It’s a job to know who to feel more sorry for? The village dubbed by borough councillors as “poor old Alfold” or poor old Waverley?
Or could it be poor old ALFORD as Inspector Harold Stephens referred to the village he has just increased in size? If he gets the name wrong could it be legally challenged? Not that we could sit through the cringe-making Inquiry again or a Court hearing.
It came as no shock to observers of the appeal by Thakeham Homes and The Merchant Seaman’s War Memorial Society that their joint planning appeal was granted by a Government Inspector yesterday.
The only surprise was the speed with which Inspector Harold Stephens delivered his verdict against Waverley’s refusal for the scheme to build 99 homes off Loxwood Road. Mr Stephens must have passed on his Christmas Pudding to dish up his report in such record time! And what a plump purse he, in turn, has landed in Thakeham’s lap! No doubt, this will just be the appetiser for the development hungry developers!
The cash-strapped Merchant Seaman’s charity joined one of the Tory party’s favoured developers (Thakeham have boasted in the past of their contacts in the heart of No 10) to build 99 homes on yet another green field in Alfold! At this rate, Alfold – or Alford, as Mr Stephen’s in his undignified haste to grant consent misnamed the village – will soon be out of green fields altogether at this rate! This is Thakeham’s second attempt to develop the site – a previous appeal for 425 homes was refused in 2018 – and now villagers fear this latest decision is the thin end of the wedge with yet more applications to come from the rapacious, land-hungry Thakeham which will, eventually, make the initial 425 look modest!
The appeal decision yesterday brings the total number of homes either built or consented to 364 with many more in the giant pipeline of applications and appeals that are swamping the tiny village on the Surrey / Sussex border.
A village with only a handful of facilities, no dedicated GP Surgery; no school; two pubs – one of which is open only a couple of days a week – a petrol station, a village shop( that closes at 1 pm) and a scrappy bus service – blink and you’ll miss it!
Two barristers from London’s premier planning chambers, Landmark, went head-to-head with Waverley’s legal Budgerigar – who wouldn’t say boo to a goose! – during two controversial planning appeals shortly before Christmas. Alfold – on land called Springbok for 99 homes – and in Haslemere – on land at Red Court off Scotlands Lane for 50.
Perhaps it is time for Haslemere residents to start praying?
On both occasions, Waverley’s five-year housing land supply was the lynchpin on which the appellants argued their appeals should be allowed – and now planning permission on the Alfold scheme has been duly granted.
If our borough council cannot convince inspectors – Alfold’s Harold Stephens and Haslemere’s Helen Hochenhull – that they can demonstrate a five-year housing land supply then a section of the National Planning Policy Framework is engaged – which means even if there are some planning policy reasons to refuse a scheme, this is completely outweighed by the lack of housing supply!
But before we all pile in and blame Waverley’s planners, it’s important to acknowledge the part played here by TRINITY COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE and its not-so-new Bursur – Richard Turnhill, AKA RICHARD TURNCOAT. Had the College and its Bursar delivered on their promise to commence building some of the 1,800 homes they received planning consent for – more years ago now than we care to remember years ago – Waverley and its residents wouldn’t be in this fine mess! Instead of falling on its consent with glee and sending in its bulldozers toute suite, Richard Turncoat has done sweet Fanny Adams during his tenure – except touting the site to the highest bidder – whilst allowing a stream of other developers to coast along on his coattails. Not one of these other successful developers is offering any infrastructure worthy of the name to support their development. Oh no, why would they? They’re all simply pointing towards the non-existent mirage of development at Dunsfold Park – if it ever gets out of the starting blocks under Mr Turncoat’s stewardship – saying it can pick up the bill for their developments …
Indeed, we at the Waverley Web – not to mention many of the good residents of Alfold – are beginning to wonder if Mr Turncoat is getting a backhander from the likes of Thakeham Homes … just saying … just putting that thought out there? Why else has the former city-slicker sat on his hands and done sweet F A for the past year?!
If the idiot doesn’t pull his finger out some time soon, he may find not only that his existing consent has elapsed but there’s no need for the additional housing that’s been mooted in Waverley’s Local Plan because all the come lately developers have overtaken him!
In the early years of Waverley’s Local Plan adoption in 2018, very little housing development occurred. Barristers at numerous inquiries have been at pains to point that out to various government inspectors. Of the 590 p.a. (2,950 over 5 years) plus a 5% buffer of 40.76, only 3,422 have been completed against a requirement of 4,720. Resulting in a shortfall of unit April 21 of…
During both of the latest Inquiries, a list of sites that Waverley’s barristers claimed was “deliverable” were found to be anything but. In his opinion, the Inspector ruled on the Alfold Appeal the Council could only demonstrate …
I have therefore considered the Council’s supply in light of whether the sites are available now, offer a suitable location for development now, and are achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years.
