CCS received a grumbling letter – it goes something like this –
Let’s talk about Community Infrastructure Levy now at last we have a LOCAL PLAN, but what does this mean?
An agreed LOCAL PLAN gives our planners at Waverley Borough Council the power to control future housing development; they can plan for the development of new infrastructure, roads, railways, schools, hospitals etc. and very importantly it enables the Borough Council to charge house builders a COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE LEVY known as CIL for short.
What is CIL?
CIL raises monies towards the cost of the new Infrastructure needed for the developments to go ahead. What a wonderful step forward we all exclaim!! and so it is. But what of the housing already approved? approaching 2000 houses throughout the borough. Well unfortunately
According to WBC’s website Waverley’s draft proposal sets a CIL rate of £395/ Sq Metre of floor area for all new housing, (about £40,000 on an average 3 bed house), except quite reasonably for “Affordable Housing” where there is no charge. So taking the 35% of Affordable Housing the Borough is committed to build away from the approximately 2,000 houses so far approved, there will be a loss of CIL to the tune of a minimum £60 MILLION pounds. £60 MILLION pounds that will NOT be available to improve our ROADS, our SCHOOLS, our HOSPITALS, our BOROUGH!!
How could this have happened we may ask? It happened because our planning officers at Waverley failed to come up with a plan that satisfied the Government’s criteria for a LOCAL PLAN.
How a Local Plan is developed by the Borough Planners
The basic criteria affecting us as council tax payers was to identify suitable sites for new housing. This has to satisfy the Central Government’s housing policy, a requirement that was for about 350 houses a year until 2032. Woking B C have had an agreed Local Plan for some years that has now proved inadequate, so the inspector added a further 150 or so houses per year to WBC’s to cover their shortfall! So WBC’s Yearly requirement rose to 509 houses until 2032 (a total of 7,126 houses) 35% of which must be “Affordable”. Plus a further rise to 590 was deemed necessary by the inspector when I last looked.
What of democracy?
Of these 7,126 houses, a minimum of 4,300, rising to perhaps 5,000 are planned for CRANLEIGH and DUNSFOLD, with the balance spread around the rest of the Borough; We have to ask – just how democratic is that?
Improvements to our Local Roads and Rail?
Perhaps we could have a new road to rescue us from the A281 Blight? Unfortunately not: there will, however, be a new roundabout at Shalford, just 100 or so metres from the existing roundabout, which feels as if it will bring the traffic to a complete standstill; and the Elmbridge Road and Bramley crossroads junctions will be reconfigured, so that’s a relief!!! There will also be a new Canal bridge at Elmbridge but no new bridge over the old Railway.
What of the Railway?
No plans whatsoever have been considered since SCC’s last feasibility study found not enough demand and not affordable.
What of DUNSFOLD AERODROME?
There is a plan for 1,700 or so houses plus factories, shops, a school, a medical centre etc. awaiting Government inspector approval. Oh and in the future the prospect of an increase to 2,600 houses or perhaps 3,500 houses or most likely the full 6,000! Sadly, however, it seems that the developers have convinced the powers that be at Waverley that the development of Dunsfold would be jeopardised by the imposition of CIL on the whole development, so there will be NO CIL on the entire development – thereby saving the developers up to £100 MILLION over the life of the development – so that’s ok then.
So let’s hope the plan goes ahead fully and that our Planners use all their discretion to put right the wrongs – spreading the housing out more fairly – hunting for better sites…… they can – but will they?
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.
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?”
CRANLEIGH CIVIC SOCIETY.
Go to Waverley Borough Council website and complete the consultation if you feel you can.
Cranleigh Civic Society have confirmed the vote of “No Confidence” taken by those attending the public meeting on 25 May 2017 to the Leader, Julia Potts, of Waverley Borough Council and are now investigating in full the options available to us and the next steps we will be taking.
Dear Ms Potts
As you are aware, Cranleigh Civic Society recently organised a public meeting at our village hall at which we shared our knowledge of what is happening now, and what is being planned for the future of our village. Many of the 229 people who attended passionately expressed their anger and concerns about the volume of housing your team has approved to be built on our green fields and how many more you intend to send our way.
Equal to this were the worries about how our already poor infrastructure will cope with the huge increase in the population. As promised, I relayed your message of how much you care about our village, and I must tell you it was not well received.
