Despite being a remote site on a green field, impact on sewage, roads, visual amenity, urbanising impact, absence of protected species surveys and impact on ancient woodland, the list went on, Little Meadow application for 75 houses on the Alfold Road was GRANTED last night.
This just adds to the concerted effort to dump all Waverley Borough Council’s housing allocation on Cranleigh. Added to the 757 already approved, this brings the GRAND TOTAL to 832 and that’s without the 30 extra new homes on small sites in the village.
Yay, we’re heading towards 900 new houses!
Hang on though……..
Then there’s approximately 220 more on Hewitts and the Cranleigh First and Primary School brownfield sites in the planning system too!
We’ve reached the 1,000 Jackpot!
Cranleigh councillors Brian Ellis, Stewart Stennett and Jeanette Stennett all voted in favour of the Little Meadow development as ALL three said that Cranleigh NEEDS more housing, despite permission granted for over 700 already.
We are not sure when they will think that Cranleigh has enough?
Brian Ellis at the start of the meeting declared that his pecuniary interest in the Knowle Park Initiative (KPI) was a mistake and it was a non-pecuniary interest that should have been recorded in the previous meeting, due to his involvement with the transfer of land between the Parish Council and the Cranleigh Village Hospital Trust of which the owner, Nick Vrijland, of KPI, is also a Trustee.
You can read more about this in the Surrey Advertiser story at the time.
There was no withdrawal of the Stennetts’ pecuniary interest in the Knowle Park Initiative and Mrs Stennett also declared that she knew the landowners of the Little Meadow site.
Unfortunately Vice Chairman of the Joint Planning Committee Maurice Byham (who had attended the Cranleigh Society stakeholder meeting at the Cranleigh Sewage Works only last week), the planning portfolio holder Bryan Adams, Waverley Mayor Mike Band, Cllr Pat Frost and Cllr Stephen Mulliner did not attend this meeting.
Reasons for Refusal
Despite Cllr Mary Foryszewski’s valiant attempts to draw attention to available brown field sites in Cranleigh and the overall detrimental impact of yet more development on Cranleigh’s green fields, she was in the minority.
Cllr Patricia Ellis drew attention to the state of the Alfold Road and said it was the worst road in Cranleigh.
Cranleigh Councillor’s Brian Freeston’s speech outlining the parish council’s reasons for refusal, including the remoteness of the site, distance from the High Street, availability of brownfield sites and the lack of reports for protected species. He also pointed out that a recent Appeal for a dwelling on Bookhurst Road had been refused on biodiversity grounds, quoting:
“However, there would be a potentially detrimental effect on biodiversity in conflict with national policy and with the development plan. There are no other material considerations including the lack of a 5 year housing supply and the provisions of the Framework that outweigh these findings. Therefore, for the reasons given, the proposal is unacceptable and the appeal should not succeed.”
Cranleigh Civic Society
Warning this may get a bit technical 🙂
The Cranleigh Society (when the video footage seemed to go a bit wonky! A brief moment of fame lost ;D) emphasised the point that Waverley Borough Council’s Officers’ advice to members of the Joint Planning Committee was erroneous and the council was taking on the full risk and liability, if the application was approved, of non-compliance with the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
The Society pointed out that it is the responsibility of Waverley, as advised by the Environment Agency (EA), to assess the impact on water quality from this development. This has not been done to date.
The Society also pointed out that Waverley was wrong in saying that the EA had not objected to this application. Yet again we had to point out to Waverley that the EA is only a regulator with regards to WFD and as such CANNOT OBJECT, only provide advice. The EA had provided strongly worded advice on this subject to Waverley which was largely ignored.
Waverley as the competent authority for planning & development should have ensured that an ‘appropriate’ water quality assessment was made. As it stands, no impact on water quality has been measured or reported.
Waverley, it seems, continues to be confused about their role with regards to WFD and said in their Officer’s report (page 50), that accompanied the meeting last night, that:
“in terms of water quality, it is for Thames Water, in consultation with the Environment Agency to address this matter, and not a matter for consideration under the planning application. This is a separate regulatory process, which the statutory authorities work under.”
We spoke to an Environment Planning Specialist at the EA before the meeting last night who confirmed that the above statement was “factually incorrect”. This was relayed to Councillors.
The EA confirmed that it is for the LA [local authority] to ensure that the developer has confirmed that there will be no additional impacts to water quality (& WFD) as a result of the new development.
This water quality impact will then have a knock on impact on WFD. The Environment Agency as a regulator does not assess the developments potential to impact and neither does Thames Water (TW). TW will just confirm whether or not they can accommodate the development within their existing permit or network/STW [sewage treatment works] capacity.
Thames Water’s current environmental permit to discharge effluent into Cranleigh Waters is OLD and does NOT consider the requirements of the Water Framework Directive, as it was issued prior to these regulations and has not been renewed.
As a result, the existence of this permit, or the fact that Thames Water is operating within the boundaries of the permit cannot be used by Officers as an indicator of compliance with WFD, as it has absolutely diddly-squat to do with it and they should know that!
By passing the application last night Waverley has done so with the ‘full knowledge’ that no water quality assessment has been carried out and Waverley will bear the full risk and liability of this decision.
The application was passed by 11 to 7 votes opening the door wide to yet more development in Cranleigh. We wonder if next time WFD will be taken more seriously……………