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.
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?
“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.”
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.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Reply received today from Waverley Borough Council re planning enforcement visit, advising that there was no breach of planning after all. However, concerns have been raised about the presence of “two large mechanical excavators which were identified as belonging to a demolition and construction company. Both machines were fitted with grab claws which, in our opinion, would serve the purpose of demolition.” Apparently the construction workers were also no longer present at the time of the visit.
Full email :
“Further to our previous correspondence this week in respect of the above, I am writing to provide you with an update following William Gibb’s (Planning Enforcement Officer) site visit to Horsham Road on 1st November 2016.
A site visit was undertaken for the purpose of confirming whether or not works have commenced to demolish the properties at 106 and 108 Horsham Road, Cranleigh. On arrival to the site, it was noted that security fencing had been erected to the front and side of the property at 106 Horsham Road; however, at the time of his visit, there were no construction workers on site.
It was also noted that works had commenced to strip out internal fixtures and fittings at both properties and especially the property at 106 Horsham Road. These works would not be considered to be development, and as such, there has been no breach of planning controls. It is also confirmed that no works have taken place to demolish the two properties, and as such, there has been no breach of the planning permissions.
Concerns were raised, however, about the presence on the site of two large mechanical excavators which were identified as belonging to a demolition and construction company. Both machines were fitted with grab claws which, in our opinion, would serve the purpose of demolition. William Gibb has been in communication with the agent for the developer to raise concerns about the presence of such machinery on the land at 106/108 Horsham Road.
I trust this interim response is of assistance, however, should you require any additional clarification of our investigations, then please do not hesitate to contact me.”
End of email
Original post 2 November 2016:
Yesterday morning residents living near to the Crest Nicholson site, Horsham Road, woke to the sound of heavy demolition machinery working on the removal of number 106 and The Chantrys bungalow, these properties stand in the way of the access road to the Crest housing estate.
This was in clear breach of the planning consents of both the outline and detailed planning permission, which required that various conditions be executed prior to any work being commenced.
Cranleigh Civic Society, together with other residents, emailed Planning Enforcement at Waverley Borough Council requesting that they urgently investigate the matter.
Waverley acted quickly and sent an enforcement officer to the Crest Nicholson site yesterday afternoon and have confirmed that:
“The planning permissions do indicate that a demolition should not occur prior to the relevant pre-commencement conditions being discharged. This has been highlighted to Crest Nicholson on previous occasions.”
It transpires that in July Crest applied to Waverley to demolish the properties and were refused permission. However, it appears that, despite being reminded of their obligations “on previous occasions“, Crest Nicholson have carried on regardless.
Contractors working on the Horsham Road site said that they planned to demolish both properties on Monday and only stopped because they found live electricity on the site.
If it is proved that a planning breach has occurred Waverley can issue an enforcement notice on Crest, requiring compliance with planning consent. It is extremely disappointing that a huge developer like Crest, who will be more than aware of the rules relating to the planning consent, appears to be sidestepping them.
Failure to comply with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to £20,000 on summary conviction in Magistrates Court, or an unlimited fine on indictment in a Crown Court. However, it appears that this is not a sufficient deterrent for developers wanting to act in their own best interest.
The enforcement process itself is discretionary and arbitrary and developers have the right to appeal. Please continue to be vigilant and let us know of any activity on development sites. It is extremely important that pre-commencement conditions are adhered to, without these, we can assume, that planning consent would not have been acceptable or granted by Waverley in the first place.
UPDATE 17 October 2016: Set response from Waverley Leader to multiple residents’ complaints.
Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with me.
I have now had the opportunity to speak with our Monitoring Officer about this matter and he is satisfied that the meeting was properly managed. He has advised me that there is nothing unusual or improper about the chairman conveying the views of councillors who are not present at the meeting. Whilst I understand that some will be dissatisfied by the decision made by the committee and fully respect the different views held in respect of this planning application, the Council’s Monitoring Officer has confirmed that that the process by which the application was considered and the manner in which a vote was taken and recorded were both done correctly in the usual way.
Farnham Upper Hale Ward
Leader Waverley Borough Council
END OF UPDATE
After a deferral on the 24 August, the Crest Nicholson application for 149 dwellings came before Waverley Borough Council’s Joint Planning Committee (JPC) again on 3 October 2016 at 7pm.
There was a disappointing turnout for this significant application, with only 15 councillors out of a possible 23 in attendance.
Despite numerous comments and concerns from members of the committee at the previous August meeting, Crest Nicholson had responded with very few changes to the original layout. However, despite this Planning Officers recommendation was for approval.
Layout submitted in August:
New layout (spot the difference):
This was hugely disappointing for residents, who after the August deferral and councillors strong criticisms, particularly regarding the rear parking courts (car parks), were expecting some changes on the northern boundary.
Unfortunately the minimal layout changes and the ongoing legal dispute over ownership of the drainage ditch, into which Crest Nicholson propose to discharge surface water from the site, proved to be no constraint and the application was granted by councillors in a vote of 8 to 7.
