The nightmare has come true! Yet another 265 houses on green fields were voted in last night on the casting vote of the Waverley Joint Planning Committee’s Chairman Cllr Peter Isherwood.
So now Cranleigh has a deluge of 1,236 new houses (and that doesn’t include the infilling going on all around Cranleigh in back gardens everywhere, especially up the Horsham Road) of these houses 418 are meant to be affordable – whatever that really means.
We just want to put the enormity of the scale of this development into context, the Swallowhurst Estate was for 58 houses only!
This is now the masterplan (so far) for Cranleigh, showing the Berkeley’s, Little Meadow and now KPI sites (A2 Dominion) together:
The countryside to the left of the high street has now all but disappeared:
Cllr Mary Foryszewski was the only Cranleigh Councillor who could vote at last night’s meeting, as once again Cllrs Stewart and Jeanette Stennett declared a pecuniary interest in the KPI development, and Cllr Patricia Ellis was nowhere in sight. Cllr Foryszewski alone battled valiantly for Cranleigh, but all was in vain. Be very scared Cranleigh residents, Waverley has big plans for Cranleigh and they are not pretty.
It was also revealed last night that Waverley agreed a reduction in affordable housing on the KPI site in return for more money for the Elmbridge Road bridge (we can’t wait to see what actually happens there, as the estimated cost by Waverley is more akin to a fairy tale) and a sizeable contribution to a new Leisure Centre, proposed for the parish owned Snoxhall Fields, no doubt surrounded by a big car park. Never mind, Cranleigh doesn’t need free recreation space, not when it can have even more houses who will pay council tax to Waverley! However, it transpired that the Parish Council were not even given the courtesy of a consultation about this new Leisure Centre, the Cllrs we spoke to knew nothing about it, and are desperately trying to save this area for the community, by putting the land into a Trust, rather than see it consumed by Waverley.
Cllr Liz Townsend, who it seems has not been allowed to take up Cllr Brian Ellis’s vacant place on the planning committee, was allowed a speaking slot and conveyed how angry Cranleigh residents felt about the destruction of our village. She also pointed out how seriously under represented Cranleigh is on the planning committee and that our voices were not being heard.
Officers brushed Cllr Townsend’s concerns about flooding on the site under the carpet, as well as the carefully worded advice from the Environment Agency to Waverley about something called the Sequential Test, which basically seems to mean that areas at less risk of flooding in Cranleigh should be built on first. However, officers forged ahead regardless, avoiding carefully answering the question of whether the sequential test had actually been passed. One shocked Cranleigh resident said “it’s as if the officers work for the developers”.
Cllr Townsend spoke from the heart, highlighting the unsustainable location of Cranleigh, and the harm that this deluge of development, in such as short space of time, would have on the character of Cranleigh and on its residents. However, other hearts and minds appeared firmly closed, particularly Cllr Brian Adams (yes, he’s the one who said if we accepted the Crest Nicholson site for 149 houses Cranleigh would’ve taken its share of the borough’s housing, strangely the webcast of that meeting disappeared) who called his fellow councillors perverse if they refused this application, even though they had refused the identical application only last year.
Richard Bryant, on behalf of Cranleigh Civic Society, reminded Waverley that they have a legal duty to maintain water quality in our rivers and not to increase pollution levels in accordance with the Water Framework Directive. Unfortunately, this was not even acknowledged, Waverley’s eye was firmly on the prize of 265 dwellings that won’t have to go anywhere near their precious green belt. Houses that are far from major roads, far from a train station, far from jobs, and far from where most Waverley Councillors live.
Concerns about the sewage treatment works were cast aside with ease and pollution of Cranleigh Waters was not really worthy of a mention from officers, other than to imply that all was fine and dandy. Apparently, the sewage from an additional 3,000 residents makes no difference. And don’t forget that’s just Cranleigh’s new residents, we have other surrounding villages sending their muck here too to process. Oh, and did we forget to say, no one gives a damn about the environment, it’s an inconvenient tick box in a developer-led planning system.
Cranleigh Cllr Brian Freeston admitted “we don’t feel part of Waverley at all, can you blame us?” he spoke about the unfair allocation of houses on a blighted Cranleigh. The fact that we are being forced to take 30% (so far), in the village alone, other areas have a maximum of 15%, and that doesn’t even take the Dunsfold settlement into account. Cllr Freeston voiced concerns about the viability of the parkland, and said Cranleigh was in an untenable position. Serious and informed comments about the ageing asbestos cement drinking water pipes, of which Cranleigh unenviably has almost 30%, compared to 2% in the entire Thames Water area, received about as much attention as a Cranleigh Councillor at a Local Plan meeting.
As Cllr Townsend said “there is not a big enough material constraint, not even banned blue asbestos, that trumps more housing on Cranleigh’s green fields”.
So there you have it folks, Cranleigh is being officially destroyed with impunity by Waverley, next it will be a massive big shopping centre, just like Waverley have planned for Farnham, and one day you will wake up and find yourselves living in the biggest town in Waverley, and wonder how the hell you got there.
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.”
We have received an update from residents regarding the green belt Stonescapes site on Guildford Road, appeal decision:
“Stonescapes/Tunnel Grab Ltd – Successful opposition to appeal re Operating Centre for up to 10 HGV’s on Guildford Road, Cranleigh
The Decision of the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) on an appeal by Tunnel Grab Ltd in relation to land at Stonescapes/Yew Tree Nurseries, Guildford Road, Cranleigh against the decision of the Traffic Commissioner following a Public Inquiry on 7th April 2016, has just been confirmed.
