**PRESS RELEASE** 21 July 2015
Since setting up in October 2014 life for the Cranleigh Civic Society has been a bit of a whirlwind.
Alongside other communities across the country, Cranleigh has developers queuing up to build on its green fields.
Cranleigh is located in countryside beyond the green belt, is situated on narrow winding B roads, with no train station and a rural bus service unlike the other main settlements (Farnham, Godalming and Haslemere) identified by Waverley for development. With no green belt protection and in the absence of a local plan, we are hugely at risk from speculative development.
At the Civic Society meeting on 16 July, John Howell MP, one of the principal architects of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), enthusiastically stressed the importance and ability of neighbourhood planning to deliver the housing that is both needed in Cranleigh and supported by the community. However the reality on the ground feels very different.
Our neighbourhood planning group are fighting a David and Goliath battle on two fronts. On the one side there is pressure from Waverley, who do not have a local plan, and on the other side there are a growing number of planning applications for large housing estates on green fields, for which decisions will be made long before any neighbourhood plan is completed. The Localism Act seems a very distant memory.
Strategic Housing Market Assessment
The NPPF states that local planning authorities should use their evidence base to ensure that they meet the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in their “housing market area”. This housing need is assessed through a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).
Waverley undertook a joint SHMA with Woking and Guildford and the draft report was published in December 2014. This provisionally identified a need for housing within Waverley of 512 to 649 dwellings. These figures were subject to the Government’s 2012 based Household Projections being published. Figures from this report now project a decrease in household numbers of approximately 20,000 per year.
The SHMA also identified the housing mix required between market and affordable housing as outlined in Table 75 of the report:
In addition to targets in terms of house size, the SHMA also sets a preferred mix for affordable housing of 30% intermediate and 70% social or affordable rented homes.
However housing is not being delivered in the borough in line with this key piece of evidence. In the officer’s report which accompanied the recently approved Crest Nicholson application for 149 houses on a pristine green field site off of the Horsham Road in Cranleigh.
Waverley’s Officers noted that the provision of housing on this site did not comply with the evidence outlined in the SHMA and if this approach was repeated across the borough, they would fail to deliver the identified housing needs. They also confirmed that the affordable housing was not to meet local demand in Cranleigh, as shown in the following excerpt:
You can read the full Crest Nicholson ref WA/2014/1754 – Joint Planning Committee agenda 1 July 2015 and Officers’ Report.
Sustainability and the NPPF
In addition officers state in the Crest Nicholson site report that; ”Cranleigh is one of the more sustainable parts of the Borough”. However this is not supported by Waverley’s own evidence base.
The NPPF splits the concept of sustainability into three pillars; social, economic and environment. In Waverley Borough Council’s own Sustainability Appraisal of the Waverley Local Plan Part 1 Interim SA Report (September 2014) it states that housing need is not focused in this part of the borough and that a significant amount of housing will not provide socio-economic benefits to the Cranleigh community, it also raises concerns about infrastructure. However Cranleigh is still considered as appropriate for high growth as it is ‘relatively unconstrained environmentally’. This lack of constraint refers to green belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
However there is no weight given within the NPPF to environmental constraints alone when assessing suitability of an area or site, and Waverley in applying such significance to this one pillar seemingly contradicts the golden thread of sustainability that runs throughout the NPPF.
Read the full Waverley Sustainability Appraisal Part 1 – Interim SA Report September 2014 FINAL
So far approval has been granted for nearly 300 dwellings on green field sites despite hundreds of local objections (Amlets Lane, Horsham Road and Cranleigh Brickworks). We will undoubtedly be faced with more applications for unsustainable development over the next few months. Promises of minor improvements to our immediate roads (signs and traffic lights) do not deal with the bigger issue of traffic congestion on the A281. We have spoken to Surrey Highways who have confirmed that there are no planned major improvements to the wider road network.
Waverley recognises that Cranleigh is different to the other 3 main settlements in that we still have a ‘village feel’ and that this will be threatened by significant development. We think that the character and spirit of Cranleigh is worth protecting. This is what has attracted people to live here in the first place and continues to attract people to Cranleigh. This would undoubtedly be threatened by the approval, in quick succession, for vast housing estates, adding a minimum of 1,300 houses, another 3,120 residents (27% increase in population) and a minimum of 2,100 cars to our road network.
This is NOT sustainable. If you would like to help to protect Cranleigh against urban sprawl then please add your voice to ours and join us. Together we really can make a difference.
Also write to our Waverley Councillors asking them to speak up and protect Cranleigh. The NPPF and Waverley’s saved policies can provide protection to Cranleigh if used consistently.
When emailing please do include your FULL NAME and ADDRESS. Thank you.
Brian Ellis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Patricia Ellis: email@example.com
Mary Foryszewski: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanette Stennett: email@example.com
Stewart Stennett: firstname.lastname@example.org