A few things you should know about the government’s new planning White Paper.

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A few things you need to know about the government’s White Paper called Planning for the Future white paper

In a nutshell – Bob The Builder Jenrick & Co have come up with a cunning plan to make planning easier – for whom we hear you cry? Well, as far as we can see having worked through this 84-page consultation document it is giving more than a shake-up to the present planning system. More like a shake-down for us folks.

 

As far as we can see all those Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans the towns and villages have been working on for years and years will have to be updated, or rather updated straight to Waverley’s recycling bin. So there’s a few squillions going down the drain again!

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The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has now published its much-anticipated Planning for the Future white paper outlining far-reaching proposed changes to the planning system.

Here at the Waverley Web, we have trawled through the key proposals and points in the 84-page consultation document, which promises more than a major shake-up of the current system of local plans, development management and developer contributions, more like a local government shit show!

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The White Paper says:

1. Local plans would be simplified and focus on identifying three categories of land – “growth areas” that are “suitable for substantial development”; “renewal areas” that are “suitable for development”; and “protected areas”. In “growth areas.” Outline approval would be automatically granted for forms and types of development specified in the plan.

So where in the Waverley Borough has Surrey County Council already dubbed ‘the growth areas?’ Yep – you guessed. Farnham and the Cranleigh Dunsfold Growth corridoor. Now, look at Surrey County Council’s cunning plan for ‘Your Waverley’s’ eastern villages.

Development in renewal areas would “cover existing built areas where smaller-scale development is appropriate”  and could include the “gentle densification” of residential areas, development in town centres, and small sites in and around villages. There would be a “statutory presumption in favour of development” specified in the plan. Protected areas, including green belt, conservation areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), would still be subject to “more stringent” development controls and full planning applications would be required for new schemes.

By gentle densification – we think they mean – higher, closer, less green space, with smaller gardens. Which they all claim will be “more beautiful.’

2. Local plans should be subject to a single and “simplified” statutory “sustainable development” test, replacing the existing “tests of soundness”. This new test “would consider whether the plan contributes to achieving sustainable development in accordance with the policy issued by the secretary of state”, the consultation states. The test could also “become less prescriptive about the need to demonstrate deliverability”.

Great less need to show deliverability! –  There are already £1m homes consented but not yet built. Probably lots more when homes go unsold?

3. Instead of general policies for development, the document says, local plans would be required to set out the site- and area-specific requirements for development, alongside locally-produced design codes. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) “would become the primary source of policies for development management”.

4. The legal duty to cooperate, which requires local planning authorities to continuously and effectively engage with neighbours on strategic issues such as housing need, “would be removed”. However, it adds that “further consideration will be given to the way in which strategic cross-boundary issues, such as major infrastructure or strategic sites, can be adequately planned for, including the scale at which plans are best prepared in areas with significant strategic challenges”.

Great! So need to work with neighbouring authorities – Waverley now becomes – an island?

5. The government is considering scrapping the five-year housing land supply requirement. The document says its “proposed approach should ensure that enough land is planned for, and with sufficient certainty about its availability for development, to avoid a continuing requirement to be able to demonstrate a five-year supply of land”. However, it proposes to “maintain the housing delivery test and the presumption in favour of sustainable development as part of the new system”.

So, therefore nothing to prohibit development – let Boris’s bulldozers roll?

6. Councils and the Planning Inspectorate would be required through legislation to meet a statutory timetable of no more than 30 months for plan preparation with “sanctions for those who fail to do so”. The average time taken from plan publication to adoption rose from an average of 450 days in 2009 to 815 days in 2019, the paper states, while there is “currently no statutory requirement around timescales for key stages of the plan-making process”.

As quickly as possible – with as little consultation as possible, no doubt?

7. The need for sustainability appraisals alongside plans would be abolished and instead a “simplified process for assessing the environmental impact of plans, which would continue to satisfy the requirements of UK and international law and treaties”.

Laws and treaties on environmental law that have been ignored by local councils – including ‘Your Waverley’ for years!

