Monday’s High Court judgment means Dunsfold Park is now on track to build 1,800 homes in the short term – with up to 2,600 to follow – as allocated in Waverley’s planning blueprint.
Deputy High Court Judge Nathalie Lieven QC rejected challenges by Surrey Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and Protect Our Waverley (POW), and a further POW challenge against the secretary of state’s decision to grant outline planning permission for Dunsfold Aerodrome.
The decision followed a hearing at the High Court on October 9 and 10 to determine if the Local Plan Inspector had unlawfully included 50 per cent of the unmet need from Woking borough in Waverley’s Local Plan, adopted in February this year.
Responding to the judgement, Kristina Kenworthy of Richard Buxton solicitors, which represents CPRE, said: “We are very sad today and I think this case raises issues that apply across the country.”
POW chairman Bob Lees, said: “This was a golden opportunity, sadly missed, to significantly reduce the housing numbers for the whole of the borough. ”
Waverley Friends of the Earth (FoE) welcomed the court’s decision to give the go-ahead for what will be the largest housing development under single ownership in the borough.
FoE spokesman Mike Smyth said: “We first engaged with the proposed development of this very large site in 2006. It has always been obvious that the site would – and should – be developed, and the best development would be as an exemplar new settlement.
“It is very unfortunate, particularly for Cranleigh and Farnham, that it has taken so long to get to this point. In the meantime, many greenfield sites have been lost to speculative and poor-quality development which in some cases have made scandalously-small contributions to local infrastructure and services.
“Dunsfold should be very different. The plans are for an exemplar new community. By winning the court case, Waverley now has an adopted local plan. Hopefully the planning officers and members can now raise their game and concentrate on positive planning, resulting in development that makes a real contribution to the community.”
Waverley set aside £300,000 to cover its legal costs and joined Dunsfold Park in objecting POW was not entitled to Aarhus costs protection that would reduce its bill to £10,000.
Both parties objected POW had not supplied enough information about the financial support it could draw on from its supporters.
In the event, the High Court ruled CPRE should be granted full protection and POW partial protection. CPRE has been ordered to pay Waverley £10,000 and POW must pay the council £30,000.
The two claimants asserted the Inspector had failed to give adequate reasons as why he had included a proportion of Woking’s unmet housing need in Waverley’s Local Plan.
Dismissing the applications, the judge stated the Inspector took a “sensible, pragmatic and in my view lawful approach”.
POW also argued planning permission for Dunsfold Park had been granted on the basis of the wrongful inclusion of Woking’s unmet need in the Local Plan. The judge dismissed this claim, upholding the secretary of state’s decision to grant planning permission for the development.
Welcoming the decisions, Waverley leader and Farnham councillor Julia Potts said: “We are pleased to have been vindicated in the High Court – although it is a shame that, despite the adoption of the Local Plan having followed due process, we have had to use council taxpayers’ money to defend the Local Plan against the legal actions of two campaign groups. Although I understand planning for our future isn’t an easy subject, it is essential we have a Local Plan that enables us to have the control to shape our borough for future generations.”