SCC borrowed money to fund a £100 million grants scheme – which has paid out … wait for it … less than 1%.
So ‘Your Fund Surrey’ stays with ‘Your County Council Surrey?’
Borough Leader and Surrey County Councillor Paul Follows asks The question we have all been asking since this ‘fund’ was created by Surrey.
The councillor with overall responsibility for a grant scheme which has so far awarded less than one per cent of its £100 million funds says criticism of it is “unfair”.
Could it possibly be because the widely trumpeted promised cash handout had organisations and residents all over the county, which included Waverley, working up bids to access the pot?
Surrey County Council’s (Tory-controlled since 1973) launched ‘Your Fund Surrey’ in November 2020 and asked residents to ‘think big’ and apply for a plump slice of the huge cash pot, to be distributed to community causes over five years.
But less than £1 million has so far been awarded and Cllr Mark Nuti, the cabinet member for communities, said it may not be possible, or necessary, to hand out the full amount.
Some opposition councillors have criticised the scheme with one saying the “giveaway bonanza” is “inexplicable” given the financial pressures facing the council.
Four grants have so far been awarded, to the delight of the residents behind those projects – including £500,000 to help build a community shop in Normandy, £30,000 to the Weybridge Men’s Shed and £35,000 to the Claygate Recreation Ground Trust.
Cllr Nuti conceded the scheme had got off to a “very slow start”, but argued it represented a good investment.
“If we were to stand still as a council and literally just provide the day-to-day services – which we do because most of them are statutory – in three, five, ten years’ time we will be in total crisis, We have to invest in our county to make it a better place to live and hope that investment will give us a return.”
Volunteers have been working behind the scenes to link up bits of off-road tracks, paths and bridleways to form an active travel network, with a working title of The Guildford Godalming Greenway. Having got the support of Godalming Town Council, Waverley and Guildford Councils, it was then down to the proper highway planners at Surrey County Council to get involved with a feasibility study.
The proposals can be seen here and a public consultation is now open. Godalming has a severe air quality problem with Bridge Road and Flambard Way being an Air Quality Action zone (whose data may have been ‘lost’ under the previous Conservative administration!), with roads clogged every morning with Chelsea tractors delivering children to nurseries and schools twice a day. Now if only some of them could have a safe greenway to link Farncombe and Godalming.
These proposals have upset the anti-cycling lobby on Facebook, with cries of ‘Stop the Lycra Louts on the Lammas Lands’. Other residents with a view of the routes, and dog walkers, are terrified of the nature destroying impact of some potential reinforced paths or god forbid boardwalks across the sacred Lammas Lands (Go to a nature reserve, and you’ll find a boardwalk!). Only existing users should continue to access the Lammas lands apparently.
Surrey County Council have organised two drop in sessions for locals to let off steam with the Project Team:
Right in the middle of a Surrey County Council election period and what do the Highway Honchos decide to do? – shut almost all the roads in and out of Cranleigh.
Asked a question on Facebook.
Am I right in thinking that we now have Run Common Rd, Knowle Lane, A281 from Elm bridge to Whipley Manor, Horsham Rd and Smithwood Common Rd all closed at night currently (and a lot of them through the day too!)?
Are there any other options for getting to Guildford other than over Winterfold (but inevitably travelling at the same speed as you would if you were cycling.) Or Shamley Green? Getting to and from work (late shifts in Guildford) is proving challenging to say the least!
Andrew Wood said:
Yep, it’s ridiculous, getting into and out of Cranleigh is turning into a kind of real-life board game where you have to throw a double six to start. I wonder what our local Councillors have to say on the subject given there are local elections coming up?
Perhaps Surrey County Councillor Andrew (My little Povey) can come up with the answer for the good people of Cranleigh? Or for any other unsuspecting motorists eager to get there?
We have also heard from our WW followers that the Diversion signing is dreadful too.
Drive off the A281 and drive along Wildwood Lane and into Knowle Lane and then it tells you the Road Is Closed! Then schlep all the way back to the A281 and find another route – perhaps down the Alfold Road and then find yourself at a standstill as you meet one great big building site, and then… wait for it… find it impossible to get into the Elmbridge Road!
Let’s all vote for some sane transport planning at SCC highways – from the new Surrey County Councillors eh?
Here’s one suggestion in the picture below for making it out of the eastern village posted up by a villager.
‘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.
Couldthis be the reason Surrey County Council highway chiefs finally supported the development at Dunsfold Park – after opposing it for donkey’s years?
According to a report by a transport pressure group called Transport For New Homes, after looking closely at 20 Garden Community proposals it became clear that councils were using the concept to fund road infrastructure.
No surprise there then?
The group has been studying master-plans – including those for Dunsfold Park – the former aerodrome soon to be home to1,800 homes in its first phase and heaven knows how many more after that.
Waverley’s Local Plan earmarks 2,600 homes on the aerodrome, but if the current Tory Government, headed by Bulldozer Boris and Bob the Builder ‘Jenrick’ have their way, there could be many, many more. After all, it is the largest brownfield site in the borough of Waverley, seen as ideal sites for development by the Government. It is no secret that Guildford and Woking councils would love to welcome the inclusion of Dunsfold in their patch.
Maybe if a re-organisation of local government gets the go-ahead – that may yet happen?
In the early days, the Government promoted garden villages as ‘beacons of integrated and forward-looking transport.’ A number were chosen, in part to finance a new by-pass here and a link-road or other road improvements there. Improvements that had been wanted for years.’
So in other words – is Dunsfold Park the cash-cow for road and transport improvements in Waverley, and in particular, the congested unsuitable roads around the eastern villages including Cranleigh?
In its consented masterplan, junctions on the A281 at Bramley and Guildford are earmarked for improvement, if our memory serves us well?
The report concludes that the 20 garden communities studied, risk creating up to 20,000 car-dependent households. However, we can confirm that the developers of Dunsfold have signed agreements with Surrey county council to provide public transport ‘in perpetuity’ from its site to nearby towns. A commitment that is unheard of elsewhere in the country.
The report concludes: “This is not just about delivering homes – it’s about building places that people are happy to call home. We are clear this should include sustainable transport options that support economic prosperity and well-being for resides, such as public transport, walking and cycling.”
Most garden communities – like Dunsfold Park – are in their early stages of development. The details of the Masterplan for Dunsfold will be considered by Waverley Planners shortly.