The county wallies do a U-turn on parking charges.

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Not really.  Figures revealed that whilst the council raised £61,000 in revenue from introducing charges for parking at places like Rodborough Common, in Waverley. It cost around £300,000 to instal the machines. WW wonders how much it will cost to remove the machines and reinstate the sites?

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 Six locations in Waverley were included in the unpopular decision, including Rodborough Common, and Milford.   The popular beauty spot at Newlands Corner in Guildford was also part of the cunning plan to raise money. It provoked a huge backlash from the public, with petitions and questions raised at council meetings and a huge decrease in people going into the countryside.

Surrey’s cabinet abolished the policy of charging as it had not “delivered the significant contributions as expected” and did not align with the council’s Community Vision 2030. So was unanimously binned!

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‘Your Waverley’ is presently preparing a new car-parking strategy – which could yield another £500,000 a year for the council’s depleting coffers.

 

 

 

Life on ‘Your Waverley’s’ Wave.

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Some residents will remember when the borough council’s Newsletter was called the Waverley Wave. Which then morphed into ‘Your Waverley.’

There is more than a little angst among ‘Your Waverley’s’ opposition that since the takeover of the new administration – they can’t get prompt answers to their questions.

Bit rich when you consider that residents’ questions seldom received answers promptly when the other lot had a firm grip on the reins. And, of course, the Tories didn’t even have to answer to an opposition. – At least, not a credible opposition to speak of – just a couple of Independents a Lib Dem (half-way through its last term) and a couple of Farnham Residents’ who were mostly trodden underfoot.

The new Council Leader John Ward (Farnham Residents’) has come in for a drubbing. The tories claim he doesn’t answer e-mails.

 

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As he is now off on his second Winter cruise – will he be using his free time on the ocean waves – to bring a halt to the criticism Waverley Web wonders? Or will he be playing deck quoits?

 

 

 

Government planning policy that has gone horribly wrong.

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It is now revealed that over 13,500 affordable homes have been lost due to a Government diktat that allowed office conversions.

We all knew it was a crap policy from the outset when the Government changed planning rules. 

Now it’s an official crap policy.

The experts say that the planning policy introduced four years ago is not only not contributing to the provision of affordable homes, the homes built are sub-standard, and there is no 106 contribution! Daft or what? So lose, lose, lose all round?
Over 13,500 affordable homes lost due to PD office conversions, says Local Government Association.

 Numerous offices and shops in the borough of Waverley have been lost to such conversions.

In Haslemere, Waverley Planners invoked an Article 4 direction, a planning mechanism, to stop the continued loss of valuable office and retail space, and is taking a tough-line on conversions elsewhere.

Will converting shops and offices to residential be prevented in, ALL our towns and villages, by ‘Your Waverley?’

10 January 2020 by David Blackman

More than 13,500 affordable homes have been lost over the past four years as a result of developers using permitted development (PD) rights to sidestep planning permission for office to residential conversions, the Local Government Association (LGA) has calculated.

An residential scheme in Croydon converted from offices under PD rights.

A residential scheme in Croydon converted from offices under PD rights.

Latest figures from the MHCLG show that since 2015, 54,162 new homes were converted from offices under PD rights in England.

The new analysis, published by the LGA, estimates that 13,540 affordable homes have been lost that would otherwise have been delivered if these homes had been built.

This is based on an ‘indicative’ council affordable housing requirement of 25 per cent on new residential developments.

A spokesman for the LGA said the council umbrella body had chosen 25 per cent as its indicative figure because councils’ affordable housing requirements on new developments usually vary between this level and 40 per cent.

Under the PD rights regime, there is no requirement for developers to meet local authority affordable housing requirements, nor a host of other policies such as those governing minimum space standards.

The LGA analysis also shows that while PD right conversions amount to six per cent of all new homes delivered nationally, in some areas a significantly high proportion of new housing is office-to-residential conversions.

It says that last year (2018/19), more than half (51 per cent) of all new homes in Harlow were office conversions, with 48 per cent in Norwich and 43 per cent in the Hertfordshire district council of Three Rivers.

Over a third of new housing in Spelthorne (39 per cent) and Slough (35 per cent) were also converted from offices, the LGA said.

Cllr David Renard, the LGA’s housing spokesman, said: “Serious concerns remain over the high numbers of homes which continue to be converted from offices without planning permission.

