The fight to reduce the housing requirement for the whole of Waverley continues!
So here goes another shedload of our council taxpayers’ money going down the proverbial legal eagle’s pan?
Out of the cupboard come all the Rollicking Rumpole’s wigs, as they measure their briefs by the metre in readiness for yet another High Court drama between the Campaign for The Preservation of Rural England, Protect Our Waverley and ‘Your Waverley.’
Yesterday CPRE/ POW were granted leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal against the judgment delivered in November concerning the housing requirement set in Waverley Borough Council’s Local Plan Part 1. That November judgement said that the housing requirement of 590 a year should be maintained, including 83 to cover Woking’s perceived “unmet need”.
So ‘YW’ may have to build 498 fewer homes and no doubt POW/CPRE hope that will rule out Phase 2 at Dunsfold, as it certainly won’t want to stop development on the countryside – will they?
The appeal centres on how a shortfall in housing provision – unmet need – in one borough is allocated to neighbouring boroughs. The clarification of this issue has implications not just for Waverley but for Guildford and across the country. The Right Honourable Lord Justice Singh said:
“I am persuaded by the Appellants skeleton arguments that there is a compelling reason why these two appeals should proceed, namely the general importance of the issues of principle raised.It appears from those skeleton arguments that they have not been considered at the level of the Court of Appeal and it seems to me that they should be.”
This latest appeal comes against the background of two important changes. First, Woking Borough Council has declared that it now has no unmet need. Second, new demographic numbers recently released by the Office for National Statistics imply a much-reduced need for new housing.
Dunsfold resident Bob Lees said“This is great news! It provides Waverley Borough Council with a golden opportunity to significantly reduce the mandatory number of new houses to be built in the Borough over the next 14 years. POW fought against the housing requirement at the Examination of the Plan in the Council Chamber. POW fought again in the High Court. POW will fight in the Court of Appeal.
POW is fighting to protect our Waverley against unneeded development of our towns, of our villages and in our beautiful countryside.”
Well – if you believe that you will believe in fairies! Because this has nothing to do with protecting Waverley – it is all about preventing development on the largest brownfield site in the borough close to the home of Bob Lies, and his running-mate Little Britton who both spitting distance from Dunsfold Park. A development which was .given the go-ahead by the High Court in November. POW is still smarting from this decision
Dunsfold Park is now preparing its Masterplan – which includes 1,800 homes. The First Phase of the total of 2,300 in the Waverley Local Plan.
Remember – you heard it here first. This post will be updated throughout the day.
Dunsfold Deja-vu. The WW has been saying this for a very long time.
IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL…
And she is singing at the top of her voice.
Sadly we have not yet received an official comment from Protect Our Waverley or the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England – so instead we have used this as it might just sum up their feelings. Or, of course, they could all be heading for The Supreme Court or The Pope…?
But never mind- we (POW) cost the Waverley taxpayers a small fortune in legal costs with the total support of all those generous parish councils. – Particular thanks from POW goes to our Bankers at Alfold Parish Council.
A full report of the Judge’s decision will follow. Including her ruling on whether or not Protect Our Waverley has been awarded a limit on its costs to just £10,000 under the Aarhus Convention legislation – (People for Justice).
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (or some parts of it!) has been refused Leave to Appeal by the Judge. It will have to pay £10,000 in costs as it had Aarhus protection.
However, POW has not been quite so fortunate. Its cap on costs was increased by the Judge from £10,000 to £30,000. This still leaves US the Waverley taxpayers with a big hole in their pockets!
LATEST NEWS – THEY AIN’T GIVING UP UNTIL EVEN MORE OF THE TAXPAYERS’ MONEY GOES DOWN THE PAN!! But surely someone somewhere is going to have these people up for vexation litigation. Even the Judge knows nothing now!
The phone lines between Waverley East and West hummed last night as those who attended the first day of the High Court battle between PoW and it’s bosom buddies CPRE versus Waverley Borough Council and the Secretary of State chewed the fat over the wires.
It was Ground Hog Day with all the usual suspects present and correct in Court 76 – the same tired old room in the nether regions of the High Court that hosted the first Hearing earlier in the year. WW just hung on in there…
Cast List La Potts was a resplendent Josephine in a technicolour dream coat boasting colours of the rainbow – red and yellow and green and blue … and put the more conservative Liz-the-Biz, Daniel Bainbridge, Tom Horwood and Paul Fellows in the shade. Although Denise Le Gal, Waverley’s Mayor, did her best to rival La Potts by turning up late in Leopard Print!
Alan & Sarah Ground – still, to their chagrin, of The Old Rectory on The Green. Regular readers will be aware they’ve been trying to flog their Dunsfold pile since March but, sadly for them, there are no takers. That’s what happens when you spend 15 years dissing your neighbours. You’d have thought they’d have realised that given their collaborator in Stop Dunsfold Park New Town (Rupert Howell of Trinity Mirror and Sorry Advertiser fame) has been trying and failing to sell his bigger and better pile, adjacent to the airfield, on and off for years now.
Bob Lies, CEO of Protect our Little Corner, huddled on the back bench next to instructing solicitors.
