As an update to this previous article, we have now been informed that the Secretary of State has not agreed to call in this application.
So, sadly that’s another 265 houses approved to be built in an unsustainable location.
Original article follows:
Following the decision two weeks ago by Waverley Borough Council to approve the building of 265 houses on another of Cranleigh’s green fields, Cranleigh Civic Society has written to DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) to ask for the application to be ‘called in’. If accepted, this will lead to an inquiry being held by the Secretary of State.
Our reasons for requesting a call in are:
Cranleigh’s Parish Councillor Liz Townsend was denied a vote for this application, in place of the late Brian Ellis.
The vote was 8 for and 8 against, with the deciding vote given by a Hindhead councillor.
There were four missing members of the JPC who could have given their vote to one of the Cranleigh councillors in their place, but chose not to elect substitutes.
The Planning Officers were not acting impartially, but appeared to be in favour of the developers.
This application had previously been rejected and was just resubmitted without significant changes, so why was this allowed?
We have uncovered the existence of asbestos cement water pipes which could pose a serious risk to public health and if this is to be fixed 30% of Cranleigh’s drinking water pipes will need to be dug up. If not resolved the danger from asbestos will be exacerbated by the extra water pressure from new homes.
Why have the developers not been questioned about the illegal dredging of Cranleigh Waters carried out by a contractor at their request?
The KPI site fails the sequential test, as there are other sites better suited to development which do not flood. There will be no subsidised affordable flood insurance from Flood Re as, since 1 January 2009, new homes should not be built on high flood risk areas.
This application was submitted at the same time as an appeal against the refusal of the previous application, which in itself is odd.
For these reasons we have serious and valid concerns about the granting of this application and hope that the Secretary of State will agree with us.
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.
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.
JULY 2015 UPDATE The Secretary of State has upheld his decision NOT to request an Environmental Impact Assessment for the Crest Nicholson, Horsham Road, The Chantreys site.
Waverley Borough Council Joint Planning Committee granted permission to the planning application for 149 dwellings on the Crest Nicholson Horsham Road site in Cranleigh on 1 July 2015. The public gallery was full of concerned Cranleigh residents, including members of the Cranleigh Society.
Liz Townsend and Malcolm Terson spoke on behalf of residents.
It was a close decision, with many Councillors expressing their concerns for building on this beautiful green field, in the end the vote was 9 to 10 with the Chair of the meeting casting the deciding vote.
Environmental Impact Assessment
The Cranleigh Society informed the committee that during the first scoping stage of this application the Secretary of State (SoS) had issued a screening direction dated 25 August 2014 stating that an Environmental Impact Assessment was not required. The SoS_sreening opinion Horsham Road stated that (extracted paragraph below):
However as the other planning applications referred to in the letter were at an early stage the SoS decided that it was inappropriate to consider cumulative impacts with this proposal.
Since August 2014 Amlets lane site was approved for 125 dwellings, with work expected to commence soon. On 22 June 2105 the Eastern Planning Committee granted full permission for the Cranleigh Tile and Brickworks site, resulting in 70 HGV traffic movements a day to and from the site for a minimum of 5 ½ years in order to carrying building waste to create a cap for the considerable pollution on the site.
In the light of this new situation, the Cranleigh Society believe that there was a realistic prospect that the Secretary of State could come to a different conclusion with regard to the need for an EIA.
A screening decision must be lawful at the date of any planning permission. Unless a screening direction is referred back to the Secretary of State, there is a real risk that permission may be granted for development which is likely to have significant environmental effects without those effects being properly considered, contrary to Article 2.1 of the EIA directive.
We have asked the Secretary of State to intervene and request a deferment of a decision on WA/2014/1754 until he has reviewed the implications of the change of circumstances and decided whether an EIA is now applicable for this site. This is currently being considered by the Secretary of State.
Five Year Housing Supply
The council states that as it currently can not demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing sites, for housing applications, in so far as Policy C2 is a housing supply policy, under paragraph 49 of the NPPF, this policy must be considered out of date.
