Category Archives: Waverley Borough Council

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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Waverley’s Local Plan Part 1 Adopted

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20 Feb 2018  Waverley’s Local Plan Part 1 adopted

was adopted tonight:

  • For – 41
  • Against – 1
  • Abstained – 3

Even those who opposed or had serious reservations took the view that the Waverley area would have more protection with a LP. Even with it’s flaws,  WBC would be able to take back control.  No longer would planning be developer led.

All three Cranleigh Councillors expressed their deep concerns about Waverley’s Local Plan. But they decided to vote For IT because the consequences of having no LP would be disastrous. Nothing will undo the damage that has already been inflicted on Cranleigh but further damage can be minimised with the LP.

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/news/article/337/waverley_s_local_plan_is_adopted

Waverley’s local plan part 1 – Cranleigh Society’s opinion was shared before the vote –

Whilst Cranleigh is viewed by Waverley as one of the four main “settlements”, it has some serious infrastructure problems which the Inspector, Jonathan Bore, has not addressed in the report, even though they were pointed out to him by Cranleigh Civic Society and others at the Inquiry.

  • Cranleigh is only served by already congested B-roads, and lanes (we call them “rat runs”) which do not even qualify for B-road status, and there are no plans in his report (or in the Local Plan) to solve this.
  • Any new dwellings being built in Cranleigh rely on sewage treatment at the Elmbridge Road works.  In recent years, the so-called river that the effluent is pumped into, Cranleigh Waters, has developed serious flow problems, sometimes ceasing flowing altogether.  The river has become polluted, with local angling societies reporting dying fish stocks to the Environment Agency, and there is currently no plan by Waverley to solve this problem.  The Inspector has not considered this in his report.
  • 29.6% of all Cranleigh’s drinking water supply network is made from old asbestos cement pipes which are at the end of their 50 to 70 year design life, and they are regularly bursting releasing free asbestos fibres into the water supply.  Some of the pipes recently tested by Thames Water are made from highly dangerous blue asbestos.  Waverley are aware of this problem, and it has been suggested to them that all the old asbestos cement pipes be replaced before any new housing is connected to the network. Again, this important matter has not been considered by the Inspector in his report.
  • There are no plans to create new local jobs, so increasing the population will simply create a need to commute to work, which is hardly sustainable.

We accept that there is a need to build new houses in SE England and we do not have a problem with Cranleigh taking its fair share, but unless the infrastructure problems are addressed before the plan is published and put into place, we see big problems ahead.

Modern town planning (actually even Ebenezer Howard said this in the 1920s) states that “houses should be built where the jobs are”.  Modern thinking is to build settlements as close as possible to places where people can work or to at least give people easy access to commute.  Of the four settlements in the report, Cranleigh is least able to meet this criteria.  It has only B-roads and narrow lanes leading out of it, no railway station and so on.  The obvious place to build substantial quantities of new houses, in the Waverley area, is Milford, as:

(1) It has a mainline railway station that can easily be extended to take the new 12 car trains to London; (2)  It is close to both the A31 and A3; (3) It is close to the job markets in Guildford, Godalming and Farnham; (4) It is adjacent to the River Wey and therefore readily lends itself to the building of a new major sewage treatment works that can meet the needs of the latest 2017 implementations of the Water Framework Directive.  Yet I think we are correct in saying that the Local Plan only envisages 180 new dwellings in Milford?  If this is the situation we have to ask “Why?”

Richard Bryant

 Vice Chair.

 CRANLEIGH CIVIC SOCIETY.

Go to Waverley Borough Council  website and complete the consultation if you feel you can.

Local Plan Part 2: Site Allocations and Development Management Policies

 

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THAKEHAM HOMES ELMBRIDGE ROAD UPDATE

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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:

JOINT PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETING 5 OCTOBER 2017

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.

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UPDATE – Asbestos in Cranleigh

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Thames Water advised Cranleigh Civic Society on the 20th October that the 3km of asbestos cement pipe that they are replacing in Cranleigh is only one fifth of the total length of the asbestos pipes in the village.

That means that Cranleigh will still have 12km of very old, decaying asbestos cement (AC) drinking water pipes operational in the drinking water network.

Cranleigh Civic Society has written several times to the Government’s Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) asking them to confirm that these old pipes will not be a risk to the health of Cranleigh residents, and we have not received reassurance from them.

The position of Cranleigh Civic Society remains unequivocal.  We think these very old AC pipes in the Cranleigh area should all be replaced BEFORE any new houses are connected to the network.  We think that the infrastructure should be sorted out by Waverley Borough Council first, particularly in this case where, we believe, it cannot be ruled out that there is a clear and present danger to public health.

 

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VICTORY for Cranleigh Civic Society!

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After a long fight by Cranleigh Civic Society, Thames Water have agreed to start replacing Cranleigh’s  asbestos cement drinking water pipes starting in 2018.

29.6% of our drinking water pipes are old and made from asbestos cement (compared to an average throughout SE England of just 2%).  The design life of these pipes is 50 to 70 years, and as some of these were installed in the early 1960’s, they are starting to decay and burst.

During the last nine months, a team from Thames Water has met with Cranleigh Civic Society several times to discuss the problem, and Thames Water has carried out tests on samples of burst pipes to determine the composition of the materials used.  They have found a mixture of white and blue asbestos.  On the 5th October, the team from Thames Water announced to Cranleigh Civic Society that they will start a programme of replacement in Spring 2018 (they will need the time between now and then for planning and to seek the licences that will be needed).

Cranleigh Civic Society is grateful to Thames Water who have been open and helpful in giving advice, and also to them for carrying out tests on the samples of burst pipe.  On the 9th October, Thames Water told us that they have identified over 3 km of pipes to replace, and we are awaiting confirmation from them as to how much of our old asbestos cement network that accounts for, and over what period of time the replacement programme will take place.

Thames Water has advised us that they have secured the funding for this project, which comes out of central pot and will not impact on our bills locally.

New housing being built in Cranleigh must comply with current Building Regulations that require a minimum 1 bar drinking water pressure provision.  This is because many new houses nowadays are provided with unvented hot water systems, which work on higher pressure than the old “indirect” systems based on a header tank in the attic space.  Over the past three months the number of burst water pipes has increased considerably with over 20 bursts occurring, some leaving residents without water for days at a time.  This has coincided with the building of new housing estates in the village.

Cranleigh Civic Society’s opinion is that if more new housing estates are connected onto the existing network before Thames Water has finished replacing the old asbestos cement pipes, the number of bursts will increase exponentially, and could raise the risk of more free asbestos fibres entering the drinking water network.

We think these old asbestos cement pipes in the Cranleigh area should be replaced BEFORE more new houses are connected to the network.

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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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Thakeham Homes to JPC this Thursday

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Despite fears about flooding from Cranleigh Waters and odour from the sewage treatment plant as well as water quality in the river, Waverley Borough Council’s Joint Planning Committee are being recommended to GRANT permission to Thakeham Homes for 54 new dwellings on the Elmbridge Road site.  The meeting will take place on Thursday 5th October – public are welcome.  Time 7pm at the Burys – Council offices in Godalming.

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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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