Category Archives: Cranleigh Waters

HELP RESTORE CRANLEIGH WATERS – YOUR LOCAL RIVER

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Please sign up to help restore our local “Rivers” –  Cranleigh Waters!  Will you join in so that the water flows better and the wildlife come back?   We all want and need a thriving river. It starts with counting what’s there at the moment.

SURREY WILDLIFE TRUST

Surrey Wildlife Trust has secured some funds to do some much needed restoration works but really need volunteers to help on the following days :-

Wednesday 29th August 10am till 3pm

Saturday 15th September 10am till 3pm

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP PLEASE CONTACT GLEN  SKELTON YOURSELVES AT

glen.skelton@surreywt.org.uk

“The project: In partnership with Thames Water, Surrey Wildlife Trust are working to restore the Cranleigh Waters back to a thriving river. To do this we need your help. We are recruiting volunteers in the area to join our team of regular Riverfly monitors who sample the aquatic life that lives on the river bed” 

Please also consider joining Surrey Wildlife Trust – they are amazing and there are not enough staff to look after everything that needs to be cared for.

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Cranleigh Flood Forum News (29.3.18)

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Our last Flood Forum update posted here on 18 March was based on an article The Cranleigh Society were asked to provide by the Surrey Advertiser – but it was not published.

The Society was then asked to expand on other real problems being faced by Cranleigh; we obliged by sending the content for a second article and that, also, was not published.

Both articles were 100% factual, so we can only conclude that the Surrey Advertiser did not wish to be controversial.

Pressure can still be put on Waverley…

As mentioned in the website posting on 18 March, AC drinking water pipes and the Thakeham site were the main concerns expressed at the Flood Forum but the bigger picture also needs to be considered. There is a general concern for the number of sites where there are flood issues and/or an over reliance on Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).

More and more Cranleigh residents are complaining about the ever increasing numbers of grab trucks and other contractor’s vehicles thundering through the High Street. These are causing havoc in the B-roads and narrow lanes, and it is going to get immeasurably worse as the building work intensifies.

These heavy vehicles are causing new potholes to appear daily in the High Street, and cars are being forced up on to paths to avoid wheel and tyre damage.

But Waverley and Surrey County Council do not care.

There are other major problems as well:
  • Waverley has pushed 48% of all the new housing in the Local Plan on to sites in and around Cranleigh
  • In doing so, they have ignored infrastructure issues.

The Society accepts there is nothing that can be done about the first point.  Those planning applications have all received permission, but pressure can still be put on Waverley as regards the infrastructure issues where Cranleigh Civic Society believe Waverley are vulnerable. These are:

1. Flood risk.
2. Asbestos cement pipes.
3. Cranleigh Waters pollution.

Of course, everyone is concerned about roads and bridges too, but these are the responsibility of Surrey County Council, not Waverley.

Naturally prone to flooding…

There is an interesting story emerging about flood risk to which there appears to be no solution, solely because of the actions of Waverley and the inaction of the Environment Agency.

This whole sorry saga began in November 2015 when the owner of the Knowle Park Initiative site dredged a section of Cranleigh Waters, not realising that they needed a permit to do so from the Environment Agency which, incidentally would have been refused.

On site, their contractor told the Society that this was done to “move the flood risk downstream”. The effect of this dredging was to move the flood risk from the KPI site to the area just before the bridge at Elmbridge Road, which at the time was fine as it was just meadowland. The problem is that Thakeham Homes bought the site and, on 5 October 2017, they were granted permission to build 54 houses on it.

KPI knew what would happen by doing this dredging,  as it is on their website! They knew that the Thakeham site is “part of the functional flood plain of Cranleigh Waters  and is naturally prone to flooding”.

They went on to state; “The main thing is to make sure the drainage and water courses are kept clear (a clear reference here to dredging) to allow these areas (the Thakeham site) to take the water quickly”.

The Thakeham site had serious flooding in December 2013, two years before the dredging – there is now the very real possibility of much higher flood levels, a matter that was totally ignored by Waverley when raised by Cranleigh Civic Society when the application was heard. The Society has a photo of the December 2013 flood level being higher than the site SuDS level, and we know from Met Office Data that they are predicting +30% rainfall during winter months up to 2080.  So that is why the Thakeham site is liable to flood.

