Build anywhere, or even everywhere, in the borough of Waverley – except in Haslemere?

 

During one of the most ill-tempered planning meetings, the Waverley Web has ever witnessed, it became apparent that Haslemere is not only full of NIMBY’s (Not in my backyard) but BANANA’S.  (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone  –  in  Haslemere!) Ok, ok we used a bit of poetic licence! But you get the gist.

Tempers rose higher than the stifling temperature inside Waverley Towers last night as councillors grappled with a controversial scheme proposed by Winchester based developer – Alfred Homes. It wants to build 50 two/three and four-bed homes at Red Court in Scotland Lane, 15 of which are “affordable.”

Here’s our post yesterday: Will a controversial 50-home development in Haslemere get the green light tonight?

Did the Western Planning Committee give the scheme the green light?

A big Fat NO, despite being unable to come up with any plausible PLANNING reasons.  They left it to the council’s officers to figure it out for themselves having.  REFUSED  the scheme by 5 votes to seven with two abstentions. 

WAVERLEY'S LAVATORYIs that an appeal – with costs awarded against ‘Your Waverley’ we see coming on?

Despite giving colleagues a piece of her mind about the borough’s duty, and the duty of individual towns and villages to identify sites for development, Farnham’s Cllr Carole Cockburn may just as well have saved her valuable breath. 

Parts of Farnham’s countryside are being developed faster than you can say the word concrete. The same applied to Cranleigh, Godalming, Farnham and small villages like Alfold cried the experienced councillor recently awarded a BEM for masterminding Farnham’s Neighbourhood Plan.

“We are here to make decisions for the whole borough of Waverley all 130 thousand people -not just one part of it. Everyone has to take their fair share of development and with 990 homes earmarked for Haslemere, it hasn’t got anywhere near meeting its allocation. What about the 2,000 in the countryside in  Cranleigh 400 in the countryside in the village of Alfold and as for Dunsfold and Farnham, thousands more!

We, and they, didn’t want to lose our green fields either, but our Neighbourhood plan earmarked sites, unlike Haslemere! We might as well say – goodbye to Weybourne and Badshot Lea!”

Earlier the Agent acting for the developer said Haslemere’s had so far met only just over 200 of its allocation of 990 homes. 

Alfold with only just over  400 households is already providing twice as many as Haslemere and three appeals in the pipeline for many hundreds more! But then their little voice is not quite as loud as those in Haslemere!

Some councillors  said they didn’t want to be pilloried for granting permission for development  adjacent to homes already built in AGLV (Area of Great ~Landscape Value.) 

Blame the Conservative Government – they cried. They want to bury the South East of England under homes we don’t want or need. Write to your MP’s they cried.

Cllr Simon Dear rubbished the validity of the deluge of objection letters to a low-density scheme adjacent to nearby homes, with decent gardens and outside space that was near the town centre of Haslemere and only 20 mins from the railway station.

He said they came from addresses from as far afield as Pontypool to Petworth, Glasgow to Bournemouth, Birmingham and Bognor. He called it a contrived opposition operation in deceit and exaggeration.

Chairman David Beaman said residents had made accusations that a decision to GRANT was a ‘done deal.’

Oh, dear! There’s nothing like an Englishman’s defence of his castle – especially if you live in Scotland Lane and Scotland Close, Haslemere.

Public speakers and Haslemere councillors claimed there we other more suitable sites on which to build.

Chief planning Officer Zac Ellwood said whilst every effort was made to represent public opinion, he warned, that councillors were there to determine this particular application, not listen to arguments put forward for alternative sites.

 It was the opinion of planning officers that the harm was outweighed by the benefits.  The scheme was sustainable,  met all planning policies in the NPPF including the most recent additions received today. He reiterated officers concerns over Waverley’s lack of a five-year housing land supply. (It stands currently at 4.26) The argument of the lack of water supply could not be challenged as Thames Water had raised no objection.  No objection from Natural England or Surrey Highways.