We asked Councillors to consider recent observations that there would be an oversupply of housing should deliverable green field sites be included in the recently published 5 year housing supply report. Also no robust evidence exists to suggest a number of green field sites should not be included in the five year supply.
We would also reiterate that in the case of Crane v SoS, Justice Linblom was clear with regards to the weight given to out of date policies in the absence of a five year supply:
“neither paragraph 49 of the NPPF nor paragraph 14 prescribes the weight to be given to policies in a plan which are out of date. Neither of those paragraphs of the NPPF says that a development plan whose policies for the supply of housing are out of date should be given no weight, or minimal weight, or, indeed, any specific amount of weight. One can of course infer from paragraph 49 of the NPPF that in the Government’s view the weight to be given to out of date policies “for the supply of housing” will normally be less, often considerably less, than the weight due to policies which provide fully for the requisite supply. …In Grand Union Investments Ltd. (at paragraph 78) I endorsed a concession made by counsel for the defendant local planning authority that the weight to be given to the “policies for housing development” in its core strategy would, in the circumstances of that case, be “greatly reduced” by the absence of a five-year supply of housing land. However, the weight to be given to such policies is not dictated by government policy in the NPPF. Nor is it, or could it be, fixed in the case law of the Planning Court. It will vary according to the circumstances, including, for example, the extent to which the policies actually fall short of providing for the required five-year supply, and the prospect of development soon coming forward to make up the shortfall.
But in any event, however much weight the decision-maker gives to housing land supply policies that are out of date, the question he has to ask himself under paragraph 14 of the NPPF is whether, in the particular circumstances of the case before him, the harm associated with the development proposed “significantly and demonstrably” outweighs its benefit, or that there are specific policies in the NPPF which indicate that development should be restricted. That is the critical question. The presumption in favour of the grant of planning permission in paragraph 14 is not irrebuttable. And the absence of a five-year supply of housing land will not necessarily be conclusive in favour of the grant of planning permission.”
With other significant sites in the local area coming forward, it could be reasonably argued that there are sufficient deliverable sites that are reasonably available within the plan period, as defined in NPPF (footnote 11):
“To be considered deliverable, sites should be available now, offer a suitable location for development now, and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years and in particular that development of the site is viable.”
Planning permission is not a requirement for a deliverable site, indeed Footnote 11 of the NPPF specifically does not preclude sites where planning permission has not yet been granted.
In view of the reasonable existence of deliverable sites the lack of a five year supply of housing should not be given such significant weight and policy C2 can be applied in its normal form.
Cranleigh village experiences regular flooding and was cut-off by flood water on Christmas Eve 2013, pressure on the sewage system also resulted in seepage into homes, including 17 houses adjacent to this site. In this singular event 56.8mm of rain fell on Cranleigh (source EA measurement taken between 10:30 on 23/12/13 and 05:15 on 24/12/13).
Based on recorded flood levels, it is estimated that the magnitude of flooding on this occasion was greater than the modelled 1% (1 in 100 year) annual probability flood plus an allowance for climate change and only 56mm lower than the modelled 0.1% (1 in 1,000 year) annual probability flood.
The site consists of sloping agricultural fields which are used every year for grazing sheep. It is located within the Countryside beyond the Green Belt outside any defined settlement area. Policy C2 of the Local Plan states that building in the countryside, away from existing settlements will be strictly controlled.
The Downs Link borders the west of the site with an allocation of higher density housing proposed for this area which will be easily viewed from the footpath. There will also undoubtedly be a loss of privacy for neighbouring dwellings, many of which have minimal fencing in order to enjoy views of the open landscape.
This development will have an urbanising effect on the Downs Link. It also abuts a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) to the South and is within 2km of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). There will also be the considerable loss of 5 Grade A oak trees which Officers state are of significant public visual amenity.
The NPPF states in paragraph 38 that developments should be located so that key facilities such as primary schools and local shops are within walking distance of most properties. This is not the case for this site where car usage would be heavily relied upon and public transport opportunities are limited.
