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.
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
And there we were here at the Waverley Web actually believing that Planning came before Politics?