At the end of the meeting we offered the opportunity for them to vote by a show of hands if they wanted to send you a strong and clear message that they do not have confidence in your team’s ability to care for the quality of our lives and wellbeing through your actions and inaction; 226 voted to support this statement, one opposed and two abstained.
VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL’S LEADERSHIP
On Thursday 25th May, Cranleigh Civic Society organised a meeting in the Village Hall to discuss the number of new houses where planning permission has already been granted and the further huge amount of housing being earmarked for Cranleigh in the draft Local Plan.
Subjects discussed included:
1. Waverley allocating a huge proportion (44%) of their borough-wide new housing target onto Cranleigh, knowing that there are few job opportunities locally.
2. Waverley holding secret meetings with developers.
3. A lack of concern and action by Waverley over the many infrastructure problems facing Cranleigh.
4. A lack of consultation by Waverley with Cranleigh residents and their Parish Council.
5. Waverley’s practice of recruiting substitutes to vote at JPC meetings (against Waverley’s own Constitution), and
6. Waverley’s inability to have produced a coherant Local Plan, having spent many unproductive years working on it.
Many residents expressed their deep concerns about the relentless growth of new housing in Cranleigh, particularly as Waverley Borough Council has simply not dealt with Cranleigh’s serious infrastructure problems first.
At the end of the meeting, local residents took a vote of “NO CONFIDENCE” in the Leadership of Waverley Borough Council.
The results of the vote were:
Here’s a link to a short video giving you a flavour of the meeting:
Since our posting on 30th January 2016 we have been regularly monitoring the movement of the bridge over the Downs Link on Elmbridge Road and liaising with Surrey County Council (SCC).
On 2nd March, Adrian Clarke (Chartered Builder and Committee Member of the Society) revisited the site as one of our members had alerted us to work being carried out. A sub-contractor acting for Surrey County Council was filling in the cracks with a weak mixture of sand and cement. Adrian noted that a crack not yet filled in had bulged more since his previous visit.
Filling cracks with a weak mortar mix is a waste of money – it was purely a cosmetic job to hide a very real problem.
It is our view that the bridge abutments should be renewed now whist the arch is still sound. If Surrey County Council delay this work until one of the abutments completely fails, then the structural arch will tilt and once this happens the whole bridge will have to be demolished and completely rebuilt. This would be both extremely expensive and disruptive to village life for a very long time.
In July, another Cranleigh Society member was studying a Surrey County Council document on Dunsfold Park and was startled to see reference to “Downs Link bridge (which is in need of structural work”. Obviously we drew the Council’s attention to this but they played down its significance.
On 2nd August there was a bridge collapse in Leicestershire – a bridge not dissimilar in design to the Downs Link bridge. This prompted us to research other bridge collapses and our findings were sent to Surrey County Council in the forlorn hope that these failures would spur them into taking our concerns more seriously.
At this point we decided to notify our MP, Anne Milton, of the matter and she is being kept informed of developments.
On 8th August we received an email from Surrey County Council which they hoped “would allay our fears” – it does not! They referred to:
The Council’s “scheduled and ad hoc visual inspections do not indicate there has been movement in the cracks that are visible from ground level” – we say get a ladder! Also, there is no mention of the walls bulging!
The “bridge was strengthened in 2006 ensuring the structure was capable of carrying a 40T full highway loading for single lane traffic” – we want to know why no weight limit has been imposed – also the traffic is controlled by lights and it is quite feasible for a breakdown on the far side of the bridge, or a slow cyclist, to bring a following mini convoy of 40T grab trucks to a halt! Also, nearby Hewitts has just been approved for development – even more HGVs!
“We do not currently have any concerns about the structural integrity of the bridge” – we say that this totally contradicts what Surrey County Council stated in the Dunsfold Park document!
Also in August the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) was published and this includes reference to the Downs Link bridge being rebuilt! We asked Surrey County Council to confirm this is correct but there was no response in their email of 16th November.
That email does refer to “seasonal movement of the wing wall foundations” which we find interesting. Structurally a bridge abutment is designed as a single composite component and if an abutment experiences cracking, then it is no longer acting as a single component – it is now two or more components and engineering performance is obviously compromised. This view is not accepted by Surrey County Council and they insist the bridge is safe – even though the Infrastructure Delivery Plan allows for it to be rebuilt!
Looking at all the photos again, we have noticed that the triangle of bricks within the crack looks different to the other bricks, perhaps suggesting that this section has failed before, was repaired and has failed again? We will investigate!
