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The Tories are revolting.

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‘No community wants this’: Sussex new town plans anger local Tories

Although the Waverley Web mainly concentrates on all things Waverley/Surrey – the county is not an island and development on Waverley’s borders – e.g. Bordon – affects all our lives here in Farnham.

This scheme in Adversane adjoins the Surrey/Sussex border near Loxwood and Dunsfold and would mainly access the A281 Guildford to Horsham Road.

The scheme named Kingswood for nearly 3,000 new homes assembled by Sir Michael Hintze, who has given £4.6m to the Conservatives is a hop, skip and a jump from Dunsfold’s new garden village (2,600) homes on the former airfield on the outskirts of Cranleigh 

Sketches of the proposed new town of Kingswood, near Horsham in Sussex.
 Sketches of the proposed new town of Kingswood, on the Surrey/Sussex border. Not to be confused with Surrey’s Kingswood.

Plans for a new town in rural Sussex backed by one of the Conservative party’s biggest donors and close allies of Prince Charles are exposing a split in the Tory party over how to rapidly accelerate housebuilding.

The scheme for 2,850 homes, is being proposed on open fields at Adversane which has been assembled by hedge fund billionaire Sir Michael Hintze who has given £4.6m to the Conservatives. Its design is partly inspired by Poundbury, the ersatz Georgian town in Dorset created by Prince Charles, and Sir Michael Peat, the Prince of Wales’s former private secretary is a director of the development company.

But it is being opposed by local Conservative MP Andrew Griffith, who said:

“it is the wrong type of development in the wrong place” and local Tory councillors who have warned: “No community wants this on their doorstep.”

It looks set to be a test case for the government’s controversial new planning strategy announced last month which is set to relax national planning rules and set significantly higher local housebuilding targets in areas including Horsham.

John Halsall, the Tory leader of Wokingham borough council in Berkshire, which is also facing central government demands to build significantly more homes warned of a high political cost saying

“You won’t have a Tory left in the south or south-east of England.”

Some of the land is owned by Eton College, the alma mater of the prime minister, Boris Johnson. The largest parcel which would be built over is a farm purchased by Hintze for £10m from Mike Stock, the songwriter behind a string of 1980s hits by Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley and Bananarama.

Local opponents say the project – which could ultimately create a town of around 10,000 people – threatens rare wildlife, an increase in car congestion and risks becoming a dormitory for London commuters.

“There is an enormous amount of antipathy to this scheme,” said Julian Trumper, a local resident organising opposition. “Horsham has already taken enough of Sussex’s requirement to build housing and this potential growth is unsustainable. Infrastructure and road and rail links are insufficient. The displacement to wildlife and established ecosystems by building a new town in the open countryside is incalculable.”

The project claims that it will: “focus on building a community for people of all ages and providing a platform for economic opportunity and sustainable growth” and will champion the principle of “beauty” in town planning identified by Sir Roger Scruton in his report to the government on planning and architecture.

Kingswood sketch
 Kingswood promises to be a ‘socially inclusive, mixed-income development’ with ‘community at the heart’. 

But the row over whether it should go ahead exposes a growing schism in Conservative ranks over two proposed reforms to accelerate housebuilding.

The first is a new planning system that will make it easier and quicker for developers to build on greenfield sites, which Conservative councillors have complained undermines local democratic involvement by proposing zones where detailed planning consents would not be required.

The second is new inflated house building targets which backbench Conservative MPs and council leaders have criticised as too high and ignoring local needs. The new target for Horsham would see the area required to deliver 1,715 new homes a year, more than double the current target of 800. 

Waverley Web: A few things you should know about the government’s new planning White Paper.

The high status of Kingswood’s backers – with close links to the top of government and the monarchy – has also sparked fears that local influence could be further undermined, with opponents citing the planning scandal earlier this year in which it emerged that the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, backed a project by party donor Richard Desmond against the advice of officials.

In other words, it is not what you know but who you know in the wonderful world of developers?

“After what we saw with Jenrick and Desmond, we have the impression that the property developers are doing all this with barely any local democracy at all.

 A spokesperson for Horsham district council said:

“Any site that is allocated in the next step of the local plan process will be subject to full public scrutiny at a public examination conducted by an independent planning inspector. Each site will be assessed to determine whether it is suitable, achievable and available, in a public arena.”

