Who exactly IS speaking up for the people of Cranleigh?
The Cranleigh Society was once a respected part of the local scene. Adopting the slogan –
“Speaking up for Cranleigh.”
Now it has become a village spin machine., often speaking with forked-tongue. This failing organisation which has lost officers and members could fold at is AGM if it cannot find new officers. A stream of chairmen have resigned, the latest who worked with the Protect our Waverley Campaign and the (CPRE) Campaign to Preserve Rural England to stop development on the only brownfield site in the borough, whilst watching the eastern villages losing acres of countryside to new homes, most of which have proved unaffordable for local people.
Recently the new town dubbed by Waverley councillors as…
“Poor old Cranleigh,”
… featured last week’s Financial Times in- an in-depth study highlighting problems Cranleigh shares with others, over its huge number of bursting water pipes containing asbestos. However, though we hear from the locals that although the FT journalist was pointed by the Cranleigh Society in the direction of former member Adrian Clarke, prominent in the investigation of the asbestos scandal, CCS chose to make comments such as these.
So is the Cranleigh Society which first highlighted the asbestos issue – now speaking with a forked tongue for the people of Cranleigh?
Here at the Waverley Web, we receive regular missives from the Society. Many of which are so inaccurate and biased, in favour of certain developers, that we have stopped using them. Our Farnham Society, which is well-established and trusted, speaks up on issues affecting our town but obtains its members’ views first.
here’s what the CCS had to say about new amended plans.
So according to the gospel according to the Cranleigh Civic Society or perhaps a member of the Society, “an amended junction is safe.”
A crossroads, rather than a roundabout, in Knowle Lane between the Berkeley Homes site and the new Private Care Home. Adjacent to entrances a few yards away for lorries delivering to Sainsbury’s’ and on the other to Wiskar Drive and M & S Foods. Which are yards away from the Kerbside Garage and the junction with the High Street?
So the WWeb wonders why the parish council is holding an Extraordinary meeting on 11th April when the Cranleigh Society has everything under control and all is tickety boo? WW wonder if the Society ever reads the Cranleigh Community Group Board? A group that is uncensored and reflects local views?
Strange that the CCS, failed to mention that the plans also include another entrance. An entrance to the residential flats over the Snoxhall Sports fields single – access road which crosses the LITTLEMEAD BOOK AND THE DOWNSLINK?!?
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!
That’s what the Chairman of Cranleigh Civic Society predicted when he urged its members to be vigilant and sign up to fight for Cranleigh through the organisation he now leads.
Although the CCS chairman claimed that consent had already been granted for 1,800 homes WW believes he meant that Waverley planners had granted consent. A final decision by the Secretary of State for Communities is expected next week 29th March. The Local Plan includes a figure of 2,600.
Over here in Farnham, we learned from our Cranleigh followers that concern is growing for the new town that nestles in the Surrey Hills! So much so, that with 1,357 homes already consented, there are fears that with many more to come, both there, and in the surrounding villages, the local infrastructure will not cope!
CRANLEIGH”S RECENT FLOOD FORUM NEWS.
MP Anne Milton and her Flood Forum team which including representatives from Thames Water, Waverley Borough Council and Surrey County Council responded to questions which had been sent to her in advance, including those from the Cranleigh Civic Society. She said she, and concerned villagers, now wanted some answers.
Around 60 people, including a handful of borough/or parish councillors heard from the ‘experts’ of any progress made since the last meeting.
Present: The Rt Hon Anne Milton MP (Chair); Waverley Borough Council (WBC): William Gibb, Planning Enforcement; Nick Laker, Engineer; Beverley Bell, Clerk, Cranleigh Parish Council; Sarah Coleby, Office of Anne Milton MP; Nishad Sowky, Thames Water; Paul Hudson, Environment Agency (EA); Tor Peebles, Surrey County Council (SCC); Parish Councillors – Brian Freeston; Angela Richardson; and borough councillor Patricia Ellis.
MISCONNECTIONS TO THE MAINS
Nishad Sowky, Thames Water said this was an ongoing battle and his organisation relied heavily upon intelligence provided by the public. A specialist engineer had been appointed and action planned. However, he stressed, TW couldn’t enforce any action required only Waverley Borough Council was permitted to do this. It was suggested homeowners should be required to provide evidence of approval if it was believed illegal connections had been made.
It was revealed that Cranleigh’s foul sewer was inundated with surface water or ingress from groundwater. With more housing, it was suggested that 12 times dry weather flow may be required, and a total upgrade was required to accommodate both current housing and the large-scale development now approved.
Cllr Townsend had previously requested a hotspot database be provided as she believed that residents local knowledge was crucial in identifying problems. These should be reported to the Parish Council, in addition to the relevant agencies, e.g. Thames Water/WBC’s Environmental Health/Environment Agency as appropriate.
Cranleigh Waters: Thames Waterconfirmed that the wet weather flow is 10 times the dry weather flow – whereas tank capacity is 6 times dry weather flow.
Waverley planners reported that the Local Plan includes a general policy on avoiding pollution and included measures for mitigating flooding.
It was stressed that flooding occurred less when the EA maintained the river, and that annual maintenance was vital. The importance of Riparian owners honouring their responsibilities was stressed, but the EA should move any obstructions whenever a specific flood risk existed.
Commenting on a decision made by Waverley’s Joint Planning Committee described as ‘awful’ by the CCS for 55 homes on a flood plain in Elmbridge Road, where Thakeham Homes scheme for 55 homes was granted despite huge local opposition, Tor Peebles (SCC) suggested that Waverley councillors who granted such schemes would benefit from improved knowledge of drainage issues! He believed councillors would benefit from extra training.