Reducing, not removing the flood risk…

On 16 March, the Society heard from Surrey Wildlife Trust that the bulk of the funding announced at Anne Milton’s 9th March village meeting is to be spent putting the KPI stretch of Cranleigh Waters back to a two stage river. People may well ask why KPI themselves are not required to bear the cost of the reinstatement to a two stage river – the answer is that the Environment Agency did not act within the time limit of six months from the date of the illegal act, even though Cranleigh Civic Society advised them in January 2016 and the EA visited the site on 29 March 2016. So it appears that public money is now going to be spent correcting the damage done by the KPI dredging!

Was there pressure being put on the Environment Agency to let the KPI planning application go through to help meet Government housing targets?  It wasn’t until after the six months statute of limitations period that this all came to light, and the Environment Agency admitted their failure to act.

The problem is that if the KPI stretch of Cranleigh Waters is reinstated to two stage, it reduces (not removes) the flood risk at the Thakeham site and puts a flood risk back onto the KPI site.

What an awful mess – a mess that was totally avoidable if planning was considered on all the facts, good and bad, and not on just chasing housing numbers.

The Society envisages decades of flooding incidents, insurance problems and law suits.

Please help raise awareness by sharing our news updates where you can.

As always please email us at info@cranleighsociety.org with any relevant information regarding this article.

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Cranleigh Flood Forum Update – 18 March 2018

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CRANLEIGH FLOOD FORUM NEWS UPDATE, 18 MARCH 2018

Many of you attended the third Cranleigh Flood Forum on 9 March, hosted by Anne Milton MP, when discussions continued on sewer and surface water pipe misconnections, concerns about the sewage treatment works and Cranleigh Waters, questionable planning decisions by the Joint Planning Committee (JPC) of Waverley Borough Council and other matters.

However the asbestos cement (AC) drinking water pipes and the very controversial approval of the Thakeham homes site in Elmbridge Road dominated the meeting.

We, Cranleigh Civic Society, reported that, just the previous day, we had a high level meeting with a leading Insurer to discuss the insurance implications of both these very real concerns.

This Insurer confirmed what we had heard from a leading Insurer of County, Borough and Town/Parish Councils – this is that, except for a few specialist schemes, all UK Public and Products Liability policies have a total asbestos exclusion. This follows the inhaled asbestos disaster, where claims are still being made, and which is reported to have cost Insurers worldwide $100 billion – and which nearly brought Lloyd’s of London to it’s knees in the 1990s.

So, at the meeting, the we urged Waverley and Thames Water to check their own policies as, if they have no asbestos cover, and asbestos fibres in eroding and bursting drinking water pipes (which make up 29.6% of Cranleigh’s pipes) do lead to ingested asbestos fibre health problems, they could well have to finance both the claims and legal costs out of their own fund – for decades.

Of course, Cranleigh is not alone – this is a matter of concern and receiving attention throughout the World including Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe so we continue to monitor activity worldwide.

Whilst we are pleased Thames Water are starting to replace Cranleigh’s AC pipes, our aim is to seek a cessation of all connections of new housing to the drinking water system until all the AC pipes have been replaced with new, safe plastic pipes. Failure to do so would mean that, as new homes are connected to the existing system, it would result in the flow having to be increased which would lead to faster erosion and more frequent bursts.

We also discussed with the Insurer the decision by Waverley to grant permission for the building of 54 houses on a flood plain – an area which regularly floods seriously with the last occasion being as recently as December 2013.

The JPC ignored the detailed evidence submitted by us and, instead, relied on the report provided by consultants engaged and paid by the applicant, Thakeham Homes. Their representative was even allowed to sit at the planners table – very unorthodox.

Prior to the meeting on 5 October 2017, a member of the JPC submitted his flood risk evidence to the Chair of the JPC but it was ignored. That same member tried to have his evidence considered at the meeting but he was shouted down by the Chair and told to shut up.

The Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) is Surrey County Council and the Flood Risk Management Strategy and Partnerships Team Leader (who attended the Flood Forum) confirmed to a Councillor, in an email dated 21 February 2018, that when considering building on this type of site, the planning “process is in part reliant on robust and accurate feedback from the community” but the JPC chose to ignore this guidance and the detailed evidence, including photos, submitted by Cranleigh Civic Society.

So there is the terrible prospect of families buying new homes built on a flood plain and which are highly likely to flood, with all the dire consequences, because of a seriously flawed planning decision.

When, at the meeting last week, we explained this situation to the Insurance Company it was made very clear that obtaining flood insurance on this site would be very difficult if the Insurer agrees that the evidence presented to them is sound. Top UK Insurers do not rely on the flood maps available to all on websites – they have invested in their own exceptionally detailed flood mapping, so detailed that they can have separate risk classifications for individual houses. They pay particular attention to new housing developments including local knowledge, nearby postcodes, topography and using the very latest technology.

