While Waverley’s green fields and green belt are currently sinking, or about to sink under concrete, this once-respected national organisation is whining about the lack of affordable housing and the need for local authorities to grant permissions on brownfield sites!
The very same hypocritical outfit that has joined forces with the local NIMBYs – some of whom are DEVELOPERS themselves, to take ‘Your Waverley,’ to the High Court – limiting their own costs to just £10,000 while wasting shedloads of our council tax, simply because they are supporting a Local Plan which includes development in their backyards at Dunsfold Aerodrome. One of the biggest brownfield sites this side of London!
All the Rumpoles will have their wheelbarrows at the ready to trouser the taxpayers’ cash being poured into their oversized pant pockets – however, what’s the old saying –“he who laughs last laughs longest.”Because one of Waverley’s famous four (Milford Man) who challenged the Local Plan – has had his fingers slightly singed – and his bank balance reduced, by a High Court decision to award Waverley their costs!
Oops – the judge also refused to give the other challengers the assurances they crave that their costs will be limited to £10,000 for a judicial review to be held in the Autumn!
The mutter in the gutter around Alfold/Dunsfold/Hascombe/Loxwood/Chiddingfold is that some of the parish councils who have used their money to prime the legal pump have had enough and are not stumping up any more of their parish precept to fund the ‘impossible fight!’
In the meantime, while the birds sing, and the planes continue to fly at the airfield – Cranleigh is turning into one big building site and the only caterpillars are of the tractor species.
Here’s the taxpayer’s money about to be flushed away…again!
To misquote Oliver Hardy:
The Honourable Mr. Justice Holgate has ordered that in the matter of applications for Planning Statutory Review:
1. POW Campaign Ltd – v- Waverley Borough Council and Dunsfold Airport Ltd 2. CPRE Surrey -v- Waverley Borough Council 3. POW Campaign Ltd -v- Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government
The three applications be consolidated and heard together, at an oral hearing, as soon as possible after 25 June 2018 because he considers this to be the most efficient way of dealing with the applications.
The Judge has noted that there is considerable overlap in the legal arguments raised in the claims by POW and CPRE and a good deal of the factual and policy context is common to all three claims. He has also decreed that one Judge should hear all of the matters at the permission stage and one Judge should also hold any substantive hearing in relation to any claims granted permission to proceed. And, whether the claims are consolidated or not, the hearings must take place in the same hearing window to avoid inefficient use of judicial resources.
Mr. Justice Holgate concludes by saying priority must be given in the list of the applications to the availability of a Judge and not to the availability of any counsel presently instructed. Which, in short, means The Stinch, Rumpole and Wayne Beglan, who acted on behalf of POW, the Dunsfold Developer, and Waverley Borough Council respectively, may not star in the blockbusting sequel. It’s rather like a film studio killing off the leading man when he tries to up his fee for the sequel!
It remains to be seen if those bit-part-players, Charles William Orange Esq (AKA OJ) and Nik Pidgeon (AKA Not-in-my-Columbier), will rock up for the latest round.
However, we have heard from one of the herd at Protect Our Waverley that they are JUBILANT and cannot wait to get their days/weeks/ in court.
As the two above are among the key architects of PoW & the Parishes’ case against the Dunsfold Developer one would expect them to be preening in front row seats but neither have been seen in public since they were outed, around the time of the Dunsfold Inquiry, as Nimby Developers who, having spent years parking their concrete mixers in other peoples’ backyards, now want to move in on their own patch and dig up the village greens of Awfold and Hascombe in preference to seeing the brownfields of Dunsfold Airfield developed. KERCHING!
Reading Mr Justice Holgate’s direction, whilst sipping a glass or two of Silent Pool’s excellent G&T, we at Waverley Web, found ourselves re-visiting the words of that elder statesman of the three barristers at the recent Inquiry into Dunsfold Park, Christopher Katkowski QC, AKA Rumpole:“The very fact that the Rule 6 Parties [otherwise known as POW & the Parishes] speak in such terms shows what the planning system has to grapple with and face down here!”
