Will Dunsfold’s New Garden Village be kicked out of Waverley’s 5-year housing supply.


On Day 5 of the public inquiry into an appeal by Redwood to build 50 homes on a controversial site at Red Court, Haslemere, the vexed question of the robustness of the borough’s housing supply reared its ugly head. So did the elephant in the Zoom.

At the outset, Inspector Helen Hochenhull asked the parties taking part if they agreed that Waverley needs to supply 590 homes p.s.for the duration of its Local Plan. 

The Inspector warned the parties:

“Remember that figure of 590 is the minimum to be supplied, plus a 5% buffer”

Waverley Claims it has a 5.2 year-supply – The Appellant claims it has only 4.7 years – so argues it is under-delivering.

Since an inquiry a few days earlier, Waverley has removed 17 homes from a long list of sites it claims are deliverable. However, the Inspector said she was mainly concerned with the larger sites promoted by the council.

These included Dunsfold Aerodrome and Milford Golf Course.

Dunsfold ~Park Garden Village. A scheme for 1,800 homes and 2,600 in the Local Plan and Waverley’s Strategic ~Planning Document – now out to public consultation.

Appellants planning expert David Neame of Neame Sutton claimed there were a host of problems surrounding the deliverability of the Dunsfold site.

He told the Inspector.

There were many fundamental problems with delivering it.

There was no implementable consent or Reserved Matters.  Any development required a significant lead-in time due to the substantial infrastructure required. None of which had started.  There was minimal trajectory information available and it was essential to recognise Lichfield’s guidance which identified a significantly lower delivery on similar sites. They say 260 per annum but hadn’t met even the original applicant’s timetable. 

But there are bigger issues here since I last considered this in Mach. The owner Trinity College Cambridge has put the site on the market. The preferred bidder chosen is Columbia Threadneedle (CT) which is not a developer.

My colleagues at Savilles are the agents acting for Trinity who have advised us that the sale  is unlikely to be concluded until at least the end of quarter one next year.

You will note that WBC evidence claims it will be concluded by the end of this year. That simply will not happen. Not at all surprising madam as reported in the press the purchase value of this site is in the region of £225m so there is a considerable amount of due diligence to be undertaken before that purchase concludes. Columbia  is not the developer so will require a development partner to take this site forward and  significant investment is required for that.

The council was alive to this uncertainty because it had produced a Strategic Planning Document (SPD.) (Due to the uncertainty over the change of ownership and developer.) The council approved this on 9 November with the public consultation closed on 20 Dec. He maintained that consultation will have included numerous objections, including those of Cllr Jerry Hyman due to his remarks last week.

So, the process was yet, to be concluded. Of particular importance, the SPD identified the strong likelihood of a fresh planning application on the site. Any new application or amendment for Section 73 would require a new updated Environmental Impact Assessment or an update to the existing EIA.

That work is highly unlikely to commence until there is a new owner, with a development partner  in place. Considerable investment is required for that. 

In addition, the council had granted some consents this year to allow the continuation of various temporary permissions on the site until April 2o24. These related to the filming of MotorSport, Top Gear and other track day events. Having applied all that and with regard to Litchfield’s evidence, he claimed, the council had no clear evidence of housing delivery on this site.

Madam, you will have noted your colleague’s conclusions on the Lower Weybourne Lane, Badshot Lea Inquiry, where she considered my previous assessment that 130 dwellings to be optimistic. That assessment was made before all of these changes that have occurred during the course of this year.

I, therefore, remove the site entirely from the 5 -year supply. One final point, if you agree with me that 450 dwellings should be removed, this puts the council on its own completion figures into a negative position of 4.7 years.

The Inspector asked Waverley if it envisaged Dunsfold providing 50 homes in 23/24, 200 in 24/25 and 200 in 25/26. She asked,

was this somewhat optimistic, bearing in mind how things have moved on in the past six months?

Waverley’s Planning Officer Katherine Dove said its Position Statement was based on information provided by the preferred bidder for the site, who believed it was achievable.

