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He said LP2 had been delayed for a number of reasons, ( withdrawn by the Tory administration before the May 2019 elections) including the new Executive’s wish to produce a robust and sound replacement for the 2002 plan.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.