However, Waverley Mayor and Haslemere town councillor John Robini told his colleagues:

“You shouldn’t be afraid of appeals – we don’t want expensive housing for commuters. We have to hang on to our precious and dwindling number of greenfield sites.”

Presumably, he meant as long as they are in Haslemere? Bugger the rest of the borough!

Farnham Residents’ Cllr Jerry Hyman made the argument for refusing the application on the grounds of the lack of an Appropriate Assessment and the effects of the Special Protection Area on the Wealden Heath 5m from the site. He said the officers did not have an AA? – They said they did! He said they didn’t, they said they did! At which point we are not sure who had the hot flush. Cllr Carole or Officer Zac? Suffice to say – all were the colour purple!

Farnham Residents’ Cllr Kika Mirylees clip.

The WW has to admit to losing the will to live while councillors wrangled over trying to find enough reason for the officers to have any defence whatsoever, for, not IF, but WHEN, the application goes to appeal.

Said poor old Zac.

“To be blunt – you must provide us with your reasons for refusal – we are working blind here. Just give us your clear reasons.”

At which point – we left the webcast and let them all fight out between themselves to come up with some VALID planning reasons that they simply couldn’t find.

Comment on the decision from Waverley’s Leader Paul Follows.

Cllr. Paul David Follows

@PaulDFollows
Red Court application in #Haslemere is REFUSED by the Western Pla. of WBC – a great victory for residents, progressive councillors and the community at large. Brownfield over green should ALWAYS be preferred. Guess what – the only people that voted for it were the local Tories.
And there we were here at the Waverley Web actually believing that Planning came before Politics?

 

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Build anywhere, or even everywhere, in the borough of Waverley – except in Haslemere?”

  1. One of the most shocking Planning meetings I have watched, not only was the Sound Appalling most of the time, but when all the bickering started you could hear every word.

    Well said Cllr Cockburn, we know that Farnham has had to put up with a lot and WE ALL KNOW how much was thrown at Cranleigh and still being thrown at Alfold.
    No one wants to have buildings on Green Fields, but everywhere else has had to take their share of it so I am afraid Haslemere should take their share.

    If memory serves me there was massive Support from Haslemere for the Dunsfold Park development. By now they have probably forgotten that part of the site is in the AGLV ???? – But Obviously not in THEIR AGLV

    As for the Water Issues, who doesn’t have them?? Thames Water always say it is fine – then spend months Closing roads to do the work (usually with only 1 or 2 people actually doing anything onsite)

    Haslemere does have a Train Station and much easier access to the A3, it has I believe a hospital or two, schools, medical centre and a wide range of shops and hospitality.

    If the Planning officers couldn’t come up with reasons for refusal nor most of the Councillors – I fear as you say WW this one will be another Lost Appeal

  2. It’s Cranleigh and Alfold and Dunsfold who have FAR more planning permissions for new housing than in the feast of the Borough. Farnham is just as bad if not worse at being NIMBYs than Haslemere and Godalming.

    1. How very sad that thanks to the Government’s free for all planning environment that Waverley’s towns and villages are now pitched against one another. The WW feels and fears for the eastern villages. An area that is taking over 45% of Waverley’s housing allocation, so that towns with stations can hang on to their green and pleasant land. Fauna, flora, wildlife and ancient woodland have all been sacrificed on the altar of developers over there. Villages turning into new towns like Cranleigh have taken it on the chin, and are doing their utmost to welcome newcomers. Cranleigh – we salute you. Haslemere hang your heads in shame!

  3. I agree with the issues about the meeting itself, it was not a good advert for a planning meeting. No doubt about that. As to an appeal, yes it’s likely. But.

    That appeal, when lodged – will in the PINS backlog for some months. Many things will change in those months.

    I have written the following for the Herald tomorrow which may or may not get picked up:

    A Watershed Moment.

    I attended the Western Planning Committee  in person on Tuesday evening as an observer (I am not a member of that committee) due to the sheer scale of concern expressed by hundreds of residents and Haslemere Town Council.