Here’s his verdict on Dunsfold Garden Village:
With regard to Land at Dunsfold Park, the Council confirms that the Dunsfold (Strategic Planning Document) SPD is due to be adopted in February 2022 and that initial phases could come forward alongside the temporary uses on the site.
I accept that the new landowner could implement the existing consent, but I consider it is more likely that an amended outline application would be required. Moreover, there is no evidence of housebuilder involvement, submission of reserved matters or any evidence of progress in this direction. The Council has not provided a realistic assessment of the factors involved in the delivery of this site, such as the timetable and likely progress towards completion. Dunsfold Park should not be considered deliverable due to the lack of clear evidence.
THANKS FOR NOTHING MR TURDHILL! Because that’s what you’ve delivered for the residents of Waverley during your undistinguished tenure at the head of Trinity College Cambridge!
Among other sites the Inspector claimed were undeliverable were:
Land at Ockford Water, Land at Barons of Hindhead, Land at Wey Hill, Haslemere, Centrum Business Park, Farnham, Land at Ockford Water, Godalming, and more.
I am satisfied that all of the disputed sites set out in paragraph 3 of APP9 should not be considered deliverable in the next five years for the reasons given in the Appellants’ analysis and commentary in APP10 which is preferred. There is no clear evidence before me that would suggest that any of the disputed sites would deliver the completions suggested by the Council in the next five years.
These sites included Milford Golf Course and The Royal School at Hindhead.
The sites that the Council includes within the supply cannot be justified applying the current definition of deliverable. The Council’s supply figure of 4,660 dwellings should be reduced to give a more robust total supply figure of 3,575 dwellings for the five year period. Although the Council maintains there is a 5.22 year supply, in my view, there is a housing land supply equivalent to 4.01 years.
The implications of not having a five-year housing land supply are significant. Not only is there a shortfall of some 885 dwellings, but it also means the policies which are the most important for determining the application are automatically out-of-date and the tilted balance applies. I conclude on the third issue that the Council cannot demonstrate a five-year housing land supply and that paragraph 11 d) of the NPPF is engaged.
So there you have it, folks. The lack of delivery at Dunsfold Park is the PRIMARY reason that developers are running amok in Waverley. No one would have believed three years ago, when consent was granted, that in January 2022 not a sod would have been turned on the Great White Elephant that Dunsfold Park has become in the Borough of Waverley. What the Borough and Dunsfold Park needs is someone new at the helm. Someone with a clear vision and a determination to turn the White Elephant into the living, breathing, thriving development which is what the Flying Scot promised before he had the bad fortune to find himself shackled to the visionless, gutless Turncoat who has turned his dreams to ashes and Alfold’s fields to concrete jungles!
Will no one rid us of this turbulent pest, Turdhill? To misquote Blackadder!
33 thoughts on “its a knock-out for ‘Your Waverley,’ in round one of controversial planning appeals.”
Instructive to consider the implications of the case law set by Justice Holgate on which he based his Longdene decision in January 2021 in Monkhill vs Secretary of State for Housing and WBC:
For those who don’t know Haslemere, Longdene is a patch of AONB, a(n increasingly rare endangered) barn owl’s flight from Red Court, and unlike Red Court, not a natural corridor adjacent to the South Downs National Park. Justice Holgate took the decision which should stand for Red Court, which has all the attributes of Longdene and many more besides.
Justice Holgate rejected the speculative application in Haslemere on AONB despite the fact that at that time he found WBC’s “housing land supply … would be between 3.37 years and 4.6 years”, which he described as a “significant shortfall”. However Justice Holgate ultimately concluded that the speculative application was in “conflict with plan policies for the protection of the AONB, the AGLV and the countryside” and therefore, “the inspector concluded that the proposal would be “contrary to the provisions of the development plan taken as a whole”.
“His crucial conclusions, culminating in the dismissal of the appeal, followed (in paragraphs 47 to 51):
“47. I have found that [the council] cannot demonstrate a 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites, and so paragraph 11d) is engaged by virtue of Footnote 7. Paragraph 11d) i. refers to the application of [the] policies [of the NPPF] that protect areas or assets of particular importance. The appellant argues that no such policies are engaged in this case. I disagree. In paragraph 11d) i. the reference to “protect” has its ordinary meaning to keep safe, defend and guard. It seems to me that that is precisely what paragraph 172 seeks to achieve with respect to landscape and scenic beauty in AONBs. This … policy [of the NPPF] for AONBs states that they have the highest status of protection in relation to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty, and that within AONBs the scale and extent of development should be limited. The inclusion of AONBs in Footnote 6 brings into play the whole of paragraph 172, not just that part which deals with major development, as the appellant’s closing submissions seem to imply.