The local Conservative MP, Andrew Griffith, said: “We are building on greenfield, we’re not using brownfield land. This is the wrong type of development in the wrong place. The identity of the landowner is not important. I am giving voice to constituent concerns.”He told a Commons debate earlier this month: “So many of my constituents in villages of every letter of the alphabet, are having their lives blighted by the prospect of inappropriate and unsustainable development”.

Philip Circus, a Conservative member of Horsham council in whose ward the development is proposed, added:

“I am not interested that people are connected with royalty or people that donate to the Conservative party. It cuts no ice with me. We don’t feel any compulsion to doff our caps to anyone other than the residents. This is a rural community which in infrastructure terms does not look like an area for major housing development.”

The Kingswood masterplan has been submitted for inclusion in Horsham district council’s local plan, which is currently out to public consultation.  The director of the development company, Dominic Richards, was formerly a director at the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community – the heir to the throne’s architecture and planning charity which promotes traditional urbanism.

Let’s say Cheers and back Waverley’s breweries?

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The boys on our team are partial now and then to a decent pint of beer, and what better than a drop of the amber nectar brewed locally

Richard and Bill of the Firebird Brewery based in Rudgwick are currently on a mission and they need all the help they can get.

H

Here’s what they told us:
We’re not normally too serious, but just for now we’d like you to help us persuade the Government to change its mind about the tax on beer:
Local and small brewers are under threat as the Government looks set to increase the tax paid by some small independent breweries, including us. At the moment small brewers like us benefit from Small Brewers Relief, designed to allow us to compete with larger brewers by paying less tax than the big guys. Currently, the level at which this relief reduces (and we pay more tax) doesn’t come in until we sell at least 50% more beer than we do at the moment. However, the Government plans to change all this, meaning we would be paying more tax as soon as next year. At the same time, larger breweries (some of whom started as small as us not so long ago) will pay LESS tax.
This doesn’t feel like fair play to us!
Everyone has struggled with COVID, but you might be interested to know the support brewers have received has been limited pretty much to the furlough scheme. Other sectors have been given cash grants and other forms of support. We, along with other small brewers, have worked hard to stay alive, and we succeeded through hard work, ingenuity, and the support of our brilliant customers.
We really need your help again now!
Help us to protect local breweries, the beers they make and your choice at the bar by signing the petition urging the UK Government not to remove tax relief from the smallest brewers to allow larger brewers to pay less. If you can share this post widely we’d also be very grateful!
You can add your name to the petition on the UK Parliament website https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/334066
Thanks, Richard and Bill
Let’s raise a glass to Richard and Bill and all the other local small breweries in Waverley and elsewhere that may soon be under threat.

So how many homes ARE proposed at Haslemere’s Scotland Park?

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Residents in other parts of the borough are just as concerned as are Haslemere folk about the proposal to build homes in an Area of Great Landscape Value and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
WHY?
Because if they can build on the green, green grass of Haslemere in protected areas – they can build almost anywhere.
However, stranger things have happened at ‘Your Waverley.’ During the former Tory administration’s strong-hold on the borough council one of its members, despite officers’ advice to the contrary, managed to get his TT mates to approve building on the Green Belt in the Guildford Road in Cranleigh.
Wow! we hear you cry – not in THE green belt?

Flooded Scotland Lane

So where exactly are the homes proposed by Red Court Property developers? And how many?
It appears from the planning application just 50 opposite the Recreation Ground in Haslemere between Scotland Lane and Bell Lane. Potentially, a further 130 on the AONB land next to this site. However, WW understands that the Stantec report is based on the provision of 250 homes. However, if the new Government White Paper is approved – well – anything goes!
If you want to have your say on the planning application – the number is WA/200/1273.

 

 

 

Are we all as sick as Waverley’s Parrott?

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WW followers may remember those heady days when Waverley Planning Policy Officer Graham Parrott burned the midnight oil preparing Local Plan versions 1, 2 and then 3 – which then once approved by a Government Inspector became the infamous Local Plan Part 1.

The poor s*d spent 15 years working with neighbouring authorities, including Woking & Guildford. Held public consultation exercises here there and everywhere with Tom, Dick & Harriet. Attended Examinations in public – High Court hearings and Judicial Reviews – phew!

Then with Local Plan, Part 1 finally agreed by Government Inspectors; the Secretary of State;  and ‘a bench’ of judges and with Local Plan Part 2 almost on the starting blocks heralding an end to the long saga of both Waverley’s and others’ Local Neighbourhood Plans in sight…  Up pops Boris The Bulldozer and ‘Bob The Builder’ Jenrick. The dynamic duo begins moving the development goalposts or ‘the ball’  as we know it – to enable development to be kicked onto a completely different pitch. It has announced the biggest shake-up of planning for decades to fast-track “beautiful” new homes across the country. Whilst in the process choking off affordable housing and diluting democratic oversight.

