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!
Why else would Waverley scramble to pull the Local Plan Part 2 meeting with only two days notice, in order to…
Councillor Julia Potts, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “This item is being deferred as councillors want the council to have more time to engage with the local community about some of the content of the draft LPP2 before it is published, including further work on site allocations and gaining further feedback from key stakeholders such as Thames Water and local clinical commissioning groups.”
A comment from the Waverley Web? No – a comment from Godalming Councillor Paul Follows.
“Well frankly I should think so too – so unbelievably rushed through and I can’t think of a single parish, town or area in Waverley that diPdn’t have some issue with this document or feel that more consultation was needed. I had a huge feeling I was going to be one of very few councillors that were going to vote against this for exactly this reason. Very sensibly postponed otherwise we would once again be paying lip service to localism.”
— While feelings in Farnham, both among residents and the town’s many visitors, reflect a mixture of grief, anger and disbelief that we have allowed the catastrophe that is Brightwells to befall us, should we not reflect upon who exactly is responsible?
I don’t mean those that drew up the scheme in the first place since it was roundly and rightly rejected immediately by the Farnham public. But what about those that continue to support it now that it can be seen to be so completely outdated in concept and design and has proved to be a commercial flop before a single brick has been laid?
Latest in this group is Surrey County Council leader David Hodge, who has at the last minute committed £30 million of our money into dragging the scheme from the scrap heap where it belongs, having failed to raise any interest whatsoever from professional commercial investors?
In terms of council responsibility, it goes without saying that Waverley’s joint planning committee members cannot take all the blame since only eight of its current members actually live in Farnham against 38 that don’t (such is local democracy in our town these days), the latter presumably being only too pleased that schemes such as this don’t take place on their patch.
There are two local public servants, however, that do spring immediately to mind. The Right Hon Jeremy Hunt has maintained a complete and unforgivable silence on what is by far the most massive development ever to take place in Farnham, right in the heart of his constituency, arousing many querulous inquiries as to his motives. Then there is Julia Potts, leader of Waverley Council, who has remained pugnaciously opposed to any criticism of the scheme and immune to the deafening public outcry against it.
For Crest Nicholson’s part. a name familiar to those that attended the 2013 meeting to approve the compulsory purchase and closure of The Marlborough Head pub will be Chris Tinker, the company’s major projects chairman. His evidence’of commercial funding about to be confirmed for the project tipped the Government Inspector in favour of the purchase so allowing the project to proceed, a promise that evaporated as quickly as it had appeared.
Then finally there is Pam Alexander CBE. Ms Alexander is chairman of something called Design Council CABE whose raison d’être is to ensure that developers provide us with decent, appropriate, popular and well-designed schemes. CABE’s website states that “crucial to inclusive design is consultation with user groups, putting people who represent a diversity of age, ability, gender and community at the heart of the design process”and that“the effect (that such schemes) will have on the surrounding landscape and its distinctive historical and cultural context has to be evaluated as do the implications for the area’s circulation patterns, neighbouring activities and property uses. The views and sensitivities of the surrounding community should also be given weight”.
It is impossible to imagine a scheme less in line with the stated aims of CABE or with the needs and aspirations of a community such as Farnham than Crest Nicholson’s monstrous and destructive Brightwells development. One is led to wonder what convinced Ms Alexander to keep her eyes and ears so firmly closed with regard to the scheme during the six-year period to January this year while she was employed by Crest Nicholson as a non executive director on a ‘fee’ of 50,000 per annum, so making a mockery of her position at CABE.
So there we have it, my list of the wanted. Would it not be appropriate to spend the £100,000 pounds promised by Waverley and Crest on ‘public art’for their scheme on a fitting monument of some kind to these people? Suggestions welcome. For starters, what about an edition of ‘Wanted’ posters to decorate the new East Farnham Wall that now surrounds the site …?
Unless of course, it happens to be in the borough of Waverley?
The Court of Appeal has thrown out The Protect Our Waverley and the CPRE’s latest challenge to overturn High Court decisions made in July. These challenges affect the Dunsfold Aerodrome development and Waverley’s Local Plan.
