its a knock-out for ‘Your Waverley,’ in round one of controversial planning appeals.

 

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…

1,298 homes

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 …

                           4.01 years!

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.

He said:

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!

 

 

6 thoughts on “its a knock-out for ‘Your Waverley,’ in round one of controversial planning appeals.”

  1. 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:

    https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/R-Monkhill-v-SOS-for-Housing-and-ors-judgment.pdf

    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. … .”

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. “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.

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