Looks like ‘Strawberry Fields for ever’ near Milford to boost ‘Your Waverley’s economy.

So that’s OK then? Waverley Planners are satisfied that the benefits of Harry Hall’s application to cover 90 acres in big white plastic polytunnels outweigh the detrimental impact on residents, heritage buildings, and the road network near Milford. So up goes the green light for an industrial-size fruit factory. 

Milford blows a Raspberry – Hitler style.

Fruit farming has been going on here for the past 20 years!

WA/2020/2055: Retention of 20 hectares of polytunnels throughout the year (5.6 hectares heated by heat pumps drawing heat from the on-site reservoir, 14.4 hectares without heating), (located in particular fields identified as acceptable) on Tuesley Farm, Tuesley Lane, Godalming.  40 further hectares of polytunnels to be on-site (in fields identified as acceptable for polytunnels) from 1st April until 31st October; with the retention of hoops on the further 40 hectares of polytunnels (removing the plastic covers only between 1st November and 1st April). 

Owner Harry Hall gave an upbeat take on his fruit farming operations which provided 2% and 3 million tonnes of the country’s blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Employing 130 Full Time staff and 500 seasonal workers. Consent would increase the growing season and boost production by 15%. Local fruit would reduce the carbon footprint of fruit from overseas.

Councillor Richard Seaborne, whose history reveals loves to build on the Green Belt (unless it is to change the use of a hotel garden and tennis court, into a residential garden tennis court) asked for the application to be considered by the Eastern Area Planning Committee.  The application was deferred in April which resulted in Natural England changing its original objection to support!

It also allowed the Secretary of State to give his seal of approval to the massive proliferation of polytunnels across the Green Belt.  Saying the scheme didn’t need an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Does Robert”Bob The Builder’ Jenrick really want The Tories kicked out at the next general election? 

Though we have to mention that Cranleigh’s Lib Dem councillor Ruth Reed waxed lyrical about the benefits of…

Blueberries on my breakfast cereal and strawberries at Wimbledon!

Looking anything but merry,  Mr Merriweather painted a gloomy picture on behalf of local residents adamantly opposed to living in a world of 90 acres of ugly white plastic and HGV’s from 5 am in the morning until 11 pm thundering through country roads like Station Lane Milford!  But his appeals to stop the expansion from a large to an industrial-sized fruit farming operation fell on some very deaf ears. Councillors listened – but they either didn’t hear or ignored his pleas.

Because the application was approved by 11 votes to two with one abstention.

However, the lone voice of a brave Waverley Tree officer had described the proposed operation to supply 2% of the country’s fruit from an ocean of polytunnels as…

A blot on Waverley’s  landscape.”

But everyone was assured that Surrey County Council Highways was happy there would be no increase in HGV traffic due to the expansion. So everyone slumped back in their seats in the certain knowledge that everyone can always rely on SCC highways to get it right?

However, that didn’t satisfy Alfold’s former Bobby Cllr Kevin Deanus.  A man who knows a thing or two about traffic.

He said the report before them stated…

“HGV’s are delivering to the site – carefully,” to a background of laughter -he said – if I ever see one that is careful – I will let everyone know.”

He didn’t believe enough weight had been given to the impact on the heritage properties around the site. It would spoil the setting of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and he didn’t have confidence in experts who always contradicted each other. He believed lorry movements should be restricted, and should not move during school arrival and leaving times. Such restrictions were made at Dunsfold Park on lorry movements, so should be imposed here.

Like Cllr Deanus, the WW has often wondered what this well-rehearsed officers’ statement means:

“The development will cause less than substantial harm!”

Statements made in the officers report that Station Lane would be improved with wider pavements as a result of the Milford Golf Course development visibly upset Cllr Maxine Gail.

There may be an economic benefit for Waverley, but none for the local residents!”

She reminded officers that the golf course development may not go ahead – and was covered by a restrictive covenant.

 

Background.

The application proposes to retain 20ha of polytunnels throughout the year, 5.6ha of which would be heated by pumps drawing heat from the on-site reservoir and 14.4ha unheated. The polytunnels to be heated would be those closest to the on-site reservoir. These fields are those that have been identified as acceptable for year-round coverage.

Permission is also sought for a further 40ha of polytunnels across the site in fields identified as being acceptable. These would be erected on-site between 1st April and 31st October. The plastic sheeting of the polytunnels would be removed between 1st November and 31st March each year, with the legs and hoops remaining.