Obviously, the anti-Dunsfold brigade have very deep pockets? Because although their costs MAY BE limited to £10,000 under Access to Justice Legislation called (Aarhus) they will be paying shedloads of dosh for the Rumpoles who represent them!
The appeals, lodged by POW Campaign Ltd and CPRE Surrey, followed a High Court’s decision on 12 July 2018 to dismiss significant elements of challenges to the Council’s Local Plan and the Secretary of State’s Dunsfold Park decision.
The rejected appeals sought to challenge the High Court’s decision to refuse permission to go to a full hearing in respect of the following grounds: In other words, the locals aren’t giving up until the fat lady sings?
· that the council and the Local Plan Inspector failed to consider environmental constraints (in the context of calculating Waverley’s objectively assessed need)
· that both the council and the Inspector did not correctly apply the two-stage test as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
Councillor Julia Potts, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said:“I am pleased the appeals against the High Court judge’s decision have been refused.
“This is a small victory for us but we will still need to defend the council’s position in the challenge to Woking’s unmet housing need allocation in Waverley’s Local Plan.
“We didn’t bring these legal challenges and don’t want to be in this situation. I believe our Local Plan is the best plan for the borough and we have a duty to defend it; having a sound Local Plan means we can defend and protect the borough from inappropriate development. That’s why, after careful consideration, we think it’s absolutely the right thing to set aside funds to be able to defend the legal challenges.
“We will continue to defend our Local Plan and to use it to guide planning decisions.”
The Council and other parties will be attending a full Judicial Review hearing on 9 and 10 October 2018, which will consider challenges from POW Campaign Ltd and CPRE Surrey to Waverley’s Local Plan, relating to Woking’s unmet need allocation, and a challenge from POWCampaign Ltd to the grant of planning permission in respect of DunsfoldPark. Just a little thought on Woking’s unmet need straight from our sun lounger?
When POW and CPRE square up for Round Three at the High Court in October they will challenge both the legality of Waverley Borough Council’s approval of their Local Plan and the Secretary of State’s decision to approve development at Dunsfold Park (1,800 homes consented).
If this is thrown out then presumably His Holiness The Pope will be called in to rule and then if that fails The Almighty himself – the omnipotent one will be asked to make the final judgment no doubt?
A Judge decided at an oral hearing in July that parts of the POW and CPRE’s case had merit, but other grounds did not. (not entirely accurate)
POW and CPRE say they appealed on the rejected grounds and this week that appeal was dismissed. The principal grounds for the forthcoming cases remain – primarily the question of the burden of a housing quota for Woking’s unmet being placed on Waverley Borough. This will be heard in the High Court where Waverley will have to account for their actions. At the same court, hearing POW is also challenging the legal basis for the SoS’s decision to approve Dunsfold Airfield development.
Bob Lees, Chairman of POW said:
“The situation is the same as when the High Court judge approved our case in July to go to full court in October. Waverley don’t need to defend the case – if POW and CPRE win this case they would seek a remedy of a reduction in the quota for housing – that will relieve some of the burden on the Borough of Waverley and Waverley Borough Council. This is not about the Local Plan failing. As for Waverley sending their legal team to attend the Secretary of State’s court case – that is their choice but is that really the best use of council tax payer’s money where the primary beneficiary of the SoS winning is a wealthy developer?”
WW. Which of course, what this whole very expensive exercise is all about?
The statement continues: “We have repeatedly asked WBC’s CEO to justify the council’s reasons for not considering a “do nothing” approach to the Court cases – I have yet to be re-assured they considered every option. Separately we have not received any justification from WBC for them spending £100,000 where they are not the defendant – they are merely an interested party in the SoS’s defence of the legal basis for approving a £1.1bn development of Dunsfold Airfield.”
