The controversial application to build 65 homes off Hale Road in Farnham was always destined to be a vexed issue for Waverley Planners.
The Farnham contingent on the Western Planning Committee was raring for a fight from the outset over their planning experts’ recommendation to approve the scheme.
Despite planning officers’ advice that due to a lack of 5-year housing land supply; and in light of previous appeal refusals objections by an Inspector and the Secretary of State, now overcome by events, the application was,
COULD THIS BE THE APPEAL THAT TIPS WAVERLEY COUNCIL INTO SPECIAL MEASURES? PROMPTING THE GOVERNMENT’S MEN IN GREY SUITS TO RUN ITS PLANNING SERVICE?
Despite putting up a good showing of squaring up to councillors for over an hour, Planning Officer Ruth Dovey finally succumbed after a moment’s hesitation and burst into tears. Should councillors pillory planning officers for doing the job they are there for? They are overworked and under pressure …from all quarters…
A fair-old battering from Cllr Sally Dickson over possible flooding issues proved to be just too much to bear for Ms Dovey.
Oops, there goes another planning officer post? And – another costly appeal?
Early in the debate, she was told by Cllr Carole Cockburn the Tory Group’s self-appointed planning guru that the officer’s report was,
“disappointing in its knowledge of the function of our built-up area of Farnham”
Wrongly concluding that the tilted balance if applied, automatically leads to the granting of planning permission”
Cllr Carol’s argued that building on the controversial site off the dangerous Six Bells Junction in Hale Raod was not included in either the Local Plan Part 1 or the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan – a plan prepared by the residents of Farnham, following a referendum, challenged in the courts and not found wanting.
The scheme for 65 homes, 40% of which were offered as “affordable homes” was in a highly sensitive landscape area of Farnham.”
She told officers:
“Why should the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan be tossed aside? This planning application must be refused.”
She recognised that of the Waverley Borough’s 11,210 home target – Farnham’s contribution was 2,780 homes. But the 65 homes in the application before them were, she argued, unnecessary, as 6,000 homes were to be built in three other local authority areas which abutted Farnham.
Does that mean that the 40% of Waverley’s allocation which has been distributed among the eastern rural villages of Cranleigh/Ewhurst/Alfold and Dunsfold – should be less as they sit on the bordering local authority of Horsham – the Waverley Web wonders?
Here’s what Farnham Residents’ Cllr George Hesse had to say.
Highway concerns and queues in Hale Road raised by Cllr John Neale were refuted by Surrey’s highway engineer Richard Cooper – who claimed traffic volumes in Waverley generally were 5% less post-pandemic, and regardless of a proposed increase, the site was sustainable as there was sufficient room for a cycleway and the site was only a 15-minute walk from the town centre.