Last evening the Knowle Park Initiative (West Cranleigh Nurseries) was rejected by the Joint Planning Committee at Waverley Borough Council.
(Due to the very lengthy debate of 2 ½ hours, the Little Meadow application for 75 houses, which was also due to be heard, was postponed and another date will be arranged.)
Over 100 residents attended the meeting, the public gallery in the Council Chamber was full and the overflow room was packed to the gunnels, where people watched proceedings on a big screen.
The vast majority of people were there to show their opposition against yet another huge housing estate for Cranleigh, which would’ve taken our number to over 1,000 new houses.
At the very start of the meeting, we were somewhat stunned when Cllr Brian Ellis and Cllr Stewart Stennett declared a pecuniary interest in the Knowle Park Initiative application and left the Chamber, followed by Cllr Jeanette Stennett.
There was a lengthy presentation by the planning officers, who until almost the last minute had been publishing extensive updates to members. This was in the main due to the continued pressure that the Cranleigh Society had applied and the serious concerns we and residents had raised. There were many pages in the final documents issued to members that mentioned the Cranleigh Society, our comments formed the basis of several of the final conditions that were to be imposed on this application.
We had, after many hours of research, emailing, telephone calls and sheer determination, managed to get Thames Water to impose a Grampian style agreement, which meant that should permission have been granted the developers would’ve, at the very least, have had to contribute towards the upgrades to Cranleigh Sewage Treatment Works. This in itself was a major achievement, and one that in our view planning officers should’ve been pushing for on behalf of the Cranleigh community.
There was recognition of one of our main arguments around the five five-year housing supply. We pointed out that it would take Thames Water a minimum of 7 years for the sewage works to be upgraded, which would mean a considerable delay to the delivery of these new houses. One of the Councillors asked the planning officers to explain this “time warp” to the members. The fact that the houses couldn’t be built until the sewerage was improved, finally hit home.
Also, the very valid concerns about sewerage raised at the last minute by the Environment Agency, again due to our continued pressure, was acknowledged, together with the damaging effect on the Cranleigh Waters of yet more effluent being pumped into it and the need to assess the impact of multiple developments on water quality.
We also managed at the very last minute to get DCLG involved and should the application have been approved they were going to consider our request for a ‘call in’. This is when the Secretary of State takes the decision-making power on a planning application out of the hands of a local planning authority and he decides whether it should be granted or refused.
It was a very busy day!
Thank you for the many emails you sent, it really did make a difference. It is so important that you add your voice to ours, we have proved how effective we are when we work together.
We would also like to extend our thanks to our MP Anne Milton and her team for replying to our many, many emails, for listening and for their support of Cranleigh residents concerns over infrastructure.
And we would like to thank members of the Joint Planning Committee who undertook an informed and measured debate. There was real empathy shown for Cranleigh’s plight and recognition that our village was about to end up as a building site. One councillor said they wouldn’t want to live in Cranleigh at the moment! Another said Cranleigh will end up looking like Poland in 1939!
We have to reserve a special thank you for Cranleigh’s Cllr Mary Foryszewski , her passion and commitment under immense pressure was admirable. She has on occasion be the lone voice speaking up for Cranleigh and she has our heartfelt thanks.
In addition, we would like to thank the Cranleigh Parish Council, Cllr Brian Freeston spoke on behalf of the planning committee and eloquently voiced their many objections to this application.
Finally thank you to the Cranleigh Civic Society committee whose commitment, courage, persistence, and reliability are second to none and they should stand proudly today together with all our members.
The fight is not over! However today we will celebrate a victory for democracy, transparency, and the right to be heard.
Anyone can request for an application to be called in. IF this call in is successful this means that the Secretary of State will take the decision-making power on this planning application out of the hands of Waverley Borough Council as the local planning authority and he will decide whether it should be granted or refused.
‘Calling in’ can be done at any time during the planning application process, up to the point at which the local planning authority actually makes the final decision.
Once the planning application is called in, there will be a public inquiry chaired by a planning inspector, or lawyer, who based on their findings will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State can choose to reject the inspector’s recommendations if he wishes and will genuinely take the final decision.
You can read more about the application in the recent article on the GetSurrey website
PICTURE ABOVE SHOWS SEWAGE FUNGUS IN CRANLEIGH BROOK 10 APRIL 2016
On 27th April 2016 at 7pm both applications for the Knowle Park Initiative and Little Meadow (Crownhall Estates Ltd) amounting to another 340 houses off Alfold Road go before the Joint Planning Committee (JPC) in Waverley.
Come to the JPC meeting, it is extremely important that councillors make this decision directly in front of Cranleigh residents and we know exactly how they vote, especially our local Cranleigh councillors.
If approved, this would bring the total number of new houses off Alfold Road to 765.
The nearby Hewitts Industrial Estate application for another 120 houses is also due to be heard at Appeal by the Planning Inspector in October 2016. That would bring the TOTAL JUST in this part of the village to 885.
Where’s the Sewage Going?
We also note that Thames Water have not raised any objection to either of these applications based on sewerage capacity and yet they have placed Grampian style conditions on both Cala Homes and Crest Nicholson, which means that development cannot commence on these sites until foul water drainage strategies for on and/or off-site work, has been approved by Waverley Borough Council and Thames Water.