We can only hope that the High Court Judge on whose bench these cases land will be up to grappling with and tackling the Nimbyism which has polluted the waters of Waverley.
But – and purely in the interests of fairness, you understand – we must give equal airtime to The Stinch, on behalf of POW and the Parishes, whom we awarded Quote of the Day on the first day of the Dunsfold Inquiry, when he announced, in suitably sombre tones…
If only! How most of us wish that were true. All we do know is that, despite those famous first words from The Stinch, Waverley taxpayers are looking down the barrel of yet another review of the Dunsfold decision and the Local Plan!
In company with the Brexit Remoaners, POW and the Parishes won’t take NO for an answer – they’re just going to keep on pushing this ball uphill and down dale until someone somewhere, anyone anywhere, agrees with them and overturns the decision to build on the biggest brownfield site in the borough and allows ‘Your Waverley’ to continue concreting over the countryside.
And the Government has the cheek to wonder why developers aren’t building enough houses quickly enough … and why they are so expensive!
POW (Protect Our Waverley) the CPRE (Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England) and Mr and Mrs House (though she didn’t mention them by name) came in for a right rollicking from leader Julia Potts at the Full Council meeting on Tuesday.
She began her tirade of chastisement gently saying “how extremely disappointed” she was, by the three legal challenges, and how “unfair” it was of “them” to involve local taxpayers in £200,000 plus of legal costs.
But then she revved up the rhetoric, saying: ” I am appalled I am absolutely horrified that these groups want to waste taxpayers money by trying to sabotage the Local Plan – it is despicable.”
She said both POW (a limited company) and the CPRE had ticked the box on the legal papers marked AARHUS (The Arthur’s convention which set a limit on costs of £5,000 for individuals and £10,000 for companies) – thereby limiting their individual costs to just £10,000 whilst the cost to the borough would be huge.
But she warned, all challenges would be defended robustly, with no stone unturned, all those involved in the Judicial Review had been given ample opportunity to have their say since 2013, and their concerns had been heard, listened to, and debated upon. The Local Plan was approved and would be fiercely defended.
Cranleigh Councillor Mary Foryszewski shared her “anger” and asked would the courts allow the challengers to risk so little of their money after forcing the Council to,“Spend, spend, spend.”
Councillor Jed Hall said – “the armchair pressure groups”should not be allowed to undermine local, and national planning decisions.
… However, not everyone agreed.
Farnham Residents’ Councillor Jerry Hyman side-swiped the leader Julia Potts for her inexcusable use of the word “despicable” saying to describe Waverley residents as “despicable” was taking too harsh a line. “We should respect our residents’ and their right to challenge – if the courts decide they are wrong then so be it. But it was their right”He said there were also many other residents of the borough who believed it was wrong that Waverley should be forced to take part of Woking’s unmet housing need.
Councillor Wyatt Ramsdale – admitted he ‘wasn’t a massive fan of the LP,’ but, “this plan is better than no plan. Our residents have every right to criticise but the NIMBY approach here is just for their particular area!”
Planning Portfolio Holder Councillor Christopher Storey stressed that the Local Plan meant Waverley was no longer Developer-led, but Plan lead, and it carried full weight and would be defended. Any attempt to question its entirety would destroy the council’s credibility.
A Question from Godalming Councillor Paul Follows– “What if the challenge succeeded?” fell on deaf ears!
After all her hard work and all that heavy-lifting, dragging Waverley Borough and its Council into the 21st century, creating and adopting a long overdue Local Plan, Protect our Little Corner of Awfold, Duncefold, Kerchingfold and Where-has-all-the-traffic-combe-from have waited until two minutes to midnight to throw a hand grenade into the room!
Together with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the ineptly named Mr & Mrs House (seriously, you couldn’t make that one up!!!) PoW have launched a legal challenge over the adoption of Waverley’s Local Plan!
