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.
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.