Cranleigh’s Borough Councillors Mary Foryszewski and Patricia Ellis fought Cranleigh’s corner, highlighting the high quality of this site, which was now subject to a “poor and uncaring design” not reflective of the area, together with narrow roads that would be unable to accommodate the estimated number of cars, and most importantly the great disservice being done to existing residents. Cranleigh Parish Council also objected to the relatively unchanged plans, the prevalence of parking courts on the northern boundary, issues about sewage capacity and stressed that this was an opportunity to achieve the best possible outcome for existing residents as well as new ones. Similarly vocal in her support was Farnham Councillor Carole Cockburn who was extremely disappointed and stressed that there had been an opportunity to “do something that works well for everybody” .
In a surprising twist, prior to the vote, the Chairman of the committee, Bramley Councillor Maurice Byham, deviated from normal protocol, to advise council members that Cranleigh Councillors Jeanette and Stewart Stennett were “happy” with the new scheme and had informed the developers’ agents [Savills]. The couple, he went on to expand, were on holiday in Australia and therefore unable to attend the meeting, however apparently they were watching it closely. Obviously not much going on in Oz at 5am in the morning!
In all of the planning applications that we have attended we have never heard comments read out from councillors not in attendance, or comments that were not officially lodged against the application, or those, as was implied by the Chairman, were personal statements from councillors direct to a developers agent.
You can hear it for yourselves:
To say we were taken aback by this announcement prior to the vote, which might be viewed by some as an attempt to gather support for the development, would be an understatement.
If you share our concerns please ask Julia Potts the Leader of Waverley Borough Council to explain the decision to use absent councillors comments, and whether the monitoring officer’s approval was sought and given prior to the meeting. Please copy in the Cranleigh Society to your email and your MP Anne Milton.
Have organised a drop-in session on Thursday 15 September 6pm – 9pm at the Village Hall. All residents are invited to discuss Waverley’s Local Plan with your Parish Councillors.
This is a very important opportunity. The Local Plan will have a significant impact on where you live. You have until 3 October 2016 at 17:00 to get any you have comments to Waverley, after that the plan will be sent to a Government Planning Inspector for examination.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to find out how this will affect you.
Representatives of Waverley Borough Council were invited to the meeting but unfortunately are unable to attend.
Residents are very disappointed that their major concerns about the layout of the site have still not been taken on board by Crest Nicholson.
This is due to come back before the Joint Planning Committee very soon.
Cala Homes, Amlets Lane
The application for detailed planning comes before the Joint Planning Committee this Wednesday 14 September 2016, 7pm at the Council Offices in Godalming. Public are welcome.
We have been busy looking at new information lodged against this application.
Access has not yet been agreed for this site. We carried out a traffic survey of Amlets Lane on 12 Sept to compare our figures to those of the developer’s original transport assessment.
The Gate House
We have submitted new flood evidence to the Planning Inspectorate for the Appeal to demolish the Gate House in Knowle Lane and replace it with a substantial block of flats.
Windy Way, The Common
We have submitted an objection to Waverley Borough Council against the demolition of Windy Way, a bungalow in the Conservation Area on Cranleigh Common and the building of a block of 6 flats (over 13m high) and two semi detached dwellings on the site.
We think that existing residents who live adjacent to the site have been extremely reasonable in their response to the building of 149 dwellings on this beautiful open green field next to their homes.
The original site layout which accompanied the outline planning application, establishing the principle of building on the site was very different to the final layout in the detailed planning application.
The original layout was (note the northern boundary of the site that abuts existing housing):
We are constantly warning residents that the artists impressions that developers provide when they first consult with residents may well bear no resemblance to what is finally built on that site.
The design that was before the council last night was this:
We think that Cranleigh residents deserve better than looking out onto drainage ditches as well as a sewage pumping station (which could be noisy) and car parks! We are very glad that Councillors agreed with this, however the application has only been deferred and Crest Nicholson may decide that they don’t want to change their plans.
Other areas that Councillors expressed concerns about were:
the provision for sewage and the lack of capacity in Cranleigh’s sewerage infrastructure.
the fact that zero one bedroom market homes were being proposed and the one bedroom affordable housing numbers had been reduced
a lack of public open space
the drainage system being adequate on the site and the risk that this could exacerbate the flood risk for adjoining properties.
about the ownership of the existing drainage ditch, which residents claim they own half of, if proved to be correct this will mean that the drainage system proposed for the site could be invalid.
ongoing management and maintenance of the drainage system by a private management company.
clustering of affordable housing, rather than including with other market housing (pepper-potting).
Roof heights and further expansion of homes into roof space.
Visual impact on existing residents who currently look over an open green field.
some of the properties were smaller than national standards, particularly the 1 bed ground floor apartments.
Until a decision has been made you can continue to submit your comments against this application WA/2016/0417
We have been advised that the Full Planning Application (Detailed Planning Permission) by Crest Nicholson for 149 dwellings off Horsham Road will be heard by Waverley’s Joint Planning Committee on 24 August 2016 at the Council Offices in Godalming.
We will add more details when the time and the agenda are published on Waverley’s website.