“Permitted development rules are resulting in the alarming potential loss of thousands of desperately-needed affordable homes.”

Renard said it was “vital that councils and local communities have a voice in the planning process and are able to oversee all local developments” and called for the government to scrap PD rules.

An MHCLG spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering a million new homes by the end of this parliament, and permitted development rights are playing an important part in making our ambitious commitment a reality.”

The LGA study is the latest in a series of critical reports on the impact of residential PD rights, which were introduced by the coalition government with the aim of speeding up the conversion of under-used and derelict commercial and industrial space into housing.

Research carried out by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors two years ago found that 70 per cent of the new homes delivered through the PD rights regime do not meet minimum space standards, and around 90 per cent lacked access to open space.

The train standing at Cranleigh’s platform 1?

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One of our followers – who regularly travels to London sent us the article below. She is presently cleaning her push-bike in readiness for the new Bamford Bike-ride from the eastern villages to Wimbledon every day!

 

She says: Something to make you laugh, or cry?

So we can all ride, walk or cycle to work now, can we??? – The snide comment that opening it could result in more housing – Crikes – we have taken MORE than our fair share of Housing for the Borough….About time the rest took theirs

Honestly SPEND SOME MONEY SURREY!

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Another said: “The road condition along the A281 between Cranleigh and Guildford is now so bad, some believe the existing surface of the Downs Link will soon be an improvement for motorists.”

Want to know more about the woman behind the bid to build a new WINGS museum in Alfold.

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This post comes with a health warning to the locals:

Don’t complain when the development starts – or you might find Alfold painted RED!

 

You can read our post on the appeal decision last November to allow a 10,000 square metre building to be erected adjacent to Dunsfold Park off the Dunsfold Road in Alfold. 

Here:

An appeal to build Dunsfold Airfield Mark 2 – on land adjacent to Dunsfold has been ALLOWED.

Now read about the woman who is funding the project to bring the hudge national visitor attraction into the heart of a once, quiet rural village on the Surrey/Sussex borders.

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Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 21.59.16.pngA woman who angered her neighbours by decorating her multimillion-pound townhouse with red and white stripes can ignore a planning order to repaint the property, the high court has ruled.

Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring, a property developer, painted candy stripes on the three-storey facade of the terrace home in South End, Kensington, west London, in March 2015.

She has denied that the paint job was done to spite neighbours who objected to her plans to demolish the property, currently used for storage, and replace it with a new home.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea served her with a notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, requiring her to repaint “all external paintwork located on the front elevation white” within 28 days. But she refused saying:

The council said:

“The condition and appearance of the property, particularly the red and white painted stripes on the front elevation, is incongruous with the streetscape of South End and the local area.”

After failed appeals to magistrates and Isleworth crown court last year, Lisle-Mainwaring launched judicial review action at the high court in London. On Monday, a judge ruled in her favour and quashed the notice.

One issue was whether a notice served under section 215 of the 1990 act “may be used when the complaint is that the planning authority considers that the choice of painting scheme harms amenity”.

A walk on the wild-side at Frensham Little Pond.

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Its time for getting out and about so how about visiting a dog walker’s paradise with a vast open space of heathland – perfect for a runaround for children and their pets.

A walk around the pond takes about 40 minutes or hike up to Snowball ride for a longer walk and some amazing views.

The starting point is the NT car park off Priory Lane.

Doggy dos and don’ts: Remember birds are nesting between March and September s don’t let dogs run through the heather during this period or go into the ponds as this will disturb the wildlife.

Try going there on quieter days during the week – as it can get very busy during the weekends and during the bank holidays.

Have fun – but observe the rules – and all will be well for man, child and wildlife.

But – whatever you do – don’t repeat this disgraceful episode that occurred at Frensham Great Pond last year!

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Getting ready for next year’s Surrey county council elections.

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Despite many of us feel that we have had enough elections – there will be more soon.

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Surrey residents, including those living in Waverley, are being asked to consider whether they would like to stand in the county council elections. The date earmarked for the poll is  Thursday 6 May 2021 – and those interested are invited to attend a meeting on January 29th in Woking.  

However, an election for a new Surrey Police & Crime Commissioner takes place this year on Thursday 7th of May.