Poor old Graham – and you won’t have heard us pitying Waverley planning officers very often – so there’s one for the scrapbook!

However, it isn’t just The Waverley Parrott that is affected. We are all about to meet our new makers.  If you are not sitting down, and you haven’t seen this already, pull up a chair because this set us squawking and we suspect it will have the same effect on you? !  According to *Lichfields, under the new methods proposed by the Government for calculating housing targets, the Waverley target goes up to 835 homes per annum.

Yep – that’s right 835 – up from 590!

Read the link below and see for yourselves. Where you will see some of our Waverley neighbours’ new figures.

It even makes us here at WW as sick as poor old Parrott. How many other parrots are there in the country that have been working their ar*es off preparing Local Plans. Attending hearings – some of which were three weeks at a stretch – must have cost squillions of taxpayers’ money countrywide for paper exercises which are nothing more than a con trick to get us to accept more housing. 

https://lichfields.uk/grow-renew-protect-planning-for-the-future/how-many-homes-the-new-standard-method/

Litchfield’s

Town planning was a very new discipline when Nathaniel Lichfield set the company up. He was a pioneering economist and town planner, and the business was soon advising government, local authorities, and private clients on some of the country’s most significant projects – from new towns and airports, to the country’s first regional shopping centre, and the world’s most famous stadium.

It now gives practical and robust planning support for house builders, commercial developers, and local authorities as well as land owners and investors. 

A few things you should know about the government’s new planning White Paper.

Now, look at Surrey County Council’s cunning plan for ‘Your Waverley’s’ eastern villages.

A few things you should know about the government’s new planning White Paper.

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A few things you need to know about the government’s White Paper called Planning for the Future white paper

In a nutshell – Bob The Builder Jenrick & Co have come up with a cunning plan to make planning easier – for whom we hear you cry? Well, as far as we can see having worked through this 84-page consultation document it is giving more than a shake-up to the present planning system. More like a shake-down for us folks.

 

As far as we can see all those Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans the towns and villages have been working on for years and years will have to be updated, or rather updated straight to Waverley’s recycling bin. So there’s a few squillions going down the drain again!

waverleyNPsbin

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has now published its much-anticipated Planning for the Future white paper outlining far-reaching proposed changes to the planning system.

Here at the Waverley Web, we have trawled through the key proposals and points in the 84-page consultation document, which promises more than a major shake-up of the current system of local plans, development management and developer contributions, more like a local government shit show!

waverleyshit_fan

The White Paper says:

1. Local plans would be simplified and focus on identifying three categories of land – “growth areas” that are “suitable for substantial development”; “renewal areas” that are “suitable for development”; and “protected areas”. In “growth areas.” Outline approval would be automatically granted for forms and types of development specified in the plan.

So where in the Waverley Borough has Surrey County Council already dubbed ‘the growth areas?’ Yep – you guessed. Farnham and the Cranleigh Dunsfold Growth corridoor. Now, look at Surrey County Council’s cunning plan for ‘Your Waverley’s’ eastern villages.

Development in renewal areas would “cover existing built areas where smaller-scale development is appropriate”  and could include the “gentle densification” of residential areas, development in town centres, and small sites in and around villages. There would be a “statutory presumption in favour of development” specified in the plan. Protected areas, including green belt, conservation areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), would still be subject to “more stringent” development controls and full planning applications would be required for new schemes.

By gentle densification – we think they mean – higher, closer, less green space, with smaller gardens. Which they all claim will be “more beautiful.’

2. Local plans should be subject to a single and “simplified” statutory “sustainable development” test, replacing the existing “tests of soundness”. This new test “would consider whether the plan contributes to achieving sustainable development in accordance with the policy issued by the secretary of state”, the consultation states. The test could also “become less prescriptive about the need to demonstrate deliverability”.

Great less need to show deliverability! –  There are already £1m homes consented but not yet built. Probably lots more when homes go unsold?

3. Instead of general policies for development, the document says, local plans would be required to set out the site- and area-specific requirements for development, alongside locally-produced design codes. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) “would become the primary source of policies for development management”.