Local residents, Surrey County Council and Waverley Brough Council (the representors) opposed the appeal and were successful. Accordingly, the appeal did not succeed and the decision of the Traffic Commissioner dated 23rd May 2016 following the Public Inquiry (to refuse the appellant’s application to add a new Operating Centre at Stonescapes/Yew Tree Nurseries for up to 10 HGV’s) stands.
In November 2016, the Upper Tribunal heard arguments from the appellant’s legal representative, local residents and Counsel representing Surrey County Council. The Upper Tribunal’s decision outlines the relevant legal framework, the background to the matter, the Public Inquiry and relevant extracts from the Traffic Commissioner’s original decision. It goes on to consider the various arguments raised by the appellant and on behalf of the representors. The Upper Tribunal concluded that it saw nothing ‘in the grounds of appeal to persuade it to overturn the Commissioner’s decision‘.
It went on to say ‘The basic findings of fact can not be said to be plainly wrong on the evidence before the Commissioner, the law did not require the Commissioner to come to a different conclusion and there is no material error of law in the decision. What is really being challenged is the Commissioner’s judgement and there is no basis for us to interfere with it’.
A full copy of the decision is available if anyone would like to see it – please email and we will try to arrange it.
Tunnel Grab Ltd has a month in which to appeal, if it so chooses to do, but the grounds for any such appeal are extremely limited so hopefully this will be an end to the matter.
It took a lot of work but the successful outcome has made it all worthwhile!”
I keep hearing that the reason we have so much development being approved in and around Cranleigh is because we have no Green Belt protection.
I had thought that the green belt was there to protect exceptional countryside, however recently I discovered that it’s a planning policy to prevent urban sprawl and can end up protecting countryside of quite low environmental value.
“Green Belt policy was established in 1955 primarily to stop urban sprawl. There are now 14 separate areas of Green Belt that cover 13% of England; mostly open land and countryside around the largest or most historic towns and cities.” – Taken from CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) website.
When I take my daily walk on the Surrey Hills I can’t help but feel that the stunning landscape around Cranleigh deserves equal protection, and that the countryside beyond the green belt is under huge threat like never before. Because of green belt planning policy, development is being pushed further out into open countryside and on to valuable farmland, with little or no infrastructure, and far from employment opportunities.
If agreed, this sets a dangerous precedent for Cranleigh and opens Waverley up to countless appeals should they refuse other green belt development in the future.
The green belt is heavily protected by Waverley’s own planning policies as well as by national planning policies and it is only in “special circumstances” that development is granted. We believe that there are NO “special circumstances” here. The application refers to a loss of employment, however this is a residential dwelling adjacent to “Stennetts Yard” it does not have commercial usage.
We sincerely hope that members of the Eastern Planning Committee will consider the contents of our letter sent today to them.
Although we are unable to persuade Waverley to grant us a public speaking slot for this evening’s planning meeting, as the minimum 5 objections had not been received by the closing date for comments (although objections are now growing), we still plan to attend the meeting this evening (13 July).
The meeting starts at 5pm at Waverley Borough Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming GU7 1HR.
PLEASE JOIN US AT WAVERLEY TONIGHT
Cranleigh’s green belt is under threat, if this application is approved this evening it WILL result in further applications and permanent damage to the very little environmental protection from green belt that Cranleigh has.
We have only just found out about this application on Green Belt at Gaston Gate for the erection of mixed use building to provide B1 Offices and 2 dwellings following demolition of existing dwelling and associated outbuildings, Applicant Company: Stennetts Ltd.
This is a substantial development which is being surprisingly recommended for approval by Waverley Borough Council Officers at the Eastern Area Planning Committee tomorrow evening – 13th July at 5pm. This is an exception to policyand if approved this will set an extremely dangerous precedent for redevelopment of houses in Rowley on the green belt and for significant infilling in this area as well. This will change the rural nature of Rowley completely.
The application went before Wonersh Parish Council, Cranleigh Parish Council were not consulted, and this was all they had to say about this significant development in the GREEN BELT. Although looking back they have not previously supported development in this area.
This development contravenes both Waverley’s own planning policies and the National Planning Policy Framework and Waverley’s planning officers have very good grounds to refuse it and yet they are recommending that permission be GRANTED. We cannot understand why such a significant development at the rural fringe of Rowley is being recommended for approval.
The proposal conflicts with national, and local planning policy regarding protection of the Green Belt as set out in Waverley’s policy C1 and the NPPF. There is clear presumption against inappropriate development in the green belt and development which adversely affects the openness of the Green Belt. This development would clearly be harmful to the openness of the green belt and its visual amenity. There are absolutely no special circumstances which justify this development that overcome or outweighs the harm.
The site is situated in Green Belt, of which Cranleigh has very little, and the NPPF is very clear on Green Belt status and its protection. Waverley as a planning authority has a statutory duty to protect this land. With nearly 900 dwellings already granted by Waverley in Cranleigh there can be no justification to attack the green belt as well. This also sets a dangerous precedent for this area.
The vast increase in development on this site conflicts with the inherent openness and rural location on the outskirts of Rowley.
Visual amenity will be diminished by virtue of the increase in size, bulk and the built height and footprint of the replacement structure, which will be very visible and overbearing due to its location.
This conflicts with Waverley’s policy RD2A – Replacement of Dwellings in the Countryside as the building is materially much larger than the previous building, including its bulk and height, is not of appropriate design compared to its locale and will be intrusive and detract from the rural character of Rowley.
It will result in a clear loss of privacy for the neighbouring property as well as an increase in noise and disturbance.
If refused by councillors it will NOT result in a loss of employment land – this is currently a residential dwelling house not a commercial property.