So this is where we are at right now but Cranleigh Civic Society will continue to monitor the bridge and do everything possible to ensure it is made “fit for purpose” for the traffic demands of the 21st century.
Subsequently on Thursday 15 December it was confirmed that a planning inspector had in fact been appointed to carry out an inquiry into the granted application. The inspector will report their recommendation to the Secretary of State who will then make the final decision on Dunsfold Park.
This is where an application goes to The Secretary of State (SoS) for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid MP, for his final consideration and determination.
Applications are called-in where planning issues of more than local importance are involved. This can include applications which:
Are of national significance.
Conflict with government policy.
Impact on long-term economic growth.
Have significant effects beyond their immediate locality.
Raise significant architectural and urban design issues.
Involve national security or foreign governments
Where an application is called in, a planning inspector is appointed to hold an inquiry into the application and the Secretary of State takes the findings of this inquiry into account when they make their final decision.
The Dunsfold Debate
On the night of the JPC meeting, Surrey County Council Highways Department and the Environment Agency maintained their objections to the application on traffic impact and water quality.
The debate lasted over four hours. Points in favour of the application included the total number of dwellings, including 30% affordable housing, which would meet a significant percentage of the borough’s housing need, as well as significant employment opportunities being provided on site (Dunsfold is already one of the biggest employment sites in the borough), a new primary school and a local bus service funded in perpetuity. Cllr Foryszewski said:
“This is a development we can be proud of, that can be exemplary, built for the future, to address how we live and work.”
Cllr Cockburn, also spoke in favour of the application saying that:
“We have been saying for years, use brownfield sites first, especially in Farnham and Cranleigh.”
However, councillors also voiced concerns about traffic. It was pointed out that significant impacts on the surrounding highways had led to the dismissal of the previous planning Appeal in 2009. Furthermore, the robustness of traffic modelling was brought into question and was said to be “more of an art than a science” . The extent of objectors and the evidence they had submitted, including a professional transport study, should, it was noted, be taken seriously. Although it was recognised that there would be considerable contributions from the applicants, amounting to a package of approximately £40M, which is proportionally far higher than those negotiated with other Cranleigh developers, the opportunity to deliver extensive road improvements, due to the limiting characteristics of the A281, was questioned.
Cranleigh Civic Society would stress that we feel that these same characteristics should apply to the over 1,500 dwellings being proposed for our village too.
Cllr Mulliner (Haslemere East and Grayswood Ward) pointed out that this was the most significant site in Waverley and highly contentious, having had over 5,000 objections submitted against it. He disagreed with officers on the point of prematurity with regard to the Local Plan, which he pointed out was at an advanced stage, having been agreed by full council two weeks previously, and was being submitted for examination by the inspector two days later on 16 December 2016 (the Local plan has 3,500 objections against it).
Dunsfold Park is listed as a Strategic Site in the Local Plan with a total of 2,600 dwellings proposed for the site. Cllr Mulliner expressed his concern that the application should not be determined until the Inspector had rigorously examined the Local Plan and agreed that the Dunsfold site should be included. Otherwise, he said, this could be predetermining the scale, position and phasing of 25% of Waverley’s entire housing allocation. He went on to state that this was “clearest possible case of predetermination and pre-emption of the Inspector’s role”.
The Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) figure of 519 dwellings per year for the Waverley borough was also commented on. This figure has already been challenged by the Neil MacDonald Report (September 2016). The report concluded that the OAN figure should be reduced by approximately 120 dwellings per year. Over the lifetime of the local plan this could equate to a total decrease of 2,280 dwellings.
The MacDonald concludes that:
“The key issue emerging from this report is the significantly different picture painted by the most recent projections and population statistics from that set out in the SHMA. Whilst the SHMA suggests that the full objectively assessed need for housing in Waverley is 519 homes a year 2013-33, the analysis in this report indicates that an up to date estimate would lie in the range 400 +/- 30 homes a year.”
( SHMA = Strategic Housing Market Assessment. The last assessment was carried out in September 2015 by GL Hearn and set the annual housing need for Waverley at 519 dwellings – see page 117)
“5.13 In conclusion we recognise that if repeating this work today a different figure is likely to emerge, particularly as we would have a different starting point. This reflects the availability of data. However our approach is one that reflects the NPPF and PPG and remains a sound basis for planning.”
We now await the Inspector’s report to the SoS, which may take a couple of months to be issued.
You can watch the full Waverley meeting from 14 December 2016 here on YouTube.