48. Given my findings about the effects on the character and appearance of the area, as set out above, I consider that applying … policies [of the NPPF] for the AONB here provides a clear reason for refusing the proposed development. So the provisions of paragraph 11 d) i. disengage the tilted balance. Therefore, the planning balance in this case is a straight or flat balance of benefits against harm.
49. The appeal scheme would provide additional housing in Haslemere, including affordable units, in an area of need. There would also be some benefits to the local economy and to biodiversity. But in my judgement these benefits would be outweighed by the harm to the character and appearance of the area, along with the harm to the AONB which attracts great weight. I find that the planning balance falls against the proposal.
50. The proposal would be contrary to the provisions of the development plan taken as a whole. It would not gain support from [the NPPF]. There are no material considerations here which indicate that the determination of the appeal should be other than in accordance with the development plan.
51. For the reasons given above and having regard to all other matters raised, I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed. … .”
This is an objective and unbiassed verdict, by an unbiassed judiciary. It is obviously why our whiter than white(???) government want to use “Planning Inspectors” to arbitrate on such decisions. It is a set up system to favour developers who buy their favours.
The Longdene House verdict is encouraging but the Red Court site is of course not in the AONB (whereas Longdene House is). The suggestion that AGLV should be given the same protection as AONB – which is often cited by town councillors and other local groups – did not stand up to scrutiny at the Inquiry and the Council’s own witnesses accepted that the scheme does not harm any public views from within the AONB.
The original WBC Officer’s report recommended that approval be given to development at Red Court because of the lack of a 5YHS. The Officers were no doubt under pressure to oppose development at Red Court given the administration’s public opposition to the proposals, but the Officers understand planning law. Should the Inspector conclude, as the Alfold Inspector did, that the Council cannot meet the 5 year supply then, like the Waverley Officers, it is unfortunately hard to see how she can deny the appeal.
Fault for this lies with the current administration who seem to have a policy of denying development and then seeking to defend hopeless cases at appeal, at great expense to the taxpayer. This approach of course also contributes to the lack of 5 year supply. In addition the decision to delay LPP2 by a further 9 months in order to protect Red Court looks likely to fail and has left other parts of the borough in a weaker position. Alfold has already paid the price. Other areas will be next as WW notes. How will the Farnham Residents Group defend the administration’s planning policy if the forthcoming appeal in Farnham is allowed?
Only two months ago the planning portfolio holder said the administration would look “very silly indeed” if the Inspector found that they did not to have a 5 year supply. It has come to pass. They do indeed look very silly.
The many residents who oppose Red Court are now left hoping for a miracle.
It is worth noting that Cllr Ellis has a very personal interest in stopping Red Court – she lives right next door. I cannot believe she supports building on AONB at the Royal School in order to stop development over her back fence, so much for her so called green credentials. Cllrs Ellis and Barton, who also lives next door to Red Court set up the HSRA to fight Red Court but were slow to actually disclose this at various council meetings of Haslemere Town Council where they voted against their plans and actually voted to change the settlement boundary to support their case. Yet they are happy to support building on AONB in a more remote location requiring a car to access which is outside the settlement boundary
“Mike”s post contains serious misrepresentations and character slurs.
I am a Haslemere Town Councillor living in Scotland Lane in a house I own adjacent to the Red Court site, facts I have never denied.
Let’s take a look that vote on 28 November 2019 about which you make misleading accusations.
This was a HTC vote on whether the Council should adopt the revised Neighbourhood Plan and its revised settlement boundary that did not include Longdene and Red Court. Five Councillors including myself had called for a discussion and vote on the Neighbourhood Plan settlement boundary after detecting in the draft Neighbourhood Plan (inherited by incoming Councillors after the 2019 elections) a serious anomaly. Under the previous HTC, research data from the 2016 public consultation conducted by Haslemere Vision had been conflated with the 2018 WBC-proposed settlement boundary map that included the AONB/AGLV Longdene and Red Court sites, without making it clear that it was Haslemere’s original settlement boundary map that residents had actually been polled on in 2016, which excluded them. These results found that 89% of surveyed residents had expressed the wish to protect and conserve the designated countryside – including the Longdene and Red Court sites – surrounding and within the town centre. The 28 November 2019 meeting was to bring to the Full Council’s attention that it would be unethical and misleading to present the results of the 2016 public consultation alongside the 2018 WBC map without providing an explanation and to decide what action needed to be taken to ensure that “the plan accurately reflected the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Haslemere residents.” Then, as now, the WBC-proposed settlement boundary did not reflect the clearly, democratically expressed views of Haslemere residents. The vote for Haslemere’s Neighbourhood Plan and boundary was passed by an overwhelming majority, I believe it was unanimous but one.
