Last night around 100 residents from the borough’s Eastern Villages came together to voice their anger and frustration with Waverley Borough Council’s Local Plan which dumps over 4,500 new houses in this area, amounting to 45% of the total housing allocation for the entire borough.
Councillors ran the gauntlet of protesters with placards outside the Godalming offices chanting “The Local Plan is rubbish, shame on you!”
Most protesters cited inadequate infrastructure, together with a complete lack of consultation with eastern villages, and a disregard for the quality of life for existing residents, as the main reasons for attending the event.
“We are sick of being ignored” said one attendee, “The improvements to the roads that are being suggested are a complete joke!”.
Councillors were called to a meeting of the Full Council to consider, a recommendation to put forward the draft Local Plan to a 6-week consultation stage. Concerns were raised by several councillors about road infrastructure and highway safety, as well as questioning the inadequate improvement measures submitted by Surrey Highways, including those for the A281. There was additional criticism about the complete lack of any impact study on the minor B roads which account for the majority of the road network in and around Cranleigh.
It was generally felt that a “lot more work” needed to be done on infrastructure. Several times it was stressed that the Local Plan was a “living document” that would be subject to change prior to being submitted for independent inspection. We hope that this will be the case, as at the moment we do not have any confidence in the effectiveness of the extremely minimal road network improvements that are being put forward for Cranleigh, in addition to the lack of scrutiny regarding sewerage, water quality and air quality.
Cllr Mary Foryszewski pointed out that the consultation provided the forum for the local plan to be thoroughly inspected by everyone and that all responses would be taken into account.
Previously Cllr Foryszewski has pointed out that there has been a complete lack of consultation with Cranleigh Parish Council in selecting the strategic sites contained in the Local Plan for Cranleigh.
Placating comments that “this [development] will not happen overnight” are not supported by the fact that development is heavily weighted towards the first five years of the plan, when it is forecast that 5,000 new homes, out of the total 9,861, will be delivered in Waverley.
There was also a shock revelation that this figure could increase to over 12,000 if Woking cannot meet their housing allocation numbers and it could then fall to adjoining boroughs to absorb the shortfall.
The Leader of the Council, Julia Potts mentioned that Waverley was a unique borough with large areas of green belt and AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) providing protection for most of the borough with the exception of the East and West. She expressed sympathy towards Cranleigh and Farnham that were taking the bulk of development, but basically said there was no where else to put the housing. This could be seen to contradict her previous statement on 2 Oct 2015 – “The most important thing is that any new homes are built in the right places and that the council works with Waverley residents to ensure it has the right strategy in place to meet our community’s needs over the coming years.”
We cannot understand why our council, faced with the borough’s considerable environmental constraints, have not challenged the number of 519 houses per year, allocated to the borough in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).
The SHMA document produced by a the company GL Hearn uses a commercially sensitive calculation method to project the number and type of dwellings needed across an area. This calculation is not published and is not subject to any independent analysis. It is extremely difficult to challenge a number when you have no idea how is was arrived at!
We welcomed Julia Potts invitation for interested groups to get involved with the consultation process and we will be taking her up on this offer.
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
YOU MUST REGISTER TO TAKE PART IN THE CONSULTATION
The consultation is not “live” yet but if you register you will be kept informed of the process and will have six weeks to make your comments.
When the consultation period starts, anyone wishing to make a representation on the draft Local Plan can either:
· Log onto the consultation portal.
· Email email@example.com.
· Write to: Planning Policy, Waverley Borough Council, The Burys, Godalming, GU7 1 HR.
We cannot stress to you the importance of being involved. Every comment will be sent to the Inspector for consideration this is not a case of Waverley picking and choosing the ones that they want. We have made some observations so far on some of the areas included in the Local Plan in our article about the residents’ demonstration and will be adding to this over the next couple of weeks.
If you have any queries or concerns just get in touch.