What more could anyone want right in the middle of a pandemic and difficulties with BREXIT than a Boundary Commission intent on re-organising our local government institutions and our electoral boundaries?
However, it is not the Commission itself that has abandoned common-sense by instigating the vastly complex and time-consuming review. It is a Government that is hell-bent on reviewing anything and everything. Education – planning; health; local government; promoting unitary authorities and more!
You name it – they want to change it – in the middle of the most catastrophic disease that we have faced in modern times. At a time when our cash- strapped local authorities are struggling to make ends meet
Whilst the rest of us are adding blubber, if the Commission has its way, our borough council will be losing weight. By that, we mean losing councillors – down from the existing 57 in 29 wards – to 50 and fewer and larger wards. So presumably in 2023, there will be a slimmer Waverley – or possibly NO Waverley – as it is still Surrey County Council’s intention for the whole county to become a Unitary Authority. It is hanging onto its fervent desire to get rid of the county’s 11 boroughs & district councils. This despite being told by Government to shelve its ambitions for the time being.
Waverley Borough Council has 57 seats, representing local people in 29 wards that make up the Borough.
Councillors are elected by the community to decide how the council should carry out its various activities. They represent the wider public interest as well as individuals living within the ward in which he or she has been elected to serve.
Each councillor is elected for a four-year term. The most recent elections took place on 2 May 2019. The next Waverley Borough Council elections will take place in 2023.
Councillors have regular contact with the general public through council meetings, telephone calls or surgeries.
According to the council’s website, Fifty-six borough councillors are members of a political party registered with the Electoral Commission; one is Independent. They are currently divided as follows:
Councillors are not paid a salary for their work, but they do receive allowances. By law, all members of the Council are required to complete a declaration of interest form, the details of which are published annually.
In 2018/2019 the council paid out £395,000 in Basic Allowances, Special Responsibility Allowances, Travelling and Subsistence Allowances. it also included just £3,000 on internet charges.
in 2019/20 the figure was £397,000 – which WW believes is amazing value for money. This is low, compared with many other councils across the country that pay considerably more.
‘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
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.
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 berequired.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.