We have written to Thames Water to point out this discrepancy and the fact that we believe that it is in breach of its statutory obligations as the water and sewage undertaker if it now fails to raise an objection to the Knowle Park Initiative and Little Meadow applications.
Knowle Park Initiative Saga
For those of you who have been following the Knowle Park Initiative (KPI) application, you might remember that Thames Water originally objected to the application on the grounds that the existing waste water (that’s sewage) infrastructure couldn’t accommodate another 265 houses in addition to 425 on the Berkeley Homes site. It also confirmed that the water supply infrastructure didn’t have sufficient capacity either.
When the Berkeley’s application for 425 homes was refused on 6 January 2015, KPI’s advisers moved swiftly and contacted Thames Water on 7 January 2015 to point out that in light of the refusal there was now some notional sewage capacity available to them, although we wonder where this was, seeing as Cala and Crest were told there was none?
Thames Water faced with the fact that they had not objected at all to the Berkeley Homes application on sewage grounds had to concede on this point and issued a letter on 15 January 2015 ( view KPI Correspondence to Waverley regarding Thames Water ) withdrawing their objection. However, the letter from Lance Cooper of Thames Water did point out that: “Please note that the views expressed by Thames Water in this letter is in response to this pre-development enquiry only and does not represent our final views on any future planning applications made in relation to this site.”
Now you might think that in light of the decision for Berkeley Homes Appeal on 31 March 2016 giving permission for 425 houses, and bearing in mind the recent widely publicised sewage issues in Cranleigh, which are referred to by planning officers in their report for the meeting on 27 April, Waverley officers would go back to Thames Water and get an updated statement before they recommended 340 more houses for approval in Cranleigh?
And especially as the sewers becoming overwhelmed by another 340 houses and foul water flooding would be an environmental and a public health risk.
But you would be wrong, the planning officers have recommended both of these sites for approval, relying on what might be a verbal update from Thames Water prior to the meeting on 27 April. This seems to amount to a serious oversight by Waverley Borough Council Planning Officers.
What about the Water Supply?
And what of the water supply infrastructure you might ask? That’s the stuff that comes out of your taps. Thames Water has maintained that the water supply infrastructure CANNOT SUPPORT either of these developments, however, this appears to have been completely overlooked by officers. There is no mention of a condition regarding this in their recommendation to approve these sites, and there is no mention of the impact study that Thames Water requested.
We think this is yet another serious oversight by Waverley Planning Officers and we would like to know why.
What are we doing?
Yesterday we wrote to Thames Water regarding the Knowle Park Initiative and Litle Meadows applications requesting that they uphold their statutory obligations and we copied in our MP Anne Milton, Waverley Planning Officers and the Environment Agency.
We also met up yesterday with a representative of Waverley’s Environmental Health Department, who seem to be taking this issue seriously.
We will keep you informed of the outcome.
What can you do?
Demand to know what is going on with Cranleigh’s sewerage system:
Send ONE email to the following people quoting references KPI WA/2015/1569 and Little Meadow WA/2015/0478 (please copy us in at firstname.lastname@example.org):
On 18 April Cranleigh Parish Council Planning Committee objected to the Full Planning application on Amlets Lane by Cala Homes.
Cala Homes currently have outline planning permission on the Amlets Lane site. Outline permission establishes just the principal of development on a site and states matters which are reserved for later approval.
A further application for Full, or Approval of Reserved Matters, which is what is going through now, is then required before any detailed work can go ahead.
A reserved matters application deals with some or all of the outstanding details of the outline application proposal, including :
The appearance of buildings and the estate in general.
The layout of the housing estate.
The size of the buildings.
Cranleigh Parish Council is not a statutory consultee in the planning process. They have a right to ask for copies of planning applications affecting their area and to express their views to Waverley Borough Council.
This is not the same as statutory consultation which takes place with, for example, the county planning authority (Surrey County Council), the highway authority, Environment Agency, English Heritage, Thames Water and others.
Several residents, as well as representatives of Cala Homes, attended the parish council meeting. Residents voiced strong concerns, amongst which were safety on Amlets Lane, the drainage system, sewage capacity, and loss of privacy.
The Full Application by Cala Homes ref WA/2016/0517 for 125 dwellings on Land South of Amlets Land and North of Roberts Way is available on the Waverley Borough Council Planning Portal website.
Confirmed Lack of Sewage Capacity!
Thames Water finally confirmed on 14 April that they have identified an inability of the existing waste water infrastructure to accommodate the needs of this application.
The reason quoted is ” The development may lead to sewage flooding; to ensure that sufficient capacity is made available to cope with the new development; and in order to avoid adverse environmental impact upon the community.”
This is the first time we believe that the impact on the existing community has ever been mentioned!
This means that development cannot commence until a drainage strategy detailing on and/or off site drainage works, has been submitted and approved by Waverley Borough Council in consultation with Thames Water.
It also states that the existing water supply infrastructure has insufficient capacity to meet the additional demands for the proposed development and requests that impact studies of the existing water supply infrastructure must be carried out and approved by Waverley Borough Council in consultation with Thames Water.
This does not mean that the application will be refused, however it does at least mean that at long last Thames Water are publicly recognising the lack of capacity in Cranleigh’s sewage system to cope with all of this development.