The application is supported by a Transport Statement by Bellamy Roberts LLP which sets out that the proposal would not result in an increase in vehicular movements during peak times. The proposal would increase the picking season by approximately 2 months but would not impact upon yield at peak times. No material impact on road safety is considered to result.

The following plan shows the proposed extent of polytunnels and their locations across the farm. 

The site description. 

Green Belt – outside of Rural Settlement Area
Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV)
Adjacent to Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
Nearby Listed Buildings and Historic Parks and Gardens
Heritage Features
Flood Zones 2 and 3
Nearby SNCI
Ancient Woodland
Ancient Woodland 500m Buffer Z0ne
Wealden Heaths I SPA 5km Buffer Zone
Wealden Heaths I SAC 2km Buffer Zone
Section 106 – original agreement in relation to application WA/2007//1962 with numerous variations since Area of High Archaeological Potential
Footpath 162
Gas Pipe Line

 

“Has Milford Golf Course sold developers a Bogey?”

Now all hell’s breaking out in Milford – as claims over a covenant gather pace.

 A battle royal between residents, Waverley Planners and developers – over a scheme to build 200 homes on Milford Golf Course is about to tee off.

Is yet another development accessing off a narrow country road about to happen? But, then there’s a lot of that about – ask the people of Cranleigh the eastern villages of Alfold, and Ewhurst? Because they are currently playing dodgems with HGV’s and increased traffic,  just as they are in Milford. 

. Quite startling allegations that the developers Crown Golf and then Stretton Milford Ltd lied to Waverley to remove the Golf Club from the Green Belt in 2016. They strenuously argued the site was ‘deliverable’ when clearly there was a covenant on it. And then subsequently took out insurance against not removing the covenant!


Neighbours, Mr & Mrs House have clearly paid for a lorry load of consultants to draw together this huge list of objections. Quite an impressive document, you can download here.

 Mr & Mrs House’s consultants have highlighted the effect of the floodplain on the developers’ mitigation SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace) area.  As usual, Natural England is obviously quite happy to see dog walkers up to their necks in floodwater from the River Ock as they negotiate the SANG? – That’s the area carved out of the site to mitigate for building near the rare Wealden Heaths. That space is also split into two by the busy Station Road – access to Milford Station, the constantly expanding Tuesley Fruit Farm – let alone a shedload of a new housing at Milford Hospital. So public safety goes by the board… yet again! WW asks? Is Natural England actually reviewing anything properly?

When are the Planners going to take into account the quality of life of its residents? When will Surrey County Council highway engineers start doing their job?

Here are just a few of the local objections.

  • the development will lead to serious congestion on Station Lane/Church Lane and Church Lane/A3100 Portsmouth Road and will pose a danger to pedestrians and cyclists;
  • the development will be overcrowded because the land available for building is severely constrained by flood risk and the need for SANG;
  • the Site, the River Ock, and Station Lane are all liable to flooding. Stretton Milford Limited has not adequately evaluated the run-off and flood risk resulting in the Surrey County Council (the Lead FloodAuthority) recommending refusal of the application;
  • the Site cannot provide SANG that complies with relevant guidance;
  • the development will invade natural countryside and unnecessarily break the natural boundary to the village of Milford that the River Ock has always provided;
  • the development does not comply with the conditions set out in LPP1 when the Site was allocated as a strategic site suitable for large-scale development;
  • the proposed development will overlook and overshadow our own property;
  • since there is a legal right to prevent this development, which we intend to enforce, it is a costly and flawed strategy for Waverley Borough Council to depend on this development on the Site to fulfil a material part of its unmet housing need;
  • it is premature for Waverley Borough Council to grant planning permission for a large-scale development on the Site since it has not completed the preparation of Local Plan Part 2 (LPP2) which will provide a proper opportunity (if carried out objectively) to reflect on the availability of other more suitable and better-supported sites for large-scale development; and
  • the scale of the requirement for housing in Waverley Borough Council is in a state of flux and it would be inappropriate to permit large-scale development now on an unsuitable site when doing so will breach the historic natural boundary of the village at the River Ock and permanently destroy former Green Belt land.
This isn’t the River Ock it’s a road.

By the way – that’s the road – not the river!

Breath in! Don’t worry the pedestrians will jump into the hedges – or get killed?