My views on the Royal School follow the submission made by Surrey Hills AONB and reflect the majority of Councillors at HTC and WBC who have voted on this. Importantly, HTC is a consultative body only; it is WBC who decides.
I refer to Cllr Ellis’s statement that she has never denied owning a house adjacent to the Red Court site. In papers submitted by Howard Brown of HSRA and Scotlands Close to the planning inspector dealing with the Red Court appeal ownership of No 2 Scotlands Close was declared to be Mr Gregory Rood (Ms Ellis’s Partner) why the subterfuge? Cllr Ellis is the owner.
On her declaration of interests lodged with HTC Cllr Ellis’s address is “withheld” no other councillor has done so.
On a number of occasions Cllr Ellis took part, and voted, on issues directly related to Red Court at meetings of HTC without declaring her interest as an immediate neighbour.
Cllr Ellis concealed the fact that she was a founding member and part of the Haslemere South Residents Association committee dedicated to “fighting” Red Court. Initially she stated she “was asked to advise and observe” the HSRA but at the meeting held on 10th September 2020 she admitted to being a member of HSRA (She fell short of stating she was a founding member or part of their committee). Her declaration of interest was amended on the 18th September – 10 days after the meeting.
I would argue that her support for the Royal School (introduced by fellow independent Cllr Nikki Barton) is more to do with it being put forward as a direct substitute to Red Court. The Royal School is on AONB and outside the settlement boundary and is far more difficult to access than Red Court so why the support. I note that there are over 100 objections to the Royal School’s proposed travel plan for Farnham Lane – do the views of these residents not matter?
I note that Cllr Ellis’s PhD in “Creative Writing” is being put to good use.
Thank you for this very informative comment. We would like to know? When is the complaint made to Waverley’s Monitoring Officer or any other organisation this matter has been passed to going to make a decision? Surely two years is long enough for someone to come up with a conclusion?
In response to your post, you might consider fact-checking before spreading serious misrepresentations and character slurs about Haslemere Town Councillors?
As stated, I have never “denied” the fact of where I live. My address was registered as required with both Haslemere Town Council and Waverley Borough Council when I became a town councillor in May 2019. Town councillors are under no obligation to publish their home address publicly if they do not wish to, for their privacy and security. I am in no way responsible for errors in the list of residents compiled by the Scotland Close Residents Association — a street group. To imply that I have deliberately tried to “mislead” anyone in this regard has no basis in fact and is intentionally defamatory.
“Mike” suggests I tried to “conceal” my membership of South Haslemere Residents Association. I am proud to be a member of my local community group.
The Haslemere Herald carried statements by prospective Councillors in 2019. The statement that I sent states clearly that I am a member of Haslemere South Residents Association and “I decided to stand to bring greater representation for the interests of our Haslemere South community to council level.”
As to the Royal School, Clive Smith, Planning Advisor for Surrey Hills AONB, recently stated at the hearing for Redwood South West Ltd’s appeal that when its AONB status was granted in 1958, the A3 was not running along its boundary as it is now and it was a stately home surrounded by gardens. It is now a private school, covered in tarmac and playing fields. Decisions have to be made based on the reality of landscape and biodiversity value in 2022 not 1958.
It’s worth noting, before I became a Councillor, that the previous Haslemere Town Council had the opportunity to contest the housing numbers allocated to Haslemere. They also gave up Haslemere’s rights to allocate development sites. Only CPRE and POW fought to protect communities like ours from inappropriate development.
In previous posts, “Mike” has championed the proposed destruction of Red Court, a beautiful biodiverse habitat for protected and endangered species adjacent to the South Downs National Park whose AONB-candidate landscape setting and ecology has been attested to by local and national landscape experts and ecologists. Surrey Hills AONB, CPRE, Haslemere Society, Haslemere Vision, the majority vote of Haslemere Town Council and Waverley Borough Council and the overwhelming majority of Haslemere residents have made it clear that they wish to protect this land for future generations. Only three people wrote to WBC to support Redwood’s proposed development, but a record 550 objected, the largest number of written objections about a single planning application.
Redwood clearly have a pecuniary interest. Whose interests might ‘Mike’ be seeking to benefit?
Interesting post Kirsten. And what of the 105 objections regarding the section 106 at the school site at Farnham Lane regarding traffic movements?
You are quite right to say decisions should be made based on today’s information. Whilst Farnham Lane may have been a good location for a large boarding school, no right minded individual would believe that the Farnham Lane site is an appropriate location for a day school – with the stated aim according to the headmistress of doubling or maybe tripling its student numbers – and the increase in traffic movements. Can we expect those residents to be equally listened to or are councillors only passionate about defending developments on their doorstep?
