allocated in the next step of the local plan process will be subject to full public scrutiny at a public examination conducted by an independent planning inspector. Each site will be assessed to determine whether it is suitable, achievable and available, in a public arena.”
The local Conservative MP, Andrew Griffith, said: “We are building on greenfield, we’re not using brownfield land. This is the wrong type of development in the wrong place. The identity of the landowner is not important. I am giving voice to constituent concerns.”He told a Commons debate earlier this month: “So many of my constituents in villages of every letter of the alphabet, are having their lives blighted by the prospect of inappropriate and unsustainable development”.
Philip Circus, a Conservative member of Horsham council in whose ward the development is proposed, added:
“I am not interested that people are connected with royalty or people that donate to the Conservative party. It cuts no ice with me. We don’t feel any compulsion to doff our caps to anyone other than the residents. This is a rural community which in infrastructure terms does not look like an area for major housing development.”
The Kingswood masterplan has been submitted for inclusion in Horsham district council’s local plan, which is currently out to public consultation. The director of the development company, Dominic Richards, was formerly a director at the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community – the heir to the throne’s architecture and planning charity which promotes traditional urbanism.
‘Your Waverley’s Draft Local Plan Part 2 has now been published. Included, are Areas of Strategic Visual Importance (ASVI’s) (ASVI’s.) This policy aims to protect areas from development
Sites in Farnham, Haslemere, Godalming and Cranleigh are included which are considered by the council to be areas that contribute to the particular character of an area.
In Cranleigh’s case, it aims to protect an area around the Snoxhall Fields and in particular, the site proposed by The Cranleigh Village Hospital Health Trust (CVHT) for a controversial new private 64-bed Care Home – 16 community continuing care beds – and an apartment block of 14 individual one and two-bedroom self-contained apartments. A scheme which is a 20% reduction on an application refused in 2019. An appeal has also been lodged Planning Inspectors reference: APP/R3650/W/20/3253368 against the refusal of the larger scheme for an 80-bed care home for Surrey people and 28 bedsits for health workers in Surrey. Comments can be made to the Inspector by the 23 October at https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk Or by letter to Tommy Caie, Room 3B, Eagle Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol BS1 6PN.
The former Guildford & Waverley CCG has since April 2020 become part of a huge organisation called Surrey Heartlands. This includes CCG’s from – East Surrey; Guildford & Waverley; North West Surrey and Surrey Downs.
Could Waverley’s Draft Local Plan Part 2 put a spanner in The works of a bid to build a controversial new care home in Cranleigh Town Centre.
Areas of Strategic Visual Importance (ASVIs is a local designation that was developed as part of the Local Plan Briefs of 1981 and 1984. The importance of the designation is to protect areas of land unprotected by national landscape designations, but that still need protection because of the role they play in establishing the character of a locality and preventing coalescence between developed areas.
The issues that the designation addresses are:
Where land is vulnerable to development pressure
Where protection is essential due to strategic visual importance
Where there are strong environmental reasons
For the preservation of the character of the locality
In order to prevent coalescence
Where parcels of land are relatively small and open on the urban fringe The designation was reviewed as part of the LLDR undertaken for Local Plan Part 1 but detailed boundary changes were not considered. Local Plan Part 1 retains the existing ASVI areas under Policy RE3 following the conclusions of the LLDR, pending a review of the detailed boundaries in Local Plan Part 2.
So the question is? Will Waverley Planners continue once again refuse the scheme due to go before them shortly. bearing in mind that the site is – in the opinion of Cranleigh residents who signed off on the Cranleigh Parish’s `Neighbourhood Plan, now with Inspectors – an Area of Strategic Visual Importance?
The residents over there in the eastern villages, who dug deep into their pockets to supply £1.8m to build a new hospital will now have to wait and see if Waverley Planners will succumb to the threat of a costly public inquiry before a Government Inspector that now hangs over them?
Villagers are now asking? How can a local charity Cranleigh Village Hospital Health Trust (CVHT) afford yet another expensive planning application with all that it entails, plus an appeal that includes a public hearing, when it does not have sufficient funds in its coffers?