4. The legal duty to cooperate, which requires local planning authorities to continuously and effectively engage with neighbours on strategic issues such as housing need, “would be removed”. However, it adds that “further consideration will be given to the way in which strategic cross-boundary issues, such as major infrastructure or strategic sites, can be adequately planned for, including the scale at which plans are best prepared in areas with significant strategic challenges”.

Great! So need to work with neighbouring authorities – Waverley now becomes – an island?

5. The government is considering scrapping the five-year housing land supply requirement. The document says its “proposed approach should ensure that enough land is planned for, and with sufficient certainty about its availability for development, to avoid a continuing requirement to be able to demonstrate a five-year supply of land”. However, it proposes to “maintain the housing delivery test and the presumption in favour of sustainable development as part of the new system”.

So, therefore nothing to prohibit development – let Boris’s bulldozers roll?

6. Councils and the Planning Inspectorate would be required through legislation to meet a statutory timetable of no more than 30 months for plan preparation with “sanctions for those who fail to do so”. The average time taken from plan publication to adoption rose from an average of 450 days in 2009 to 815 days in 2019, the paper states, while there is “currently no statutory requirement around timescales for key stages of the plan-making process”.

As quickly as possible – with as little consultation as possible, no doubt?

7. The need for sustainability appraisals alongside plans would be abolished and instead a “simplified process for assessing the environmental impact of plans, which would continue to satisfy the requirements of UK and international law and treaties”.

Laws and treaties on environmental law that have been ignored by local councils – including ‘Your Waverley’ for years!

8. Local plans would need to be “visual and map-based, standardised, based on the latest digital technology and supported by a new standard template”, the document says.

Let’s go digital and rule all those pesky objections out?

9. The planning process would be increasingly digitised, moving from “a process based on documents to a process driven by data”. Local authorities would be helped to use digital tools to support “a new civic engagement process for local plans and decision-making”.

10. Under a proposed new “fast-track for beauty”, proposals for high-quality developments that reflect local character and preferences would benefit from “automatic permission”. New development would be expected to create a “net gain” to areas’ appearance.

Just like the net gain we are currently getting from little boxes, made out of ticky tacky that all look just the same? And, road called Bluebell Lane and Primrose Walk – where neither will ever be seen again?

11. Design codes, which would be expected to be prepared locally, would be made “more binding” on planning decisions. A new body would be established to support the delivery of design codes across the country.

Another Quango you have to be kidding?

12. The standard housing need method would be changed so that the requirement would be “binding” on local planning authorities who would “have to deliver [it] through their local plans”. The new method “would be a means of distributing the national housebuilding target of 300,000 new homes annually”. It says the requirement would be focused on areas where affordability pressure is highest and on brownfield land. It would also have regard to the “size of existing urban settlements” in an area and the “extent of land constraints”.

Areas like Waverley and the growth zones already earmarked – Farnham with a station on the A31, and Cranleigh with few buses, no station and the main A Road from Horsham – which is earmarked for 11,000 new homes.

13. A new ‘single infrastructure levy’ will replace the existing developer contributions system of section 106 agreements and the community infrastructure levy. The government says the new levy will be a nationally-set, flat rate charge and would be based on the final value (or likely sales value) of a development. It says it intends the new levy to raise more revenue than under the current system of developer contributions, and deliver “at least as much” affordable housing, and on-site affordable housing, as at present

14. The new levy could be used to “capture a greater proportion of the land value uplift that occurs through the grant of planning permission, and use this to enhance infrastructure delivery. But such a move “would need to be balanced against risks to development viability”.

15. The scope of the levy “could be extended to capture changes of use through permitted development rights”. Such a move “would allow these developments to better contribute to infrastructure delivery and making development acceptable to the community.

16. Big building sites would be split between developers to accelerate delivery. The government proposes to revise the NPPF to make it clear that masterplans and design codes for sites prepared for substantial development should seek to include a variety of development types from different builders, which would allow more phases to come forward together.

17. Community consultation at the planning application stage is to be “streamlined”. Instead, there would be “a new emphasis on engagement at the plan-making stage”, the document says.

18. The determination of planning applications “should be faster and more certain, with firm deadlines”. The “well-established time limits of eight or 13 weeks for determining an application from validation to decision should be a firm deadline – not an aspiration which can be got around through extensions of time as routinely happens now”.

In other words -no yellow notices on gates or trees warning of development coming to a field near you. No public notices in local papers – papers that rely on the income! Bye-bye – newsprint papers?

19. Applications should be “shorter and more standardised”. There should be just “one key standardised planning statement of no more than 50 pages to justify the development proposals”, the paper proposes.