8. Local plans would need to be “visual and map-based, standardised, based on the latest digital technology and supported by a new standard template”, the document says.

Let’s go digital and rule all those pesky objections out?

9. The planning process would be increasingly digitised, moving from “a process based on documents to a process driven by data”. Local authorities would be helped to use digital tools to support “a new civic engagement process for local plans and decision-making”.

10. Under a proposed new “fast-track for beauty”, proposals for high-quality developments that reflect local character and preferences would benefit from “automatic permission”. New development would be expected to create a “net gain” to areas’ appearance.

Just like the net gain we are currently getting from little boxes, made out of ticky tacky that all look just the same? And, road called Bluebell Lane and Primrose Walk – where neither will ever be seen again?

11. Design codes, which would be expected to be prepared locally, would be made “more binding” on planning decisions. A new body would be established to support the delivery of design codes across the country.

Another Quango you have to be kidding?

12. The standard housing need method would be changed so that the requirement would be “binding” on local planning authorities who would “have to deliver [it] through their local plans”. The new method “would be a means of distributing the national housebuilding target of 300,000 new homes annually”. It says the requirement would be focused on areas where affordability pressure is highest and on brownfield land. It would also have regard to the “size of existing urban settlements” in an area and the “extent of land constraints”.

Areas like Waverley and the growth zones already earmarked – Farnham with a station on the A31, and Cranleigh with few buses, no station and the main A Road from Horsham – which is earmarked for 11,000 new homes.

13. A new ‘single infrastructure levy’ will replace the existing developer contributions system of section 106 agreements and the community infrastructure levy. The government says the new levy will be a nationally-set, flat rate charge and would be based on the final value (or likely sales value) of a development. It says it intends the new levy to raise more revenue than under the current system of developer contributions, and deliver “at least as much” affordable housing, and on-site affordable housing, as at present

14. The new levy could be used to “capture a greater proportion of the land value uplift that occurs through the grant of planning permission, and use this to enhance infrastructure delivery. But such a move “would need to be balanced against risks to development viability”.

15. The scope of the levy “could be extended to capture changes of use through permitted development rights”. Such a move “would allow these developments to better contribute to infrastructure delivery and making development acceptable to the community.

16. Big building sites would be split between developers to accelerate delivery. The government proposes to revise the NPPF to make it clear that masterplans and design codes for sites prepared for substantial development should seek to include a variety of development types from different builders, which would allow more phases to come forward together.

17. Community consultation at the planning application stage is to be “streamlined”. Instead, there would be “a new emphasis on engagement at the plan-making stage”, the document says.

18. The determination of planning applications “should be faster and more certain, with firm deadlines”. The “well-established time limits of eight or 13 weeks for determining an application from validation to decision should be a firm deadline – not an aspiration which can be got around through extensions of time as routinely happens now”.

In other words -no yellow notices on gates or trees warning of development coming to a field near you. No public notices in local papers – papers that rely on the income! Bye-bye – newsprint papers?

19. Applications should be “shorter and more standardised”. There should be just “one key standardised planning statement of no more than 50 pages to justify the development proposals”, the paper proposes.

20. Penalties for councils that fail to determine an application within the statutory time limits could involve “the automatic refund of the planning fee for the application”. Ministers also “want to explore whether some types of applications should be deemed to have been granted planning permission if there has not been a timely determination”.

So the climate of fear begins – read below. Grant permission or else! Local grassroots democracy consigned to the wheelie bins!

21. Where applications are refused and the decision is overturned at appeal, the paper proposes that “applicants will be entitled to an automatic rebate of their planning application fee”.

22. Each local planning authority would be required to have a chief officer for design and place-making.

23. Fees should continue to be set nationally but “cover at least the full cost” of processing applications, “based on clear national benchmarking”. It added that this “should involve the greater regulation of discretionary pre-application charging to ensure it is fair and proportionate”.