Although the Trust includes in the value of its accounts £2.5m for land it paid the parish £1, despite having no extant planning consent, it is claimed, it does not have insufficient funds for costly planning battles. Battles that have split the village, and increased Waverley’s officers’ workload as they are bombarded with hundreds of letters and a petition launched by Andy Webb’s (Nothing to do with the WW) Cranleigh Community Group which so far has 2,686 signatures. http://chng.it/VzZwfTL4PH
The ASVI in Cranleigh has been reviewed as part of the Cranleigh Neighbourhood Plan and so the boundary will remain unchanged until the Cranleigh Neighbourhood Plan is adopted with a new ASVI boundary. Policy RE3 of Local Plan Part 1 will apply to the Cranleigh ASVI as set out in Map 35 below until the Cranleigh Neighbourhood Plan is adopted, at which point Policy RE3 will apply to the ASVI as set out in the Cranleigh Neighbourhood Plan.
Policy RE3 of the Waverley Borough Local Plan Part 1: Strategic Policies and Sites, will apply to the areas designated as Areas of Strategic Visual Importance (ASVI) in Cranleigh below.
The Triangle at the top of the land edged in green is opposite the new Berkeley Homes(425) site in Knowle Lane – formerly part of parish-owned Snoxhall playing fields. The land which Cranleigh parish council has asked to be returned, as it claims the proposed use is not in the spirit of a covenant it signed over 20 years ago for a hospital and day hospital to replace the old Cranleigh village Hospital – which is now back in use.
Waverley Cllr Nick Palmer’s in one of his regular newsletters explains a little more about the new NHS App.
Should you download the new NHS app?
Nick Palmer – WBC Labour Councillor for Godalming Binscombe and former Member of Parliament.
Regular readers of my newsletter will know that I’m critical of the Government, which you might expect from the Chair of the constituency Labour Party – but I try to be constructive too. In the last resort, we are all facing collective threats, and while the Government may not always be sensible, they are not actually trying to kill us! So we should look at the new NHS app that they launched with an open mind.
I have an iPhone 6 and found it really easy. It offers real-time checking of your environment for known infection sources, as well as easy check-in for public places like restaurants which are required to check your identity in case you need to be notified of an infection. It also enables you to report any tests you’ve had and to remind yourself of the symptoms to watch out for and the latest advice. Finally, it tells you the current infection level in your area. For GU7 it’s currently Medium, meaning that Waverley or a neighbouring authority has a high or rising level – this probably relates to Spelthorne, which was recently identified as a place to watch for rising rates.
There have been various criticisms, which I’ll look at simply as an informed observer – I have no official standing, so you shouldn’t take my advice as gospel, but for what it’s worth I have a mathematics PhD and I’m familiar with the way these things are developed.
If it detects every possible threat, won’t it go off all the time?
No. It keeps track of how closely and how long you’re exposed – merely passing someone in the street shouldn’t trigger it. So far, the rate of infection has I believe been around 1 in a thousand people, and many of those affected will be self-isolating. So if you go for a stroll and pass 10 people, it’s unlikely to react. On the other hand, if you go to an illegal house party with 30 reckless people, then it probably will warn you. So it should.
If it does warn you, what happens?
You are expected to self-isolate for 14 days and request a test (also available through the app). In practice, it’s up to you but you’re breaking the law if you ignore it and can, in theory, be fined. However, your app is anonymous and it’s not reporting to anyone but you. Clearly, you’ll normally want to self-isolate if you might have caught the virus unless you actually want to go around potentially infecting friends and family. The app will warn everyone who also has the app and has recently been in contact with you (it won’t identify you as the source). If your test comes back negative, they will all be informed and can forget the incident, though to be safe you’re asked to complete the 14 days’ isolation before returning to normal (or perhaps one should say “normal”).
Why is it important?
In practice, the Track & Trace network isn’t working reliably yet, because it’s dependent on people alerting each other by phone, a manual process subject to whether they find the person at home, whether they answer, and so on. If a good chunk of the population is carrying the app and respond appropriately, then the rate of infection will slow down automatically and we’ll all benefit. It doesn’t have to be universal – like a vaccine if a lot of people are taking it, it reduces the spread. But clearly, it’s not going to be so useful if only a few people use it, though it’s still helpful in alerting you if you visit a restaurant or another public place. Similar efforts are going on throughout Western Europe, with Ireland the most successful so far – around a third of the population is already using it there.
