The final meeting of Waverley’s Western Planning Committee before the forthcoming May election was a shocker.
Farnham councillors accused planning officers of
“Murky practices” ignoring council rules and then turned their venom on the Conservative Government’s “Alice in Wonderland Broken Planning System, and taking developer’s donations.”
At one point, the Chairman stopped Farnham Resident’s Cllr George Hesse from continuing to speak. You can watch it in the clip below.
Cllr Jerry Hyman(Farnham Firgrove) wanted to know WHY planning officers had allowed the 106 legal Agreement linked to a scheme at Coxbridge Farm, Farnham, for 320 homes to languish for more than 2 years when after six months, under the terms of the 2021 consent it should have been refused.
The scheme is included in the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan and Waverley’s Local Plan.
Chief Planning officer Claire Watson Brown admitted that a series of extensions given to the developer should not have been allowed; the chairman and vice-chairman did not have delegated powers. However, by returning to the planning committee seeking a further three-month extension until the end of June would legalise the situation. It was hoped the agreement would be signed within a month.
Good reasons were given, including the death and probate difficulties after the death of two of the landowners and complicated issues with Surrey County Council over highway improvement at the Coxbride Roundabout. where Surrey County Council was the owner of some land.
Cllr Hyman argued after the council’s “murky background to the scheme” and the fact the developer now wished for a significant change of Phasing the scheme, it should go back out for public consultation after such a long delay.
We agreed two years ago for a six-month time limit, and allowing the chairman and vice-chairman delegated powers to extend that time limit was ultra vires. They had no deleted powers. As the council was now in Election Purdah, it was too controversial to allow a further extension of such a controversial scheme and should be refused and Farnham residents should be given a say.
He was reminded that across the country, where developers were building large housing developments, they were being phased due to market conditions.
The extension and changes were Agreed upon by ten votes to one.
You can listen to a couple of the rants – one cut short by Chairman David Beaman here:
However, wouldn’t it be great if the next administration could find someone within the council to properly operate the Webcast so the public who vote councillors into office could actually see and hear their representatives properly and in full view?
WA/2019/0770 – LAND NORTH OF COXBRIDGE FARM, WEST STREET, FARNHAM This application is being referred back to the Western Planning Committee as the completion of the S106 agreement has gone past the six months that the Council originally agreed as the period in which it should be completed by, from the resolution to grant at Western Planning Committee in May 2021. Officers are seeking to extend the resolution to grant until 29th June 2023. Revised recommendation As a result of the changes outlined in the report, the amended resolution would be
That, subject to the applicant entering into an appropriate legal agreement by 29/06/2023 (unless an alternative date is subsequently agreed by the Chair and Vice Chair of the Planning Committee) to secure the provision of 30% affordable housing (70% rented and 30% shared ownership) contributions towards SANG and SAMM, travel plan contribution, £25,000 for highways improvement works, provision of car club scheme, sustainable travel vouchers for each dwelling SuDS management/ maintenance, open space management/ maintenance; provision of LEAP/LAP; contribution towards waste and recycling containers; subject to conditions and informatives, permission be GRANTED.
6 thoughts on “Waverley’s Western Planning Committee went out with a roar.”
I along with fifty others watched this planning committee with interest as Coxbridge Farm is the largest housing site in Farnham Neighbourhood Plan with 320 houses already given outline planning permission.
But unfortunately, Waverley’s Planning department had not kept their house in order, by not seeking a proper extension to the signing of the Section106 agreement. This was compounded by the unfortunate deaths of the landowners. (we all know how long probate can take) It seemed that the Council was merely trying to normalise the situation. This was all very straightforward for ten of the committee members, indeed Cllr Cockburn to her credit said she couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. However two other members wanted to use the opportunity to grandstand, Cllr Hyman by nit-picking in the extreme (seems to be his role in life) and Cllr Hesse by political posturing. Farnham residents deserve better form their elected Councillors.
So, Mr Wright-Smith – good news for developers. Just break all the rules – and give some good reasons for doing so?
At last. It may have dawned on the reasonably minded that they are being treated as mugs.
The damage to Farnham and the villages was hatched in the early 1980s. I witnessed it. Not in a council chamber but a wine bar.
I was so utterly disgusted I departed and forty plus years later I witness probably the last chapter if not the epilogue. Because there is nowhere left unaccounted for. Every back garden viewed from above, every possible deal laid down. Every option coming good, some, decades in the making.
The democratic processes are being silenced for the last time, the functions stripped away. We have councillors and leaders that are powerless in the face of money; for they have none. Because those that have, have no intention of giving them any and a Government that applauds their entrepreneurship in doing so.
There always was questionable dealing, but it could be kept in check, a game of cat and mouse. Now it’s blatant, open to the World.
Farnham. A once busy thriving, proud town of historic character and worth has been reduced to a hollowed out shell of itself.
Yesterday. I was in Bordon. The crumbling remains of the past exposed for their absurdness against the modernity. Time moves on and what seemed important permanent and part of life is now a nagging embarrassment. Farnham allowed itself to believe it was better, it could rise above, push away the tide. Yet it was being undermined from within. The closure of the Redgrave was the defining moment ( in time it will appear in the histories as the begin of the end) the clarion that was ignored.
Unlike Bordon that died by Government decree, Farnham dies a slow death of itself. It allowed itself to believe it’s elected members knew best in keeping the hordes away. It believed in the power of Dunsfold to keep itself a green and pleasant land at the expense of everyone else. A land that was actually doomed the day the electrification of the Southern railway reached it in 1937.
Bordon is starting again. It has space. It has opportunity. It will make mistakes (it needs rail connection) but it sits across a border that will soon become only to apparent, with Farnham, to the NE, the clogged up wreck that clung to a political dogma for too long and when it did awake could not shake itself free. Any politician will see the powerhouse of the new constituency will be Bordon. It has everything to gain with a fraction of the issues of Farnham.
Not only has the last vestiges of shine worn off the crown it has been flogged to highest bidder.
Sic transit Gloria mundi
I note your glass seems to be half empty Clifford
Oh, dear. Perhaps the Farnham Councillors who have dubbed Alfold – “poor old Alfold” will start staying “Poor old Farnham?”
FOR TRANSPARENCY AS THE ONE OBJECTOR.
For its authority this Planning Committee were required to reconfirm that the Coxbridge development had no significant environmental impact on Farnham during construction, build out and completion. The Committee with one objection reconfirmed that the Local Planning Authority’s screening opinion dated 27 November 2018 was valid together with its conclusion of no significant environmental impact on Farnham. There could be no objection to the 320 dwelling development, it is within the development plan. The development is phased because of infrastructure limitations.
This decision for the second time prevented the residents of Farnham be “given early and effective opportunities to participate in the decision-making procedures and ensure that the local planning authority has full knowledge of the likely significant effects and takes this into account in their decision-making process.”
Local planning authorities are prohibited from granting planning permission for development that is likely to have significant effects on the environment (“EIA development”) unless an EIA has been carried out in respect of that development. Developers can request that an authority issue a screening opinion as to whether their proposed development is EIA development, and the authority must consider any relevant cumulation with existing or approved development at the screening stage. The planning authority’s screening opinion removed the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment.
These were the reasoned conclusions to object, environmental law seeks fairness and sustainable development it is a material consideration of public interest.