Perhaps the unavailability of flood insurance from reputable Insurers may stop innocent families making the worst financial decision of their lives?

Anne Milton was of the view that a meeting should be arranged with Thakeham Homes, attended by all the relevant organisations, to explain the very real issues with developing this site, and undertook to put this in motion.

Needless to say we welcome this initiative by our MP but will Cranleigh Civic Society be invited? We sincerely hope so!

 

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Love Your River! Village Hall meeting 26 March 7pm

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Love Your River!

Cranleigh Village Hall Meeting

Monday 26th March 7 till 9 pm

Following on from the recent informative Flood Forum meeting held earlier this month, we can now announce a date for Cranleigh Water’s Love Your River Meeting, which will be held on Monday 26th March at 7pm in Cranleigh Village Hall.

We highly encourage as many of our members and Cranleigh residents to attend if they are able.

Cranleigh Waters has experienced serious flow problems, particularly in the summer months and has also unfortunately become quite polluted with most of the flow downstream emanating from the Cranleigh Sewage Works.

According to Shamley Green Angling Society, the environmental effect of this can already be seen with fish dying out downstream.

Why should you attend?

This has been an ongoing problem for some time, with many issues raised.

JOIN US TO CELEBRATE THE PARTNERSHIP WORK TO IMPROVE CRANLEIGH WATERS.

We urge Cranleigh residents to attend this event to put further pressure on Waverley to make this issue a priority. Discover how you could help improve habitat and water quality. Bring your ideas and stories and get involved!

Help us ensure that Waverley takes action on:

•   Reconfiguring the river bed

•   Providing a wetland area upstream to release water over the summer months

•   Addressing the pollution problems

Help us make improvements to our village and join us on Monday 26 March.

Please RSVP emma.berry@surreywt.org.uk Assistant Conservation Officer at Surrey Wildlife Trust .

If you have further information about Cranleigh Waters that you feel should be raised at this meeting please email us at info@cranleighsociety.org

You can also read more about sewage pollution in the Cranleigh Waters in our articles:

•   Shamley Green, Wonersh and Bramley Angling Society

•   No more sewage in Cranleigh Waters

 

 

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CRANLEIGH FLOOD FORUM – FRIDAY 10 NOVEMBER 2017

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** PLEASE NOTE START TIME AND VENUE **

 The venue is The Band Room  in Village Way, Cranleigh, and the meeting starts at 10:30 am

This is the second  meeting of Cranleigh Flood Forum chaired by Anne Milton MP.  The issues Cranleigh Civic Society wishes to discuss include:

  • Thakeham Homes, Elmbridge Road Planning Permission
  • Illegal river dredging
  • Water Quality (Cranleigh Waters)
  • Asbestos Cement drinking water pipes
  • Flood Risk in general

Please attend this meeting if you can. It is open to all Cranleigh residents, not just Cranleigh Civic Society members!

Please speak to your friends and neighbours as the more people who attend the more we can demonstrate the serious concerns we have in Cranleigh about the over development of our village and problems that lie ahead.

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Thakeham Homes Elmbridge Road GRANTED

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Last night Waverley Borough Council granted planning permission for 54 houses on the worst site in Cranleigh for new houses on the Elmbridge Road.

The developers Thakeham Homes say they pride themselves on the quality of their homes and yet they are building houses smaller than nationally set space standards between a smelly sewage treatment plant and a river that regularly floods. New residents will need pegs for their noses and water wings.

However, on a serious note the drainage for this site is being put in an area that we know floods regularly so will be completely useless when its needed most, as is the children’s play area, we hope that anyone who lives there keeps a careful eye on their children, as we know how quickly the river can change from a low to high state and how quickly it flows in times of flood.

The Joint Planing Committee accepted (10 to 8) the new “expert” estimated advice that the flood zones on the land had now miraculously moved since the last time it came before committee in JUNE 2017 and they ignored local residents, the Parish Council and expert evidence put forward by our Councillor Liz Townsend that the flooding had been much worse in December 2013 than was being stated and was at the very least 45.194m. They also refused to look at photographic evidence presented by Councillor Jerry Hyman from Farnham, that showed both a water mark on the pumping station on the Elmbridge Road, taken in December 2013, as well as flood detritus, that proved the water had been over a 1 in 1,000 years predicted flood event. We have had at least two floods of this magnitude in 50 years – 1968 and 2013, so more of 1 in 25 years! Far from the flood zones being reduced, they should have been increased and the safety of new residents and people living further downstream should have been paramount.

