Oh Me Oh My- how councillors made a Waverley officer cry!


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,



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.


10 thoughts on “Oh Me Oh My- how councillors made a Waverley officer cry!”

    1. Unless Local Plan Part 2 comes through before hand and automatically gives the 5 year housing land supply – though given the number of outstanding objections from Natural England its hard to see that coming!

      1. I hardly think it is Natural England’s Problem…. We have several issues.

        1. WBC Do NOT have a 5 Year Housing Supply

        2. The New Government Levelling Up paper says they may get rid of the 5 year Housing Supply – Who Knows?

        3. We have a massive majority in the West of the Borough who hide behind GreenBelt and Ignore GREENFIELDS and Countryside Beyond the Greenbelt in the smaller villages in the East of the Borough which do NOT have these protections and when it comes to any future Elections have the smallest Vote! Simples I think………………………

  1. If it wasn’t for the so called “tilted balance” this application would NOT have been recommended for approval, as it’s NOT a site in Farnham’s Neighbourhood Plan. The planners knew exactly what to expect at this committee (where were the senior planning mgt? – nowhere to be seen!) This poor woman was already on a sticky wicket (sandwiched between her masters and members of the committee). Mr French said it was a “planning team decision” Does that translate into this case officer being lent-on?

  2. Oh what a tangled web we weave……………one day my post on this subject can be read and the next day it’s gone

  3. This is shocking – no one should be put in this position. Councillors and officers are supposed to be working together to the benefit of all, this simply does not help anyone

    1. I couldn’t agree more – But there has to be better communication between Planning Officers and Local Councillors. There is no point going to Appeal Meetings and the Officers not having a clue about the local Infrastructure or how far away the nearest Town, train station/Doctors etc is to the Villages..

      I don’t know about anyone else – But I would be happy to offer Support to Planning Officers if they need more LOCAL INFORMATION – It is not difficult and I am sure there are many other people that would also be willing to assist.

      Come on Zac – JUST ASK!

      It is about using and Helping Local Communities – Let us do it!!
      PS If anyone cares – In Alfold – Not only have we lost the ONLY Pub but now the Village Shop – So if any Developers mentions the myriad of Local Facilities here – THINK AGAIN!

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