I always enjoy reading Ms Ellis’s responses
Ms Ellis states that councillors are under no obligation to publish their home address and she states she has chosen not to do so because of privacy – one wonders why she took on a role in public life if she so values her privacy. Ms Ellis then states she is in no way responsible for errors compiled by the Scotlands Close Residents Association – I find this most interesting as she is a member of this “street group” and the list was compiled by none other than the General Secretary of the HSRA!. As a member of both groups I feel she should take responsibility for the “error”
Ms Ellis then states she is proud member of the Haslemere South Residents Association – her local community group. If she is so proud of being a member why did she not disclose this on her declarations of interest at HTC. Firstly she said she was asked to “advise and observe” the group, she later changed her declaration, after a crucial vote of HTC, to say she is a member of the Association. If she is so proud of her Association why doesn’t she declare she was a founding member and member of their committee – most odd!
Cllr Ellis has regularly referred to Red Court as being on AONB – she knows this not to be true. It is on AGLV. This is misrepresenting the facts. With regard to landscape designations Red Court is AGLV and Royal School is AONB. Cllr Ellis objects against the former but supports the latter and suggests that the designations are wrong. They are however a fact.
Cllr Ellis recently made the comment “The 50 dwellings allocated to DS06/Red Court can be provided by building within Haslemere’s settlement boundary. Haslemere Vision’s research shows the town is already on track to be in surplus of its housing quota” – if she stands by this comment why is she still supporting proposed development at the Royal School which is both on AONB and OUTSIDE the settlement boundary – she can’t have it both ways!!
At the extraordinary full council meeting of HTC on 8th November 2021 (Cllr Ellis was both present and voted) the council agreed to support the inclusion of the Royal Junior School allocation in LPP2 provided it “being on land on which there were previously constructed buildings or hardstanding” No mention of agreeing to playing fields being included. Waverley’s Zac Ellwood has agreed that only 16% of the Royal School site actually falls under buildings or hardstanding (Car parks etc) but does then state Waverley intends to consider the whole site as “previously developed” contrary to the the wishes of Haslemere Town Council of which Cllr Ellis is a member! It appears Cllr Ellis supports development over the entire site.
Cllr Ellis’s supports the Royal School proposals which require the current staff and children to relocate to the Senior School site on Farnham Lane. Cllr Ellis suggests that the kids can be transported up the lane by minibus! I would ask her to look at the planning application WA/2021/03150 and note the number of objections from local residents – Does Ms Ellis not feel that the views of these residents are as important as those objecting elsewhere?
It might be worth noting that Waverley for many years put forward Red Court for development. Having done so it is very hard to now understand their change of position when the site itself has not changed. With the identified shortfall in the housing land supply I think the planning inspector will struggle not to conclude that planning permission at Red Court should be GRANTED.
“Interesting post Kirsten. And what of the 105 objections regarding the section 106 at the school site at Farnham Lane regarding traffic movements?
You are quite right to say decisions should be made based on today’s information. Whilst Farnham Lane may have been a good location for a large boarding school, no right minded individual would believe that the Farnham Lane site is an appropriate location for a day school – with the stated aim according to the headmistress of doubling or maybe tripling its student numbers – and the increase in traffic movements. Can we expect those residents to be equally listened to or are councillors only passionate about defending developments on their doorstep?”
Local town Cllrs are tasked with listening to concerns and reflecting the majority view of all residents. Since Haslemere Town Council is only a consultative body for planning applications, albeit important and material and it is Waverley that decides, as the Local Planning Authority, it’s all the more important that granular concerns from residents are picked up, discussed and decided by consensus.
Each planning application has to be judged — with attention to all details including objections from the residents — on the basis of its own merits. I completely appreciate anxiety around proposed large developments in our community, especially because traditionally, Haslemere’s pattern of development has been small-scale and windfall.
Thanks for the context, but your own position remains a little unclear. It would be helpful to know if you, as a local resident and Town Cllr, support the proposed application, in its current form, for a variation to the s106 by United Learning with regards to its Farnham Lane site?
The tendency of the current government to avoid giving a straight answer to a straight question must be contagious. 🤣
And herewith lies the problem in Haslemere. Councillors and town councillors apply different rules to different sites. Cllr Ellis believes the views of residents must be listened to regarding Red Court (conveniently she herself is a resident). But the views of residents on Farnham Lane are of little interest to her. The so called independents on the town council are nothing of the sort, they are single interest lobby groups. They should be more honest about this as their attempts to deceive are incredibly transparent.