Why doesn’t Godalming Town Council have a planning committee?

 

GTC__CBA.jpgAll the major towns in ‘Your Waverley’ have a dedicated planning committee – including here in Farnham – Haslemere and Cranleigh. Even the small rural villages have either dedicated planning committees or public meetings where planning applications are considered – in public?

So why not in Godalming?

Milford Golf Course 23112018

Our interest in the planning function of Godalming Town Council was sparked off by the letter featured on the link above.

Funny, we thought, funny …   a major town, which hosts Waverley Towers and where there is a huge amount of development presently underway and even more proposed in the future? But no planning committee?

Even more puzzling? This paragraph from GTC’s new boy Councillor Paul Follows’ letter where he tells his fellow councillors of his, and residents concerns over the proposal to build on land at Milford Golf Course. A development that will have implications for Godalming’s overloaded road network and its infrastructure.

Cllr. Denis Leigh (Waverley Borough Council, Milford Ward)
Cllr. Bob Upton (Waverley Borough Council, Milford Ward)
Cllr. Gillian McCalden (Witley Parish Council, Chair)
Cllr. Tony Sollars (Witley Parish Council, Planning Committee Chair)

 

“My intent is to have this application reviewed by Godalming Town Council (GTC) to record a formal opinion before it goes to the Waverley Joint Planning Committee – and it is my hope that you might support that endeavour by writing to the Chairman of the Godalming Town Council Policy and Management Committee (Cllr Stefen Reynolds) to that end.

We, unfortunately, have no dedicated planning committee at GTC and as such, I am an opposition councillor asking the majority party chair for this to be added to the town council agenda – as you can imagine there is no guarantee that will happen and as such your support would be greatly appreciated!”

We have just learned that astoundingly the Tories abolished the Planning committee because quite simply they couldn’t be bothered. Their reason was that because so many of them are twin hatted – ie Waverley Councillors as well – then they would take the decisions and make the case at the meeting that mattered, rather than holding a trivial town council meeting, in front of the voting fodder, and duplicating their efforts.
They then said they would add significant planning items to other agendas, at the request of members. And an application in a neighbouring parish may not interest most of the council, hence Paul Follows lobbying for support with other Conservatives.

Surely, any self-respecting council -at the grassroots of local democracy – would want to hear its residents’ views on a planning application which affect their lives? Even a minor extension, can have a huge impact. So why don’t they review each and every planning application – allowing residents to have their say?

So Godalming Tories win the WW award for most “Can’t Be Arsed” Council this year.

The WW tripped over a Gove at our local fruit farm.

Who did we see in his ministerial Land Rover as we rounded the corner of Tuesley Farm,  none-other than the Secretary for State for Agriculture Michael Gove. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our free punnet of raspberries to hand…
Brexiteer Gove met our local Brexiteer fruit farmer Harry Hall at Godalming’s Tuesley Farm as part of Open Farm Sunday. Harry is famous for voting for Brexit and then complaining he can’t get enough Polish workers to pick his strawbs..  “If EU labourers disappear ‘I don’t have a business. It’s as simple as that”

gove_harry.jpeg

We wonder if Harry (above right) went on to tell Mr. Gove what he said to Radio 4: “I regret my vote in the face of the Government I’m given.” Judging by the look on Gove’s face it would appear he was getting a rough ride?

The Secretary of State’s parking space is pictured below. However, – he didn’t arrive on his bike but was swept through in his blacked out Land Rover.
IMG_2276.jpgLocal Residents will know the farm has had a chequered planning history, with Waverley taking enforcement action against the owners of the polytunnels and then against the permanent mobile homes. However, we can report that these issues are now resolved, and the fruit tastes delicious!

We wonder what this think tank would make of the local challenge to prevent building on Milford Golf Course?

houyseshouse

In a nutshell – Mr and Mrs Tim House of Milford are seeking permission from the High Court to challenge the inclusion of land near their home close to  Milford Golf Course in Waverley’s (not so daft) Local Plan.

Read more here: We must talk about that Milford Golf Course covenant and that challenge by Mr House of the Local Plan!

But here’s where  The Centre For Cities believes development should go.http://www.centreforcities.org/blog/consensus-green-belt-reform-growing-pressure-government-act/

Screen Shot 2018-05-13 at 10.23.48.png

Milford Station is adjacent to the land in question and within walking distance of the station!