A Cranleigh development dubbed as ‘awful and objectionable’ has been thrown out by Waverley planners.

Councillors from Elstead, Cranleigh and Bramley joined together to deliver a swingeing attack on the design of a controversial development on the former West Cranleigh Nurseries site in Alfold Road.

The outline planning application – vehemently opposed by Cranleigh people and many local councillors was passed in 2017 on the casting vote of Tory chairman Peter Isherwood. Now four years later – after being sold by Dutch lettuce grower Nick Vrijland it has finally reached the design and landscaping stage for 118 homes by new owners A2 Dominion.  However,  building won’t start until later this year with the completion of some properties in 2022.

West Cranleigh Nurseries bounces back like a rubber ball and councillor Peter Isherwood scores a goal!

Cranleigh Cllr Liz Townsend administered the first blow – after an introduction by ‘mystery planning officer’ Patrick Arthurs – who, surprise, surprise, left the council last year – but returned in voice only, to present the scheme. 

She was promptly followed by Bramley, Busbridge & Hascombe Cllr Martin D’Arcy who expressed  “dismay” that there was no landscaping or management plan and that on an utterly treeless site, 16 types of specimen trees were proposed of which only three were native species.

On the subject of energy sustainability, it was in his opinion “quite bizarre” that all 118  proposed dwellings were to be fitted with gas boilers. Boilers to be phased out by 2030 and with solar panels fitted to only three large apartment blocks.


But it was Elstead  Cllr David Else who described the scheme as –

“probably the worst we have ever seen.”

But it didn’t get any better – with the exception of  Chairman, Cranleigh Cllr Richard Coles, who said he was perfectly satisfied with the design, saying – 

“I find it rather attractive”

Not a problem then for a man, who it is rumored,  is leaving the borough for a new home in the West Country?

Which prompted officer Arthurs to openly criticise councillors for not raising their concerns earlier, saying they should have told him before the meeting if they didn’t like the design!

Ah! So now a Waverley planning officer/developer is asking councillors to pre-determine planning applications before they are heard in public are we? Now – there’s something for the monitoring officer to chew over?

At which point we thought Cllr Liz was going to explode – and literally take off on Zoom to box the ears of officer Arthurs. Saying-

“don’t blame us, that’s what this committee is here for – to make a decision and I really object to being told we should have made this decision earlier”

She said she had made her concerns known in the past, but this was the first time members had seen these (warehouse) apartment blocks, due to the high degree of affordable housing.

They are not in keeping with Cranleigh and are akin to an industrial unit, not a home! The character of the area will be deeply affected by these blocks.

According to Godalming Cllr Paul Follows – once again the council had been bitten by an approved outline scheme when it came to the detail – and…

I agree with every word Cllr Townsend has said:

“This is a design I cannot stand.”

Before deferring the application by 14 votes to one (presumably the chairman) with a strong message to the developer to go back to the drawing board and come up with something more appropriate it was Cranleigh Cllr Ruth Reed’s turn to hammer the last nail home.

You can listen to the whole meeting here.


18 thoughts on “A Cranleigh development dubbed as ‘awful and objectionable’ has been thrown out by Waverley planners.”

  1. Well done to the Eastern Councillors. The design is totally inappropriate for Cranleigh and the countryside, I have rarely seen such ugly designs. Good for Cllr Townsend she certainly didn’t hold back and quite rightly. Cllr Gray’s comments regarding any Street Scene illustrations was important as mentioned there are few trees on the site so these ugly flatted blocks would be visible for many years to come for anyone travelling to Cranleigh.. Well at least until some of the Non-Native trees start growing!

    I just hope that this sends a message out to all the other developers, that these urban designs are not appropriate in the Countryside – I also hope that the Planning Officers acknowledge this fact as it did seem that Planning Officer Arthurs thought the designs were Great and innovative…

    1. Yes full marks to members of the eastern area planning committee. As for the planning officer – where did he suddenly pop up from? Last we heard of him he was championing the Cranleigh Village Health Trust’s planning application – or whatever it is called now – for the same individuals – Leahy & Vrijland.