20. Penalties for councils that fail to determine an application within the statutory time limits could involve “the automatic refund of the planning fee for the application”. Ministers also “want to explore whether some types of applications should be deemed to have been granted planning permission if there has not been a timely determination”.

So the climate of fear begins – read below. Grant permission or else! Local grassroots democracy consigned to the wheelie bins!

21. Where applications are refused and the decision is overturned at appeal, the paper proposes that “applicants will be entitled to an automatic rebate of their planning application fee”.

22. Each local planning authority would be required to have a chief officer for design and place-making.

23. Fees should continue to be set nationally but “cover at least the full cost” of processing applications, “based on clear national benchmarking”. It added that this “should involve the greater regulation of discretionary pre-application charging to ensure it is fair and proportionate”.

24. The costs of operating the planning system should be “principally funded” by developer contributions “rather than the national or local taxpayer”. Currently, the document says, “the cost of development management activities by local planning authorities is to a large extent covered by planning fees”. However, the “cost of preparing local plans and enforcement activities is now largely funded from the local planning authority’s own resources”.

25. The government has promised to “develop a comprehensive resources and skills strategy for the planning sector to support the implementation of our reforms”. Proposals for “improving the resourcing of planning departments” will be published “later this year”, it adds.

26. The paper promises a “deep dive regulatory review to identify and eliminate outdated regulations which increase costs for local planning authorities, especially to the decision-making process”.

27. Councils “should be subject to a new performance framework which ensures continuous improvement across all planning functions from local plans to decision-making and enforcement – and enables early intervention if problems emerge with individual authorities”.

So be warned ‘Your Waverley’ don’t you get above yourself and start thinking you are the planners for your area. Big Brother Boris and ‘Bob The Builder’ Jenrick are in charge from now on!

28. Consultation on the white paper proposals run for 12 weeks until October 29. The suggested changes to local plans, developer contributions and development management “would require primary legislation followed by secondary legislation”. Ministers “would expect new local plans to be in place by the end of the Parliament”.

The WW apologises for the length and breadth of this post.

Do you want Boris’s boots all over ‘Your Waverley’s’ Great Crested Newts?

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Boris ‘the bulldozer’ Johnson says newts are a drag on the UK’s economy.

Here’s why he’s wrong

Last week the PM claimed conservation causes construction delays – but newts are not the pantomime villains developers’ some would have us believe. Many developers are just as concerned about the environment as we are, if not more so!

We have examples here in Waverley where developers have gone beyond the brief, to ensure wildlife is  unharmed. However, there are others who have desecrated both wildlife and habitat and have gone unchallenged! Felling ancient woodland and drowning badgers are just two!  

 

An adult male great crested newt
 No pantomime villain … an adult male great crested newt. Photograph: James Grundy/Freshwater Habitats Trust/PA

Lingering in the shallows of a south Norfolk pond, voracious amphibians rest ahead of a night gorging on slugs, worms and insects. The pool network, long grasses and shrubs in Silfield newt reserve are a perfect habitat for the great crested newt. Boris’s latest pantomime villain.

The UK’s largest newt takes its name from the striking, jagged crest that males display in the spring breeding season. It is a protected species under British law, thanks to the EU Habitats Directive, which the prime minister’s father, Stanley Johnson, had a key role in creating. Despite that, its numbers have declined rapidly over the past 60 years.

An unlimited fine and up to six months in prison await anyone found guilty of disturbing the newt’s resting places and breeding sites or taking their eggs, yet the Local Government Association says it is not aware of any evidence to suggest “newt-counting” is causing delays to housing developments in England and Wales. We can recount a couple of instances in Waverley, but nothing that caused delays.

“Great crested newts have become the comedy pantomime villain of nature conservation,” says Jeremy Biggs, director of the Freshwater Habitats Trust.

An obligation by developers.

Developers are obliged to take care of great crested newts if the amphibians are believed to be on-site or nearby under rules overseen by Natural England. Until the last few years, protecting the amphibians when their habitats were being destroyed by developments centred on catching and counting them and moving them to compensation ponds.

Great crested newts were mentioned eight times in Sajid Javid’s https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/590463/Fixing_our_broken_housing_market_-_accessible_version.pdf

Fixing Our Broken Housing Market, published in 2017 under Theresa May’s government. The paper criticised the “excessive bureaucracy” involved in their protection.