What a hypocrite! Capt’n Bob and his motley crew don’t give a damn about the rest of the Borough. All they care about is stopping Dunsfold Park building on a brownfield site, adjacent to a major A-road. Where were Protect our Waverley when applications were submitted and approved for development on greenfields in Alfold, Cranleigh and Farnham what are they saying about plans to build on the green belt in Godalming?? Sitting around the kitchen table plotting their next move in the downfall of the Dunsfold Developer. They’re oblivious to what’s going on in the rest of the borough because they’re single-mindedly committed to stopping development on the one site that is crying out to be developed. What’s that old saying: there’s none so blind as them that can’t see …
Waverley Web has launched the Blightwells Sticker Book – inspired by the recent article by Julia Potts in ‘Your Waverley’. We’ll keep the book updated every time a store is announced! Isn’t Sainsbury’s already there? And isn’t ASK closing restaurants?
We here at WW were inspired by David Quick and his desire to get an answer from Julia Potts following the publication of ‘Your Waverley’ the borough’s very own newsletter – once called ‘Making Waves’ which underwent a makeover as the name was considered inappropriate as it sounded too confrontational!
Because he couldn’t get a pip or a squeak out of Julia Potts he was forced to turn to contact the developer Crest Nicholson direct. So let’s crowdsource the sticker book so we can keep the good people of Farnham updated!
We nearly fell off our Web with helpless laughter as we hung suspended in a dark and dusty corner of Farnham this week – and we could hear the chuckles reverberating through the town.
Are we – Waverley taxpayers’ paying good money in council tax for this drivel to be printed by ‘Your Waverley’s’ spin machine called – ‘Your Waverley.’
Because if it was OURWaverley ‘Your Waverley’ would be listening to the opposition that is rearing its head ever higher to us with the “vibrant new scene” about to land in our midst!
• Bridge over the River Wey
Trees have been cleared along the A31 to make way for a new bridge across the River Wey, which will take construction traffic away from the town during the main works starting in 2019. Hoarding will go up around the site in August and there will be traffic management measures on the A3l, reducing to one lane and reducing the speed limit from 50 to 44 miles an hour until Christmas.
• Walk this Wey
To make way for the scheme there are also some planned footpath closures. The footpath that runs behind Dogflud Car Park, between South Street and the Leisure Centre is closed and re-routed. From 6 August until March 2019, Borelli Walk will close so the bridge can be built. New access schemes will be created within the completed scheme.
• New Wey in
Dogflud Car Park will be closed during the construction phase and will be upgraded, along with South Street Car Park, to provide modern accessible and safe parking. Other benefits include an additional £l.4 million to improve traffic flows at key junctions in the town centre, a new park and stride scheme and upgraded public transport infrastructure.
The leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Brightwells. Councillor Julia Potts, was so excited she put on her best bonnet and said:
“I am so excited that work has now started to progress the scheme and residents can see that things are happening. Once the hoarding is up and the bridge starts to get built there will be some disruption but I hope that people will see that it will be worth it in the long term. Farnham is desperate for a cinema, new homes and a retail offer”.
Or Perhaps as an alternative headline as suggested by Farnham’s Laurence Garner in this letter to the brilliant Farnham Herald…and which has been sent to us.
Council taxpayers ‘royally swindled’
Sir, On the front page of your July 19 edition, you quote councillor Julia Potts boasting that there was ‘money in the bank’: £3.2 million from Crest Nicholson. Your older readers may recall that when Waverley decided in 2002 to award the contract to Crest Nicholson they boasted that there would be £20 million for the council to spend. It was on this basis that the council over-rode the wishes of the people – expressed in a public consultation – and awarded the project to Crest Nicholson. Since then the value of the land shrank to eight-and-a-half before ﬁnally shrinking mysteriously to three-and-a-half million. Up until 1973, Brightwells Gardens was the property of the people of Farnham, a pleasant amenity: mature trees, shady lawns with park benches and ﬂower beds, a tennis court, a bowling green, and originally anopen-air swimming pool; a pleasant spot in the heart of the town. This was gifted, in a moment of folly, to WBC. After the agreement with Crest, the garden was deliberately degraded by Waverley to an unsightly slum, the bowling green trashed, the tennis courts wrecked, the gardens neglected before ﬁnally being sold to Crest Nicholson. They now have the impudence to call the Brightwells scheme a ‘regeneration’. Councillor Potts neglected to mention that the £3.2 million must be off-set against the £4 million spent by WBC to buy The Marlborough Head public house and the £3.2 million spent on the Gostrey Centre extension to the Memorial Hall – a project originally to be built by Crest at Brightwells at their expense. The fact is that the council tax payers of Farnham, and all Waverley, have been royally swindled by WBC, whether by design or through incompetence, it really doesn’t matter. Laurence Carter, Wykeham Road. Farnham
However, what he omits to say is the council also allowed the Gostrey Centre for the elderly to deteriorate over many years. In fact, if a well-intentioned chef hadn’t reported the disgraceful state of the kitchen to Waverley’s own environmental health officers, it would have been forced to close down much earlier. But allowing it to deteriorate fitted in nicely with ‘Your Waverley’s cunning plans!
