Providing late paperwork for councillors on a Farnham development an hour before the meeting did not go down well with Chairman David Beaman. It also scuppered the chances of a Farnham man’s bid to build 24 apartments.
“I am not happy, words fail me” Chairman David Beaman told his colleagues on the Western Planning Committee – “to receive important up-date papers at 5 pm – how about you?”
The beleaguered applicant – a Mr John Boyce (apologies if we don’t have your name right) sat in the Zoom wings – watched helplessly, while his scheme for 24 dwellings, 7 of which are affordable homes – bit the dust for another month.
He told the committee the application was due to be considered on 15th July 2020 and it had cost him a “considerable amount of money” waiting month after month for a decision.
Outline application for the demolition of an existing bungalow and erection of 24 apartments with underground parking.WA/2020/0558 – LAND AT THE OLD MISSION HALL, HOOKSTILE LANE, FARNHAM.
The application, which is already out of time for a decision, was recommended for approval by the officers.
Despite it languishing in Waverley Towers since last July, the committee unanimously decided to defer determining his scheme until April 26th. As all admitted they had not had time to read the paperwork.
Waverley’s Tory Group has complained about a proposal to cut meetings from four area planning committees down to two – leaving less opportunity for councillors to represent their constituencies. The Tories claim too many important decisions are being delegated to officers.
The matter of managing council business post-COVID is being discussed at a special Executive meeting on April 6. However, the Leader of the Council Farnham Residents’ John Ward said earlier this week that the Government was making it extremely difficult for councils to work now that Zoom meetings would be forced to end on May 6. Self-distancing in the council chamber for major meetings would be difficult if not impossible.
Along with councils around the country Waverley has appealed to the government to allow virtual meetings to continue for the time being. But the numerous requests have fallen on deaf ears.
You can hear this part of the Western Planning Committee meeting here:
4 thoughts on “A Farnham planning-shambles at ‘Your Waverley.’”
On one extreme, we have Waverley’s Planning Department which seems to have a quality control issue with their more inexperienced officers (describing Daniel Hall in Farnham a single storey building is just one example) and on the other extreme we have the Planning Inspectorate who occasionally overturn Waverley’s decisions inexplicably.
Then in the middle we have our planning committees who are a mixture of knowledgeable councillors and “others”
So perhaps by keeping the committees at two instead of reverting to five, will mean better quality decisons? (rather then having them stuffed with nodding donkeys)
Quality not Quantity!
There most certainly is a quality control issue and some officers are demonstrating a breathtaking lack of experience. Is this due to the fact that despite whatever local opposition there is to any development it means absolutely nothing – once the Planning Inspectorate looks at it from afar – there is no local control. How long will it be before this Government bans the ballot box – we are well on the way now with the forthcoming Government White Paper. God help us all!
The underlying problem at Waverley is the inexperienced, under qualified and unprofessional planning officers. We routinely see schoolboy errors, delay, complacency, and incompetence. Managing a Powerpoint presentation appears beyond them. Often the officers demonstrate they have not exercised due diligence in questioning applicants evidence – and they compound the problem by presenting unvalidated evidence as fact. This leaves committees in difficult positions attempting to determine cases from inadequate, illogical reports and officer recommendations – knowing that they’ll not have a professional defence team if it should go to appeal.
How very sad that you have arrived at this conclusion, as have many others who regularly contact us. Some of the decisions being made are just awful – and some of the call-ins by councillors who appear to be carrying out their own Agenda does nothing for good decision-making. Our well-tried and test planning system appears to be going to the dogs. Some observe the rules, others just flout them because they can. If you get enough support it appears you can build in the Green Belt if you get enough support from Cllr Richard Seaborne the Bramley councillor who runs by his own set of rules – or the rules of his friends and acquaintances!