Berkeley Homes has lodged an appeal against the decision by Waverley Borough Council to reject their application for 425 dwellings on a green field site (The Maples) to the South of Cranleigh High Street. This site is the size of 29 full sized football pitches.
You can view the application on the Waverley Borough Council planning portal Reference Number WA/2014/0912
The Berkeley Homes appeal is despite 300 objections lodged against the application including an objection letter by the Cranleigh Society.
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:
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.
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.
We are delighted that the planning Officers of Waverley Borough Council have decided to refuse the application by McCarthy & Stone for this huge apartment block on the Horsham Road and that the residents of Penwerris will keep their homes. We would like to thank everyone who wrote and objected to this application.
Rather confusing article regarding the withdrawal of the planning application for 265 houses by the Knowle Park Initiative was reported in last week’s Surrey Advertiser.
There is nothing ‘undemocratic’ in the way Waverley Borough Council’s Head of Planning, Matthew Evans has chosen to handle this application. After all planning is not a democratic process but a Quasi-Judicial one.
The Head of Planning is within his right to refuse a planning application within his delegated powers (to act on behalf of the Council) and not waste time and resources assessing it via a Joint Planning Committee, if he deems the application to be in conflict with the Council’s Policy.
See below an extract from Waverley Borough Council’s Scheme of Delegation to Officers April 2015:
This application still has an Environment Agency (statutory consultee) Objection against it on 2 grounds:-
Firstly that the Sequential Test information submitted with the application demonstrated that there are sites (plural) which are available and are less at risk of flooding that could accommodate 265 dwellings. For Sequential Test purposes, these dwellings do not have to be contained on one single site.
Secondly the EA has determined the following:
NPPF Point 103 referred to in the Environment Agency’s objection is copied below:
Waverley planners will be aware that if they brought this application to the Joint Planning Committee and it was granted permission against their recommendation to refuse, Cranleigh Residents could take the decision to a Judicial Review, and as the application fails on matters of both national and local policy, and a statutory consultee objection, it is highly likely that they would succeed in getting the decision overturned and Waverley would then be liable for the costs. It is the Officers’ responsibility to safeguard the council from such action.
The “less popular applications” referred to in the article, which have been heard by the joint planning committee, were not deemed contrary to policy by Officers and did not hold the sustained objection from a statutory consultee.
The article goes on to explain that to bring this application to a Joint Planning Committee…
In this case the Ward Councillors who could potentially call this in are Brian Ellis or Patricia Ellis.
If a councillor does try to ‘call it in’ they would break with convention and would be acting against the advice of the Head of Planning and the Environment Agency. Both Brian and Patricia Ellis have been very vocal about maintaining the village feel of Cranleigh, protecting its green fields and flooding issues. They have a track record of objecting to large scale green field development to date (Amlet’s Lane, Berkeley Homes & Crest Nicholson). It would seem totally contrary to their actions to make such a dramatic gesture and call this application in on behalf of this developer against Officers’ advice.
You can add your support by emailing them to request them not to call this application in, but to align themselves with the Planning Officers’ recommendation and let it be handled and refused under delegated powers.
If the developer really believes that the Head of Planning at Waverley Borough Council is acting in an ‘undemocratic’ way in recommending this application for refusal they are totally within their right to take this further on to the Court of Appeal.
As part of the work to shape a vision for the future of Cranleigh village, the Cranleigh Society has been in consultation with Waverley Borough Council, local historians, representatives of Surrey Archaeological Society and representatives of Cranleigh History Society with a view to completing an assessment of the current Conservation Area in the village. The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether the Conservation Area is fulfilling its role of safeguarding the heritage and design assets of the village centre and whether the area covered needs to be amended.
The current conservation area is indicated by the blue line in the image below.
Consideration has been given to the three scenarios below with regard to the future of the Conservation Area:
That its extent should be reduced
That its extent should remain as present
That its extent should be expanded
Following this initial assessment:
In regard to Point 1) it was determined that there was no case for reducing the extent of the area covered. The Conservation Area policy has been fairly successful in limiting damage to the natural and built heritage within its bounds.
In regard to 2) it was noted that the current boundary introduced anomalies into the protection offered to the Conservation Area that might be best resolved by:-
3) an expansion of the Conservation Area boundaries, to allow inclusion of properties on the south side of the High Street and areas of Cranleigh Common to the west of the High Street. This would allow the removal of the current anomalous position, whereby one side of the High Street is covered by the Conservation Area but the south side is not. It would also allow for a number of Buildings of Local Merit to be included in the boundary of the area.
Our findings were shared with the Waverley Borough Council working party tasked with reviewing the Conservation Area. The working party has made progress with these proposals and others and will be presenting a draft review for consultation in the not too distant future.