Call us cynical but we – and pretty much everyone else who knows anything about it – suspect that this is POW’s cunning ploy to scupper the planning consent just granted to Dunsfold Park. The infamous Bob Lies and cohorts are simply re-running the same old, same old arguments they ran at therecent Dunsfold Park Inquiry.
ANOTHER circa £200,000 down the borough drains!
As for CPRE, their knickers are knotted over Woking’s unmet housing need, which was added to Waverley’s numbers, resulting in an additional 83 houses per annum to Waverley’s target. OK, we get it, it’s not ideal but what CPRE fails to tell the public in its indignant, self-righteous justification for its actions is, that if it gets leave to appeal, not only will that leave Waverley totally exposed because it won’t have an adopted Local Plan but residents will have to cough up circa £200,000 to defend CPRE’s action!
No wonder Potts has gone off on one!She said:‘I am appalled that we have to spend money on legal expenses AGAIN when we could be spending it on services – £200k at a time when, as a council, we face enormous financial challenges and are doing our utmost to deliver and protect key frontline services for our residents.’
Too damn right! And as Waverley council tax payers, we at the Waverley Web fully endorse, Potts’ assertion that the Council will ‘pursue full reimbursement of all legal costs we incur [and] these campaigning pressure groups must understand that this irresponsible abuse of public money will not be tolerated by Waverley Borough Council and its residents.’
We never thought we would find ourselves saying this but – deep breath–
‘THREE CHEERS FOR POTTS!’
Now here’s a thought: why not give CPRE £200,000 to go away? After all, we all know these so-called rural campaigners are open to a spot of bribery!
We’ve all heard the one about how Clive Smith, the Surrey Hills AONB Planning Adviser (and bosom buddy of CPRE, whose AONB Board he sits on) repeatedly objected to Lakshmi Mittal’s £30 million mansion that he wanted to build in the Surrey Hills until, finally, finally, FINALLY, the billionaire took the oft repeated hints dropped by Mr Smith and his colleagues and greased the palm of the Surrey Hills Trust with £250,000 of silver and then suddenly – but entirely unsurprisingly – Mr Smith did a complete volte face and withdrew all his objections! Result! A win for the Surrey Hills AONB and a win for Mr Mittal, who got his planning permission.
Just goes to show everyone has their price – even so-called rural crusaders!
The hypocritical Clive Smith even went so far as to sing for his cheque by rocking up at the billionaire’s estate, quaffing his Champagne whilst bad mouthing all other development in the Surrey Hills! We know we’re repeating ourselves but, seriously folks, you couldn’t make it up! if only these people could see themselves as others see them … Now you know where Cheque book Clive got his sobriquet!
So there you have it, Leader Potts, it’s just a thought but why not take a leaf out of Mr Mittal’s book and call down to the Accounts Department and ask them to write CPRE a cheque for £200k to make them go away? OK, you won’t save any money but you’ll save yourself and your officers a shed-load of work and stress and you could save local residents from having several concrete mixers full of more housing dumped on us!
Durrrh! You really need to read the small print!
What CPRE’s Surrey Director, Andy Smith, didn’t tell us when he was sounding off, is that if Waverley’s Local Plan fails and a new one has to be created Waverley could end up with even higher housing numbers being dumped on its green and pleasant fields because the Government will shortly be bringing out yet another new method for calculating housing numbers so we could end up with even more houses rather than less!!!
The words Be careful what you wish for come to mind …
PS. For those of you who’re wondering where Mr & Mrs House fit into the scheme of things, see our post of 7 April. And for those who can’t be bothered, here’s a quick resume: They’re just your average Surrey NIMBYs. They object to a proposal to build 130 houses on a golf course near them and as Mr House boasts of a successful 30-year career as a litigator, what’s he got to lose? After all, with his salary and bonus package, he can afford to dig deep if Waverley goes for costs!