It cannot be true – can it?

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Whilst lazing on our sunbeds – (sorry to all our readers over there in Blustury Blighty because we hear you are having atrocious silly season weather) – but we noticed on the web a little missive from the new ‘Chair’ of Godalming Town Council.

‘Abolition of town councillors robes and restoration of open public speaking at town council sessions.’

We have already posted on the abolition of the mayoral robesThe new brooms getting to grips with Godalming.

However, a subsequent sentence in a message to residents from GTC’s Chair Paul Follows took us by surprise…

‘restoration of open public speaking at town council sessions.’

RESTORATION OF PUBLIC SPEAKING! Really? Are we to gather from that statement that the previous administrators of Godalming Town Council didn’t allow their residents the democratic right to actually speak at town council meetings?  If not, why not? Even in the smallest villages in the borough, the public is given an opportunity to speak, ask questions, make comments, to their elected representatives. Some even call councillors to account. So what in the name of open and transparent government has been going on in Godalming for? years?

Oh well – enough of Waverley matters and back to the beach bar.

Fewer empty homes as ‘Your Waverley’ cracks down on owners.

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PLANS to make use of unoccupied housing in Waverley are slowly becoming a reality, according to new statistics.

 The empty homes scandal, which saw 677 homes in Waverley left unoccupied for at least six months has been a headache for the council for years. And, despite its efforts,  the figure only decreased to 615 last year.

 Statistics for 2019 reveal that 22 homes sat empty for ten years or more, compared to  29 recorded in 2018.

However, the value of homes left unoccupied for two years is worth £31 million alone.

Last year ‘Your Waverley’ said it was working to “bring these properties into use and using council tax to deter owners from leaving properties empty.”  Changes made by the government gave council’s the right to charge 50 per cent extra council tax on homes empty over two years.  These changes are now paying off.

Said a council spokesman: “Our private sector housing team works very hard to encourage owners to bring vacant homes back into use, so it is good to see the number of empty properties in the borough falling.”

The decrease in the number of empty homes is attributed to the changes in council tax premiums, with homes empty for more than ten years being charged 300 per cent council tax.

He added:

“The council is also working very hard to increase the amount of affordable housing in the borough, as we currently have 1046 households on our Housing Register.

“We carefully manage our housing and land assets to enable us to invest in high-quality new homes for affordable rent, building 45 in 2018.

“We are also investing in new shared ownership properties and continuously working with developers in order to maximise the number of affordable housing in new developments across the borough.”

Would you Adam and Eve it? Surrey could be backing fracking in our borough!

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Perhaps it is not ‘Your Waverley’ that should be listening to the public outcry about oil and gas exploration proposed in Dunsfold – but the Surrey numpties – who could find themselves going the same way as Waverley councillors next year.

Having listened very carefully to residents and groups from Surrey & Sussex, Waverley Council’s new administration has registered its objections:  

Well done’ Your Waverley’s’ first listening exercise was a rollicking success – and there are calls for more

However, it appears that the Surrey numpties who have just declared a climate emerganimated-spider-image-0201ency are speaking with forked tongue. Here’s ‘YW’s Listening Exercise Chairman’s view on the latest missive from his county council colleague – whose kee-jerk response leaves us here at the WW spinning with indignation in our web.

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Is it too much to hope that our county councillors will start listening to their constituents? 

Because if they don’t it could home to haunt them sooner than they think!

 As for you Mr Mike Goodman, the electorate might be wiping that smile off your face anytime soon? Because how bloody dare you say: – “although you (WBC) have chosen to consult with the public in this way it is not a formal part of the County’s consultation or decision-making process in respect of this proposal.”

In other words: You will do what you damned well like despite local objection including that of Waverey Borough Council – the democratically elected body with whom you are duty-bound to consult!

Your arrogance is legendary.

Our popular Farnham town centre pub is about to become a…?

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Works are underway at the Marlborough Head Pub in Farnham. 