24. The costs of operating the planning system should be “principally funded” by developer contributions “rather than the national or local taxpayer”. Currently, the document says, “the cost of development management activities by local planning authorities is to a large extent covered by planning fees”. However, the “cost of preparing local plans and enforcement activities is now largely funded from the local planning authority’s own resources”.

25. The government has promised to “develop a comprehensive resources and skills strategy for the planning sector to support the implementation of our reforms”. Proposals for “improving the resourcing of planning departments” will be published “later this year”, it adds.

26. The paper promises a “deep dive regulatory review to identify and eliminate outdated regulations which increase costs for local planning authorities, especially to the decision-making process”.

27. Councils “should be subject to a new performance framework which ensures continuous improvement across all planning functions from local plans to decision-making and enforcement – and enables early intervention if problems emerge with individual authorities”.

So be warned ‘Your Waverley’ don’t you get above yourself and start thinking you are the planners for your area. Big Brother Boris and ‘Bob The Builder’ Jenrick are in charge from now on!

28. Consultation on the white paper proposals run for 12 weeks until October 29. The suggested changes to local plans, developer contributions and development management “would require primary legislation followed by secondary legislation”. Ministers “would expect new local plans to be in place by the end of the Parliament”.

The WW apologises for the length and breadth of this post.

An AONB win for Haslemere!

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And a win for Haslemere’s Waverley Councillors!

Plans to build 28 homes in the grounds of a Surrey mansion have been blocked by a High Court judge who backed an inspector’s ruling who backed the Waverley Council decision that the scheme’s impact on an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) should be given more weight than the council’s lack of a five-year housing land supply.

Developers Monkhill Limited wanted to convert Longdene House, off Hedghog Lane, Haslemere, from 50 – yes 50 offices into a single luxury home. And, in its extensive parkland, the company proposed the demolition of existing cottages, glasshouses and outbuildings to construct 28 homes.

The site has had a rollercoaster ride – In 2016 the scheme was refused by Waverley, granted at Appeal, and then Waverley won a High Court Challenge against the Appeal, much to the disgust of wealthy landowner Tony Lawson.
In 2018 the developers were back – Waverley officers recommend it for Planning (the site was in the draft LPP2 after all) but was voted down 12 to 8. It was proposed by Cllr Mulliner, and seconded by Cllr Inchbald, that permission be refused on the grounds of material harm to the intrinsic character, beauty and openness of the Countryside beyond the Green Belt, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Area of Great Landscape Value. Additionally, there were reasons relating to the failure of the applicant to complete a Section 106 agreement to secure agreed contributions. [Meeting minutes] This was brave especially as Waverley had over-ridden the AONB designation on the sloping hill behind Longdene at nearby Sturt Farm.

In the latest appeal decision, the inspector accepted that there was a “significant shortfall” in the available supply of housing land in the area. Waverley only had enough housing sites to last a maximum of 4.6 years, as against the five-year requirement set by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). He said the development would make a “significant contribution” to meeting local housing needs, including the provision of 10 affordable homes.

The decisive factor, however, was that most of the site lies within the Surrey Hills AONB.

The inspector said the project would have “a significant adverse effect on the character and appearance” of the protected area. Despite some benefits to the local economy, it would “not conserve or enhance the landscape and scenic beauty of the AONB”.

Challenging the inspector’s decision, Monkhill argued that he had misinterpreted and misapplied parts of the NPPF. Due to the council’s failure to meet the five-year housing land target, a “tilted balance” applied in favour of the development.

Dismissing the appeal however, Mr Justice Holgate said the inspector’s exercise of his planning judgment could not be faulted. Monkhill’s complaints were “too legalistic and failed to interpret the NPPF in a practical, straightforward way, capable of being operated by decision-makers up and down the country”.

The NPPF, the judge added, gives AONBs “the highest status of protection” and the inspector was right to give “great weight” to the preservation of the character and appearance of the Surrey Hills. The inspector struck “a simple planning balance” between the benefits of the scheme and the harm it would cause to the landscape and scenic beauty of the area.

