URGENT calls made at Tuesday’s Executive to back Waverley’s draft Local Plan for 9,862 more houses by 2032 or “lose all control”, triggered an almost unanimous vote recommending the document is approved for publication.
Waverley Council will decide on Tuesday (July 19) whether to approve the recommendations, which also authorise Waverley’s head of planning services to make “any further minor amendments” to the document as a result of key evidence not yet completed.
Concerns were voiced at Executive that Waverley’s Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) containing mitigation measures to cope with the huge increase in housing needed in order to meet government targets, had not yet been published.
Speaking in the public questions slot, Protect Our Waverley deputy chairman Chris Britton objected that building 45 per cent of the new houses in the Cranleigh, Dunsfold and Alfold area was disproportionate, “where infrastructure and especially transport links are known and acknowledged to be poor and no major strategic plans are set out for funded improvements necessary to make such development sustainable”.
Presenting Waverley’s ‘watchdog’ joint overview and scrutiny committee comments on the draft Local Plan, its chairman Farnham councillor Pat Frost requested an up-to-date IDP be provided and “specific contact” be made with providers, including Thames Water and South East Coast Ambulance, which were “not currently able to meet their targets”.
Dunsfold borough councillor John Grey warned “much infrastructure would be needed to cope” with 3,000 new homes in the Cranleigh area, as well as the 2,600 allocated in the plan for Dunsfold Park.
Haslemere borough councillor Stephen Mulliner urged Waverley to “adopt a more cautious tone” concerning the new settlement allocated for Dunsfold Park, given that a similar sized settlement had been refused on appeal in 2009 as unsustainable.
“I expect that to be vigorously opposed by the inspector and we might not get our way,” he said.
Alfold borough councillor Kevin Deanus, the only committee member not to vote in support and who abstained, said: “There are 1,700 letters of objection to the Dunsfold Park application for 1,800 homes, that’s a high level of opposition that does not appear to have been considered.”
Mr Deanus and many other councillors also voiced concerns about road safety and air pollution as a result of the increase in traffic, but Waverley’s planning portfolio holder Brian Adams said Surrey County Council had not said it was unsustainable.
“We would have liked them to come back and say it was unsustainable and would have a severe impact and because of that they would not approve the potential sites, but they haven’t done that,” he said.
Waverley leader Julia Potts told the meeting the IDP was almost complete and a draft copy would be circulated to members shortly.
“I’m very mindful of the challenges residents face,” she said. “One thing we need to make sure of while we are asked to make these very difficult choices is the fact we need to have a sound evidence-based plan.
“We can’t have a plan that fails because we will end up with the Planning Inspectorate telling us where homes can be built and we will lose all control. We have a duty to ensure we are back in the driving seat and have appropriate development in the borough.
“This will go before council and if agreed, we will ensure there is time for public review and comments. This is still a living, working document”