According to Waverley Borough Council, the traditional look of the building is being protected, with the front and side facades to be retained. 

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The roof is being removed to be surveyed and will be preserved where possible, while the inside of the building will be reconfigured to create new commercial premises. 

 

Here’s what it once looked like, when we all enjoyed a drink in the lovely old pub. And the picture below shows what ‘Your Waverley’ did under the previous administration.

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Just in case you wondered, Crest Nicholson is still searching for tenants – and according to our moles in CNS’s little holes in Blightwells Yard. There are no more now than there were over a year ago! So the Waverley Web will do its bit for the borough and publicise the vacancies as part of our civic duty.

PS. Sainsbury’s has been there for years and ASK has been going down the Pizza Pan in most towns in the country!

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A little bit of help from your friends – at the Waverley Web?

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Sad souls, that we are – what better way to while away a few hours on our holiday sunbeds than peruse – The Cranleigh Village Neighbourhood Plan?

Not easy trawling through a very long document on the parish council website with a Mojito in one hand and a chocolate-covered burrito in the other! 

We digress! You really don’t want to know what a lovely time we are having.

Here’s a little something that perhaps villagers should read and inwardly digest.

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Perhaps the parish council might consider doing another survey with a question along the lines of:

Do you want the High Street clogged up with even more traffic for an 80-bed private care home and 20 community beds with patients from anywhere in Surrey? Together with a hostel of 26 bedsits for health workers (yes, you guessed,  from anywhere in Surrey?  All on land you once owned?

Sorry, have to finish the drink and mop up the chocolate sauce and bake the other side? Happy holidays to all our readers.

Everything WILL NOT be coming up roses, at Green Farm, Green Lane, Churt.

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 Roses and Ranunculus, Delphiniums and Daisies, Lupins and Lilies and an abundance of high-end cut flowers will not be blooming at a budding new business thanks to ‘Your Waverley’s’ planners.

 

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Has been’s.

 

 

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What might have been! 

 

The Southern Area Planning committee has REFUSED to allow applicants on land owned by the Countryside Restoration Trust to set up six polytunnels in which to grow flowers on agricultural land in the green belt.

 Seventeen letters of objection from residents and insufficient information from the applicants about the “modest” enterprise was enough to wilt councillors’ enthusiasm for the project.

Although objectors argued the development in the countryside should not be allowed, the applicants argued –

where else would you set up a small-scale agricultural type business other than – in the countryside?

Residents, including neighbours, claimed there would be a loss of their “visual amenities” in other words, their views of the countryside.

Perhaps they should consider themselves fortunate? Most of our views are presently being obliterated by bricks walls, some of them 3-storeys high.

The applicants claim the proposed development was  “modest” and flowers needed the protection of polytunnels to cope with the vagaries of the British climate and every effort had been made to site them as far away as possible from neighbours. Hedges would be planted along with a swathe of wildflowers.

Officers explained the produce would be for local and London florists, florists through a wholesaler visiting once a day and would employ two full-time local people and some casual labour during the flowering season This would produce minimal traffic.

However,  neighbours think differently and listed a host of concerns including the poor access, dangers on Green Lane for cars, pedestrians and horse-riders. The poly-tunnels would cause light pollution (despite the fact there would be no lighting) would reflect sunlight and could attract thieves.

No attempt had been made by the applicant to address their concerns and there was no provision for a workshop, washrooms or toilets. No provision had been made for composting, recycling or general waste. And, no provision for storage of chemicals and fuel.

However, the applicants maintained…

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Despite officers supporting the business, they received a few veiled slaps on the wrists for not ensuring Surrey highways provided robust traffic information.

The Waverley Web couldn’t help wondering when did SCC highways ever provide “robust traffic information?”

Officers should not have advised applicants to put in three separate planning applications, each for two poly-tunnels, six in total –  to save the applicant planning fees!  And, for supporting an application with insufficient detailed information. 