Alfold gets a new heart – and a safer village?

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Waverley councillors have approved a scheme to bring Chapel Fields into the heart of Alfold despite objections from planning ‘experts.’ 

As outrageous as it may seem it took a determined developer to devise a housing scheme that would fund basic highway safety measures!- Vital road improvements have been called for but ignored for decades by the county highway authority! But it is partly due to Surrey County Council’s own development on Lindon Farm adjoining Chapel Fields that prompted councillors to overthrow their planning officers advice to … REFUSE!

Thanks to the landowners – and a determined Agent – Alfold will get now get 8 new homes – from two to four bedroom, a shop and cafe, a play area, and a central village green – but more important than all those put together – a safer highway through the village.

Waverley councillors, some of whom have a personal connection with the tiny Surrey/Sussex border village were able to recount their own personal experiences of one of the most dangerous country roads in the borough.

The Loxwood Road is a popular route for lorry traffic from the Shoreham Docks, and a busy link into the A281 Alfold Crossways a scene of numerous accidents. One several years ago, saw a female motorist die outside the village shop. Her death brought appeals for the highway authority to provide safety measures. 

Alfold Councillor Kevin Deanus said his village had recently been bombarded with development. Development both “inappropriate and insensitive” and which had provided the village with “absolutely no benefits.” The application before the eastern committee offered numerous benefits welcomed by many, including the parish council. He claimed SCC’s development nearby had,  “changed everything.”

Cranleigh, and former Alfold councillor, Mary Foryszewski said the scheme would “enhance the Conservation Area,” and here, at last, was a developer putting something back into the community.

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Cranleigh’s Jeannette Stennett predicted the scheme would open up the village – give it a new heart and anyone who had ever driven from the bottom of the Loxwood Road past the sharp bend on the hill, would welcome with open arms the traffic calming measures. Saying, It was what Alfold had needed for a very long time. Alfold had lost pubs, a fine restaurant and with the Development at nearby Dunsfold now approved, this thriving community deserved more. “I am giving this all my support.’

Councillor Stewart Stennett said he had personal experience of his own traffic accident there, saying the extra 20 car parking spaces for the Chapel, and residents parking would be welcomed by all.

Bramley’s By-Pass Byham who always welcomes traffic improvements, said in all his time at Waverley he couldn’t recollect  Alfold Parish Council ever supporting “anything” – so would definitely supporting this application.

However, Wonersh’s  Grouchy Goodridge didn’t believe the shop or the cafe were viable and the scheme was just a ploy to get housing development onto the site. The councillor who regularly reveals he is permanetly joined at the hip of planning officers with superglue argued against. “The developer has dangled a carrot in front of us? So what happens when these facilities are unviable? I certainly won’t be voting for it.”

After Ewhurst’s Val Henry spoke of her “excitement” about a scheme bringing with a raft of benefits for Alfold people. It was then left to Chairman David Else to call for a vote?

Despite a bit of confusion, which was not helped by officers seemingly completely disinterested in advising members on important conditions to be imposed on the scheme it was agreed by 10 votes to two. With Groucho and Chairman David Else voting against.

Will Waverley councillors back a scheme that the locals claim could breath new life into Alfold?

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Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 20.04.34.pngOr will they follow the recommendation of their very own planning dummies and refuse a widely supported scheme for eight homes – a cafe shop – and a car park?

Tonight Waverley planning ‘experts’ will once again recommend refusing development on land in the Surrey/Sussex border village – which has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently! Will this site on which development has been sought since 1986,  once again be kyboshed by planning officers who are ignoring local opinion – including those of village leaders on the parish council? (However, shouldn’t  someone tell the parish council that Grampian Conditions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on).

Perhaps Alfold’s Councillor Kevin Deanus can be as persuasive in supporting this application as he has so ably demonstrated when objecting to other totally unsuitable schemes, that officers have backed to the hilt in the east of the borough?

