In October 2011 Waverley’s planners refused an application for the erection of a detached outbuilding at the bottom of the garden of number 28 Weydon Hill Road by delegated powers (ie, the application was not referred to the Western Area Planning Committee), the decision letter stating:
“The proposed detached outbuilding by virtue of its size, scale, height and massing would cause an overbearing and detrimental impact to the amenities of neighbouring dwellings” and…
“The proposed development by virtue of its size, scale and overall bulk and massing would materially detract from the character and the appearance of the area”
The refused building had a footprint of 7 metres by 8 metres which was larger than the host house on the site!
In January 2018 the same property owner applied for the erection of a single-storey garden room with garden storage in the same location. Waverley’s planning officers were a lot easier touch by then. The application showed the proposed building was cavity wall construction tiled roof with good quality rooflights located over the supposed garden storage area of the open plan 8.1 metres by 7.47 metres building.
Despite strong objections from Farnham Town Council, the Civic Society and numerous neighbours the case planning officer granted approval by delegated powers on 28 March 2018. Quite a feat bearing in mind the opposition. However, the approval did have a condition that stated that:
So here begins a catalogue of unauthorised development that has plagued the neighbours ever since. Similar unauthorised development is occurring elsewhere in the borough. this is by no means an isolated case. We have many dozens of similar examples. Including one pool-side building ancillary to a property being let at over £1,000 a month.
The Farnham building was erected by the property owner that works within the building industry with several variations to the approved plans, without reference to Waverley. Completing the construction, he states, in July 2019 that partitioning, for a shower, toilet and kitchen facilities were to be installed later for an independent residential unit.
The building began being used by people arriving with suitcases and staying overnight, people accessing it without going into or through the main house. The building became a space open to renting, for exercise classes, parties and the like.
The neighbours began keeping a diary of the goings-on. The Waverley enforcement team (well, you know what we think of them here at the Waverley Web) were formally notified at the end of November 2020 after informally engaging with the enforcement team almost a year earlier by email and telephone, drawing their attention to issues of excessive noise, parking obstructive to neighbours and the general public, and use of the house for the operation of a beauty business.
Waverley, of course, said that, despite the diary recordings of the events, as they unfolded, they considered that “an insufficient case was made to allow them to investigate.”
WW asks WHY? Who stays in 24 hours a day and peers out from behind the curtains? Neighbours and others said that parties, classes and a beauty business continued during the 2020 spring lockdown.
In May 2020 the owner of 28 Weydon Hill Road submitted an application to remove the condition preventing him to allow others to occupy, and allow him to either let or sell the outbuilding. He stated:
“World events have made us rconsider the use f our summerhouse, making it more useful to be used as an isolation unit short term. With a household of our grown up children in the workplace (a couple of key worker positions), we would like tohave the ability to be able to isolate people if need be. Looking towards the future we have elderly relatives who will need some assistance, we feel we should give back to them the time they have invested in us rather than getting the local authority to look after them.”
He wanted the condition changed to:
We would like condition 3 changed so it can be occupied. Condition 3 should read:
The proposed outbuilding shall be used for the purpose ancillary to the residential occupation and enjoyment of the dwelling known as 28 Weydon Hill Road, Farnham, GU9 8NX and shall not be sold or otherise disposed of.
Once again, the Town Council and the civic society along with local residents strongly objected. Some might have suggested they saved their very valuable breath?
The application was called in to be determined by the planning committee. The application was then withdrawn before it went to committee (thought to be in March April 2020) although Waverley planning officers have failed to post a letter confirming that (typical Waverley efficiency really) and a new application was submitted on 10 May 2021, validated by the planning officers early in August, yes, some eleven or twelve weeks !) having been advised, it is reasonably certain by the case officer to withdraw the 2020 application and put in a new one.
The planner we understand has a duty to help the applicants get around the system. The application form gave the proposed replacement condition as
Residents, the council and the civic society objected yet again, however, officers have refused to carry forward objections from one application to another, well they wouldn’t they? Why make the objectors’ jobs easier?
Do the officers care that everyone has to go through the hoop over and over again. Dream on?
The application is allocated to the officer that suggested the last one was withdrawn but he/she decides to leave before determination. (wise move really). A new planning officer is then allocated the application.
We understand the planning committee chairman said he would support a call in. the new planning officer emails the ward councillors asking for their support in taking the application to the committee. The two councillors overlook the email, or so we understand, and the application is granted under delegated powers.
Yes, you got that right, granted. The condition stating:
So there you have it all you law-abiding folks that play by the rules.
The enforcement team closed their file on the investigation having visited the property but not talking to objectors who raised the issue. Why would the enforcement team speak to those that were suffering, it would make more work for them after all. The term ‘as useless as a chocolate tea pot’ comes to mind.
The outbuilding, now called the ‘The bungalow’ by neighbours, can now be used for any purpose that you could imagine. The owners have installed a separate entrance to assist the users no doubt, reduce inconvenience to himself. But business, parties, exercise classes, Bed & Breakfast lettings, long term room letting provided with en-suite shower room, kitchen, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, you name it.
Oh, and we have been told that the planning officer who granted approval for the contentious building left the council about the same day as granting consent. Coincidence, or what?
And you wonder why we here at Waverley Web, the residents of Farnham and other parts of the borough believe there should be more than a shake-up at Waverley Towers Planning Department now that a new Portfolio Holder for Enforcement has been appointed. Wonder why the planners are not popular look no further than Weydon Hill Lane.
Q Why didn’t the planning officer question whether the application should be determined by the planning committee?
Q Surely any person (sorry, should have thought Waverley officers) would have thought that as there had been strong and continuous objections to this application by the Town Council, the civic society and numerous neighbours (Oh, we have been told that the officers lost more than one objection – you know how it happens !), and the enforcement team was already investigating numerous breaches of conditions drawn to their attention by more than one neighbour already.
Did the officer, say?
“Oh, I will ignore all that and grant it. Yippee, I am leaving Waverley now. Don’t really care about the residents, others in the planning office don’t either, so why should I?”
Want to know how important Zac Ellwood – who heads up this rum bunch considers the importance of planning enforcement?
Look no further than the clip above.