Should society just return to normal and take the risk?
If you do catch the virus, you probably won’t die unless you have a pre-existing condition or are over 60, and quite likely not even then. But the virus can have severe long-term consequences even if you survive, not all of which are yet fully understood. Catching it is a bad idea, even if you’re young and fit – quite apart from the issue of passing it on to others. We could collectively decide to ignore it and hope for the best, but inevitably the result would be a colossal number of deaths, dwarfing current levels, and a huge impact on the health of millions more. It’s hard to describe that as “the best”. In my opinion, we need to have a prudent year, even though it will mean less fun.
Will the app solve the problem?
No – for one thing, not everyone has a smartphone that can use it. But it’ll help. And that’s perhaps all we can expect for now. But we have a national crisis, and we should all try to do what we can to limit it.
Waverley’s Local Plan Part 1 requires the council to provide suitable sites to meet the needs of travellers and gipsies. Now in LP Part 2, they are being provided for.
Following an assessment made of their needs in 2017, it was found that 43 traveller pitches were needed plus two sites for show people. However, as some development has already taken place – 17 pitches have been allocated in the borough – mainly in Farnham and Cranleigh.
However. In the life of the plan, the Council wants to allocate additional sites to accommodate the potential need for those unknown households that were unable to be interviewed when a needs survey was carried out by consultants.
The potential need arising from unknown households could be a maximum of 24 pitches if all demonstrate they meet the planning definition.
However, according to a report on Local Plan Part 2 considered this week by Waverley’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee, some further pitches have been granted planning permission since the base date, (mainly in Dunsfold) so had already contributed to meeting that need. However, these have formed households where was unknown if they meet the planning definition of a ‘gypsy and traveller.’
The WW does wonder why therefore was permission granted?
Taking this into account, the report says there is a need for 39 pitches over the Plan Period up to 2032.
Now with the new draft Local Plan Part 2 under consideration – the council has included a policy for meeting the needs of this specific group by providing a new range of homes and accommodation.
The council took the view when identifying suitable sites, that in the main, they should be contained within existing authorised sites.
Suitable extensions to available existing sites
Use available land within settlements and other brownfield and outside settlements
Or other land.
The Government’s aim is for sustainable and mixed communities, and Waverley wants to deliver enough decent homes in suitable locations for everyone in the community.
The report says: Gypsies and Travellers have historically been part of the local community and continue to be so; they are important groups with specific accommodation needs. The Government’s aim is to ensure fair and equal treatment of Gypsies and Travellers, in a way that facilitates their traditional and nomadic way of life of while respecting the interests of the settled community.
The Council is required under the National Planning Framework (NPPF) and the Housing Act 2004 accommodate the needs of the population within their area. The Act also places a duty on local authorities to assess both current and future travellers’ needs. They must set pitch targets for gypsies and travellers and plot targets for travelling show people in order to address the likely permanent and transit-site accommodation needs of this group in their area.
The Council must also identify a five-year supply of sites against their locally set targets, much the same way as is required with another housing land.
In 2015 the Government updated its Planning Policy for Traveller Sites to include a new definition of Gypsy and Travellers. The key change to the definition was the removal of the term “persons….who have ceased to travel permanently”
For planning policy, ‘pitch’ means a pitch on a ‘gypsy and traveller’ site and ‘plot’ means a pitch on a ‘travelling show people’ site (often called a ‘yard’). The full definition is in the National Planning Policy for Traveller Sites.
This means that those who have stopped travelling no longer fall under the planning definition of a Traveller in terms of assessing the needs for accommodation.
Waverley’s The latest version of the Waverley Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (TAA) was published in June 2017 and factually updated in 2018. It was undertaken by consultants who sought to identify all sites and encampments in Waverley and attempted to complete interviews during the non-travelling season with residents on all occupied pitches and plots.
They also gave the opportunity to traveller households in ‘bricks and mortar’ accommodation to engage in the process and engaged with seven nearby Local Authorities to understand the wider issues in the area. The assessment is based on the Government’s guidance in Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (2015) and the new definition of a Traveller.