It beggars belief that Surrey County Council with Waverley’s support can build on land to the rear of Lindon Farm, formerly part of the same holding on which permission was refused to every other applicant. But then grant itself planning permission for three large buildings for supported living accommodation for autistic children with access from a one-way dangerous country lane!  Every other past application had been refused by its very own engineers’ on highway objections! Double-dealing or what?

Then along comes a community facility – a Cafe and a shop, which locals say will complement the existing village shop –   in a village with scant amenities. Along with the added bonus of a car park (10 spaces for a village church and 10 for residents’ parking, plus a traffic calming scheme)  and a play area in the heart of the old village – and the planners say…

… OH NO!

Dumb or what?

Come on Councillor Deanus – get your truncheon out and knock some sense into your so-called experts and get Cranleigh’s Liz Means Biz, (not to be confused with Betty Boot), and your fellow councillors along with you?

Tell them about the numerous accidents that have occurred on the dangerous bend where a woman died just a year or so back. Tell them about the dangerous parking, and the numerous incidents, accidents, damage to property that are a regular occurrence in Loxwood Road.  (We have researched this and our followers over there have been writing to us)!

And… how can anyone claim this doesn’t fit into the street scene?

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Existing housing and church – a footpath eight homes and a car park, cafe and shop behind?  But the ‘experts’ don’t like it!

Have ‘Your Waverley’s’ planners been hit by pre-election fever?

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Only days after Farnham Residents and a Liberal Dem- go on the attack over unsuitable development in the borough – every planning application except one is REFUSED!

Despite officers recommendation to grant everything on the Eastern Area Planning Committee and immediately afterwards on Southern Planning’s Agenda – councillors UNANIMOUSLY REFUSED EVERYTHING – except the expansion of cold store warehouses for storing fruit canes at Tuesley Farm, Godalming!

Never has there been such a U-Turn of views since that major one on the road to Damascus!

First to go down the Waverley plughole – was the application to build homes in the beer garden at Ewhurst’s Bull Pub. Developers want to remove pub extensions including the popular skittle alley and beer garden and replace with five homes.

The loss of the gardens, the proximity to homes, a huge loss of trees, in the middle of the Conservation Area, were all considered by Waverley planning wally’s as ” causing less than significant harm!”

What does that mean exactly – planning gobbledegook for –  yes, it will spoil the pretty Ewhurst green area, but no matter because it will increase Ewhurst’s housing supply and put another few notches on our five-year land supply.

Villagers were having none of it and spewed out 130+  letters to say so. They claimed it was an asset stripping exercise of a treasured community asset, which would cut the heart out of a community that was already producing its quota of new homes.

“To grant this would be a bad day for the borough and a bad day for Ewhurst,” said an objector.

Everyone on the planning committee, yes, everyone, spoke against the development and argued against officers, who claimed, “the benefit would outweigh the harm.” Councillor Kevin Deanus said Alfold residents met annually on his patch to grieve the demise of their local pub The Crown Pub saying officers’ claims that The Bull  would be “conserved and enhanced” by the development, was a nonsense.

Some called the developers “greedy” others argued the loss of 18 trees to “provide a big blob of property” would be a travesty!

Moments after it was UNANIMOUSLY REFUSED. Down went another application recommended for approval to convert stables into a home in Upper Ifold, Dunsfold. Officers referred to it as a windfall, councillors described it as a “rotten apple.”

Following swiftly on officers thought they were home and dry with a development to squeeze two homes into the back gardens of 114-118 Horsham Road, Cranleigh because a previous scheme was refused for three three-storey properties.  Arguing it was no longer backland development as the Crest Nicholson 120/+90=?? homes were under construction behind the Horsham Road in Longhurst Park!

Cries of ‘garden grabbing’, loss of more trees, the huge impact on neighbouring properties, and a harmful change to the to the area, was challenged by officers who claimed there were no highway objections and similar development had occurred nearby.