Yolande Hesse has written.
Sir, On the front page of your July 19 edition, you quote councillor Julia Potts boasting that there was ‘money in the bank’: £3.2 million from Crest Nicholson. Your older readers may recall that when Waverley decided in 2002 to award the contract to Crest Nicholson they boasted that there would be £20 million for the council to spend. It was on this basis that the council over-rode the wishes of the people – expressed in a public consultation – and awarded the project to Crest Nicholson. Since then the value of the land shrank to eight-and-a-half before ﬁnally shrinking mysteriously to three-and-a-half million. Up until 1973, Brightwells Gardens was the property of the people of Farnham, a pleasant amenity: mature trees, shady lawns with park benches and ﬂower beds, a tennis court, a bowling green, and originally an open-air swimming pool; a pleasant spot in the heart of the town. This was gifted, in a moment of folly, to WBC. After the agreement with Crest, the garden was deliberately degraded by Waverley to an unsightly slum, the bowling green trashed, the tennis courts wrecked, the gardens neglected before ﬁnally being sold to Crest Nicholson. They now have the impudence to call the Brightwells scheme a ‘regeneration’. Councillor Potts neglected to mention that the £3.2 million must be off-set against the £4 million spent by WBC to buy The Marlborough Head public house and the £3.2 million spent on the Gostrey Centre extension to the Memorial Hall – a project originally to be built by Crest at Brightwells at their expense. The fact is that the council tax payers of Farnham, and all Waverley, have been royally swindled by WBC, whether by design or through incompetence, it really doesn’t matter. Laurence Carter, Wykeham Road. Farnham
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!
Press Release from Council Leader Julia Potts, 5th Sept 2016, celebrating works on the extension to Farnham’s Memorial Hall completing in September 2017!
“The Memorial Hall is an incredible tribute to Farnham’s history and the council is committed to enhancing the space for all. The plaque commemorating those in the community who sacrificed their lives during the First World War has been safely removed and will be reinstated into the new (sic) refurbished hall when it reopens in September 2017.”
Waverley Press Release 14th March 2018 : Delays to Memorial Hall opening
The opening of the Memorial Hall is to be delayed following recent weather conditions impacting on the project timetable. The project was already behind schedule, due to difficulties in procuring the right materials for the build last year. Unfortunately, the council is now faced with considerable delays to the Farnham Memorial Hall refurbishment. To fully understand what is required to finish the refurbishment the council commissioned an independent survey. The survey has highlighted that, due to the poor weather conditions, a considerable amount of remedial work is also required. This is in addition to the work required to complete the project.
Councillor Jenny Else, Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing and Culture, said:
”I cannot express how disappointed and upset I am that the project is not only much further behind than we expected, but also requires a lot of additional work to rectify damage that has been caused by the weather. I am concerned that this is only going to worsen due to the heavy rainfall that has been forecast for the coming weeks. “This will also come as a disappointment to the services and the people that will be based in the hall when it is finished. We have informed them of the situation and will continue to provide them with the support they need during this frustrating time. “We are now considering how to move forward. Sadly we cannot give a revised estimate about when the hall will be open until our consultant and the contractors have identified what remedial work is required.”
So tell us Aunty Elsie – who exactly has cocked this one up?
Have you donned your camouflage outfit in readiness to miss the flack flying?