A point of clarification on Waverley’ planning headache

The WW receives numerous comments from the public on our boards. But, now and again, they deserve a wider airing.

Was Waverley Planning Sabotaged By Tory Councillors?

Point of Clarification from Waverley resident Kathy Smythe.

I’ve always been fairly sceptical that the Inspectorate would want to take over Waverley’s planning department and administer the 2,000-3,000 applications that it receives most years – and btw this sheer weight of numbers is right at the top end of the numbers of applications received by the ten or so authorities being considered for designation for their failure to deal promptly with the more minor applications. So a while back, I looked this regulation up and came to the conclusion that the summaries I’ve been reading in the press and media of what will happen in the event of designation have become fairly inaccurate.

This quote is from the explanatory note attached to the end of the order, which actually introduced this provision. So here goes…

“Section 62A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”) provides that a local planning authority may be designated by the Secretary of State. Where an authority is designated, a person applying for planning permission for major development may choose to submit their application to the Secretary of State for determination.”

A few things to note.

This only applies to ‘major applications’, of which perhaps the most important category is applications for 10+ houses. Also, it is down to the developer to opt to apply to the Planning Inspectorate. It is not automatic. So you may say that they will opt for this, but the downside for the developer is that there is no appeal against the decision, including the conditions. Then as far as I can work out, it only seems to apply to outline applications. And finally, but importantly, it says explicitly that it DOESN’T apply to what they call householder applications.

So my interpretation is that comments that WBC will be ‘stripped’ of all powers are quite misleading. More accurately, at least as far as I can make out, developers with major applications will be offered an alternative route to planning but one that carries certain risks.

3 thoughts on “A point of clarification on Waverley’ planning headache”

  1. Kathy is correct. But this isn’t how The Office of Place and Goves Planning Inspectorate view it. Effectively the block in planning is not being broken down into component parts, its being seen and as a block. That’s all they desire. They intend to take control of planning shortly and then command and control domestic and commercial scale planning with ruthless efficiency. The Office of Place will spread beauty.

    This is an aside from the financial predicament that the council faces but also impacts.

    Might I take this opportunity to point out that an S114. Not as oft mentioned 114 notice sees acouncil taken into financial administration and that leads to a reduction of all services to base statutory levels.

    Which would impact on any planning dept. Which like or not will lose all its staff on seeing an S114 heading their way. The situation will get worse and of course Goves inspectors can remove any local blockages without any interfering local input.

    Basically you are in for a lot of housing. Two choices. Sell and get out whilst going is good or expect lots of new neighbours.

    You will be told what beauty is and you will comply.


    1. Interesting comment. And coincidentally and bang on point the lead story in Planning Mag a few days ago was an update on Woking…

      “In June, the authority issued a section 114 notice, which stops all but essential spending. In a statement, it said it faced “severe financial challenges” which meant it could “no longer balance its budget for the current financial year nor subsequent years”.

      It said its “historic investment strategy” had resulted in “unaffordable borrowing, inadequate steps to repay that borrowing and high values of irrecoverable loans” that meant it faced a £1.2 billion deficit in the 2023/24 financial year.

      In a new statement, issued on 7 August, Liberal Democrat councillor Liam Lyons, Woking Borough Council’s portfolio holder for planning and regulation, said the “unprecedented financial challenges” facing the authority meant it had had to adopt spending controls preventing all but essential spending in order to ensure it can “continue to provide vital services to its most vulnerable residents”.

      Lyons said “officers have advised all councillors, irrespective of their political party, that the spending controls that have had to be introduced must apply to all financial transactions which have an impact on cash coming into and leaving the council’s accounts. It is in this context that CIL commitments are required to comply with the controls the council has had to put in place.

      “This is however a temporary position, and the council is planning to comply with all of its commitments and contractual requirements”, Lyons said.

      He said while he was “frustrated by the impact of the council’s spending controls on the delivery of services and support to communities”, he accepted the measure was required and would try to ensure that CIL schemes can “progress at the earliest opportunity”.

      He added that the authority would comply with its statutory obligations under both the section 216 of the Planning Act 2008 and in the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010, and that all CIL funds that have been collected will be utilised for the intended purposes.

      According to government guidance, the levy can be used to fund a “wide range” of infrastructure projects. Where all or part of a chargeable development falls within a parish council area, the authority is required to pass up to 25 per cent of the funds raised to the parish council.

      The council adopted its CIL charging schedule in October 2014.”

  2. Councillors should challenge the lack of affordable housing and substandard design as reported in Housing Today. The residents of Waverley BC pay a considerable sum for their local planning decisions. Because as the LGA advises a 60% increase in planning application fees is required to break even. Councils must have the flexibility to set planning fees to cover their cost.

    Councillors block 700-home scheme.
    By Jim Dunton22 August 2023

    “Loss of old industrial buildings and lack of larger family apartments fuels rejection of plans for Birmingham’s Digbeth area

    Members of Birmingham City Council’s planning committee have flown in the face of officers’ recommendations and refused to back proposals for a 711-home city-centre development designed by Glancy Nicholls Architects.
    The practice’s Pressworks scheme for Prosperity Developments would have delivered the new homes and 2,099sq m of new commercial space on a 1.2ha site in Digbeth that forms part of the wider Smithfield Masterplan area.

    But at a meeting last week councillors criticised the lack of larger family homes in the proposals, the quantity of affordable housing – 10% rather than the city’s target of 35%, and the loss of several industrial buildings on the site.


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