The TAA concluded that, at the base date in 2017, there was a need for 27 additional pitches for households that meet the planning definition and up to 24 additional pitches from unknown households14 that were unable to be interviewed. Ten households did not meet the planning definition.
Based on the survey, the proportion of households in Waverley that meet the planning definition (26 households – 62%) versus those that do not (16 households – 38%), is higher than the national average (10% in 2017) according to statistics by Opinion Research Services (ORS). The need arising from households that meet the planning definition translates into a minimum accommodation target that will be addressed through the site allocations process contained within Local Plan Part 2.
For contingency and resilience, it is proposed that two-thirds (66%) of the potential need from unknown households are built into the accommodation target. This higher number is in line with the local proportion of households in Waverley that met the planning definition in the TAA and gives flexibility and support to the delivery of the Plan to maintain a five-year supply of sites.
The TAA did not identify any need for the provision of a transit site due to the small numbers of unauthorised encampments in Waverley at the time of the fieldwork.
The committee charged with scrutinising the next phase of Waverley’s Local Plan gave it a bit of a drubbing this week claiming it was weak and needed tweaking.
Chairman Carole Cockburn (Con Farnham Bourne) was in fine voice and only narrowly avoided a row having hardly stopped for breath and only reluctantly allowing her council colleagues to speak occasionally and not receive answers to questions. She said she couldn’t see them in the Zoom meeting, so we presume she thought they had nothing to say? Poor old Cllr Steve Williams was told he wasn’t a member of the committee ONLY a member of the Executive. In other words, put up and shut up!
Too much on the agenda officers? And when were you offered an opportunity to answer questions?
Elstead’s Aunty Elsey once again in her best seaside landlady biddy mode remonstrated, as she has done so many times before…yawn, castigating poor old Williams for not treating the chairman with the respect she deserved. All the poor devil did was try to get a word in edgeways! Since when has Elsey been Waverley’s appointed policeman for enforcing the code of conduct by waving her broomstick all over the place?
Chief Planning Officer Zac Ellwood and Team’s presentation was slick, easy to understand and revealed how the Draft Local Plan Part 2 might look. Once approved by the council it would go out to public consultation In October to be and examined by an Inspector in December.
He said LP2 had been delayed for a number of reasons, ( withdrawn by the Tory administration before the May 2019 elections) including the new Executive’s wish to produce a robust and sound replacement for the 2002 plan. It included implications for the environmental, design, transport, the settlement boundaries and future development in the Green Belt and rural areas. It also included site allocations for development.
It included energy efficiency measures, water supplies/wastewater where changes to infrastructure were required. Improvements to the Farnham A31 By-pass (Hickleys Corner) which had dropped off the county councils agenda for many years and was now back on again.
There were new policies for new homes internal space standards and significant new policies for Areas of Strategic Visual Importance (ASVI’s).
He said on one particular proposed development site – Red Court in Scotland Lane, Haslemere, officers would make the site boundary clearer for the Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
All sites earmarked for development should be suitable, available and achievable, and in accordance with local Neighbourhood Plans.
He recognised there was concern about the visual impact of development in the countryside in Haslemere and that residents would prefer housing on brownfield sites, and a higher density of development within the town centre. There was also concern about the water supply.
Secretts was the preferred site option in Milford. He outlined policies for gipsy sites in the borough (the subject of a separate post).
However, it was Cllr Robert Knowles that landed the first punch claiming that the Plan did not take account of the severe water shortages in Haslemere.
“Assurances by SE Water and Thames Water – which had no connection with each other – that they could continue to manage demand, was… rubbish!”
He said Guildford, Cranleigh and Haslemere are outside the area and not connected to the network. “Indeed there is no nationwide network.”
“In the Summer during the Coronavirus, when there was a serious threat to health Haslemere’s water was supplied by tankers. This included Haslemere Hospital. This resulted in a meeting between Waverley and the water companies, when we were told our area is an island and we are not connected to the grid. However, this has all conveniently been left out of this report.”