    Despite a reprehensible and deeply misleading attack ad on social media issued by the Conservatives in the previous week about this application, they were the only ones who voted for this thing. Despite the Conservatives, it was (quite rightly) refused on the night by the majority of other councillors in the room.

    However, comments from Cllr Dan Hunt (LD) and Cllr Kika Mirylees (FR) in that session inspired me to write something very different than I had planned. They spoke in response to Cllr Carole Cockburn (CON), who made two points: that planning wasn’t political and that (to paraphrase) if Farnham had suffered, so should everybody else.

    Both Cllrs Hunt and Mirylees made the point that we can all sit here and pretend planning isn’t political, but that this rather conveniently ignores the fact that the planning system is set by the government and is intrinsically skewed toward developers at every turn. One only has to consider recent national commentary on donations by developers to the government to get a feeling of why that might be.

    That because one area of Waverley ‘has suffered’, it’s only fair another one should suffer equally in response is faulty logic. The government has put our planning officers and ultimately all of our councillors in entirely impossible positions. A system practically rigged for developer profit, arbitrary national housing targets, profoundly flawed national planning, environment, industrial and energy policies combine to make unwanted and unsustainable development the norm. It also gets in the way of what we need – GENUINELY affordable and social housing and the infrastructure to support it.

    Not merely content with just poor planning outcomes – another consequence is this feeling of putting one community of Waverley against another.

    I firmly believe that the towns and parishes of Waverley and the Borough Council should use this watershed moment of the Red Court application to unite against the common problem – government planning policy.

    Cllr Cockburn said in the session, “We have to do what the government tell us. If you don’t like that, vote them out”.

    Let me take this rare opportunity to agree with her.

    Cllr Paul Follows
    Leader, Waverley Borough Council

    1. While we wholeheartedly agree with much of what you say. We are where we are. A Government hell-bent on serving its masters – all those developers who are lining their pockets and boosting Tory coffers? So where does that leave all the towns and villages who are genuinely constructing their Local Neighbourhood Plans, accepting that homes are needed, and earmarking the sites that have the backing of their residents?

      So what exactly has Haslemere Vision done? Apart from ensure that the residents who bought homes in Scotland Lane and Scotland Close get to keep the AGLV, that they themselves live on, so that their outlook is not spoilt by more homes? Isn’t that NIMBYism in the truest sense.

      To give false and misleading reasons why the land should not be built on gives objectors no credibility. the site is not in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and neither does it have National Park status. While Haslemere celebrates, small villages like those around Farnham and Cranleigh will no doubt, bear the brunt of appeal decisions that have been in the pipeline for many months. How fortuitous that there are long delays on planning inquiries. However, if the WW was in the planning department we would start engaging barristers and planning consultants right here, right now to defend the indefensible decision that was made last night.

    2. Cllr Follows – I couldn’t agree more that we should SHOUT at our MP’s but I fear that so much falls on deaf ears – Not that (SOME) of them don’t try – But they are toeing the Party line which ever way you look at it. Cllr Cockburn at least had the Cojons to speak out about it and I for one am glad.

      I have not always been her favourite supporter – but at least she does speak out and I welcomed her comments last night and I honestly have changed my view – she may be a Conservative – But at least she is forthright and I think Honest in her views.

      There is too long before the next Election for any of us to do anything other than Nag our MP’s – I just wish there was a way we could Unite Waverley Residents – But I feel there is too much bad blood after the way Cranleigh and Eastern Villages (Well some anyway) have been treated and I am afraid last night has cemented that in the minds of many here in the East, that we are small Villages and we don’t have the Voice that some of the larger Villages and Obviously the Towns have (Not that is made any odds with Cranleigh that was at least a Larger Settlement but the smallest of the Four.

      Too depressing…………. Glass of wine required
      Cheers!

