At first, it appeared that the Rainbow Coalition’s controversial LP2, which includes the boroughs Site Allocations and Development Policies was in for a rough ride.
Was the vast Tory backing for the plan at the Special Council Meeting on Wednesday more to do with not committing electoral suicide in Haslemere? Because they opposed it from start to finish! They talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk!
If Farnham’s Cllr Carole Cockburn had anything to do with it, Cowboy Follows’ Bucking Bronco of a plan would have thrown him into the dust and pummelled him senseless.
Raring to go from her appearance at the council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee 24 hours earlier, she described the plan as a failure in the making, predicting an Inspector after examination would find it “unsound.” She argued only the strength of opposition from Haslemere residents against 50 homes at Red Court had prompted the planners’ refusal against officers advice and its removal from the plan.
What will you do when there is even more opposition from residents to the introduction into the plan of the Royal School?”
She railed at the coalition’s failure to get the second section of Local Plan Part 1 onto the statute books earlier. But Cllr Cockburn was reminded why LP2, the blueprint for future development in the borough, had taken so long.
Portfolio Holder and Farnham Residents’ Cllr Andy MacLeod said the plan had been on the stocks since 2008 – a long time in the making! Housing numbers due to Government housing policy had changed, and now 11,000 homes were required to meet Government targets.
He refrained from mentioning that the Tories pulled the plan immediately prior to the 2018 May elections.
He said the ‘Protect Our Waverley Group’ had delayed both plans by issuing legal proceedings which challenged housing numbers in a bid to stop developmental Dunsfold Aerodrome, the largest brownfield site in the borough. Waverley fought off the challenge in the High Court and eventually won. Just in time for Guy Fawkes Night, the High Court has thrown out CPRE and PoW’s appeal over Waverley Borough Council’s Local Plan.
The first delay came in 2017 when Tory MP’s Jeremy Hunt and Anne Milton asked the Secretary of State to call in the Dunsfold decision. Dunsfold Park decision – called in by the Secretary of State.
The main gripe among Tory councillors was the decision to swap the Red Court site in Haslemere (50 homes refused by Waverley Planners and now the subject of an appeal on 16 December) in preference for 90 homes at the Royal School in Hindhead. Most Tory councillors wanted both included in LP2; they claimed the sites had to be…
“available, sustainable and deliverable. and robust enough to convince an Inspector the plan is sound.”
The WW will provide a separate post on Cllr Jerry Hyman’s arguments on why LP2 in its present form, which he claims does not have an “Appropriate Assessment,” is legally flawed as the webcast broke down during his comments at the earlier Executive Meeting. Surprise, surprise!!
The spotlight was well and truly aimed at Haslemere – almost as though the rest of the borough didn’t exist. However, Cllr Liz Townsend gave a sharp reminder to many of her previous colleagues in the Tory Group that little or no notice was taken of the loud objections from Cranleigh people when they decided to cover the countryside of the village in concrete!
LP2 was pulled by the previous aministration without any notice and which left most other vulnerable parts of the borough like Cranleigh totally exposed, said Cllr Liz Townsend.
She believed had LP2 gone through in 2019, development might have commenced elsewhere earlier, and the council would not now be without a five-year housing land supply. Cranleigh residents made thousands of objections to unsuitable housing development in the past, which were, for the most part, ignored.
The village now had 1,700 dwellings consented, of which many were built or under construction.
I wish back then the people of Farnham and Cranleigh had been given the opportunity to comment on the unsuitable sites chosen. One particuar brownfield site that was ignored will be of continuing irritation to me!
A video clip will follow of Leader Paul Follows Summing up of the debate.
A recorded vote now sends LP2 on its way to a 6-week public consultation by 38 votes For, 4 Against and one Abstention.