But a fresh approach to the conservation of great crested newts by Natural England and the use of new technologies when surveying habitats, such as DNA analysis and even, in the case of one water company the use of a springer spaniel trained to detect amphibians has rapidly reduced delays. the use of a springer spaniel trained

 

The fight to stop Surrey County Council’s power grab has begun.

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‘Your Waverley’ (YW) will stand with the 11 other borough and district councils in the county to stop Surrey County Council’s bid to abolish them lock, stock, and wheelie bin.

Almost to a man and woman, Waverley’s Full Council opposed a county bid for a behemoth Unitary Authority of 1.2m people.

YW,  with the exception of two Tory councillors – Peter Martin – a Surrey County Councillor, and Steve Cosser who abstained; have agreed to work with other Surrey authorities to prepare an alternative proposal for re-organisation. This would prevent Surrey becoming England’s biggest single, non-metropolitan, unitary authority.

Tim Oliver (above) Surrey’s leader has asked Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick to make the county a unitary authority – a preemptive strike before a Government White Paper on Unitary Authorities is published in the Autumn.

One councillor after another from every Waverley group or party – Independent; Tory; Labour; Greens and Farnham Residents’ Group registered their “disgust” that neither they, or any other Surrey borough’s leaders had been consulted before the plans were announced in the local government press. Cllr Oliver had, however, engaged with Surrey’s MP’s and in Waverley’s case Jeremy Hunt and Angela Richardson.  It is believed the leader of Woking Borough Council – may be backing Oliver’s deal – now dubbed – ‘we want more.’

When Waverley’s Leader John Ward addressed the zoom meeting he called the idea of a “monolithic” single authority “absurd, and “a misguided and blatant power grab.” Although “some” reorganisation was appropriate, this proposal would not serve Waverley residents’ well. “That’s what we are all here for – to do what is best for the residents of Waverley. “

Others were not opposed to some reorganisation but were against the county council’s unseemly rush to create such a huge organisation.

The general opinion was that a single unitary authority is too large and would have a detrimental impact on the social cohesion of the communities within each of the boroughs and districts. Cllr Simon Clark, said the usual size for a UA was between 300,000/400,000 and this rushed exercise was aimed at avoiding next year’s county council elections.

Elections that the Waverley Web does not believe will result in a Tory-controlled council. 

Cllr Nick Palmer – asked what is it that has driven this ill-thought-out attempt borne out of desperation and panic? Is it a cost-saving exercise by the government? “Let’s keep Local Government local.”

Peter Clark challenged Tim Oliver and his “power-grabbing band” to give the electorate of Surrey a chance to vote on alternative options. “Don’t be timid Tim and try to postpone next year’s county elections because that would not be democratic.”

Cllr Carole Cockburn warned that time was of the essence – and Waverley and others must not be overtaken by events, must mount a robust opposition by producing a strong case. “I am amazed at the way this has been done, but if we don’t propose something it will be imposed upon us.”

However, her Tory colleague Steve Cosser didn’t agree. He believed the residents of Waverley didn’t care who provided the services they needed as long as they were. There was a strong case for economies of scale.

Others said – they had wanted SCC abolished for years, saying it cannot even convince Offsted that it is competent to run its children’s services. Another asked,

“would you want the people who deal with our pot-holed roads to empty your bins?

Cllr George Wilson  claimed: Surrey was an authority which had shown it couldn’t even hold a virtual planning meeting – e.g. The recent UK Oil & Gas planning application – which he described as “A fiasco.” UK Oil & Gas application in Dunsfold – Refused…for now?

“They call this devolution when in reality it moves power and accountability further away from the voters. The sheer hubris displayed is breath-taking. Surrey is too big for a single unitary authority, and the timing of these proposed changes, given the pandemic, the economic crisis, and with the reality of Brexit looming, is completely reckless.”

 

Liz Townsend

 Liz Townsend

 Cllr Liz Townsend called the county bid “discourteous and predatory” and saw an even darker scenario behind the bid.

“This is an attempt to cut out and weaken the local planning process. To open the doors to development on more green fields.We would be better served to tell the Government that there are currently one million homes granted planning consent that have not yet been built and that is the real uncut truth.”

The WW understands that a letter is to go from, all but one or two local authorities to the Secretary of State voicing their concern and that the relevant chief executives would work together to put forward alternative proposals.

Guildford Borough Council has suggested a  contribution of £10,000 from each authority to commission the work looking at this further. 

Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch), who is expected to become GBC leader in September under the power-sharing agreement, said:

“R4GV is very supportive of this co-ordinated approach from the boroughs and districts of Surrey. We will not accept being told what is good for us by a county council that is more interested in Westminster and a ruthless desire to stay in power than what residents actually want and voted for in their thousands last May.

