Good news! On Wednesday night Cala Homes detailed planning application for 125 dwellings on Amlets Lane was deferred!
Members of the Joint Planning Committee 13 to 1 (abstention) disliked the layout, particularly dwellings on the boundary with existing residents. The 3 storey flats came under a barrage of criticism from Councillors, which was hugely welcomed by residents in the gallery.
The vast bulk and appearance of these flats was acknowledged in the planning officers’ report as having “a strong vertical rhythm” and 2.5 storeys high. Residents and Councillors strongly disagreed.
This building is out of character, vast, and most definitely 3 storey and contradicted officers’ claim that they were trying “to retain a rural, countryside feel to the development”.
Other concerns included the parking courts (small car parks), which were not in keeping with the rural location and suffered from a lack of maintenance. Parking spaces, it was generally acknowledged, were better placed adjacent to new properties.
Residents also raised concerns about the lack of any detailed drainage strategy. Cala Homes appeared unaware of Surrey County Council’s comments, published against the application, regarding the positioning of a swale (a drainage ditch and part of the drainage system) on the boundary with Copse Edge, in order to prevent additional flooding to residents there from the site.
It is extremely important that the drainage system is integrated into the design and layout of dwellings on the site, using the natural contours of the site. We cannot understand why so much of the drainage detailed is being left to planning conditions, as this should be an intrinsic part of the design. It is critical that the new development does not cause flooding elsewhere, particularly bearing in mind Cranleigh’s history of groundwater and surface water flooding in this area.
Residents pointed out that dwellings on the east and south east were also to be built less than the recommended 18m distance from the boundary. And whilst it was suggested that the trees would provide some buffer, this would not be the case in autumn and winter.
We continue to have grave concerns about the safety of Amlets Lane for all road users. In a recent traffic count, between 7am and 9am on 12 September 2016, approximately 820 cars travelled along Amlets Lane, and yet again an HGV brought traffic to a standstill due to the narrow width of the road.
A further worry is the fact that an up-to-date plan for construction traffic for the development site has not yet been published. Residents think that this is too important to be left to a planning condition. Road safety should be paramount.
The Cranleigh Society still does not believe that Waverley Borough Council has fulfilled its responsibility regarding water quality in respect of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and Cranleigh Waters, which receives the sewage effluent discharge from Cranleigh Sewage Treatment Works (SWT).
A scoping report for water quality (wbc-high-level-water-cycle-study-wastewater-final-18-august-2016-issuedm) carried out on behalf of Waverley Borough Council in August 2016 highlights the fact that Cranleigh Waters is currently failing in terms of water quality, this status we believe can only worsen with more sewage effluent.
The report highlights the “probable cause of existing failing WFD elements has been attributed to STW effluent, and evidence of deterioration between Cycles 1 and 2 is recorded. Increasing the population equivalent load as a result of the proposed developments would have an adverse impact of the ecological integrity and water quality of the water body.”
Cala Homes were told by Councillors that Amlets Lane “deserves something better”, we think so too. In addition to the style and lyout of dwellings, we also hope that Councillors will raise the important issue of water quality, request details of the critical drainage system, and also the Construction Transport Management Plan, before they grant this application.
We expect this to come before the Planning Committee again some time in November.