She admitted no further information had been received, saying the proposed owner was not a developer and would have to appoint someone to develop the site.  It was anticipated the SPD would be adopted in February 2022.   Temporary consents for filming would take place on the South West of the site and housing in the central and east. So it would take some time before housing reached the area used for filming.  Events would stop when needed for development. We think the site should be included in the 5-year housing supply.

Mr Neame suggested from his experience, the new developer would want to change the outline planning consent and may want to do something slightly differently due to viability issues; what implication is that going to have for the site coming forward in the 5-yr supply?

Ms Dove argued if it wanted new planning permission and the developer didn’t want to use the outline consent and started again from scratch, it may delay things coming forward.  Further applications may take time. Difficult to say how the new owners will want to proceed. 

The Inspector asked the Waverley officer?

If we assume the new developer is content with the existing planning permission and Reserved Matters, there will still be a lead in time to sort out all the legal aspects, which from my experience, can take an awfully long time. Is it realistic to believe with a Reserved Matters application that say, takes place in March and there the length of time required to set conditions, infrastructure etc? Is it realistic to think that 50 units will be delivered in 23/24?

We think the evidence is sufficiently robust and we are happy. Said Ms Dove.

The Inspector asked how many Developers would operate simultaneously. Do you think ten are more realistic?

Ms Dove. said it was up to the developer how it tackled the site and may put out various parcels of land simultaneously. Still, we are happy with the information though recognise the difficulties, saying it would take time.

The Inspector asked?  “Bearing in mind the prospective owner is an investment company and not a developer, what effect would that have?

Mr Neame said The preferred bidder is not a housebuilder so was difficult to understand how an investment company could provide a robust delivery trajectory. “We are not aware of who intends to deliver on that site, or whether they will proceed with the existing permissions.

He added that the temporary permissions were until April 2024 on land that did not propose residential development.  However, that phasing strategy could change. Residents and businesses had objected to the noisy uses so that development would not be compatible with those temporary uses.  Waverley could not stop the use until 2024.

The Inspector said she had heard a lot of uncertainty; perhaps Ms Dove could enlighten her whether there had been any pre-application discussion. Ms Dove said She said none had taken place.

” It would be helpful to know whether there is any direction of travel or not.  Can you point my to anything that would give me further confidence on the deliverability of this very interesting site?”

To be continued… including Milford Golf Course and other disputed sites.

8 thoughts on “Will Dunsfold’s New Garden Village be kicked out of Waverley’s 5-year housing supply.”

  1. Hard to see WBC walking away from any of this unscathed. Reality is the elephant isn’t going away and more development will (If you excuse the pun) build on the continuing debacle.
    The impact of Dunsfold is crystal clear in every parish. Development is coming and the parish plans will be cast aside and if anyone says that cannot happen, I’ve been busy regarding permission to build on an SSI in the West Country. Anything is possible if you have an inept council, powerful backers and good lawyers. We are all stuffed. The Inspectorate know the game they understand the players and they know that WBC is playing with apoor hand every time. They also know that WBC is under huge pressure like so many other Councils and are doing their best. But using the same spurious site again and again and upping the figure without the potential owner even signing for the deal and an owner that has not even shown any sign of wishing to build. Its a bit obvious that WBC has run out of time. The flogged horse is dead.
    I do have an interest in this fiasco. I volunteer on the Wey & Arun. Big plans are turning into reality but everywhere along the Northern reaches the in direct impact of Dunsfold intercedes. Because other sites and developments are emerging taking up the slack caused by Dunsfolds mythical housing numbers. Roads utilities transport all have to be re-evaluated as developments not even considered two years ago are now reality. And nothing is set in stone. Sites are being shoe horned into the equation. That’s why I believe no village plan or community project is safe. Into this maelstrom we have
    WBC and Guildford are beginning to combine, apart from redundancies I doubt such will have any positive impact on the situation whatsoever. Quite the contrary. Expect developers on your doorsteps soon.

    1. Maybe WBC and Guildford need to have some discussions about a couple of sites that were kicked into the Long grass as not needed until LPP2 as they involved both Councils. ie Land at Aaron’s Hill and Land at Binscombe and Farncombe….. Just asking??