“Walkable neighbourhoods are typically characterised by having a range of facilities within 10 minutes (up to about 800m) walking distance of residential areas” this site exceeds this limit and residents will heavily rely on car usage.
The site is approximately 1.35km (17 mins walk) from the outer edge of the site into the village (Stockland Square) and this increases to 1.8 (23 mins walk) from the inner edge of the site.
Using the Downs Link ramp exit at the edge of the site it is approximately 1.67 km (approx. 1 mile and 21 mins walk) to Stockland Square.
From the eastern edge of the site, walking to the village using the Downs Link this distance increases to 2.25 km (28 mins walk).
The Downs Link is an unlit, unmade rural footpath which is extremely muddy for long periods of the year and unsuitable and unsafe for daily journeys to and from the village.
Distance from Main Schools
Cuthbert Mayne Catholic Primary School 1.3km (15mins)
Glebelands (no sixth form on site) and opposite Cranleigh Primary School 1.7km (20 mins)
Park Mead Primary School 2km (25 mins)
Godalming Sixth Form College is 9.5 miles from Cranleigh (15.2km).
The above calculations use the accepted average walking distance for adults of 3mph or 4.83 km ph. Children walk at a slower pace of approximately 5.32 to 5.43 km ph.
The only available form of public transport is a rural bus service (no 63 and 63X) that runs along the Horsham Road. The service consists of 2 buses an hour to Horsham in the South and the same to Guildford in the North (the last bus is approximately 20:00 on a weekday). This service only runs on Saturdays until approximately 18:00 and there is no service on Sundays.
The Flood Risk Assessment for this site makes no mention of water quality from runoff released into the watercourse or of the widely reported serious flood event in December 2013, including 17 houses adjacent to this site. On page 55 of the Officer’s report it states that there is no flooding associated with the Holdhurst Brook although despite several residents’ objections that dispute this.
The basic outline for the SuDS proposal for the only seeks to mimic greenfield runoff. There is simply not enough detail provided in the attenuation storage or long term storage calculations to be reasonably certain that these SuDS are adequate, provide betterment and will not fail.
Paragraph 50 of the NPPF states that planning authorities objective should be to create mixed and balanced communities.
As outlined in the Officer’s report page 34 onwards the site fails to deliver the housing mix, including the provision of affordable housing, that is outlined in the West Surrey SHMA 2014 and contravenes paragraph 50 of the NPPF on more than one point which states that planning authorities should: “plan for a mix of housing based on current and future demographic trends, market trends and the needs of different groups in the community”
in addition to: “identify the size, type, tenure and range of housing that is required in particular locations, reflecting local demand”
The 149 dwellings on this site are split as follows:
59.5% of the houses on this site are 4+ bed which does not comply with the evidence in the West Surrey Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2014, SHMA). The report assesses the need for housing of this size at only 20%. This site provides nearly 3 times the figure quoted in the SHMA.
It is also misleading for the applicant’s agent to claim that the public consultation pointed firmly to the site being a lower density, family dwelling house scheme, to justify the over provision of larger properties. Only 78 feedback forms were received by Crest Nicholson – 4 supportive, 34 objecting and 40 with a range of concerns.
Officers in their report recognise that this development fails to comply with the SHMA and if this pattern were to be repeated across the borough it would fail to deliver the wide choice of homes for the needs of different groups in the community.
The Officers’ report recognises that the affordable housing on the site is also not being provided to meet local needs in Cranleigh, which has a lower demand, and will be offered borough wide. It also states that the applicant is failing to meet the 50:50 affordable rent/intermediate split outlined in the SHMA.
This development fails to meet both the identified requirements for market housing and for affordable housing. If green fields are to be built upon it should be in direct response to identified housing need.
There is a single access point to the site or 149 homes. A site of this size could generate an additional 300 cars which would have a significant impact on Cranleigh’s rural road network and our high street. We are not convinced by the applicant’s claim that 35% of residents will work “less than 2km” from home, when currently the average for Cranleigh is 21.7%.
