Last evening the Knowle Park Initiative (West Cranleigh Nurseries) was rejected by the Joint Planning Committee at Waverley Borough Council.
(Due to the very lengthy debate of 2 ½ hours, the Little Meadow application for 75 houses, which was also due to be heard, was postponed and another date will be arranged.)
Over 100 residents attended the meeting, the public gallery in the Council Chamber was full and the overflow room was packed to the gunnels, where people watched proceedings on a big screen.
The vast majority of people were there to show their opposition against yet another huge housing estate for Cranleigh, which would’ve taken our number to over 1,000 new houses.
At the very start of the meeting, we were somewhat stunned when Cllr Brian Ellis and Cllr Stewart Stennett declared a pecuniary interest in the Knowle Park Initiative application and left the Chamber, followed by Cllr Jeanette Stennett.
There was a lengthy presentation by the planning officers, who until almost the last minute had been publishing extensive updates to members. This was in the main due to the continued pressure that the Cranleigh Society had applied and the serious concerns we and residents had raised. There were many pages in the final documents issued to members that mentioned the Cranleigh Society, our comments formed the basis of several of the final conditions that were to be imposed on this application.
We had, after many hours of research, emailing, telephone calls and sheer determination, managed to get Thames Water to impose a Grampian style agreement, which meant that should permission have been granted the developers would’ve, at the very least, have had to contribute towards the upgrades to Cranleigh Sewage Treatment Works. This in itself was a major achievement, and one that in our view planning officers should’ve been pushing for on behalf of the Cranleigh community.
There was recognition of one of our main arguments around the five five-year housing supply. We pointed out that it would take Thames Water a minimum of 7 years for the sewage works to be upgraded, which would mean a considerable delay to the delivery of these new houses. One of the Councillors asked the planning officers to explain this “time warp” to the members. The fact that the houses couldn’t be built until the sewerage was improved, finally hit home.
Also, the very valid concerns about sewerage raised at the last minute by the Environment Agency, again due to our continued pressure, was acknowledged, together with the damaging effect on the Cranleigh Waters of yet more effluent being pumped into it and the need to assess the impact of multiple developments on water quality.
We also managed at the very last minute to get DCLG involved and should the application have been approved they were going to consider our request for a ‘call in’. This is when the Secretary of State takes the decision-making power on a planning application out of the hands of a local planning authority and he decides whether it should be granted or refused.
It was a very busy day!
Thank you for the many emails you sent, it really did make a difference. It is so important that you add your voice to ours, we have proved how effective we are when we work together.
We would also like to extend our thanks to our MP Anne Milton and her team for replying to our many, many emails, for listening and for their support of Cranleigh residents concerns over infrastructure.
And we would like to thank members of the Joint Planning Committee who undertook an informed and measured debate. There was real empathy shown for Cranleigh’s plight and recognition that our village was about to end up as a building site. One councillor said they wouldn’t want to live in Cranleigh at the moment! Another said Cranleigh will end up looking like Poland in 1939!
We have to reserve a special thank you for Cranleigh’s Cllr Mary Foryszewski , her passion and commitment under immense pressure was admirable. She has on occasion be the lone voice speaking up for Cranleigh and she has our heartfelt thanks.
In addition, we would like to thank the Cranleigh Parish Council, Cllr Brian Freeston spoke on behalf of the planning committee and eloquently voiced their many objections to this application.
Finally thank you to the Cranleigh Civic Society committee whose commitment, courage, persistence, and reliability are second to none and they should stand proudly today together with all our members.
The fight is not over! However today we will celebrate a victory for democracy, transparency, and the right to be heard.
Thank you all for speaking up for Cranleigh!