Cranleigh Councillor Liz Townsend argued that Cranleigh had already reached its target of 1,700 homes just a few years into the Local Plan. “And, where’s the bat survey for this important wildlife corridor, she asked?

Wow! Is election fever rearing its ugly head in ‘Your Waverley?’

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Waverley’s new boy concerned about his role on the planning committee​?

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Paul Follows the new Liberal Democrat Councillor elected following  the sudden resignation of Simon Thornton, the recently disgraced Mayor of Godalming and member of ‘YW’ Executive, said on FACEBOOK that he had  deliberately waited a few days before posting on this because of his frustration after a recent  Joint Planning Committee (JPC)

He said:

Several weeks ago we were asked to review a development – the Woolmead in Farnham. 134 homes, no affordable housing (despite our apparently fantastic local plan demanding at least 30%) – and we were told that was because the developers had convinced the borough that the scheme was not viable (also known as they were not making enough money) with the affordable component. We were told an ‘independent viability assessment’ made that all clear – but we were not sent copies of that assessment. I voted against it – but in this incarnation of the council, the application was passed anyway!

So, we asked the officers to ensure that if any more came forward in the future with 0% affordable we wanted to see the full financial assessment as part of our papers. Within two weeks we get another one – this time in Haslemere. Now because these were put on pink paper (confidential) I am not allowed to go into the figures – but let’s just say most firms wouldn’t baulk at this kind of profit margin and then use the sentence ‘not financially viable’ when it comes to affordable.

I made the case that the expert assessment merely formally confirmed what the margin was, it did not and cannot make a judgement as to what level we think it is acceptable to remove the affordable housing numbers. That judgement was for elected councillors. I asked for the application to be rejected – for them to come back with at least one affordable residence because last time I checked there actually are numbers between 0% and 30%. The argument is always for NONE not LESS for some reason.

Several councillors agreed, but not enough. It passed!

Where and when will the Conservatives take a moral stand in this area?

The Conservatives had already watered down their local plan from 40% to 30% in the drafting stages – but now they keep exempting developers from even that!

Oh – and not a Social Housing (better known as Council housing) proposal to be found. Something we desperately need!

DEMAND MORE from your elected councillors because a great many of them are failing you and this community at every turn. Bring on May 2019 so we can start trying to get the council we deserve.

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 10.03.02Guess what? ‘Your Waverley’ intends to get smarter in future about the way it extracts money from developers! You read it here first … remember!

 

 

Waverley Planners have just had a once in a blue moon moment!

Despite the odds being stacked in favour of a hill-top pile used as an office building in Haslemere making way for 27 new homes – councillors shunned Betty’s boot – and refused the controversial scheme on the edge of the town.

Wow! Shucks! Did the heat go to the heads of members of Waverley’s Joint Planning Committee last week when they voted by 14 to ? against converting offices at  Longdene Hose and build in its grounds in Hedgehog Lane? Chairpeople at ‘YW’ never actually announce what the vote is!!

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Alfold’s Councillor Kevin Deanus said “this picture” of the proposed development site which  proposes further damage to the countryside – “says it all.”

Waverley officers saw no reason to refuse consent for a development in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Great Landscape Value. The site is beyond the town settlement and very close to Sturt Farm, Haslemere nearby and where 135 dwellings have been approved.

However, councillors did!  In response to councillor Steven Mulliner’s claims that with a 5-year land supply under its belt there was no requirement for development in areas of constraint in Waverley.

PO Louise Yandell warned councillors that  Haslemere’s housing allocation of  990 new homes during the life of the Local Plan was a “minimum and not a maximum figure.”

The usual Martini advocates of development – “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere, except in their own wards, gave good reasons why the scheme should be approved! They said they were fearful an appeal on a previous scheme to be heard in October would be approved.

The Tory cabal of Waverley Council’s yes men/women who will hopefully be hanging up their councillor (PSBD) identity tags soon  – Band; Goodridge; Carole Cockburn ; Anna James and not forgetting former chairman Peter Isherwood whose hand is never down and has been shunted out of the Chairman’s  seat followed by his vice-chairman CC – and we don’t mean Coco Chanel’s – after their distasteful remarks about the Eastern villages! He has been shunted to the right and she (CC) has been shunted off the bench altogether! Teach them to turn off their mics before they insult their residents?