Oh dear! Waverley’s CEO is going to get a letter from Cllr Robert Knowless (who thinks he knows more)  asking him why the applicant was advised by officers of ways to save money when Waverley’s planning function was running at a 60% loss!

Ye Gods! Planning Officers trying to give a helping hand to get an embryo local business off the ground – perish the thought!

The scrappy voting procedure on three identical applications, which was almost impossible to hear or understand, was 4 votes in favour, 4 votes against and one abstention so were ALL REFUSED  on Chairman “Oh dear” Beaman’s casting vote.

 

 

A little rebranding exercise for a Waverley charity?

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CPRE rebrand to focus on the countryside rather than brownfield sites.

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A recent press release from the CPRE presented their “eye-catching new look, inspired by the colours and shapes of our countryside”.

CPRE have realised that:

“CPRE can be perceived as negative, and this can put potential supporters off, even if they love the countryside.”

“As a result, you’ll begin to notice a change tone from CPRE, as we focus more on the positive solutions that we have always tried to create. This is underpinned by our new strategic aims – to ‘connect people and countryside’, ‘promote rural life’ and ‘empower communities’ – that your comments helped us develop.”

The Waverley Web wonders if…

Perhaps this will filter down to the Local Group, who can focus on the countryside and the threats to the beautiful Surrey Hills, rather than the borough’s largest Brownfield site, the centre of Waverley’s economic strategy, and now a Garden Village status.

 

 

Is a bad deal better than no deal – for the residents of the eastern villages?​

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That is the dilemma facing residents of the eastern villages as they face the fact that they are NEVER going to get the new replacement village hospital and day hospital they were promised almost 20 years ago.

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The meeting decided with a couple of votes against and one abstention that…

  • A. They want the land held by the Cranleigh Village Hospital Trust returned to the parish.
  • B.  They want Waverley Planners to refuse to allow a Care Home to built on parish land – together with a hostel.
  • They want the existing old Cranleigh Hospital and its Day Hospital to be improved – together with a minor injuries unit and other services.

Residents from Alfold, Dunsfold, Ewhurst and Cranleigh learned it was crunch time – with an application for an 80-bed Care Home including 20 community beds and 26 health worker bedsits due to be determined by Waverley Planners in September. The scheme was to have been considered in August. But it was postponed after pressure from councillors. 

Is the ‘Silly Season’ just about to get a whole lot sillier – at ‘Your Waverley.’ UPDATED.

The WW understands that a public meeting was held last Saturday and despite only being given a few days notice a crowd of 50 turned up to the village hall.

A panel headed by Alfold resident Andy Webb announced he had been vilified for daring to hold the meeting at all.

Residents were faced with … an empty chair emblazoned with the name  – CRANLEIGH VILLAGE HOSPITAL TRUST.  As, they heard that for the second time in under six months, it was ‘no show’ by the charity, to answer their urgent questions.

A string of speakers – who we will not name for fear of reprisals – described the 20-year long and complex history of a dream for a replacement new hospital and day hospital in Cranleigh which had now turned into the nightmare of a £14m 60-bed private care home and 20-community beds to benefit  a region much larger than that originally proposed. A development which would include 26 bedsits for care workers from the locality – but which would bring in no community benefit in either Community Infrastructure Levy – or 106 monies to mitigate for the scheme.

Waverley Council’s Deputy leader Paul Follows heard residents including many donors ask…

WHY:

  • The parish council had taken part in a land exchange with a so-called ‘local benefactor” for a £1 without getting a mandate from villagers first?
  • Why had it exchanged land for £1 which had been valued by the District Valuer for £250,000?
  • Why didn’t the parish council receive Best Value?
  • Why hadn’t the council abided by an agreement with the charity to take the land back, when the project had not taken place after the agreed five years?
  • Why had it agreed to a Ransome strip around a football pitch, which was part of the land swap?
  • Former Cranleigh parish councillor Ken Reed shocked everyone when he revealed that he had not been made aware of such an onerous restriction on the football pitch.

