Cranleigh Civic Society could be justly proud of itself last night. On one of the hottest days of the year, it inveigled enough concerned Cranleigh residents to abandon their deck chairs, G&Ts and BBQs and totter down to the Band Room where it was standing room only.
The room was bursting at the seams, it even attracted Godalming Lib Dem Borough Councillor Paul Follows, strange that Cranleigh’s own Borough Councillors – The Stennette Duo and Pat Ellis (soon to seek re-election) didn’t drop in?
The problem was, on taking a closer look, our Cranleigh Correspondent reported that, sadly, there wasn’t a face under fifty in the room! Where have all the young people gone? Oops! We forgot! Silly us! They’ve all moved down the road to Horsham because they can’t afford to live in Cranleigh anymore!
But it was hardly surprising villagers heeded the clarion call from the Civic Society when one looked at the BIG RED SHOUTY CAPITALS that were emblazoned across the Cranleigh Society’s apocalyptic flyer and it’s new Chairman’s presentation material:
DANGERS FOR CRANLEIGH
• POPULATION EXPLODING BY ONE THIRD
• 1,700 EXTRA HOUSES + 2,600 AT DUNSFOLD
• A281 TOTALLY CLOGGED
• NO PARKING PLACES IN FUTURE
• DRINKING WATER PIPES CARRY BLUE ASBESTOS
• SEWAGE PLANT INADEQUATE
• CRANLEIGH NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN CONTAINS EXTRA HOUSES
It read like a trailer for every disaster movie Hollywood has never made! No wonder the citizens of Cranleigh – all those not on the 19:30 London Waterloo to Guildford that is – abandoned their BBQs in their droves and flooded into the Band Room.
Terry Stewart, Cranleigh Civic Society’s newly elected Chair, has parachuted into the village from Dorset and, keen to blow his own trumpet, has boasted of his position as former Chair, then President of Dorset CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England).
Indeed, according to Mr Stewart, Cranleigh Civic Society ‘has been strengthened and energised to fight the growing avalanche of proposed housing’ following his appointment.’ No false modesty there then! And, having spent eight years leading a team of six villages and communities in their fight to see off the threat of house building throughout Poole and Bournemouth, he’s now landed in Cranleigh and, with the determination of a committed CPRE zealot, wants to do for Cranleigh what he did for Dorset.
We can’t help wondering why he didn’t get to Cranleigh earlier – shutting door after horse has bolted comes to mind!
STAND BY YOUR BEDS, CRANLEIGH! Mr Stewart has littered the Cranleigh Society website with photos of his former campaigns as a small taster of what he has in store for its members – a demonstration outside Parliament and a procession to Downing Street to present a petition to the Prime Minister. But what the Waverley Web wants to know is why, having fought so frigging hard to prevent plans for a new village at Lytchett Minster, he didn’t hang around to enjoy the fruits of his labour?
Instead, with the bit firmly between his teeth, he appears to have cast around for another borough in need of saving and has brought his fire and brimstone to the village dubbed by Waverley councillors as ‘Poor Old Cranleigh.’ According to a fellow Committee member, who shall be nameless to spare his blushes, Cranleigh Civic Society now bears more than a passing resemblance to the SAS … In their fantasies! More like Dad’s Army if last night’s line up was anything to go by!
Now, we should explain here that the Waverley Web is a firm supporter of the CCS’s efforts – particularly as Cranleigh people have been sleepwalking into a development disaster for years. Quite unlike our Farnham residents. You only have to read the Farnham Herald Letters Pages to see how vocal we can be. However, we are sorry to say Mr Stewart has revealed himself to be a scaremonger who’s not above telling a few porky-pies in order to rabble rouse. Taking his inspiration from Project Fear (and look how that turned out!) during the course of his presentation, Mr Stewart alleged, amongst other things:
- I met with the highway authority (SCC) today and they are considering widening the Shere Road. (Does he mean over the Surrey Hills – Nelson will get his eye back first!)
- In our meeting with WBC Leader Julia Potts and CEO Tom Horwood, they said they are going to build a multi-story car park in Village Way.
- They are going to knock down Stocklund Square and build another underground car park under flats and shops.