“They call this devolution when in reality it moves power and accountability further away from the voters. The sheer hubris displayed is breath-taking. Surrey is too big for a single unitary authority, and the timing of these proposed changes, given the pandemic, the economic crisis, and with the reality of Brexit looming, is completely reckless.

“There has to be a proper public consultation on the various options proposed but it seems SCC has already made their mind up on their preferred political solution, so how seriously they are looking at the actual business cases remains to be seen.

“We, with our partners across the county, will show our residents there is a better way, consolidation to improve efficiency without becoming detached from the very people who elect us.”

“The full [Guildford Borough] council has not debated this matter. It appears to have been promoted by Tim Oliver of SCC with Surrey MPs, following government pressure for devolvement, but without early engagement with local borough councils or residents and businesses.

“GGG advocate full transparency and involvement of all interested parties with a proper due consultation process.”

 

All those small acts of kindness – could make Covid-19 a life changer.

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All over the country, if you added up all the small acts of kindness being played out on a daily basis it would add up to Tsunami.

Neighbours speaking to neighbours they have lived near to for years, but to whom they have never actually spoken. Telephone calls to long, almost forgotten friends and relatives, given the oxygen of contact after many years.  Facetime, Skype, Houseparty and Zoom are bringing people together all over the world.
People are now regularly partying on-line, holding dinner parties in their own homes, without the gas-guzzling travel or the need for a named driver. Vegetable growing has become the new must-do hobby, and baking is going through a revolution as you can see from the delightful Facebook message we have included below.  To all the Camilla Sophy’s, whoever and wherever you are – little things really do mean a lot. When this vicious epidemic is over let’s start a different epidemic – a Tsunami 2020  –  of caring and kindness?

The other day an elderly lady from across the road knocked to say how lovely the rainbows were in our windows. Later that day we left her a banana loaf and a note with my number in case she needed anything. This morning she rang me as she was lonely as her dog had to be put to sleep on Friday 😢 We had never spoken before lockdown even though we can see each other from our houses, and yet she rang me for someone to chat to. I feel so happy that she did that and I could help her today in some small way. I’m not posting this for praise or any of that, just to show the small things we can do in this time and you just don’t know how it could help someone. Be kind ❤️

An AONB win for Haslemere!

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And a win for Haslemere’s Waverley Councillors!

Plans to build 28 homes in the grounds of a Surrey mansion have been blocked by a High Court judge who backed an inspector’s ruling who backed the Waverley Council decision that the scheme’s impact on an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) should be given more weight than the council’s lack of a five-year housing land supply.

Developers Monkhill Limited wanted to convert Longdene House, off Hedghog Lane, Haslemere, from 50 – yes 50 offices into a single luxury home. And, in its extensive parkland, the company proposed the demolition of existing cottages, glasshouses and outbuildings to construct 28 homes.

The site has had a rollercoaster ride – In 2016 the scheme was refused by Waverley, granted at Appeal, and then Waverley won a High Court Challenge against the Appeal, much to the disgust of wealthy landowner Tony Lawson.
In 2018 the developers were back – Waverley officers recommend it for Planning (the site was in the draft LPP2 after all) but was voted down 12 to 8. It was proposed by Cllr Mulliner, and seconded by Cllr Inchbald, that permission be refused on the grounds of material harm to the intrinsic character, beauty and openness of the Countryside beyond the Green Belt, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Area of Great Landscape Value. Additionally, there were reasons relating to the failure of the applicant to complete a Section 106 agreement to secure agreed contributions. [Meeting minutes] This was brave especially as Waverley had over-ridden the AONB designation on the sloping hill behind Longdene at nearby Sturt Farm.

In the latest appeal decision, the inspector accepted that there was a “significant shortfall” in the available supply of housing land in the area. Waverley only had enough housing sites to last a maximum of 4.6 years, as against the five-year requirement set by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). He said the development would make a “significant contribution” to meeting local housing needs, including the provision of 10 affordable homes.

The decisive factor, however, was that most of the site lies within the Surrey Hills AONB.

The inspector said the project would have “a significant adverse effect on the character and appearance” of the protected area. Despite some benefits to the local economy, it would “not conserve or enhance the landscape and scenic beauty of the AONB”.

Challenging the inspector’s decision, Monkhill argued that he had misinterpreted and misapplied parts of the NPPF. Due to the council’s failure to meet the five-year housing land target, a “tilted balance” applied in favour of the development.

