ELEVENTH hour protests failed to force a rethink and a new higher housing target of building 590 homes a year in 14 years was agreed by Waverley Borough Council, on Tuesday.

Following a special executive meeting which started at 5pm, 41 members of the full council voted in favour of the inspector’s changes to part one of Waverley’s local plan in order to speed up its adoption and “take back control” from speculative property developers.

Farnham Residents opposition leader Jerry Hyman was a lone objector while Andy MacLeod (Farnham Residents), Tory Kevin Deanus (Alford) and Lib Dems Paul Follows (Godalming) abstained.

Responding to a last- minute-challenge by Protect Our Waverley (POW) campaigners that Tuesday’s decision was unlawful, because the council had potentially breached its constitution by holding the Local Plan meetings too close together, Waverley’s Tory leader Julia Potts said it would be ‘very disappointing’ if POW pursued its challenge.

She said: “Waverley can proceed provided it is aware of the risk of challenge.”

POW had previously called on all borough councillors to defer a decision on whether to approve the modified Local Plan, until the appeal decision on whether 1,800 houses can be built at Dunsfold Park – which has now been allocated 2,600 new homes in the draft plan. That verdict is due by March 31.

Waverley is pinning its hopes on the Dunsfold Park plan being granted at appeal, with the extra 800 houses to be built at the airfield.

Miss Potts has already said if the application is not allowed: “It will not be good news for the borough in any shape or form or for any towns and villages within the borough.”

Dire warnings were made repeatedly at both meetings on Tuesday, that Waverley had no option but to approve the plan as soon as possible in order to protect the borough from any more speculative developments.

A succession of committee members said they were not happy with the increased housing numbers but it was important not to leave the borough “defenceless”, and adopting the plan would release more funding for infrastructure improvements through community infrastructure levies (CIL) imposed on developers.

Urging members to refuse ‘the worst case plan’ at both meetings, Mr Hyman objected there was insufficient evidence for the mitigation measures proposed to support developments in special protection areas.

But councillors were told by officers, the inspector was satisfied the document was legally compliant.

Mr Follows was cheered by residents in the public gallery when he said at full council: “Many of you are voting for something you don’t wish to be realised.

“I urge those with reservations to abstain.”

But Tory councillor Mike Band (Cranleigh) stressed it was a “no brainer”, saying: “I have serious reservations but they are barely relevant.

“This is the guideline for any future development in the borough. At least we will gather some protection and start CIL contributions that will benefit us and residents.”

Fellow Conservative Cranleigh councillor Mary Foryszewski said; “If there’s no part one, there’s no part two and no local plan.

“It’s too late for Cranleigh, you have destroyed our beautiful village, but it’s not too late for the rest of the borough.

“Any attempt to delay or derail puts Waverley at risk and will lead to more speculative development.

“While I don’t like it, it gives us the ammunition we need. We might get Guildford’s unmet housing need, if we don’t get ahead.”

Agreeing, Tory councillor Stephen Mulliner (Haslemere) said: “I’m strongly in support. We have seen one major change, which is the national housing shortage.

“Fundamental compromise has to be made on what you can achieve, what you like and what you accept from on high. This is the least bad option.”

Responding to Waverley’s decision, POW chairman Bob Lees described it as ‘turkeys voting for Christmas,’ objecting the vote had gone ahead, despite the group’s warning Waverley was potentially breaching its constitution and therefore committing an unlawful act.

“POW has consistently challenged the decision to place 50 per cent of unmet housing need from Woking in Waverley,” he said.

“Many councillors agree with that concern. It is simple common sense.

“But, like the council officers at the examination in public, they accepted the unsustainable target of 590 homes per year.

“Despite having being worked on for years and years, the council was faced with the choice of adopting this inadequate and inappropriate plan on the basis that any plan is better than none.

“What a sorry state of affairs. Waverley residents have been gravely let down.”

Part one of Waverley’s Local Plan is due to be adopted by October 2018 .

Officers said it will provide the ‘necessary platform’ for the completion of part two, scheduled be published in June 2018 with a view to adoption in April 2019.

Part one sets out the strategy for development until 2032 and the strategic policies and strategic site allocations to deliver it.

Part two will contain the development management policies and the remaining land allocations required to deliver part one.

There is a £100milllion shortfall in funding for infrastructure improvements needed to support the amount of development proposed, but Waverley believes it will be met by CIL contributions.