For once even Farnham Residents’ Councillor Jerry Hyman’s argument about the lack of Appropriate Assessment under the Special Protection Area (SPA’s) issues found favour with some. Cranleigh’s Liz Townsend challenged officers’ claims that if the development went ahead there WAS  “sufficient mitigation?” But the officers and their legal chums stubbornly refuse to accept challenges that they might not be obeying an environmental law by carrying out appropriate assessment and are ducking under the comfort blanket provided by Natural England. You can read the Sweetman ruling by clicking on the link below.

Some claim that “Your Waverley’ and Natural England’S APPROACH  HAS  FOR MANY YEARS IGNORED ENVIRONMENTAL LAW.

Has a ruling by the European Court of Justice sent an Exocet missile into Waverley Towers?

The answer, of course, is NO! Because Waverley Borough Council has decided it doesn’t have to obey The European Court of Justice ruling – well that is until someone challenges them of course? Is that the sound of another Judicial Review we hear?

Funny – that nobody  mentioned the loss of office accommodation – wonder why – when according to Waverley Council’s data it  is becoming increasingly concerned having lost an amazing:

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Not to mention that they receive not a single penny in 106 infrastructure contributions from these developments as well as the loss of business rates and premises where residents can WORK!

 

 

WW sees trouble ahead?

How refreshing to see Godalming’s new boy on Waverley’s block speaking up on our behalf, and asking questions.  However, watch out boyo, we foresee trouble ahead – ask Farnham Residents’ councillor Jerry Hyman, who we understand from an officer, has been brought before the standards board on more than one occasion for asking too many questions? 

Despite being outnumbered, outflanked by heavyweight tories unused to being Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 19.45.34.pngchallenged, and a rather intimidating veiled rebuke from Mistress Betsy at the Joint Planning Committee meeting last week, Paul Follows the Liberal Democrat Councillor for (Godalming Central & Ockford) didn’t turn a hair of his meticulously coiffed young head as he challenged the  council’s decision-making process. He wanted to know why the controversial Blightwells redevelopment wasn’t getting anywhere! A scheme – which was,  “going on when I was at secondary school”.  Did anyone laugh? No way Jose!

Confidence exudes from this young man, and long may it be so, – here’s his profile for the by-election just before Christmas Ding, Dong the fight’s begun to win Godalming’s By-Election. Part 1.Lib Dems.

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Wow! his work covers standards, legal compliance, and ethical conduct! If that’s the case then he’s in for a field day at ‘Your Waverley’ and we hate to think what he might uncover when he digs into the latest shenanigans in his new role  at Godalming Town Council!   Dare we suggest he starts looking into why the Clerk left?  How much she was actually paid?  Not quite the £30,000  which appears in the annual accounts?  

No surprise to us here at the Waverley Web to hear that some parish clerks around the borough are being bullied – except of course the ‘crystal tips’ clerk of most of the councils in the East – Dunsfold/Hascombe/Alfold/Loxwood who appears to run the show on councillors’ behalf! 

Perhaps  Councillor Follows will delve into why Councillor Anne Bott (now Town Mayor following the sudden resignation of Mayor Simon Thornton) is allowed a conflict of interest as she is employed by The Surrey & Sussex Association of Local Councils) funded, in part, by Godalming Town Council. Of course, most of us realise parish councils are no longer the autonomous parochial bodies they once were! They are now controlled by Conservative dominated Waverley, which is, in turn, controlled by South West Surrey and Guildford and Cranleigh Conservative Association.

So, Councillor Paul Follows,  we look forward with some trepidation to watching your progress over the coming year. But, be warned, if you rattle their cages too often your opponents will stack everything up against you next May!  But then you don’t appear to be a guy who scares easily!