“So in other words, there is no long term solution, though we understand there could be a solution when Abingdon in Oxfordshire comes online in 2032! He argued there were more suitable sites in Haslemere for development e.g. brownfield sites already served with water.”
Farnham Residents’ Cllr Jerry Hyman said he wanted LPP2 to include environmental policies that strengthen and implement protections that exist in environmental law. This would benefit in particular the East of the borough (Cranleigh and eastern villages) as well as the west and central areas.
The plan should also apply the wording… MUST in certain policies not SHOULD where appropriate.
Other topics affecting individual town and villages will be included in future posts.
Here at the Waverley Web, we have found Waverley Cllr Nick Palmer’s regular updates on the Covid-19 pandemic very helpful, easy to understand and relate to.
Here’s his latest missive.
WBC Labour Councillor and former Member of Parliament Cllr Nick Palmer.
Just a few updates this time, but significant ones. Health warning: point 3 is partisan!
I won’t comment on the national debate, but it’s worth noting that the pandemic is edging upwards here in Waverley as everywhere else.
The latest daily reports note 558 confirmed cases so far in Waverley and currently an estimated 93 active cases, with 7 new cases this week. The active cases are not yet a big proportion of the population (around 1 in 1000) but it’s a reminder to stay on the safe side.
If you have a few contacts with people from other households now and then with luck, you’ll be OK, but if you see lots of people regularly without taking care you’re running a significant risk, especially if it’s indoors (e.g. a pub), which seems to have a much higher risk than out of doors. While it’s true that younger people generally don’t die from the virus, it can have nasty long-term effects on your health at any age, quite apart from the risk of passing it on. Wearing a mask when you’re out and encountering others remains a very good idea, both for you and for those around you.
Waverley Borough Council is quietly preparing to do all it can to help in the difficult months that we expect are coming. Please keep an eye on
Is Surrey County Council’s bid to abolish all borough councils collapsing? We can answer that with a firm “Maybe”. The ludicrous sequence of events has been this:
a) The Government let it be known that it was planning autumn legislation encouraging abolition of borough councils, with their powers merged into one central county council to rule us all. This would, however, “only be done where there was consensus”.
b) Thrilled by this Lord of the Rings-style prospect, Surrey County Council rushed into preparing a bid to be one of the first, employing expensive consultants, printing glossy leaflets and conducting push-polling (phone polls in which you indicate what you want to hear and ask if the recipient agrees).Bye, Bye ‘ Your Waverley’ Hello ‘ Surrey?’
c) All 11 borough councils opposed the proposal, and a grassroots campaign against it rapidly gathered thousands of signatures. This appeared to demonstrate a lack of consensus.
d) The Government indicated that when they said “consensus”, they didn’t actually mean that most people needed to agree. Encouraged, the County Council continued to press ahead.
f) Further rumours now suggest that perhaps it may not be quite dead after all.
Government by rumour is just irritating, and when the County Council spends large sums of taxpayers’ money on an unannounced policy it’s ridiculous. And does it make sense to abolish local government at borough level at exactly the time when boroughs are being asked to prepare to be the front line of tracing COVID contacts through the winter? Note that none of this is partisan in itself. The Government, County Council and many of the borough councillors are Conservative. We are paying for them all to squabble among themselves. Wouldn’t it be good if they concentrated on the real problems – notably COVID and the impending impact of Brexit – facing us all? If you’d like to sign the non-partisan petition asking them to stop, it’s at
You’ll be able to take a view on all this next May when Surrey is due to have County Council elections. The Government flirted with cancelling these in view of the imminent reorganisation, but they now look likely to go ahead. If you feel that the Conservatives are doing well, this will be a chance to confirm them in post. But if you’d like a coherent alternative, Labour is preparing actively and we look forward to playing our part in Surrey to showing that people across the whole country want a genuine, intelligent alternative to multi-level Conservative rule. If you’d like to look into joining in, the link is here:
If Surrey’s bid to become a behemoth unitary authority wasn’t so serious – it would have had audiences laughing in the aisles of the home of farce at the Whitehall Theatre.
So far only £150,000 of taxpayers money has been tipped down Surrey’s sewers. Flushed away by Cllr Oliver’s attempt to convince us that his vanity project still has some mileage left in it.