I note that Cllr Ellis sets great store with comments of the AONB advisor Clive Smith. This is the same advisor who in 2012 stated “if permission is to be granted for this or a similar development it is requested that a condition be imposed to require the removal of the buildings if they are no longer required for educational purposes. The condition is considered to be necessary in the longer term interests of the AONB where this amount of development would not normally be permitted had it not been for educational purposes” This statement was made on an earlier planning application made by the Royal School in 2012, quite some time after the A3 was built! This was presumably to enable reinstatement of the site to a country house setting. No concession for how circumstances had changed since the adoption of the AONB in the 1950’s.
Are all old country houses along the A3 corridor now ripe for ‘mass development’?
I wonder what HTC councillors make of Natural England’s objections to the site at the Grove in Hindhead. Perhaps they will consider them not important in their scheme but it could lead to similar issues when planning permission is sought at the Royal School site next door. As a very vocal (on planning matters) town councillor perhaps Cllr Ellis can enlighten us – Perhaps she could also respond to “Mike’s” question posed on the 18th January
The Town Council have I believe already waived through development at the Old Grove. I suspect because none of them live nearby that they aren’t concerned about any negative impacts.
Unfortunately I think you are probably right – in fact I gather Cllr Barton actually introduced the Royal School site to senior management at Waverley as a direct substitute to Red Court next door to where she lives – Cllr Follows then rushed in to remove Red Court “in short order” from LPP2. Cllr Follows has “had the back” of the anti Red Court lobby groups throughout the process, even listening into the appeal. Perhaps this is how he prefers to spend his time rather than dealing with all the issues that Waverley is currently facing. Obviously Cllr Follows thinks some residents are more important than others!
Hi ‘exasperated,’ and ‘Sigh’ I responded to your question earlier.
To you – I can only say you seem to lack the courage of your convictions by failing to identify yourself and the nature and extent of your vested interests. You need to come out to be taken seriously.
To the general reader – I note there is a group of people (including a Haslemere town councillor careful to anonymise) intent on the destruction of a beautiful wildlife habitat on the edge of the South Downs National Park, to enable a single speculative developer to make tens of millions profit. National landscape, heritage and ecology experts have attested to this site’s importance and the fact that it sits within “a regional area of high biodiversity and unique importance for regional ecological networks to sustain biodiversity.” At a time when we are meant to prioritize protecting biodiversity as well as green spaces, this group of people are aware that the majority of Haslemere residents, as well as local and borough Councillors, have weighed against this proposed development, being contrary to the Haslemere Neighbourhood Plan, and rejected by Waverley’s Local Plan Part 2.
Having rejected a legitimate, government-mandated democratic process, they seek to smear and discredit anyone who has spoken out to represent the majority’s community’s views and to artificially create division for their own interests — although it is not clear what those interests are except to support a single developer with a pecuniary interest in destroying this beautiful habitat. Announce yourselves sirs – ‘exasperated’, ‘Sigh’, ‘Mike”, ‘Jamie Grant’ et al. If it’s that serious, stand behind your own names!
The Royal School, as it was in 1958 when it was granted AONB status, was a historic house set within beautiful rolling countryside. As a councillor, I would have fought to protect it before the A3 came in right next to it and before it was covered in tarmac and playing fields which have zero biodiversity. Interesting to note that when the high (no-doubt algorithmically-calculated) housing numbers set for Haslemere were imposed, both HTC and WBC held a Conservative majority — why was there no attempt to challenge them? Only Conservative councillors voted to support the proposed development at Red Court, despite this being clearly against the majority of their constituents’ views expressed via public consultation, for reasons known best to them. Clive Smith of Surrey Hills AONB, having carefully evaluated both sites, recommended against development at Red Court, considering that of the two sites, development at the Royal School would cause much less harm to Haslemere’s prized AONB landscape setting. The majority of HTC took that view when they voted for it — mine was but one vote within this majority.
As to ‘Mike’s question, when the Grove and Royal School come before Waverley planning committee councillors, I assume this, as well as every other aspect of the proposals, will be closely scrutinised before a decision is made. It’s important that readers know that the Haslemere town council does not have the final say on planning decisions, and its function as a consultative body is to reflect majority community consensus.
So once again Cllr Ellis hides behind words such as “mine was but just one vote within this majority” etc etc Can she fully declare that as a founding member of the anti Red Court lobby group the HSRA which was set up purely for the purpose of “fighting” Red Court on land immediately adjacent to where she lives that there isn’t the slightest chance that this might be the main reason for her fighting so hard to stop Red Court. I note that she hasn’t answered “Mike’s” question about the advice given by Clive Smith, the AONB advisor, in 2012. She also won’t answer how she can write to the planning department to say that Red Court isn’t needed because Haslemere could provide the necessary number of houses within the settlement boundary but fully supports the inclusion of the Royal School, (as a substitute for Red Court) which is OUTSIDE the settlement boundary – please try and work out where you stand on this!
