Since our posting on 6 October we have written to Anne Milton MP, Tom Horwood (Interim MD at Waverley Borough Council) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to confirm our utter amazement and dismay that this application was granted.
We are meeting this morning with Tom Horwood to discuss this matter further.
We asked DCLG to call-in the application on the basis that the Joint Planning Committee Chairman, Cllr Isherwood, refused to allow the members of the JPC to consider the correct flood levels provided by Cllr Hyman and which have been subsequently checked by our expert who confirmed the (higher) levels were 100% correct. The refusal to allow a debate is a fact – have a look at the video of the meeting:
Cllr Isherwood relied heavily on an desktop computer report by a company working on behalf of the developers to the total exclusion of all other primary evidence presented by residents and other councillors. The developer’s representative was allowed unprecedented access to members throughout the entire meeting and sat with officers at the head table and was allowed to speak throughout the discussion of the flooding item, unlike the parish council, residents or the Cranleigh ward member who were only allowed a maximum of 4 minutes.
We take the view that there has been a blatant violation of planning law. DCLG refused our call-in request so Anne Milton was then requested to not only push DCLG to reconsider their decision but also involve the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It was only at the beginning of this year that DEFRA, following the disastrous flooding in the North of England, issued a consultation document asking for submissions on how to reduce the Governments exposure to the ever increasing cost of flood relief – and here we have another Government Department hell bent on condoning the granting of planning permission on a flood plain where future serious flooding is a certainty!
Where is the joined up thinking here?
Hopefully we will be able to get some answers today and achieve some joined up thinking from central government but we have to be prepared for inaction so we have already commenced discussions with the Association of British Insurers with a view to having this Thakeham site as a decline risk for flood insurance as Insurers only take on flood risks, not flood certainties.