They say a week is a long time in politics. Just a few days in the case of ‘Bob the Builder’ Robert Jenrick’s White Paper.
Last week Surrey County Council Leader Oliver was throwing his toys out of his pram bemoaning the fact that – ‘Jenrick’ as he referred to the Secretary of State – had pulled the plug on Cllr Oliver’s cunning plan to turn Surrey into the largest authority in the country.
Bob appeared to have pushed the destruct button on the Recovery and Devolution White Paper. Setting it back on to his ‘to-do list.’
BTB relayed the message that No 10 was not prepared to move further on local government restructuring as part of the devolution White Paper, due in the Autumn.
Over the weekend you could hear the tyres screeching on the Whitehall tarmac as yet another government U-turn took place. County council leader Tim Oliver’s power bid for a single Surrey unitary authority appeared to be over. Scuppered by Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick.
No surprise there then. The Government to-do list is growing by the day and so are the U-turns.
Up pops a fuming Cllr Oliver (Con, Weybridge) who broke the news to his fellow Tory’s by email saying:
“I have asked Jenrick to confirm what the position is regarding Surrey and we are asking some of our MPs to find out but as far as I am concerned this kills our bid.“I will confirm the position for definite if or when Jenrick answers my letter but quite why this government keeps starting fires and then walking away I really don’t know. Disappointing.”
– Surrey’s Tim Oliver can’t quite make up his mind whether or not he is actually in control of another fine mess ‘Bob the Builder’ has dumped the country in.
So with the ink barely dry on the Surrey’s borough and district councils £50,000 cheques winging their way to enable consultants (KPMG) to find a more appropriate way of joining forces with neighbouring authorities than… Wham Bang – his game of thrones is back on again!
So just days later according to Cllr Oliver its all back on again. Really – you couldn’t make it up!
“It is expected that a government White Paper on Recovery and Devolution will still be published in the coming months. In line with that, we have been working hard to determine the best system of local government for Surrey, to make sure that any devolution of power can be truly grasped by our local communities.“What is most important to me, beyond any structural change or governance, is our residents and giving them more influence over their own communities.
“We have so far received no instruction from the Secretary of State, either to proceed or to stop work on this.”
So if that’s the case why did he tell all his Tory mates it was all off?
Have the lunatics at Whitehall and No 10 taken over the asylum – or is Tempestuous Tim in such a hurry to become Surrey’s new Mayor, that he is blinded by ambition?
So where actually are we now? Well, certainly our hard-earned council taxpayers’ money is over £750,000 worse off and Cllr Oliver isn’t giving up saying:
“We need to progress … the whole local engagement and empowerment piece and I am discussing how we work that with the local Conservative group leaders.”
Someone tell him please, that the Conservative Group leaders aren’t on-board with his cunning plans?
Cllr Oliver had launched his unitary authority bid in anticipation of the White Paper, a shock move that stirred deep anger among the county’s 11 borough and district councils, including ‘Your Waverley’ that would have been wiped out. The Conservative Group at Waverley led by Cllr Julia Potts is opposing his bid.
Amid a furore that followed the shock announcement including accusations of a “power-grab”, all council leaders formed a group to challenge the plan.
After months of lobbying the Cranleigh Civic Society (CCS) has prompted Surrey County Council to withdraw its planning appeal APP/R3650/W/20/3253295 to build 91 homes on two former school sites in Parsonage Road.
The local Civic Society that speaks up on behalf of the residents of Cranleigh.
The agent acting for SCC has advised that this is because the county council has decided not to progress the overall multi-million-pound project to re-provide new schools on an alternative site on playing fields at Glebelands School. It had intended to provide around 540 places for primary school children and 68 nursery school places. However, the CCS prompted a campaign to oppose the siting of the schools.
No doubt that volte-face means the long-awaited 3G pitch gets kicked into touch too? A row broke out when Berkeley Homes’ 106 monies towards the pitch were earmarked for a fee-paying school. Berkley’s did a U-turn when Cranleigh’s sporting organisations kicked off, saying the money was intended for community sports facilities.