John Jefferies, a PoW supporter, rocked up late and plonked himself down next to Dunsfold Park’s legal team. Had the boot been on the other foot, you can bet your bottom dollar, PoW would have been hollering ‘Spys in the camp’from the High Court turrets but the Dunsfold Developer clearly couldn’t give a toss.
The Judge, refreshing young – not in the first flush, we understand, but young for a member of the judiciary – was female and clearly mistress of her brief and keen to lose no time in getting the ball rolling.
First up was The Grinch – oops! we mean The Stinch – on behalf of Protect our Little Corner.
Predictably, he had nothing new to say and bored the pants off everyone by harking back – yet again – to 2009 when permission to develop housing at Dunsfold Park was ‘emphatically refused’ because the site was ‘inherently unsustainable’. Oh, change the record do! The world’s moved on since 2009 but, clearly, The Stinch hasn’t. All his harking-back revealed he had nothing new to say and was relying on old arguments that have been repeatedly and soundly rebuffed, thrown out both by Waverley’s Planners and the Secretary of State no less.
By mid-morning, we’re told, even the Judge had had enough and was beginning to bore of his arguments. The Stinch bandied numbers around like confetti as he tried to justify his badly mangled argument which boiled down to PoW’s contention that Inspector Bore had started with the wrong figure in relation to Woking Borough Council’s unmet need and because the figure was wrong he had no business allocating 50% of it to Waverley. The Judge seemed unconvinced, questioning whether The Stinch was trying to argue that a 50:50 split on its own was wrong in law?
PoW looked pained as the Judge sliced and diced The Stinch’s waffle and cut to the chase. They weren’t remotely interested in Waverley’s housing numbers per se, they were simply interested in stopping housing development at Dunsfold Park, at any cost, and if crying foul over housing numbers helped them achieve that goal that was all they cared about, regardless of the outcome for the rest of the Borough which could well end up without the protection of a Local Plan by the time they’re finished!
Then up came Mr Westway on behalf of the Campaign to Protect Rural England – that’s the bunch who’s nationwide cri de coeur is ‘Brownfield first’ everywhere … except at Dunsfold! They’d rather Waverley built all over green fields and greenbelt than laid a single brick on the Borough’s largest brownfield site.
If the Judge was bored by The Stinch, her Clerk’s eyes glazed over listening to Mr Westway. Indeed, so did everyone else, when the Judge livened things up by accusing Mr Westway of ‘trying to argue the inarguable’ and levying ‘very unfair criticism at Inspector Bore’but Mr Westway was unrepentant and well and truly cooked his goose when the Judge explained to him, very gently, that she knew where he was coming from and where he was trying to get to and he really didn’t need to spell out every single syllable of his argument for her as she had – ahem – read her brief! Unfortunately, the Patronising Puppy didn’t take the hint, droning on for another hour. By the end of his oration, the Grounds were dozing on each other’s shoulder, Bob Lies had his head in his hands and those on the opposing side had given up all pretence of polite attention and were busily tapping away on their ipads, catching up on the day job.
Wayne Beglan, for Waverley Borough Council, finally got to his feet mid-afternoon but the main thrust of his argument and that of the Secretary of State and the Dunsfold Developer will have to wait until today.
What of Aarhus we hear you ask? We know many of you are very anxious to know if you, the Waverley Council Tax Payer, will have to pick up Protect our Little Corner’s costs or whether the Judge will rule – as Waverley Borough Council and the Secretary of State contend – they pick up their own. The Judge deferred this decision to the end of the Hearing, at which point we understand Capt’n Bob and his cohort, Chris Britten, rushed for the loos, leaving skid marks in their wake!
Who knows, by this time tomorrow it could be mi casa es su casa! And if that’s the case maybe Messrs Lies and Britten will bugger off and bother some other borough!
Or maybe not, for rumour has it Protect our Little Corner is still being incredibly reticent about the source of its funding and the mutter in the gutter is that’s because another local developer has been funding them in order to knock out Dunsfold Park thus ensuring his own plans to develop other sites elsewhere in the borough – Godalming – stand a better chance of success …
To be continued … gossip and South-West trains willing!!!
Guildford Borough Council has allocated an extra 42 houses per annum to its revised Local Plan to help meet Woking’s unmet need. It has agreed to the Planning Inspector’s recommendations, just as Waverley has, which lead to the current Judicial Review. Guildford will now have to build 672 homes a year, up from the previous 654 planned last year.
The report (here) and annexe here goes to the Guildford Executive on 4th September for the recommendation, with a6-week consultation to follow. The report explains that:
Woking’s unmet housing need is 225 homes a year Waverley was directed to take 83 homes a year by the Inspector Guildford will take an extra 42 houses a year
Waverley Web asks? – Does this undermine the current action from CPRE and PoW? Guildford says it is more constrained than Waverley in taking this housing. Does such precedence now pull the rug from under this appeal?
Perhaps the best outcome is a reduction in Waverley’s numbers between 42 and 83? Will that justify the apparent extra £300,000 set aside by Waverley to fight this JR? What if the judge says Waverley is MUCH LESS constrained than Guildford – might Waverley’s numbers actually GO UP? (Not again!!)
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!