There is no continuous pavement provided for pedestrians from the site entrance on the western side of the Horsham Road directly into the village, or to the bus stop on the Horsham Road for the service heading North towards Guildford.
Thames Water has stated that the existing system can not handle the increased foul drainage.
Residents in Horsham Road already report periodic foul water flooding. We are involved in an ongoing investigation with Thames Water and EA concerning a large and uncontrolled amount of sewage entering the surface water drainage network which is yet to be resolved and could be indicative of a major problem with Cranleigh’s main sewer.
This application should at the very least have been deferred until it is confirmed by the Secretary of State that an EIA is not required and the cumulative effect of development on Cranleigh and surrounding villages has been reviewed. It has been suggested that going ahead with a decision on the application whilst residents’ request is being considered could put that decision in jeopardy.
Specific weight cannot be applied to out of date policies. It could be reasonably demonstrated that Waverley has a five year housing supply when taking into account appropriate green field sites.
Policy C2 can be applied in its normal form. This application by virtue of its scale, number of dwellings and urbanising impact, including that on the Downs Link, and harm to landscape character would cause material and detrimental harm to the character and setting of the existing settlement and the intrinsic character, beauty and openness of the countryside contrary to policy C2, D1 and D4 of the Waverley Local Plan 2002 and paragraph 17 of the NPPF.
Contrary to policy D1 due to the openness of neighbouring properties there will be a reasonable loss of amenity in the form of privacy and light and levels of traffic which are incompatible with the local highway network when taking the cumulative impact of the HGV movements for the recently approved land recovery at the Cranleigh brickworks site and construction traffic for 125 dwellings on Amlets Lane.
Liz Townsend and Richard Bryant had a high level meeting on Thursday 19 February with Royal Sun Alliance (RSA) in Horsham, who were aware of pressure from developers to build on sites with high flood risk.
We discussed the remit of the Environment Agency (EA), which covers flooding from rivers and seas (fluvial) and the fact that the EA, as statutory consultee, can only object to applications on these grounds. In the case of the Cranleigh sites, the EA had strongly recommended that flood risk from surface and ground water should be investigated by Waverley Borough Council. The EA themselves have acknowledged the limitations of their flood maps for agricultural land, as they rely on instances of reported flooding to shape these and reports are invariably not made when green fields suffer a flood event.
RSA confirmed that their own flood modelling is based on many tools and data sources and that they have no appetite for insuring new properties built on flood plains and would consider ruling out entire estates if this was the case. This was an area that insurance companies were already discussing at government level in light of the FloodRe scheme, which only covers houses built prior to 1 Jan 2009. In applying this cut-off date the insurance industry as a whole is avoiding incentivising unwise building in known high flood risk areas.
RSA also echoed our concerns about the lack of inspection, maintenance and adoption of sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) such as those planned for the sites in Cranleigh. We both welcomed Eric Pickles’s statement on 18 December confirming that local planning authorities should consult the relevant lead local flood authority, in our case Surrey County Council, on the management of surface water with effect from 6 April 2015. However we recognised that 1,000s of new homes will have already been built, have had planning approved or applied for, where the SuDS have not been inspected, where no maintenance plans exist and without which the SuDS could become an additional source of flood risk for communities in the future. Planning for SuDS failure, as demonstrated at the Crest Nicholson site in Leverstock Green, is extremely important.
RSA also stressed the human aspect of flooding and the misery this causes. Not only is it an extremely frightening situation at the time, after flood water enters people’s homes, which inevitably also contains raw sewage, it is not unusual for people to be out of their homes for a year or more. In this time they may have to be housed away from their community, in a house or flat where there may be restrictions for pets, is situated far away from their childrens’ schools and also parents’ places of work. It is an extremely unsettling situation for the entire family and the nightmare of flooding in a high risk area is ever present.
It was an extremely productive meeting and our efforts in informing our community about the very real risk of unmaintained SuDS, together with the fact that new residents will not automatically get flood insurance cover were applauded by RSA.
This is an area that more and more people will unfortunately become familiar with in the forthcoming years.