There are over 100 objections to the Royal School’s plans for transporting kids up Farnham Lane – does Cllr Ellis agree that their wishes should be listened to. HTC have already stated that any plan should have the support of the residents but their submitted plans clearly do not have their support – CAN YOU PLEASE ANSWER THIS
Cllr Ellis, I take it from your comment that you view it as a choice between development at Red Court or the Royal School. Therefore should the Inspector allow development at Red Court will you be withdrawing your support for development at the Royal School site? Surely no one wants to see more housing development than entirely necessary.
Rather than attempting to “unmask” people you could of course try answering questions (for example around the objections at Farnham Lane which – predictably – seem to disturb you far less than the objections made by your neighbours). Your creative writing skills are certainly on display in your responses.
Sadly, Waverley’s has many areas similar to Red Court that residents equally value. Now they are under concrete. Ancient woodland has been obliterated, wildlife and habitat destroyed, TPO ordered trees damaged beyond imagination and much-loved and valued countryside unrecognisable. But these sites are in the eastern villages. Villages with little public transport, no railway stations, and not close to the A3! Take a trip out of your Haslemere bubble Cllr Ellis, and see for yourself.
Yes, but she lives next door to Red Court so it is more important than the other areas you mention.
I don’t live or think in a ‘bubble,’ Waverley Web. I became a councillor because I care a lot about our local, national and global environment. If David Attenborough had a party, I’d be a member of that. The destruction of ancient woodlands, habitats, biodiversity and valued trees that you speak about upsets me.
The problem needs to be laid at the door of where it was created. Years of poor housing policy, under successive governments, has led to a legacy of widespread failure in town planning, everywhere in the UK, not just in Waverley. These issues, in part, were supposed to be addressed by the Localism Act 2011. Sadly, the historic and current failure of government planning decisions is having, long-term, inter-generational consequences for the well-being of people within our Waverley communities and the natural environment.
In Haslemere, as elsewhere, I sympathise with community anxiety about large-scale developments. In our town, I care about our town’s beautiful natural landscape setting and nature, and I very much care about much-needed affordable housing. People deserve good solutions and effective, imaginative problem-solving town planning ought to deliver so much better. Should we take an attitude of ‘destroy nature here because it’s already been destroyed elsewhere’? I don’t think so. Perpetuating bad decisions isn’t the solution but building on every available success that protects and enhancing valued landscapes, local green spaces, nature and biodiversity needs to be a priority borough-wide is.
While on this subject, your comment prompts me to add that while it’s perfectly commendable for Councils to be entrepreneurial if their actions increase the common good and the well-being of residents, it seems problematic if Councils have a built-in conflict of interest, as at Waverley, where the head of planning is also the head of economic development. Isn’t this the equivalent, in planning terms, of throwing the fox into the hen-house? A property speculator’s goal is to make short-term profit — while the goal of planning officers surely has to be to achieve long-term, multi-generational benefits to the community without destroying the environment. A tough brief, by any standards.
‘Sigh’, ‘exasperated’ and ‘Mike’ — three men hiding behind anonymous monikers spreading character slurs about a female councillor – are unhappy with local democratic decisions by the majority of Waverley councillors. They don’t want development at the Royal School but do want development at Red Court.
The problem is that Waverley is stuck with the legal requirements of housing LPP2 imposes and has stated its commitment to finding housing in Haslemere that does the least damage to landscape setting and which has the best opportunity for a percentage of affordable housing. In this scenario, on those terms, faced with having to make a decision between the Royal School and the Red Court sites, Clive Smith, Planning Advisor to Surrey Hills AONB weighed in favour of the Royal School on the basis of landscape value and setting. The decision to prefer the site allocation of the Royal School was made at Waverley level determining suitability of sites and evidential appropriateness — by a majority council.
‘Sigh’, ‘exasperated’ and ‘Mike’ have expressed concern over the Grove and Royal applications, each of which are decided by Waverley on the basis of their own merits.
The Royal School, highly valued as an excellent learning institution by many Haslemere families, is run by the respected educational trust United Learning. The school operated for many years prior to now, with parents and carers ferrying children up and down the Lane; a school has existed on the Lane site since 1840. Given the history, what are the new concerns that Farnham Lane residents have about traffic, and what has United Learning’s response been?
With regard to ‘Mike’s question, I can hardly be expected to comment on a statement Clive Smith said about the AONB in 2012. I gather this is the same ‘Mike B’ who has expressed his animus against the South Haslemere Residents Association and the Scotland Close Residents Association — ‘Mom and Pop’ type street groups made up mostly of the elderly and young families — despite being an active member of the first and a founder member of the second.