- Just between you and me, I’ve heard talk of 6,000 houses at Dunsfold! They’re already building factory units at Dunsfold which are pushing more traffic onto OUR roads!
- Why isn’t Dunsfold Park paying any CIL [Community Infrastructure Levy]?
- In Dunsfold Town, the developer will be building all the houses BEFORE they build any retail outlets! So where are all those new residents going to be coming to shop? Cranleigh! Clogging up the roads into our village and taking up the already limited parking spaces! Has he stopped to wonder how the hard-press Cranleigh traders feel about him publically objecting to more footfall through their stores?
- Crest Nicolson has planning permission for two phases [of development] and is about to put in for a third!
Seriously, folks, this was a rampant scaremongering, half-truths and self-serving propaganda! and it doesn’t serve the interests of the good people of Cranleigh. If you had a passing interest in buying a home over there you would be running for the Surrey Hills – oops (perhaps not.)
And, not unnaturally, it did what Mr Stewart intended. There was much huffing and puffing from the audience and it wasn’t anything to do with the lack of air conditioning! People were concerned about what they were hearing. It was apocalyptic stuff.
Thankfully, It was left to Liz Townsend, a founding member of the Cranleigh Civic Society, Parish and Borough Councillor, to introduce a reality check and tell it like it is, like it really, really is. In measured but cheerful tones Mrs. Townsend corrected many of The Stewards (sic) messages – and in some cases his hugely distorted – pronouncements: She said:
• There is currently permission to build 1,800 homes at Dunsfold with the potential to increase that number to 2,600 and possibly as many as 3,400.
• However, even the existing consent for 1,800 homes is under threat as CPRE, and Mr Stewart’s new besties, POW, have launched a Judicial Review to challenge Waverley’s housing allocation and development at Dunsfold Park respectively.
• For her part, Mrs Townsend said she very much hoped the JR did not succeed because if CPRE scuppered Waverley’s Local Plan, Cranleigh would be left without any protection whatsoever! Cranleigh was, in her opinion, better off with a Local Plan. Without one it would be virtually impossible to fight off proposals to develop Ruffold Farm, Nottcutts, and Crest Nicolson’s Phase III.
• Mrs Townsend admitted she wasn’t completely au fait with the small print surrounding Section 106 Agreements (S106) -v- Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) but she did know that it wasn’t possible to levy CIL unless a local authority had an adopted Local Plan – something Waverley simply did not have when it granted consent for 1800 homes at Dunsfold Park. And, on a positive note, the big advantage, for Cranleigh and other surrounding villages, of Dunsfold Park paying S106 monies instead of CIL was that CIL could be called upon and distributed borough-wide whereas S106 could be retained and spent locally to mitigate the impact of a development on the surrounding area.
• And the really good news was that Waverley was just about to spend another douche bag of Council Tax Payer’s hard-earned cash employing a Section 106 Officer! Yes, that’s right folks, you read it here first! Waverley BC has just appointed a Section 106 Officer so now they’ll be no excuse for POW or the Civic Society or any other Tom, Dick, and Harriet bleating that they don’t understand which developers are shelling out what and where because they’ll all be able to pick up the phone and ask the Section 106 Officer. Apologies in advance to the newly appointed officer who will now, no doubt, be inundated with calls about Dunsfold Park’s financial largesse. But, look on the bright side, at least we’ve given the newby a heads-up. After all, we know all new recruits at The Burys are told to log onto the Waverley Web if they want to know what’s going on at the Council!
Suffice to say the Civic Society, which was founded with such good intentions by Liz Townsend et al, appears to be fracturing under the new leadership of Terry Stewart. The people of Cranleigh want FACTS, not FICTION, Mr Stewart!
And facts are what some residents wanted in relation to what is going on with the long-awaited Cranleigh Village Hospital? And then another argument was narrowly avoided as Trevor Dale and Liz Townsend clashed over their understanding of …, well …, not to put too fine a point on it, what’s NOT happening at Cranleigh Village Hospital Trust! Strange that one of its Trustees never opened his mouth?
But that, dear readers, is a whole other post; yet another tale of scandal and skulduggery in leafy, lettuce strewn Cranleigh!
What can we say except: Watch this space!