During the closing stages of Haslemere’s Red Court planning appeal – the developer provides a damning indictment of Waverley’s 5-year housing supply.
Waverley must show a robust and achievable evidence-based supply of homes to a Government Inspector if appeals are to be resisted in the borough.
Planning guru David Neave of Sutton Neave – has spent many hours during the six-day Zoom Inquiry throwing out homes that have either been consented to or included in the council’s future strategic Local Plan Part 2.
The Dunsfold airfield has planning consent for a Garden Village of 2,600 homes but with no homes built and yet to be sold. Another 600 are included in the Local Plan.
At the outset, Inspector Helen Hochenhull asked the parties taking part if they agreed that Waverley needs to supply 590 homes p.a.for the duration of its Local Plan.
The Inspector warned :
“Remember that figure of 590 is the minimum to be supplied, plus a 5% buffer”
Waverley Claims it has a 5.2 year-supply; appellants claim it has only 4.7 years – so argues it is under-delivering.
Land Opposite Milford Golf Course 200 units which ‘Your Waverley’ claim will provide 176 dwellings, approved in November and set to produce housing in 2023/24.
Mr Neave told Inspector, notwithstanding that consent he had,
“clear evidence it will not be delivered within the next five years, if deliverable at all.“
There was a restrictive covenant on the land held by Mr and Mrs Tim House.
I checked with the Land Registry just yesterday and as of 21 December, those RCV’s remain in place on the land Mr and Mrs House hold.
He told the Inspector that the beneficiary of the Covenant, Mr House was a partner of Solicitors Alan Overy, so he was not a person who didn’t understand the legal position incredibly well. It had been made clear to Waverley that the developer did not own the site. A promoter owned it. Mr House had no intention of relinquishing the Covenant and had clarified his intentions in the Local Plan Part 2 on the recent land tribunal ruling. Since then, Mr House has continued to confirm his position at the reserved matters application in November, and he has not changed his position.
The fundamentals of the Covenant are that it restricts development on the site for more than one dwelling per acre – a maximum of 27 dwellings on the 27 acres.
Parts of the site are within Flood Zone 3 which means, that in reality, only a handful of dwellings are capable of being delivered with that Covenant in place!
Waverley had consistently ignored the Covenant well before the Local Plan examination. However, it remained a fundamental constraint and given that Mr House will enforce the Covenant to its full extent. Cala had recently recognised a notional timetable for dealing with it.
The Milford issue was discussed at Farnham’s Weyborne Lane Planning Inquiry. The Inspector subsequently concluded that as there was no intention of relinquishing the Covenant, planning consent couldn’t be implemented. Dealing with the Covenant was not Cala’s issue but for the promoter. The timetable was 15 months. Mr Neave maintained there was no certainty following recent Land Tribunal cases that it would succeed.
This site, we contend, cannot be delivered in 5 years, and a Question mark must hang over whether it could be delivered at all!
Word of Warning from the Inspector.
The criteria for Category B sites is that it IS deliverable within 5 years! My colleague Inspector Coffey didn’t believe Milford Golf Course was deliverable at that time.
Waverley’s housing land supply witness Katherine Dove said she didn’t disagree.
The council is well aware of the Covenant. The Inspector considered whether this could prevent development at the examination of Local Plan Part I. Ms Dove, said he was happy to allocate the site. Although she agreed the Covenant issue would have to be overcome, Cala had a timetable for doing so. Our legal experts say 15 months is reasonable unless appealed. Agents confirm they intend to address the issue, though they had made no application. When prompted by the Inspector, Ms Dove said she couldn’t speculate on the success, except to say
“the site could possibly be delivered.”
So you can’t provide me with anything in writing to confirm their intention, said the Inspector?
Other sites ruled out were:
Coxbridge Farm, Farnham 150 units in 5 yrs. Total 350 units.
Mr Neave suggested 50 less. Starting in 23/24 and 50 in the years after.
Centrum Business Park Farnham– 100 units which should be taken out completely. 50 units each year. The site has no vacant possession. No planning application and multiple users. Although pre-application discussions had taken place, she could provide no written evidence on the users or their relocation.
