‘More Barratt’s than Berkeley’s’ was how Waverley councillors described the detailed design for the first phase of 55 executive homes on part of Cranleigh’s once green and pleasant land. So they refused its application and told the national house builder, with a reputation for providing quality homes, to go ‘back to the drawing board.’
Despite the planning ‘experts’ at ‘Your Waverley’ supporting the design of the scheme, councillors from around the borough backed the locals who claimed the development would do ‘nothing’ to enhance the character of Cranleigh – as the design and layout was ‘mediocre’ and ‘unimaginative’ and the two-three storey sentinel blocks (which the developer had wanted to be gated,) facing onto a rural lane, was out of character – and more suited to Walton and Weybridge.
This was to have been the first phase of 425 homes to be built on land behind Stocklund Square with access off Knowle Lane. Granted by a Government Inspector following an appeal.
Despite all their shoving, cajoling, pushing and prodding, the ‘experts’ were unable to lead councillors by the nose – and the scheme was rejected. Weeks earlier Berkeleys was also told it couldn’t take down ancient woodland – despite Liz The Biz Simms, ‘YW’ head honcho explaining a while back it could always be, re-planted. Ugh!
We, and probably you, would like to know –
Who is actually running the planning function at ‘YW’ – is it Gone to Potts? The Executive? The Planning Officers? Or is it the democratically elected members?
Because if it’s all the former, then why is taxpayers money being wasted on all those allowances , special responsibility payments, travelling expenses and pensions that 58 councillors are paid, when they could be done away with?
From now on officers can grant up to 25 dwellings without reference to the planning committees!
So now, a company that once hoped to be accepted in Cranleigh New Town, has upset the locals and instead of listening to all the cogent and reasonable arguments from the locals, and doing a small re-design, they are spending lots of dosh on lawyers and QC’s just to spite the taxpayer by appealing….
Remember! The company has already done this once. The original application or 425 homes was refused by ‘YW’ – not its officers of course, and allowed at appeal. The Inspector, at that time, allowed five storey homes on the site!!! Less like Cranleigh more like Canary Wharf!
Why – have they decided to Appeal! Quite simply….Because they can!
It just shows how much profit they make that they can afford to do this on a matter of pique. I suppose as their CEO awarded himself a bonus of £23 million last year and only contributes a small sum of £3 million towards infrastructure he can afford to do it.
Of course if you look at it from his point of view, Berkeleys were led to believe by the WBC planners that all would be well and it would be plain sailing through the planning process, so you can imagine his frustration.
The design was challenged on two main points – the 5 houses fronting Knowle Lane (a rural lane) were effectively 3 stories high, and not in keeping with Cranleigh whose vast majority of houses are only 2 stories high. Secondly the design was trying to make it look like a gated community. But as one councillor – Brian Freestone, told the Joint Planning Committee, ‘we welcome the new residents into Cranleigh, but how can we do that if they feel elite and cut off from us? This argument and others won the day.
If Berkeleys had engaged with Cranleigh Parish Council, in open forum rather than behind closed doors with ‘YW, all this could probably have been avoided.
Berkeley’s attempt to throw its toys out of the pram is a flagrant waste of money and will not be approved by its shareholders. Even more damaging is the cost to cash-strapped WBC and therefore us the taxpayer.