“I was not aware, such a restriction existed, and I would have objected if I had known.” 

Villagers asked…the empty chair where had £1.4m of their money gone?

  • What was the model of care and who would occupy the community beds?
  • Where were the promised Day Hospital and other facilities – including a minor injuries unit and outpatients facilities? Why were villagers faced with something that had morphed into a completely different concept than that they had backed with their cash and voluntary efforts?
  • What lease did the charity have with the private operator – which was heavily in debt (circa £800,000,000) and up for sale?

A former CVHT Trustee Kay Newman attempted to explain the original vision for the project and how numerous changes in the health sector had affected its progression.

Money raised had been used in a variety of ways including the creation of the Bruce Mackenzie football field and changes to the highway in Knowle Lane. Although she was no longer a trustee having resigned almost 10 years ago, she had heard from the solicitor for CVHT that the operator (HC-One) would receive a 150-year lease on the building and would pay £1m towards the hostel block. He had given assurances that if the present operator failed, another would take over. She also assured everyone that the charity would hold a public meeting together with its stakeholder partners – once planning permission was granted. She said although the organisers had asked residents to address their questions to the empty chair, CVHT would make the model of care and other matters clearer once planning permission had been granted.

She apologised to the many donors, for the part she and her husband, the former chairman, for the disappointment of not getting what everyone had originally hoped for, a new Cranleigh Hospital and Day Hospital.

 Ewhurst resident Diane James said from what she had heard the Charity was either guilty of fraud or negligence and asked whether it was possible to seek an injunction to stop the development?

A letter was read out from Rtd GP John Verdon; former nurses spoke of their concerns, and one resident asked why the land appeared in the charity accounts at £2.4m when there was no planning consent, saying we are being misled.

Some believed the 20 community beds were merely a minor replacement for 56 beds lost due to the closure of Longfields a Surrey County Council home now derelict. The Waverley warden-assisted accommodation of 58 flats and seven old people’s bungalows had also been also lost to the community’s elderly.

Everyone agreed, with a few exceptions who believed a bad deal was better than no deal, arguing the 20 beds were needed, that it was now time to look forward not back and that a petition should call for the application to be refused. The land should be returned to the village and every effort should be made to support new and existing services offered by Cranleigh League of Friends at the old cottage hospital.

Others believed the Charity Commission should be contacted as a matter of urgency, as Cranleigh Village Hospital Trust was not giving residents what they had promised.

They said:

“We are getting a raw deal – a valuable asset of this community is being taken over by big business – and if we have to join together to seek legal redress, then let’s all put some money towards doing just that.”

 

 

 

 

 

Fancy a bit of a battle in Farnham?

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Not the usual battle of the political kind – at least not yet anyway.

You may be able to help with the Farnham Society’s production of the Battle of Moor Park?

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They are looking to put on two performances on Sat 14th Sept in situ behind the Shepherd and Flock pub.

Diane Bradbury will be directing along with her daughter who states they are both amateurs but do have experience of directing musicals and plays for a local society.

They need people to take on small speaking parts and just to be crowd members. The production will probably involve the audience to a degree.

If you would like to know any more then please contact Diane Bradbury – dpmbrads@yahoo.co.uk

For the uninitiated, the  Siege of Moor Park took place in 1897 when a huge mob turned up at Moor Park Lodge, objecting to the owners of the lodge obstructing a legal right of way across their land.

Historian Rosemary Wisbey has written a script for a 15-minute pantomime style re-enactment of the riots caused after the owners of Moor Park Lodge barred the gates to their estate, and the Farnham Society’s heritage team has secured permission from the present owner of Moor Park Lodge.

The National Trust’s theme for its heritage open days is:

“People Power.”

Something, perhaps that will strike a chord with the townsfolk of Cranleigh and Villages who are about to embark on their own take on  – ‘People Power.’ They have just voted to take their own stand for something they believe passionately about?

 

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.