Housebuilding falls – but not in ‘Your Waverley.’


New figures suggest that planning permission for new houses and conversions across England has fallen to a record low.

Rising costs threaten council housebuilding plans across the county, including Woking, Guildford and Spelthorne. But building affordable homes in Waverley remains a top priority.

Spelthorne Borough Council could suspend all residential developments to prevent an additional £350m cost. The same applies to other Surrey Councils facing bankruptcy. However, ‘Your Waverley’ is building 26 homes in Chiddingfold and more in Godalming and Ewhurst.
Builders taking measurements in a new house


The Home Builders Federation (HBF) said permissions continued to fall “sharply”, with home numbers approved in the first half of 2023 down 19%.

If the trend continues, the housing supply for England could fall to levels not seen for a decade, it added.

The Government said planning permission was granted for 264,000 homes in the past year.

The Conservative Government’s 2019 manifesto promised to build 300,000 homes annually in England by the mid-2020s.

But in December, the Government said councils would get more flexibility over meeting centrally-set housing targets.

The federation said the data confirmed industry warnings that amid an increasingly “anti-development” policy environment and a worsening economy, the number of homes built in the coming years could fall to record low levels.

About 2,456 housing projects were granted planning permission during the second quarter of 2023. According to the report, this number was down 10% on the previous quarter, 20% on the same time a year ago, and was the lowest level since similar records began in 2006.

The HBF said that if the trend continued, it would lead to a reduction in housing delivery of 44,000 homes a year, which would see the housing supply for England fall to levels not seen for a decade.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, blamed the situation on an “increasingly anti-development and anti-business” policy environment, which he said has caused the “sharp fall in the number of homes being built”.

“The government’s capitulation to the Nimby lobby on planning, its mishandling of water legislation, and – amidst a lack of mortgage availability – the lack of support for first-time buyers could see housing supply drop markedly in the coming years,” he said.

“Fewer homes being built amidst an acute housing crisis has clear social implications, in particular for young people, and will reduce economic activity and cost jobs.”

The department acknowledged the Government needed to do more to speed up the planning system, “which is why our long-term housing plan will reduce unnecessary delays and speed up new developments”.

“This is backed by £24m to scale up planning capacity and a further £13.5m for a super-squad to support large-scale projects. At the same time, we’re scrapping defective EU laws that are blocking 100,000 homes from being built,” they said.

Last month, the Government announced that EU-era water pollution restrictions for housing developments will be scrapped to build up to 100,000 new homes by 2030.

Environmental groups have described the loosening of the restrictions as “disgraceful”.

The Government is busy releasing scare stories. Council planning departments and councillors are creating delays. Delays mean the Government’s friends don’t make money to pay for the Government to stay in power.

Michael Gove gives Waverley a resounding slap.

So how about asking your Whitehall mate to give them more money, Guvnor Gove?

Is ‘Our Waverley’ becoming a punching bag for  Secretary of State Michael Gove?

The Housing Secretary of State has written to Waverley Borough Council chastising it after the housing ombudsman decreed it had committed…

“a severe administration failing.”

It has now apologised for the “unreasonable delay” in responding to an application by the father of a disabled son to make adaptations to his council home. 

Despite Waverley receiving more calls for disabled facilities than it can fund!

At a June council meeting, councillors were told by officers they were receiving increasing referrals from private and hospital OTs trying to arrange work, including disabled adaptions to enable clients to get back home from hospital. You can read it in the link below.

Waverley receives more calls for disabled facilities than it can fund

The family was left waiting for 18 months for the necessary work, and in the end, the father did the work himself.

In a blistering letter to Tom Horwood, the  CEO of Waverley & Guildford Councils, Mr Gove said:

Grumpy Gove said

“You failed to take account of how important the work was to this family. This is deeply disappointing.”

I have been clear that social housing residents must be able to put their trust in their landlords to provide decent homes and deal with complaints effectively”

I expect the changes you are implementing to make a significant difference in the service you deliver to your residents. I will be taking a personal interest in how your organisation continues to deliver its responsibilities.

Waverley has said it is taking steps to improve the application process and accepted that its communication could have been improved.