Here are the results of the 2017 election. After the huge change in the Waverley Borough on May 17 are big changes on the way in Surrey WW wonders?

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Is it any wonder that ‘Your Waverley’ wants to maximise its assets?

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Will taking control of ‘Your Waverley’ prove to be a poisoned chalice for the Rainbow Alliance.

Add to that a huge backlog of maintenance and repairs estimated to cost over £2.5m, if carried out over the next ten years. Also needed are major capital works to the 50-year-old building of which only 75% is used, even with its present tenants e.g. police. So is it any wonder that the new administration wants to re-develop a large part of central Godalming – including The Burys?

Screen Shot 2020-01-08 at 10.23.41.pngWaverley’s new Portfolio Holder for Finance Mark Merryweather, an accountant by profession, painted a grim picture of the life of The Burys – saying that the under-utilised facility had run its course.

In seeking the EXECUTIVE committee’s approval to spend £40,000 on consultants to carry out an Options Appraisal on three sites in the council’s ownership – The Burys, and car parks at The Wharf and the Crown Court, Cllr Merryweather said the council could meet its investment objectives and provide quality housing developments, which could set a standard for other developers to follow. This could generate much-needed income to provide Waverleys residents with the services they need.

Earlier in the evening, he painted another grim picture of the council’s finances after years of Central Government cuts, despite Waverley officers identifying efficiency savings of 5%, right across the board and  – and for which they must be congratulated.

“We knew this year would be tough and it is coming up to those expectations we were looking at a deficit of £1.4m and it looks closer to £1.8m.”

He said a full report would go to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee next week  and which would include recommending increases in council tax, fees and charges and council rents. 

“We are suffering because the Government heavily regulates the income we can raise. We have no say on business rates 95% of which goes to either SCC or  Government – our grant income from Government is also diminishing – FAST. Our ability to raise additional finance through fees and charges is also regulated.”

Cllr Jerry Hyman, Farnham Residents,’ who sounds more like ‘the official opposition every day that goes by,’ said residents’ believed efficiency savings should be made by the council before raising council rents. Though the Waverley Web understands that for the past four years a Government diktat reduced rents by 1% year-on-year.

Responding Cllr Merryweather said: “Our businesses, residents and visitors excluding council house tenants pay in £170m into this council each year and we get to keep £10m to fund all our services.”

He said “quite understandably” our residents are left with the impression when they receive their council tax or business rates bill with our name on the back of it that everything they pay, ends up in our pocket. However, we are getting less and less of it. If we go into negative tariff our residents will be subsidising the Government through the back door.

The council had to cut its cloth to match demands that are made on it

 

 

It may soon get harder to escape enforcement on grounds of continuous use in ‘Your Waverley’ and elsewhere.

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If a property has been put to an unauthorised use continuously for four years, then its owner can claim immunity from planning enforcement.

But, if for some of that time it was not recognisably in that unauthorised use, then immunity does not apply, the High Court has confirmed.

Last month a High Court judge criticised a planning inspector for having “misapplied” the law when he blocked Islington Council’s attempts to take enforcement action against an illegal flat conversion. The inspector had agreed with the appellant, estate agency Maxwell Estates, which argued that the converted basement at 85 Newington Green Road had been used for residential purposes for more than four years and therefore had immunity from enforcement action.

In early 2013, the basement was converted into a flat when a shower and kitchen sink were installed. A tenant moved into the property in April that year, paying a rent of £750 a month. No planning permission was sought for the change of use. However, after the tenant moved out in October 2013, the flat was renovated before being re-let in May 2014.

The High Court case turned on exactly what use the property was being put to in the intervening eight-month period. The council’s barrister, Charles Streeten of Francis Taylor Building, argued that during the works the basement was reduced to an uninhabitable “shell unit” and would not have been recognisable as a residential flat. Hence, he said, during this period the council could not have taken enforcement action against unauthorised use. Therefore, he said, and so these months could not be counted as contributing to the four years of continuous use required for immunity under section 171B(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. When Islington sought to take enforcement action in January 2018, Maxwell Estates had not accrued the necessary four years, he argued.

The judge agreed, thereby providing clarity on “the correct approach to the test for continuous use when considering enforcement action,” according to Streeten. Streeten says that the inspector had thought he had found “indications of an intention to carry on using the space” for residential use, which he thought could be regarded as sufficient to meet the continuous use test despite the break in occupation. “It’s not an uncommon argument, and it does sometimes succeed,” said Streeten.