‘Sigh’, ‘exasperated’ and ‘Mike’ don’t have the courage of their convictions, won’t say who they are, and prefer to troll a female councillor for reasons – and interests – known best to themselves.
Correction: ‘Mike’ was a founder member of HSRA (along with most, if not all, residents of Scotlands Close and Scotland Lane and streets beyond) not Scotlands Close Residents.
Hi Cllr Ellis, the fact that you are unaware of the concerns of Farnham Lane residents suggests you haven’t taken the time to read the objections which is disappointing and rather confirms the point that you view some residents opinions as more important than others.
Of course the Royal School has been present there for a long time though for the first 100+ years was a boarding school only. And the merging of the two sites – which you brush under the carpet – will see student numbers on the Farnham Lane site hit numbers which have never been reached before.
The major issue with the new proposals is the proposed increase in traffic numbers and lack of monitoring which has been put forward by United Learning. I’d suggest reading the Farnham Lane residents association objection for a detailed analysis. In addition there is the issue of increased traffic around Wey Hill and on St Christopher’s Road. Once you’re aware of the issues I’d be interested in your view, I’m slightly bewildered you had to ask what the situation was.
Are you sure of your facts or are you “Creative Writing” again – I think you will find that Mike was not a founding member of HSRA or a founder member of the second – You really should get your facts right! It is you Cllr Ellis who is a founder member of the HSRA a group you say you are very proud of but failed to disclose on your declaration of interests – why did you do that?
I take it that, given your comments about the Royal School on Farnham Lane, that you do not think the views of the residents of that lane are important – over 100 objections in a short period stating they didn’t want additional traffic up that narrow lane yet you are still happy to support this application. You are very quick to point out that you are a Councillor and you are happy to listen to residents except apparently when it doesn’t suit you – I have to conclude you are a hypocrite. You want people to have the courage of their convictions but are the only member of Haslemere Town Council who refuses to disclose where they live on their declaration of interests!
The Royal School site in Hindhead was put forward to Waverley Planning by none other than your fellow independent Cllr Nikki Barton as a direct substitute to Red Court. Cllr Follows then acted swiftly to remove Red Court. The Royal School site is not on mains drainage and as such will need to connect the site – the nearest connection is over the A3. Developers on other nearby sites have already fought to be released from having to provide affordable homes because of the high costs involved. Also it appears you are at odds with your own council motion as you are happy for all the playing fields to be built on rather than restrict development to previously developed areas. It
What makes Cllr Ellis think that “‘Sigh’, ‘exasperated’ and ‘Mike’ are all men? she may be surprised!
Cllr Ellis – you have stated that “Mike” was a founder member of the HSRA and was an active member of Scotlands Close Residents Association – as a member of both have you actually met Mike at any meeting of either Association? Yet again you spread misinformation.
I’m fed up reading Cllr Ellis’s evasive responses to questions posed by others. She hides behind “collective responsibility” at every turn.
I pose the following questions to her:-
1) Does she support or object to building over the playing fields at the Royal Junior School when she voted at HTC that future development should be restricted to previously developed areas or hardstanding.
2) Does she support or object to the travel plan submitted by the Royal School with regard to Farnham Lane (over 100 residents of that lane have objected)
3) If Red Court wins it appeal – will she still support development at the Royal School?
4) Why is she unable to respond to Clive Smith’s comments regarding the Royal School made in 2012 – She quotes him when it suits but disregards his comments when they don’t suit her.
5) Does AONB deserve protection? The Royal School has this status but she wishes to disregard it. If the Royal School choose to close that site where does it say that it must then be built all over – perhaps it could be left to rewild or perhaps the playing fields could be protected and offered to Amesbury School.
6) She likes to portray herself as some sort of Eco Warrior – can she list her green credentials?
7) Despite knowing that Red Court wasn’t AONB why did she, and the HSRA and others, keep referring to it as such. Even when this was pointed out this continued to be the case – this is spreading misinformation.
8) Why did Cllr Ellis (and Barton) participate and vote, at HTC, on matters pertaining to Red Court despite having a very personal interest (as immediate neighbours). I gather they did not always declare their interests or receive special dispensation to speak.
I look forward to Cllr Ellis clarifying her position on the above.
Now that Red Court has won its appeal I wonder whether the HSRA will continue and whether the support for building at the Royal Junior School will continue to be pushed as hard as it has been.
I am more fed up and exasperated that Cllr Ellis suggests that she is being trolled merely because she is female!
Mike, you seem to be having an identify crisis. We can see
you are also Fed Up and Exasperated – presumably by Councillor Ellis…