As a chartered insurance broker I am acutely aware of the fact that these new residents are not guaranteed flood insurance, in fact they could end up with new (and very expensive) homes that are frankly worthless.

Yet another development in Cranleigh bringing our total new houses up to nearly 1,400.  In a race for a housing figure corners are most definitely being cut and it is Cranleigh residents that will be left with all the mounting problems.

We hope that the articles on this website will assist any new residents when they need to make an insurance claim in the future.

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Anne Milton opens Flood Gates

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On Monday the 24th of July, Anne Milton MP organised a meeting at the village hall that she described as a flood forum and it turned out to be much more than that. She brought together Waverley planners, Thames Water, the Environment Agency, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, Public Health England, Surrey County Council, the National Flood Forum, Cranleigh Parish Council and Cranleigh Civic Society to discuss openly several of the major concerns Cranleigh’s residents have raised with her. 65 members of the public came along and several parish and borough councillors also attended.

The plan was to address these concerns and direct them specifically to the authority responsible, so that the answers could be heard by all. We were very happy to hear sewerage problems, flooding and asbestos cement water pipes all discussed openly. It was always understood that the problems would not be resolved then and there but that efforts could be made to address them in the coming weeks and months.

To aid this, small sub committees were formed to work on specific areas and they will report back at the next meeting planned for the autumn. It was just the beginning of what will be a long term effort but a positive step and one that Cranleigh Civic Society welcomes. Members of the Society volunteered to join sub committees and share the information they have collected specific to each area so we will be close to the decision making process.

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Flooding on Thakeham Site – Elmbridge Road

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As you will be aware the decision on the Thakeham Homes application for 54 dwellings off the Elmbridge Road was deferred by the Joint Planning Committee pending more evidence on flooding and odour from the Sewage Treatment Works.

If you have any photos of flooding on this site whatsoever, could you please email your photos to info@cranleighsociety.org or send printed copies of photos to Phill Price, Chair, Cranleigh Civic Society, 18 Brookside, Cranleigh GU6 8DA

thakeham-homes-main-rivers-labelled

Thank you.

 

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Death of the Grampian Condition

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It won’t have gone unnoticed to residents that both Crest Nicholson on the Horsham Road and Cala Homes on Amlets Lane have started developing their sites.

Both these sites had Grampian style conditions.  This was meant to prevent the start of the development until off-site works were completed on the sewerage network, including the sewage treatment works on Elmbridge Road. However, we were recently advised by planning enforcement at Waverley that the Grampian Condition wording is too woolly to enforce and doesn’t specifically mention the words sewage “TREATMENT”,  so no work to the sewage works are apparently included – another nail in the coffin for Cranleigh.

To say that we felt let down by the lack of rigour exercised in the planners’ wording of the Grampian and the lack of ability by Waverley to enforce it, is an understatement!

There is no consideration being given to existing residents, who after all fund the borough council, in the scramble to achieve a housing number at all costs.  We don’t need to remind you, that you will have to bear the brunt of polluted rivers, congested roads, odour nuisance from the sewage works, an over burdened GP surgery, the list goes on.


As you might remember Cala Homes had applied for their Grampian condition to be removed, however, Waverley Borough Council, in a rare moment of what seemed common sense, refused their request. Surprisingly, this did not stop work on Cala’s show houses.

Amlets 8 Jan 2017

The bungalow on the Horsham Road, which was acquired by Crest Nicholson to provide an access road to the site, was demolished long before their Grampian Condition was even discharged (such as it was), and work was also immediately commenced on the green fields to build 149 houses.  Grampian, what Grampian?

It was also pointed out that Crest’s Grampian was a little more lax than that for Cala Homes, despite all the initial concerns Thames Water had about this site and the need for huge on-site sewage storage tanks. These worries seem to have been a mere flash in the pan!

Not long after the first Crest spade was in the ground, they were plotting to build 121 more houses in the pristine green fields adjacent to this site.

Crest describes Cranleigh on their website:

“Cranleigh is a pretty Surrey village where one can enjoy a relaxed pace of life yet benefit from daily conveniences aplenty on the doorstep, including a selection of shops, cafes and restaurants.”

Crest Nicholson demolish Bungalow Horsham Road

Sounds idyllic, and surprising how keen developers are to emphasise that we are a “village” in their marketing literature.


Despite the unsustainable location of Cranleigh, on a rural road network, with little public transport, a heavy reliance on the use of the private car, limited employment opportunities, water quality issues, a high percentage of asbestos cement drinking water pipes, an inadequate sewage treatment plant, and on green fields to boot,  none of this matters, as long as the houses are built.