Dismissing the appeal however, Mr Justice Holgate said the inspector’s exercise of his planning judgment could not be faulted. Monkhill’s complaints were “too legalistic and failed to interpret the NPPF in a practical, straightforward way, capable of being operated by decision-makers up and down the country”.

The NPPF, the judge added, gives AONBs “the highest status of protection” and the inspector was right to give “great weight” to the preservation of the character and appearance of the Surrey Hills. The inspector struck “a simple planning balance” between the benefits of the scheme and the harm it would cause to the landscape and scenic beauty of the area.

The new face of ‘Your Waverley.

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As the dust settles on our ballot papers. The Farnham Residents, Liberal Democrats, The Greens,  Independent, and Labour in Waverley, are all filling the borough’s bottle banks.

So what of the Conservatives? Is Julia Potts tearing her hair out at the thought of facing four years in opposition?

No way, not the PottyOne we know. She will be setting out her stall before the ballot papers are cold and packed away. Just in case, that odd vote is found that could send Hindhead’s Peter Isherwood heading for the exit. He who has won his Hindhead seat on something resembling the flick of a coin! What a way to secure a seat? The WW  team hope he never graces a seat at the top table again!

Let us all hope that the Tories, after such a punishing smack, resist the excuse of blaming their Tory masters. But, instead take a good hard look at why the roll call of ousted colleagues is so long, in true blue Waverley:-

Pat Frost, Mike Hodge, Denise LeGal, Chris Storey, Wyatt Ramsdale, Nick Williams, Ross Welland, Ged Hall, Stewart Stennett, Jim Edwards, Carole King Tom Martin, Andrew Bolton, Rashida Nasir, Liz Wheatley, and more all GONE

Godalming’s Peter Martin only just hung in, Isherwood was pulled from the hat and Julia Potts herself only scraped in coming 2nd to her Tory partner. And, she had dumped her previous Farnham ward, which she would have surely lost to Farnham Residents. Farnham unceremoniously dumped her deputy leader Ged Hall, who had fallen on his sword,  giving up his Tilford seat to his leader.  No greater for his love hath no man for his leader than sacrificing his seat? Definitely no cause to let the red wine flow?

But some fine Tory councillors live to see another day – Kevin Deanus – uncontested and the indomitable Liz Townsend among them. She, and he will be carrying Cranleigh and Alfold’s banners regardless of the council make-up

There was much spluttering about 2 Labour successes, Labour in Waverley!!!

So here is a timely reminder. They follow in the distinguished footsteps of two of the finest councillors ‘YW’ has known. The late Harold and Elsie Denningberg. Harold was awarded the Freedom of the Borough – an honour achieved by few.

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What an achievement to see The Green Party in evidence at last. They take their places just as a landmark 1,800-page report hits the streets revealing one million species are at risk. More than at any time in Human History.

The United Nations report paints an alarming picture of species extinctions, declines in wildlife and habitat loss. And we must not forget the Independent. Well, done Jack Lee even your opponent Rosaleen Egan (UKIP) voted for you.

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Watch out Ms Potts – there’s a new species, on the prowl.  How are you going to shut up the man who has fought against the environmental damage which ‘YW” has ignored for so long?

Jerry Hyman, the member for Farnham’s Figrove will now be accompanied by a phalanx of Fifteen Farnham Residents’ from the length and breadth of Farnham. With the added bonus of  Farnham Residents holding power in the Town Council.

Last but certainly not least – Paul Follows, the man who has worked tirelessly to change the political face of Godalming. It was almost unimaginable when a young fresh-faced Paul Follows stepped across the hallowed threshold of Waverley Towers, just 18 months ago. It took only weeks for him to suss out there was much to be done out, both there and at the Town Council. Now, with the Bots booted, along with many other Tories- there could be a very stiff broom sweeping through both the town council and ‘YW.’

Cllr Follows a very media-savvy professional, didn’t play dirty, he played a highly intelligent and fair campaign. Even ensuring the Lib Dems and Greens stepped down for an Independent in Haslemere; the Greens and Lib Dems delivering each other’s leaflets. For his Herculean efforts, and his spirit of co-operation he has earned the respect of all. Now he will be rewarded when he takes his place alongside thirteen of his Lib Dem colleagues on Tuesday 21st May.

Godalming shows us all how political campaigning should be conducted.

NEXT STOP. INTERESTING TIMES?

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