      With the current Appeal at Red Court if that is lost on Appeal; now that the Royal School is in LPP2 – Just maybe developers will get BOTH Sites? Who knows where we will now get to?

      I am just so sorry that we have ended up in this mess and I didn’t want any of the Towns and Villages to get more than they can deal with, but I am afraid I didn’t see that idea mooted by many councillors who signed off LPP1 – knowing that the Eastern Villages were being Shafted for the “Greater Good” of some of the larger towns and villages with greater protection. Just read the Documents submitted by WBC in response to the Inspectors Questions. (Happy to email to you if it helps!)

      On a final note – before I drown myself in Brandy Butter – the fact that DP is within 1.1km of the AONB and views from not only Hascombe will be visable in the Winter Months, there is also AGLV – But due to the PDL argument this was always swept under the carpet with “Mitigation Measures”

      Grumpy from Alfold

      1. Denise
        Happy Christmas
        Enjoy the Brandy Butter.
        Please do send WBC response at your leisure.

  2. ……. Eggs & Basket… spring to mind

    If WBC were so determined to put forward such a large development in LPP1 – perhaps they should have worked a little harder with Trinity et al., to move things along.. I think Trinity’s News letter mentioned something along the lines of ……Like watching a Wasp in Treacle…. or words to that effect.

    And in WBC’s Repsonse to the Inspector’s Questions regarding LPP1

    ” 5.2.4 Paragraph 5.26 of the submitted Local Plan Part 1 explains why the spatial
    strategy does not distribute development evenly in proportion to current population.
    Due to environmental constraints and other factors, such as the location of Dunsfold
    Aerodrome, more housing is to be located in the east of the Borough than in the
    west. A range of spatial options were tested through the Sustainability Appraisal
    process (see the Council’s answer, WBC-LP1-2, to Question 1 of the Inspector’s
    initial questions, ID-1). Some of these options took less account of constraints such
    as AONB and Green Belt. The Sustainability Appraisal Report (CD1/06) found that
    whilst options that distribute development more evenly (e.g. Option 1), performed
    better in some regards, including housing, they perform more poorly in terms of other
    objectives, such as biodiversity and landscape. Conversely, option 4 (the preferred
    option), which includes 2,600 homes at Dunsfold Aerodrome, performed better
    against a range of sustainability objectives, including landscape, biodiversity, and
    community and well-being. The Council’s view is that the preferred option
    represents sustainable development. ”

    Be careful what you wish for!!!

    1. Or perhaps if the Conservative Administration, so determined to ensure that Dunsfold – the largest brownfield site in the borough, was not developed perhaps we might not be in the fine mess they have dumped us in. Some of you may remember those Conservative councillors – one in particular Cranleigh man who said – “Dunsfold will be developed over my dead body.” Aided and abetted by our own MP’s Anne Milton and Jeremy Hunt – who called the application in once consented after Julia Potts pulled her Tory gang into line and gave consent. Not forgetting the huge part that Protect ~Our Waverley played in this debacle. Does anyone have any idea where POW is NOW? Did they pop up at the recent Alfold Public Inquiry no way? Did they stand up and be counted at the Haslemere Red Cout Inquiry. NO, they have gone to ground – where they belong.

      1. WW Couldn’t agree more – POW – Have had made NO EFFORT when it comes to the many applications in Alfold/Cranleigh and Shame on them.. Doesn’t mean DP is right or that WBC put too much into LPP1 to protect other areas from development. Those that all voted for the 2600 houses on DP that wouldn’t be in their Towns/Villages.

        There is and always had been, and recognised by the Inspector, something Fundamentally Skewed with the whole process as they always knew that the population in the East could never gainsay that of the rest of the Borough when these consultations took place
        It is all BLAH BLAH BLAH
        If Haslemere Lose this appeal it may just give them an insight into what Cranleigh and Alfold have been through over the last 3 years

      2. Waverley Web. Your comments just reinforce that the decision by Waverley on Dunsfold Park was made by the majority of the WAVERLEY Councillors who live elsewhere who wanted to put the houses there in a very unsuitably place for ease of transport rather than “in my backyard”.

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