I reported as comprehensively as space permitted in the Society’s Spring Newsletter and the following is an update on changes to items reported then, and events since.
Farnham Neighbourhood Plan
The Society, alongside South Farnham Residents’ Association and Badshot Lea Community Association, funded 12,000 leaflets that were distributed by various Residents’ Association members, and individuals, before the Referendum, which took place on Thursday 4 May. I would like to thank everyone concerned for this support.
The Planning Committee responded to the Secretary of State’s letter (as reported in the Newsletter) and we have subsequently received a further response reinforcing his support for the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan.
Unfortunately a consortium of developers are challenging in court the Neighbourhood Plan Referendum and the Examiner’s report confirming that the Plan met required basic conditions subject to minor modifications. The reasons for the legal challenge are reported by Waverley as:
- The Examiner focused too heavily on the emerging Local Plan rather than the adopted one (2002).
- The Examiner sought views on a revised Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) policy but did not then deal with comments submitted to him by the claimants on the revised policy.
- The Examiner did not adequately deal with their criticisms on one of the evidence studies produced for the Local Plan in his report.
My understanding is that the Plan cannot be ‘made’ or adopted until the judicial review is quashed but we are supporting Farnham Town Council and Waverley Borough Council to ensure that the Plan is adopted as soon as possible.
On Friday 28 April the consortium withdrew their interim relief challenge (application for an injunction) to stop the referendum taking place, but have sought an expedited hearing date for the Judicial Review. The consortium are looking for a decision on the Judicial Review before the planning appeal decision dates noted on page 2 of this report. The Farnham Society website will report developments as they occur, (farnhamsociety.org.uk)
A date for the start of the Examination in Public (Inquiry) of the Waverley Borough Council Local Plan has been announced as Tuesday 27 June. A period of two weeks has been set aside for the hearing. The Inspector submitted questions to Waverley in accordance with procedure which Waverley have responded to. Unfortunately a consortium of developers, including the ones challenging the Neighbourhood Plan, have indicated their intention to also challenge the Local Plan. Publication of the Inspector’s report is not anticipated before late autumn. Tied in with this is an Inquiry into the proposed Dunsfold development. We will post updates on the progress of the Local Plan Inquiry on the Society’s website.
The application was called in by the Secretary of State on 8 March. I understand a date has been set for an Inquiry into the application and decision by Waverley as Tuesday 18 July, but this has not been verified. Documents from Waverley, the applicant and others are appearing on Waverley’s website. Again we will post updates.
Borough’s Five Year Housing Land Supply
Waverley’s claim of having a 5.79 year land supply was challenged by the Planning Inspectorate in two Appeal decisions. Waverley have now conceded that they have to accept a 20% buffer, so cannot demonstrate a 5 Year Housing Land Supply. When Farnham has the Neighbourhood Plan in place we only require a 3 Year Housing Land Supply to prevent developers appealing to develop sites not included in the Plan.
Government’s White Paper Fixing our broken housing market
We have submitted our response to the White Paper expressing concern that the proposals will not resolve the problem.
The Secretary of State is due to publish his decision on three appeals that were called in. The Lower Weybourne Lane decision (140 dwellings) is due not later than 15 June, Waverley Lane (157 dwellings) no later than 6 July and the Land at Bilton House (56 dwellings) no later than 20 July.
Currently appeals are lodged for the following sites:
- Lavender Lane, 9 dwellings, decision expected in May.
- Land at 35 Frensham Vale, 46 dwellings, Public Inquiry starting on 6 June.
- Land at Frensham Vale (Hamlet in the Woods), 130 dwellings, Public Inquiry starting 19 September.
- Land at Folly Hill, 102 dwellings, Application for Appeal currently being verified, date for Inquiry likely to be October / November.
Planning Applications Approved Recently
Notably the St Georges Road, Badshot Lea application, 69 dwellings, Town Hall Buildings, 9 dwellings and Little Acres, Badshot Lea, 80 dwellings, and the Farnham Town Football Club retrospective application for siting new changing rooms on the Memorial HallSports Ground.
Planning Applications Refused Recently
Notably the Farnham Park Hotel / Sumner Heath application, 97 dwellings, and Hawthorns, Bells Piece, Hale Road application, 65 dwellings.
Planning Applications Undetermined
Notably the land at Crondall Lane (Hopfields),120 dwellings, land at Green Lane, Badshot Lea,120 dwellings, Knowle Farm, Old Park Lane, 9 dwellings and the non- material amendment application for alterations to the lower ground floor and existing roof to the Memorial Hall.
The University for the Creative Arts have recently submitted an application for a new Film and Media Centre. The Planning Committee will review these proposals during the forthcoming weeks.
There was a consultation for the Baker Oates Stables site proposals on 3 & 4 March. We anticipate a new application shortly. Also the Switchback Lane, Rowledge application has not appeared on the planning lists yet.
The site has been recently acquired by the Berkeley Group for redevelopment with the benefit of outline planning permission for 96 dwellings and ground floor commercial space. Berkeley are consulting commercial operators and estate agents to confirm their intentions but it is likely they will submit a new Full Planning Application for revised proposals for a similar mix of uses with a similar bulk and mass of the approved scheme later this year. They anticipate starting work mid 2018. Berkeley’s undertook to consult with The Farnham Society.
2017 Amenity Awards
We are seeking nominations for buildings and schemes for consideration for the 2017 Farnham Society Amenity Awards. A separate sheet is enclosed with your pack.
The Recrafting Farnham Group are continuing to persevere in the background. They are planning an internal review meeting in May with a view to releasing a statement on their current position. As part of the Heritage Open Days weekend they will present their research, with feedback from residents, at the Maltings, and display the further upgraded East Street area model. Discussions are taking place about refreshing and upgrading the Farnham Design Statement but these are in their infancy.
I understand that revised proposals will be revealed and open to resident consultation in September 2017, although it is understood the scope of the proposals have been widened and the scheme been renamed the ‘Farnham Traffic Scheme’.
Liaison with Local Authorities and Statutory Consultants
We continue to meet and liaise with Waverley Planning Department but would like to increase the frequency of our meetings. A member of the Planning Committee is a Farnham Town Councillor so we are kept appropriately informed and also frequently have conversations with other Farnham Town Councillors. Some members of the committee are meeting Natural England in June to discuss the Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) guidelines.
The past twelve months have been both hectic and intense for the Planning Committee, but we have proved equal to the task and will continue to act as a ‘watchdog’ for the Society to guard against inappropriate design and development in Farnham.
Chairman, Planning Committee
9 May 2017