It said it had learned valuable lessons from this case and, as requested by the ombudsman, was in the process of carrying out a comprehensive review of its policies and procedures.

As part of this review, the council is conducting interviews with residents to gather feedback on its policy.

Here is a post we made In June year.

Waverley receives more calls for disabled facilities than it can fund

Where have all ‘Your Waverley’s the planning officers gone?

We have it on excellent authority that five, yes folks, five planning officers left Waverley Towers on just one day!


Here’s a comment we received from Alfold resident Denise Wordsworth.

It simply beggars belief that we now have only One Planning committee, and they are all schlepping to Godalming to discuss ONE small Application, which may be of significance in Witley – But REALLY??

We have many large outstanding applications that have not come to the committee. We have developers here in Alfold who are not even starting the ones that have been approved as they are waiting for their additional houses to be approved.

As of this morning – I haven’t even been able to look at applications on the Planning Portal as it simply says, “An error occurred getting the documents for this item”, regardless of which application you look at!

Planning officers seem to be departing from Waverley at breakneck speed at the moment… Somebody needs to get a grip on this and fast.

Will ‘Your Waverley’s planning committee rock up for just one planning application

 Touch wood that the ‘one  and only’ objector finds –  it was worth it.


Erection Of Fence And Gate Together With Alterations To Driveway

Membership of the Planning Committee – All are paid an Attendance Allowance for being there plus their travelling expenses. Then, the planning officers attend for just ONE planning application.

Cllr David Beaman (Chair) Cllr Penny Rivers (Vice Chair) Cllr Jane Austin Cllr Carole Cockburn Cllr Janet Crowe Cllr Jacquie Keen Cllr Andrew Laughton Cllr Alan Morrison Cllr John Robini Cllr Julian Spence Cllr Richard Steijger Cllr Phoebe Sullivan Cllr John Ward Cllr Terry Weldon Cllr Graham White

The application has been brought to the Planning Committee at the request of the local Ward Member (Councillor Maxine Gale) on behalf of Witley Parish Council to allow the committee to debate the impact on visual amenities and common land.

No letters of objection were received except one from the parish council.

 The application proposes the erection of a front boundary post, rail fence, and gate, together with alterations to the driveway.

Officers consider the proposal acceptable about design. Furthermore, the impact on common land would be dealt with separately under an application to the Secretary of State under the Commons Act 2006.

So, we aren’t usually the ones that handle it, guv. Here’s what the planning officers say:

Any decision to grant planning permission would not predetermine a decision under that Act. Therefore, the planning balance assessment concludes that the proposal is in accordance with the Development Plan. As such, planning permission is recommended for approval.

The application site is located to the east of Petworth Road in Witley. A two-storey dwelling with a half-hipped roof and inset-pitched dormers. Ribbon development in a semi-rural location along the east of Petworth Road with a mix of single-storey and two-storey house types of differing design.

Here’s what the parish council has to say:

The Parish Council asked for the application to be called into committee rather than agreed upon by delegated authority because it strongly objects and wants the fence and gate enclosing common land removed.

It objects to the accuracy of the red line (on the drawings) as it includes common land not owned by the applicant. An application to the Secretary of State (Planning Inspectorate) should be required to enclose common land. It also contravenes the Witley Neighbourhood Plan.

The parish believes the proposals or design should reinforce or enhance the established village character of streets, greens and other spaces. Asking: Does the proposed car parking compromise the amenity of adjoining properties? Local Green Spaces, Views and Character Development adjoining public open spaces and important gaps should enhance these spaces’ character by providing a positive interface.

In addition, the Parish Council had previously been advised by SCC Highways regarding the inclusion of the land in the Witley Neighbourhood Plan as Local Green Space, that it needed to be left for possible improvements such as pavements and cycleways for integrated transport links.

The development does not comply with policy DM4 (Quality Places through Design) of LPP2. By proposing to enclose an area of common land, the proposal does not respond to this location’s local context and historic character, contrary to DM4 (b). ii.

Furthermore, the boundary intrudes onto the public realm. As well as being in the wrong position, the proposed boundary treatment does not respond positively to the local context around and within the site, i.e. it ‘sticks out like a sore thumb’.