According to Neil Whittaker, chair of the RTPI’s National Association of Planning Enforcement and planning associate at law firm Ivy Legal, the four-year immunity rule is used “very frequently” by landlords when trying to push back against enforcement action. All too often, he added, the evidence submitted in support of the claim of immunity on the grounds of four years of existing use is poor but is not properly scrutinised by resource-poor local planning authorities (LPAs). “In my view, LPAs should never accept evidence of immunity without properly scrutinising it,” said Whittaker. “I have dealt with many cases where evidence of immunity submitted by the owner has turned out to be fabricated.”

The Islington case is important, says Streeten, because it should give LPAs confidence that the courts will take a tough line on what constitutes continuous use and what evidence is required. Therefore, he says, they will find it easier to justify spending time and resources investigating cases, rather than accepting whatever evidence is submitted.

“I think LPAs should be well aware of the ruling because it is a useful tool in their arsenal,” said Streeten.

Nigel Wicks, director of consultancy Enforcement Services, agrees. “It certainly lends strength to our elbow,” he said. “Hopefully it will give councils more confidence. It is common for appellants to produce pretty ropey evidence.”

However, Tim Taylor, head of planning at law firm Foot Anstey, warns that the Islington decision does not mean shorter breaks in occupation will by themselves negate continuous use. The point in the case was that the basement flat was uninhabitable for an extended period of time.

“The message for owners is to not allow a property to become uninhabitable if you are seeking to take advantage of the four-year rule,” he said.

Will taking control of ‘Your Waverley’ prove to be a poisoned chalice for the Rainbow Alliance.

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Since taking overall control of Waverley Borough Council in May the new administration has had its fair share of surprises.

As it delves into the past workings of a Tory administration which held power for more than a decade, the new boys and girls on The Burys block are uncovering some uncomfortable truths.

Included are all those once-hidden documents revealing that the development dubbed by Farnham residents ‘The Great Blightwells scandal’ – are being dusted off and are now seeing the light of day.  Predictions of huge pay-backs from investments – of our land and our money, made by Waverley & Surrey County Council are beginning to look rather threadbare. Let’s all look forward to an Independent Audit of this unfortunate £140m contract. A really Independent Audit and not one carried out by the CEO’s former honchos at East Hampshire County Council, who seem to be the usual conduit for carrying out internal investigations.

We now understand the developer Crest Nicholson is offering existing Farnham businesses two years rent-free if they move into Blightwells!

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Nobody says it better than Farnham’s David Wylde? Will ‘Your Waverley’ be shaken and stirred by the shocking revelations on Blightwells?

Promises made by the outgoing Tory administration just weeks before the May polls that money would be forthcoming for the new Frensham Visitors’ Centre, didn’t materialise. So how will that be funded?

Pledges of spending over £12m on a new leisure centre for Cranleigh is looking less certain, because, quite simply ‘Your Waverley’s’ new administration will have to borrow the money. Though we understand the new centre is a MUST, as boilers are failing and the centre is falling apart at the seams. So doing nothing is not an option.

Millions will be poured into the borough’s leisure facilities​ – but Cranleigh could be the biggest winner with a £12.7m jackpot.

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A £23m contract negotiated and approved by the Tories in April last year giving MITIE’s – MPS (Mitie Property Services) the lucrative homes’ maintenance contract was handed back by the contractor shortly before Christmas because it cannot fulfil its obligations. It gave 13 weeks notice to terminate the contract.

The Executive will now have to stump up £200,00 to find an interim contractor willing to undertake vital maintenance work, as a temporary fix. Including a shedload of back-dated work that Waverley’s tenants have been crying out to be completed for months. How long will they be forced to wait now?

The concerns voiced by some councillors, including Cllr Jerry Hyman and Cllr Elizabeth Townsend were ignored before the contract was awarded. So where exactly was the Due Diligence conducted, by officers on the contractors’ ability to meet its obligations under a contract on which the ink is hardly dry? And, when will the Chief Executive Tom Horwood start taking responsibility for past mistakes?  

Another fine mess you and your colleagues have plunged the Rainbow Administration into Cllr Potts?