The ONLY reason for these dwellings is because we have NO GREEN BELT protection, nothing else, and national planning policy will be twisted at the whim of the planners to suit their ultimate plan for this area, which is CRANLEIGH TOWN.

However, before you start thinking, how bad can that be, it will be bad!  We are the only community in Waverley without green belt protection AND any environmental designation.  Farnham at least has the protection of Thames Basin Special Protection Area.  So going forward, Cranleigh will be the dumping ground for any, and all, unmet housing in Waverley.  However, Waverley Borough Council seem to be the winners, they have a convenient area, in the corner of the borough, which will be a cash cow for council tax, and with only 5 councillors (Farnham has 18) representing this area, and two of those with a declared pecuniary interest in development, this really does seem like a marvellous arrangement.

There is the rather inconvenient truth of Cranleigh Waters, which is polluted and failing in terms of the Water Framework Directive, but that can be smoothed over, by applying pressure to an overworked and under resourced Environment Agency (EA) with the promise of funds for river restoration  and flood plain replacement projects.

There’s the problem of the rural roads and A281, but as Matthew Evans, Ex-Waverley Head Planner, said it really doesn’t matter if people are stuck in traffic.  Obviously air quality issues and quality of life, for residents in this part of the borough,  was not something that disturbed his sleep.

And then there’s the ageing asbestos cement drinking water pipes, which have an extremely inconvenient habit of bursting whenever water pressure increases, still, studies of health risks are inconclusive, so it appears Waverley don’t need to worry about that either.  Despite the fact that we can find no reports that include the age of pipes we have here, or our particularly agressive type of water.

It would be difficult to imagine what would ever be considered as a material constraint by Waverley planners against development in Cranleigh, perhaps the discovery of uranium in the high street?

And to add insult to injury, the EA are now actively looking for replacement flood plain for this area, as let’s face it, they don’t want to create too much flooding downstream for Bramley and Guildford, residents there might start to wonder why the hell all this building was allowed, or should we say encouraged, on the natural flood plain we DID have.

However, we still have something up our sleeve and that’s you!

Joined together, you are the most powerful force.  Stronger than Waverley and stronger than developers.

Working together in big enough numbers, people can, and will, make a difference.  We can fight for fairness, we can fight for our community, and we can fight for our environment.

JOIN US


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead


 

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River Search

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One of the great concerns of Cranleigh Civic Society is the ongoing damage caused to Cranleigh Waters by the outflow from the sewage works on the Elmbridge Road. Although the effluent has been treated, Thames Water has a licence to pour the equivalent volume of two Olympic sized swimming pools worth of waste into this tiny stream. This simply cannot be good for anything living there, be it a plant or a fish. We paid a laboratory to test what was going into the stream and they reported that alongside the ‘solids’ that are allowed to go in, they found excessive levels of phosphates. Thames Water confirmed that this is the case but explained that they have no technology to resolve the problem. We find it difficult to accept that they know that they’re causing harm yet have no intention of stopping. As thousands more homes are built in the area this problem will become worse still.

Because we wanted to understand the consequences of this vast volume of effluent entering this delicate waterway, members of our team underwent specialist training from Surrey Wildlife Trust to become accredited river wardens. With this knowledge we undertook the first of our quarterly surveys to lay down a baseline for future surveys to be compared with.

River Search training with Surrey Wildlife Trust
River Search training with Surrey Wildlife Trust

We were trained to look at the vegetation in the water, at the margins and on the banks. Each area offers specific information that describes the health, or otherwise, of the water body. Next, we looked at how the water flowed to give various habitats to suit a variety of creatures and plants, plus many other revealing factors. Little by little a highly detailed map was created from a distance upstream of the sewage works and around the outflow itself.  Despite our polite requests, we were unable to gain permission from landowners to continue our survey downstream.

We’re sad to report that the stream is in very poor condition, made worse by long sections of inappropriate dredging that has stripped the stream bed of any life. This has also slowed the flow damagingly, making any chance of recovery take much longer than desirable.

We also invested in a calibrated water flow meter and have been taking readings to try to understand the stream’s habits. Many of us have seen the flow slow to a trickle and even dry up completely at times. This means that the only liquid flowing towards Bramley has been through our toilets first. It comes as no surprise then that Bramley Fishing Club has given up and closed. When your members no longer catch any fish, there’s no point in carrying on and perhaps this tells us all we need to know.

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