Now, instead of going ahead with plans to relocate Cranleigh Infants, Cranleigh Primary School/nursery school, and the Cranleigh C of E Middle School county education chiefs will go back to the drawing board. Work has already begun on repairing the roof and toilet block on one school site where…
raindrops have been falling on the heads of pupils for years!
CCS says it is looking forward to working with the county council and the school to find the funds to carry out further urgent repairs as soon as possible.
So, at last, thanks to the campaigning of the CCS – led by the husband and wife partnership of Susan and Trevor Dale, the controversial plans which also included 91 new homes on the former school sites – one in Parsonage Road and another off Dewlands Lane and Church Lane have been dumped.
Its spokesman told the Waverley Web:
‘ We take this as a success and hope you do too – thank you to all who spoke up against losing fields, gaining more housing and being appalled at the design of the school entrance. Glebelands school playing fields are back in use for sport! The school’s playing field, which were due to be built on, has now been reinstated as a U11 football pitch and is being used by the Cranleigh Community.
The local’s objected to the relocation due to the restricted access and traffic congestion in an inappropriate location. It was agreed that the present site, on the same road, is the best location for the school and should be retained.
Glebelands’ Governors have written to Liz Mills (SCC Education) to determine the future strategy for schools in the area. They believe a meeting to discuss strategy along with the Heads of Glebelands and Cranleigh Primary School is now essential. Cranleigh Parish Council has a strong voice in the bid to protect and improve educational facilities for the area.
Waverley Web wonders why the county council has suddenly dumped the scheme? – New school places will be required to serve new housebuilding which continues unabated in the eastern villages? Could it be that it is predicting a big black financial hole in its finances?
CCS now wonders if the removal of the hedge alongside the bowling green will be completed.
We wonder whether Philip Roche (schools and major capital projects manager) will now finish his ‘general maintenance work of the site which included pruning, clearing and safety work on the social club site and the public footpath’ The Council denied that the removal of the hedge had anything to do with widening the access to the proposed site yet, since the withdrawal of the application, it has left the access to the playing fields in a real mess and far from making it safe for the children, they have left it in a hazardous state. We can but keep trying….
The centre may be sited in the Village Way car park close to the existing centre and when ‘Your Waverley’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee discussed the project this week there was all-round relief that an end to Cranleigh being the poor relation in the borough’s leisure stakes could be coming to an end.
Chairman Cllr Kevin Deanus said:
“Just to keep the existing leisure centre safe and workable would cost us £6m over the next 5 years. Which would just be throwing good money after bad. That should serve as a useful reminder to us all.”
Cranleigh had a strong supporter in Farnham Cllr Jerry Hyman who said he could never understand why the condition of the Cranleigh facilities had been allowed to get so bad.
“It’s nice to see that the people of Cranleigh – like us in Farnham – who have endured road chaos on our streets and with its high street constantly being dug up causing havoc will finally have some good news. Particularly after all the building-work, they have been put through.
However, he wondered about the timing and the wording on the officers’ report saying…?
‘It is expected that a few assumptions that were made will now have to be revisited.”
He assumed this was a caveat to the amount of time it would take? He believed it was obvious that the project, whilst being thought about, may not go ahead for 4/5 years as there was a lengthy process to go through.
However, although there was now real hope for Cranleigh – what if Waverley didn’t exist any more would it be reliant on Surrey County Council loving the people of Cranleigh?”
He called for a realistic timetable for the project. – “I would like to know and so would the residents of Cranleigh.`’
Cllr Deanus assured the committee that was why it was top of the council’s agenda.
“I want to ensure this project doesn’t fall off a cliff and we lose control.”
Leisure Manager Kelvin Mills was as keen as everyone to get on with the project – saying “we want leisure facilities fit for the future as much as you do.’ But, post-COVID who knows what the leisure market will be like in future. However, given the time it takes for tender and other work it gives enough lead time to establish a sustainable business model. Officers would look at the facility-mix in the light of the COVID pandemic’s impact.
Cllr Deanus warned: “We will be keeping you on your toes on this one we can assure you.”
Another sigh of relief came from Cllr Mary Foryszewski. She said she had feared that Cranleigh’s new centre was destined to become a COVID casualty and was thrilled that the new Administration had ensured it would not.