PLANNING COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE FARNHAM SOCIETY 8 JUNE 2105
The Planning Committee has met on one occasion since the last Executive Committee with the following matters discussed and acted upon:-
1. New Member of the Committee
Following a proposal by Michael Blower, seconded by Andy Macleod and supported by Roger Steel, the former Independent Councillor David Beaman has joined the Committee. This could only be a short-term appointment as David’s health might mean he has to move away from Farnham.
2. Air Pollution
Some of you will have seen the paper circulated by Roger Steel outlining the Supreme Court ruling that the UK Government must, by the end of the year, make plans to reduce air pollution which in Farnham is mainly caused by traffic congestion, diesel cars and trade vehicles.
This is mainly a Surrey CC matter but it is vitally important that the Society puts pressure on all levels of local government to ensure Farnham meets the legal requirements. At present it is falling woefully short. To this end we should like to recommend the establishment of a committee or working party to look at the whole issue of air pollution and, through the Executive Committee, put pressure on the relevant bodies. Such a committee wouldrequire people with specific expertise and Roger Steel has some suggestions. Work has already begun by Celia Sanders and Robert Mansfield and there is a planned meeting with Jeremy Hunt.
3. Town and Borough Elections
Congratulations to our former Vice Chairman Andy Macleod on being elected as a Farnham Town and Waverley Borough Independent Councillor; we are sure he will represent Farnham well. He has already been appointed to the Joint Planning Committee where he can ensure that the voice of the Society will be heard. However it has left a gaping hole on the Planning Committee and the Executive. We understand Roger Steel has offered to cover Andy’s place on the CPRE.
4. Bishops Steps Wall
As previously reported, the new wall on the castle side of the Bishop’s Steps is causing ongoing debate. It has generally been agreed that the new wall will be demolished and replaced with a low brick wall and then post and rail fencing to match the other side. The one remaining issue, as yet unresolved, is lighting. The wall as built included built-in low level lights to illuminate the steps but it is now suggested lighting could be provided by high level street lights along the embankment leading down to Castle Street. Surrey CC would be responsible for their installation to match the existing lamps along Castle Street. The Planning Committee supports the high level lights but FCAMP and the Castle operators prefer the low level lighting.
The architect appointed by the Church Commissioners, who are responsible for the property, has advised that five courses of bricks would be required to incorporate the low level lights and this would be out of keeping with the other side and the Grade 1 listed building. He is asking for the views of TFS and others on these two options.
5. Compton Fields, Waverley Lane
Following discussions with SOFRA we have objected to the 157 dwelling greenfield application on many grounds and, to sum it all up, the site is totally unsustainable. The added problem now is that Wates, the developer, has submitted two more application – one on the southern fields for 59 dwellings and the other on the northern fields for 98 homes, totalling 157. It appears they are hoping one of these smaller schemes will be permitted and then they can re-apply for the other. We will be objecting to these two new applications.
We are expecting another greenfield application at Little Acres Nursery, Badshot Lea for 99 dwellings very shortly. That will make some 750 new home applications on greenfield sites in the last nine months – ten times the annual new-build in Farnham.
The two refused applications are perhaps going to appeal and the developers are up to their tricks. Since late May they have been planting a row of 3 .5 to 4m tall cypress-like trees between the retained Heroncourt and the likely appeal site. I assume this can only be a temporary screen as the trees are planted, complete with their hessian wrapped root-balls, in 1.2m diameter buried containers so they can be removed. It is also clear that some of the excavations for the planting were within the root protection areas of a protected tree.
A further meeting is planned for 12 June to discuss the designs for the new build.
8. Heath Hill, Old Park Lane
This application for a replacement modern dwelling in an out-of-the- way site in north Farnham has split the committee. At our meeting most were in favour of objecting as they thought it was out of keeping with the architecture of Farnham. I questioned this view and suggested one of the architectural members should comment. I asked Mike Clements to take a look and his reply was ‘What a beautiful house. I wish I had one like that. Its design is a good response to its function, with an exciting structural expression. I see nothing harmful and suggest supporting it’. At the last online count there were 2 objections and 19 supporting, I may have to use a Chairman’s casting vote! It does however show personal opinions count as much as technical and architectural viewpoints.
2 June 2015