    3. The decision last night was good news for Haslemere, and a bad decision for the rest of the borough. Not one councillor could come up with one good planning reason why it should be refused. To ask the planning officers to provide good, defendable planning reasons, was reprehensible, a dereliction of their duty as members of a planning committee. Only one member provided reasons. The lack of an Appropriate Assessment, and as usual he was rubbished by all. Similar sites to Red Court have been allowed across the Waverley borough in the past, and no doubt they will continue to be allowed in the future. Sites with dormice, deer, mature woodland, and everything treasured by the people of Haslemere and lost by the people of Ewhurst, Cranleigh, Dunsfold, Alfold, Bdshot Lea, Wrecclesham and too many other areas to mention. Why exactly is Chiddingfold’s quota higher than Haslemere’s we wonder. And, isn’t it high time Local Plan Part 2 – that included Red Court – was published? Why are we waiting?

      For that matter – why are developers sending their schemes to us here at the Waverley Web, because after many months of waiting for their schemes to be registered because they are still languishing in the bowels of Waverley Towers!

  4. Maybe Haslemere’s reaction is due to having observed what has gone on in Cranleigh, Alford & Farnham. Increased population, increased traffic, increased pollution with no increase in public services. Where has all the money from the increased households council tax and the infrastructure levy gone. We need transparency as to how this money is spent.

    1. So Carol – are you suggesting that Cranleigh, Alfold and Farnham and all the other towns and villages can take Haslemere’s share of the homes being dumped on Waverley? Is that really fair and equitable?

      1. Of course not. I think you’ve missed my point. If the new monies made available from council tax and levies was spent on improving local services then planning applications may be better received by residents.

  5. That meeting last night was an absolute disgrace. Poor sound quality, shocking zoom, and as for the poor soul representing the applicant – why wasn’t he asked to attend the meeting in person, after all its no secret that remote presentations, whether by the officers or the public – are poor to say the least.

    As for Councillor Cockburn – she spoke for many of the residents of Farnham – who are getting the thin end of the wedge as far as development, and traffic misery are concerned.

    1. Kathy – What I like about Cllr Cockburn – was that she didn’t just speak for FARNHAM – but for all the other areas in Waverley that have been blighted by this shocking state of affairs and I really appreciated that. We ALL need to do the same – it shouldn’t just be our Councillors – where are the Voices of the PEOPLE that live here for goodness sakes?

      There is no point banging on about how P*ssed we are with decisions – But bally do something about it.

      We have only been here nearly 7 years so that obviously makes us Newbies… But it is a bit like rellies and friends …. when you get to choose where you live as opposed to being born here.

      We chose our Friends and we chose where we want to live for so many reasons whether it is to be close to family or as far away as we can get. It may be for the children or a myriad of reasons… It is a choice for many (Not all)

      I just wish we could find a more cohesive way of dealing with this – I was a bit mean to Haslemere – Because I was annoyed about DP – and that was not kind and I apologise.

      I just want us all to be a better Borough and to care MORE for others and think about the applications outside of our own neck of the woods – I do try… and I do watch…..and comment when I feel I have enough knowledge, but yesterday’s meeting got to me.. Sorry Haslemere – But I hope all that live there that read WW – Will maybe just think for a moment about what this decision could mean for the rest of us without AONB and GREENBELT and NO INFRASTRUCTURE that you there have – Just a Moments thought would be kind………..

  6. Housing doesn’t work in Waverley because we are building the too many houses in the wrong place – in England and in the Borough. We have no regional strategy and a national carrot and stick policy without a carrot. Throw in the clear evidence that planning doesn’t work properly in Waverley and we are bound to fail for everyone other than developers. We have random success or failure of applications depending on how influenced the Officer was, how stupid the members were and how slow the planning portal was. Over-riding that flawed decision making process we have the skew from local party politics and factions. If it goes the developers way we have everyone unhappy (show me any evidence of the benefits to anyone of a development?). If it is a refusal then we end up with an appeal because of the lack of professionalism from officers and ill-preparedness from members. Let me get out the list of similar decisions.

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