Meadow Nursery 19 units – suggest it should come out completely.No planning application, Mr Neave said. should be removed.
Ms Dove. Council hadn’t received anything
Land at South View Chiddingfold. 8 units.
Provides no certainty and nothing for the council to rely upon. ~No evidence of delivery.
Land at rear of Queens Mead, Chiddingfold. 60 Units.
Once again, vague. No certainty on Time Table and fails the test and should be removed.
Ockford Water, Portsmouth Rd, Godalming. 13 units of flats. Outstanding viability issue- call in for committee. Councillors were concerned about the approach, no certainty it would succeed and no timetable.
St George’s Road. Farnham 23 units. 25/26
Outline consent and reserved matters submitted in May. Not scheduled for determination, no timetable and uncertainty whether should be approved. It should be removed. My evidence stands, said Mr Neave; the site is not deliverable.
Ms Dove said a decision would be made shortly, and as a delegated decision by officers, the site was achievable
Woolmead in Kings Rd, Farnham. Apartment scheme by Berkeley Homes for 138 units. Commencement delayed boarded up and left. 38 units should be removed.
Developer Not on site. Monitoring year 22/23 retail on the ground floor. 3/4 storey apartments could only be completed when the building was fully constructed. The developer on the opposite side of East Street is significantly larger. That site commenced in April.2017 and has no completions. Also subject to 106 agreements.
Ms Dove claimed it was deliverable in the five years. Unless there is a suggestion that it wouldn’t be? Saying, “I have heard nothing from Berkeleys that they won’t deliver the site. Hoped 20 completed 22/23
The Inspector asked: Are you saying it will take a little bit longer. A large building with retail on the ground floor? Even bearing that in mind you think it is realistic? It up to me to take a view?
34 ~Kings Rd Haslemere. 5 units with consent, viability issues – property currently on the market. Discounting 4.
St George’s Road, Farnham 23 units. 25/26
Outline consent.RSVD Matts submitted May. not scheduled for determination. Amended plans on November 30 21. It should be removed. My evidence stands – the site is not deliverable.
Ms Dove said the site should be included in 5-yrs as it was achievable.
Barons of Hindhead. 38 units. Va BF S.
Unresolved issues. Objection from Mr Smith of Surrey Hills AONB due to the impact – unresolved. Viability issue unresolved. Dispute over housing mix and 106 contested contributions.
Mr Neave argued a lot was going on, and there was no clear evidence that it was deliverable.
Ms Dove. Waverley considering public comments. Difficult to say what the next steps will be. Cannot advise whether issues could be overcome. But the landowner wants to deliver housing on the former car showroom. Has new premises in East Hants so the site is vacant. Waverley wants it developed and it is in LP Part 2.
Inspector: No hard evidence? None said, Ms Dove.
Andrews of Hindhead – Care Home site. 35 units.LP2 C2 use
Principle issue – planning. refused on October 21. No certainty of delivery. no evidence.
The Old Grove, Hindhead 18 units.
LP2 allocation. Pre Ap discussions in 2020. Does not demonstrate delivery. It was merely being promoted. The public is unhappy with the draft allocation. No evidence. Still, a long way to go.
Ms Dove Updated. We have received outline p.a. for 128 validated on l st Dec. Out to consultation. Progress was being made; however, she admitted she could show no hard evidence.
The Royal Junior School, Hindhead 90 homes
The Inspector asked a witness. What do you say about the claim made by the appellant that it was a political decision?
“No weight at all – the major site School site (The Royal School) at the time of the draft LP2 plan was not being promoted as available for development, so officers didn’t look at that, it was only subsquently during the course of that plan was published and as it was going through consultation that the site became available. So therefore when loking at things it was a logical thing to do to promoted PDL and remove the appeal site. There wasn’t alternative, it is now. Good reasons for the decision. Good planning reasons.
Current position LP2 approved by council and will be submitted to the Inspectorate today or tomorrow. Later in the Inquiry Waverley told the Inspector LP2 had been submitted.
The Inquiry reconvenes at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday, January 6 2022.