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!