Richard Graham, owner of the Cranleigh store and restaurant 140, has joined the merry band of villagers eager to make a few bucks and bring more footfall into the new town.
As Cranes tower over the village High Street and droves of developers have descended on the former rural village – yet another chunk of the countryside is up for grabs. This time, land adjacent to the Snoxhall Playing Fields and the Greenway.
Despite Waverley planners throwing out the scheme, another government Inspector is sifting through thousands of pages of evidence at an Appeal Inquiry that will end in December.
In the past, Richard Graham, a former President of Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce, has called for more footfall to keep its shops and businesses thriving. Now, he wants to help the cause of “homelessness” by building a swathe of homes across the countryside.
Mr Graham and his family want to build 162 homes through Gleeson Land Ltd on a site they own in Knowle Lane. The lane is already home to the Knowle Park Initiative, which prepared the way for over 300 homes in Knowle Park and Alfold Road and the Berkeley Home estate of over 430 homes. The highly congested lane uses services roads to supermarkets and shops, including Sainsbury’s & Marks & Spencer.
Knowle Lane joins Cranleigh High Street at its junction with Fountain Square.
Waverley’s lack of a five-year housing land supply could hold the key to the Government Inspector ruling that development on the controversial site can happen.
Gleeson Land is hanging its hopes on persuading the Inspector that there is little likelihood of the Dunsfold Garden Village going ahead despite the completion of multi-million new roads and landscaping now linking the site into the A281 Horsham/Guildford Road.
Jeff Richards told the Inspector that information provided by Bidwells (Agents acting for Trinity College Cambridge) demonstrated the total failure to grasp the complexity of the Dunsfold site and the challenges that it poses. Indeed, only on 26 August 2022 (i.e. just over six months ago), Bidwells confidently considered that 605 new homes would be delivered by 31 March 2027. In just six months, their view had dramatically changed to only 170 homes, a loss of 435 homes in six months. This demonstrates the complete lack of reliance that anyone can afford on this ‘evidence’.
Regarding any housebuilder interest, the Inspector will note that the exact phrasing is used in both documents regarding interest and discussions. However, no update is provided on the names of housebuilders, which could provide evidence that housing will come forward.
“As such, I am of the firm opinion that there is no evidence to demonstrate that Dunsfold Park will deliver any houses within the next five years, and the latest information from the Council fully supports my view.”
“On the basis of the evidence submitted to the Inquiry, including the evidence in relation to Dunsfold Park, I consider that the figure is likely to be closer to the appellant figure of 3.34 years”.
Landscape Expert David Hugh Williams said he had considered the landscape character and visual appearance of the Appeal Site and its role in the local and broader landscape to the southwest of Cranleigh. The proposed change from agricultural land to residential uses will inevitably alter the character of the Appeal Site and result in a change at a local level, which is unavoidable. This is the case for all green field development sites and is an inevitable consequence of providing new housing beyond settlement boundaries.
However, Waverley Officers had only designated the area as having “medium” landscape value. So, based on my assessment of the Appeal Site and the development proposals, I conclude that the Appeal Site can accommodate residential development as proposed and, whilst the proposed development will have some local impacts/harm, the effects of the development on the character and visual appearance of the wider countryside will not be significant.
To be continued…