      We have heard from a follower that the same developers want to re-shape Cranleigh – and bring in more footfall. And – isn’t one of them preparing to leave the country – having wrung out as much as he possibly can from it?

  2. Its good that the focus was on drainage too- if anyone has driven down Elmbridge road this week, they would have seen the water creeping from the area around the pumping station and the watercourse towards the nearest new builds.

    1. Yes, Dominique, you are absolutely spot on. When will planners realise that the more the open land is covered in concrete and asphalt in an area of high flood risk, the higher the risk of serious flooding. We have all watched the misery caused in other parts of the country in past weeks and Cranleigh has shown in the past it has very little resilience. But they were warned – and those warnings were ignored.

    2. I couldn’t agree more – SCC and the rest take no heed of the issues with flooding in the area. Just glad that Cllr Pointed out that the SUDS had not been agreed

      1. Perhaps we should explain what SUDS are – it is not soap! It stands for – Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes. Schemes that a Surrey County Council officer – which is the Lead Flood Authority described as “completely useless.”

  3. The Waverley Web has just received this comment from a Godalming Resident- who has withheld her name, but has provided us with her e-mail address.

    “Hooray – it should never have been approved in outline – appalling design – looks like something from Prison Block H. What a massive shame the land was sold in the first place but it’s what we have come to expect from lettuce-man…and to put gas boilers in is totally crazy – or maybe they think the buildings will have fallen down anyway by 2030??”

    1. That meeting raised a lot of issues on a number of fronts so thanks WW for highlighting it. All credit to Martin D’Arcy for digging into the detail.
      The first point I did want to make is that I am amazed that nobody in that meeting appears to have been aware that the Government response to its consultation on the Future Homes Standard had been published on 19 January ………certainly no reference was made to it. It was certainly relevant to the energy efficiency and boiler discussion

      1. Yes – we understood that “beauty” is to be introduced in future as a criterion for judging planning proposals for new development, according to housing Minister Robert Jenrick. Never mind, “beauty” just acceptable development to fit in with the character of the area would suffice. Apparently, the Government wants to revert back to a time when there was a greater emphasis on buildings being considered attractive to local people. Mr Jenrick said: “Britain should aspire to pass on enhanced heritage to successors, rather than a depleted one.” This particular application only pleased one councillor, so perhaps beauty is in the eyes of the beholder?

  4. Have just renewed my house insurance cannot get flood cover anymore as Cranleigh is now a high-risk flood area. We ask why, but greed and power have reduced our village to this shameful state. Some of these developers are local people who have lived here for many years and now having used and taken the best of Cranleigh have raped it for there own selfish gain and are leaving. I hope you all rot in hell. A great village destroyed. Shame on you.

    1. Saddened to hear your views – Concerned of Cranleigh. We have had exactly the same here in Farnham for very many years, and our wonderful town has the scars to prove it. We understand that Cranleigh and some of the villages nearby have suffered flooding problems for very many years. This explosion of housebuilding will obviously not help. The Waverley Web attempts to alert people across the borough of some of the more unsuitable developments that have, or are about to take place. However, it is unusual for Waverley councillors to speak so passionately and be so vehemently opposed to a development. It has happened here in Farnham, and developers have been forced to take on board the criticism and come up with something of merit. Thankfully most of your councillors are standing up for you.

    2. Hi Concerned of Cranleigh – sorry to hear that. But re not being able to get cover for flood risk. In theory that isn’t supposed to happen – see floodre.co.uk which applies unless your house was built after 2009 ……………?

  5. Maybe Councillor Richard Cole needs to go to Specsavers maybe not as he is moving out of Cranleigh? Wonder who is paying for his move? Be a man Richard resign and stop interfering in Cranleigh’s future, but then why should you care. You’re off to greener pastures, no doubt.

  6. Is this Fact WW – A surely it is a Material Consideration when he is reviewing Planning (Cllr Follows??) in this area??

    1. I won’t comment on a particular councillors personal circumstances on a public forum I’m afraid, that just wouldn’t be right.

      As the group leader of the LD group though, if this was an issue it would be something I would ensure is addressed.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.