William Gibb, Planning Enforcement Waverley, suggested that some junior planning officers also lacked sufficient knowledge of drainage issues.
Mr Peebles also reiterated his claim that the National Standard for Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes (SUDS) were not fit for purpose and gave as an example of a development on the river Test in Hampshire, where (SUDS) provided for new properties had now flooded! After receiving his letter on SUDS standards, the MP said she would take his concerns to a Government Minister.
Cranleigh Waters: Thames Water confirmed it had written to the owner of West Cranleigh Nurseries who, it is alleged, had illegally dredged the river. He said Waverley planners were aware of the breach and conditions would be imposed when its detailed planning application for the first phase of 265 homes was considered!
Planning Applications:The Cranleigh Society remained concerned about developments granted planning permission with no apparent objection by the EA, SCC or Thames Water, particularly the Thakeham Homes development.
Residents said it was ‘a disgrace’ that planners and the EA preferred to accept a developers evidence over anecdotal and photographic evidence provided by residents. Work was carried out by Adrian Clarke (Cranleigh Society) and Doug Hill (SCC) in 2015 to map the floodplain, including collecting and providing photographic evidence. They claimed this had not been properly considered and taken into account by SCC as the lead Flood Authority.
The MP said she would seek a meeting with Thakeham Homes and Cranleigh representatives.
DRINKING WATER CONCERNS
Thames Water claimed blue asbestos found in Cranleigh’s pipes were not a danger to public health. as there was a very low concentration. However, 3.38 km of water pipes would be replaced. This includes Mapledrakes Road, Godalming Road; Satchel Court Road; Barhatch Lane, Sapte Close, and Cromwell Road.
It was pointed out to the TW representative that most of the roads mentioned weren’t actually in Cranleigh but in other towns and villages including Alfold, Godalming and Ewhurst! And… if only 3.8 km of pipework was being replaced… this was a very small proportion of the work required!
The meeting heard that a response from The World Health Organisation through The Drinking Water Inspectorate (Sue Pennison) was still awaited. Residents commented that New Zealand and Australia were not waiting for the WHO’s decision, but had begun a huge replacement programme!
Here’s the latest message from Cranleigh’s ‘former rather weary watchdog’ that suddenly appears to have a new lease of life. But, as Cranleigh sits on the cusp of becoming Waverley’s fourth town, is it now too late to save its rural character?
The Committee of Cranleigh Civic Society announced this week that it has been strengthened and energised to fight the growing avalanche of proposed housing.
In the wake of the adoption of ‘Your Waverley’s’ Local Plan, far be it for us at the Waverley Web to want to pee on anyone’s fireworks, but isn’t it all over bar a lot of shouting? 41 councillors voted for – one was against – and three councillors abstained! All Cranleigh members voted for the plan, which will undoubtedly lead to yet more housing in Cranleigh. But then, why wouldn’t they?
Most of them were taking part in secret meetings with developers and planning officers long before the ink was even dry on the Daft Local Plan to determine just where thousands of new homes on the countryside would go! And, as one Cranleigh councillor,the late Brian Ellis, stated at the time – Cranleigh shops need more footfall!’ Now those same councillors actually believe an adopted local plan will minimise the harm! Do they? Do they really? Whilst most of them were busy opposing development at Dunsfold Aerodrome, believing Cranleigh should become a New Town, they were also busy meeting with developers, even in their own homes, planning Cranleigh’s demise. They should be careful what they wish for – soon they may get the worst of both worlds!
The new man heading the CCS, Terry Stewart, was Chair, then President, of Dorset CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) for eight years. Whilst there he was faced with the threat of housing developments throughout the Poole and Bournemouth Green Belt so lead a team of six villages and communities to defeat the proposals. This included MPs speaking to a demonstration outside Parliament and a procession to Downing Street to present a petition to the Prime Minister (see photo). The proposals were defeated – as were plans for a new village at Lytchett Minster. (See photos below).
It says experience shows that attacks on the Green Belt and unprotected beautiful countryside can only be defeated if there is a strong, professional team leading an active, widespread community with clear objectives. So the new Civic Society Team includes a retired Solicitor, two experts on building and infrastructure, an insurance expert and environmental and wildlife specialists – meeting on a fortnightly basis or more often if needed.
The society understand that villagers may believe that, whatever they feel, the Council and Government will do whatever they want to do, but the successes referred to above demonstrate that these battles CAN be won! Apathy only plays into their hands – do you really want this to happen?
It claims, ‘CRANLEIGH IS UNDER AN INCREASING THREAT FROM DEVELOPERS – changing your quality of life and the Cranleigh we know and love.’ Since 2014, Waverley Borough Council has approved the building of over 1,300 houses in Cranleigh. Think for a moment the huge impact this will have on the A281, our B-roads and country lanes, our already overloaded and inadequate sewage treatment works and the crumbling infrastructure – and the increased flooding risk. Also, please remember that we are the only main settlement in Waverley without a railway station.
Despite all this, more and more new planning applications are regularly being received.
Just a few days ago we heard that Dunsfold Park is virtually assured of being given approval for 2,600 new houses – and that is just the beginning! Just think of all those extra cars entering and using the A281.
We have heard credible accounts of a developer acquiring “options to buy” large tracts of land down Knowle Lane – is the idea for Cranleigh and Dunsfold to merge? Are we to become another Crawley?
Or does the Waverley Web dare to suggest … Crandun-for!
Cranleigh Civic Society needs YOUR support so please visit our website – www.cranleighsociety.org – Facebook and Twitter links and join our membership. We are working hard on YOUR behalf to protect our very special village, its environment, and wildlife.