Waverley’s Making Waves special edition on the Local Plan

Waverley distributed 56,000 copies of the special edition of Making Waves with feedback questionnaire to Waverley households. Unfortunately due to a postcode error some areas of Farnham, namely The Bourne, Hale, Tongham, and Seale & Sands were not included. Following complaints from Society members this was corrected but not until around half way through the six week consultation period. Even by the end of the consultation some residents had not received the questionnaire.

 Farnham Society’s advice on how to respond to the consultation

The consultation asked residents to answer eleven multiple choice questions and to rank four potential housing scenarios  in order of preference. The Society advised its members on how to answer the multiple choice questions and to rank Scenario 4 as their preferred choice. The society’s full advice to members is set out below.

Scenario 4 offered the lowest level of development on greenfield land throughout the borough and in Farnham and the highest amount of development on the largest brownfield site available in the borough at Dunsfold Aerodrome.

Results of the consultation

Waverley has published the results of the consultation on its website. Results link

4265 responses were received via the on-line questionnaire. 80% of the respondents chose Scenario 4 as their preferred option and 81% chose Scenario 1 as their least preferred option. Scenario 1 is the option which has the most development on greenfield land and no development on brownfield land at Dunsfold. 

Rather curiously the Winter edition of Making Waves contained a two page report on the consultation without mentioning the outcome, which had been available on the Waverley website for some time. The comments from two members of the public, neither of whom were recorded as having  actually submitted a response to the consultation, did not relate to the main outcome of the consultation. The first one complaining about the traffic on the A281 would be a representative comment of the 20% who did not wish to see housing at Dunsfold Park, rather than the 80% who do.

In a tiny box at the end of the article Making Waves informs us that “A summary will be produced in the next Making Waves”. This will be in the Spring 2015 edition, many months after the outcome of the consultation was known.

What happens next

Waverley state that they will now consider all comments received during our Local Plan consultation, together with the outcome of work undertaken with local stakeholders. These will be used to inform the draft Local Plan.

The timetable Waverley is  working to is as follows:

March 2015 Publish Draft Local Plan and consult on soundness
June 2015 Re-submit Plan for examination
September/October 2015 Examination hearings
December 2015/ January 2016 Inspector’s report
February/ March 2016 Adopt Plan

NB: All dates are provisional.

The Society’s email to members

Peter Bridgeman, the Chairman of the Society’s Planning Committee,  issued the email below to Society members with advice on the completion of the feedback form:

Dear Farnham Society Member (and please pass this on to friends and neighbours if you think appropriate)

You should all have now received the Making Waves leaflet from Waverley Borough Council (WBC) enclosing the Local Plan Feedback questionnaire.  If you have not already done so, we urge you to complete and return by the closing date of 17 October.  In case you are not sure about any of the questions, the Society’s Planning Committee has prepared some suggested answers – but of course it is up to you to form your own opinions. The background to all this is the new Local Plan which WBC currently intends to re-submit for examination in June 2015. Subject to a successful Examination in Public and obtaining approval from the Planning Inspector, the plan will be adopted by March 2016. This plan sets out the amount of suggested new development within Waverley until 2031.  Waverley’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment indicates that 8450 new homes are required in this plan period or 470 dwellings per year throughout the Borough.  It is clear we shall have to see an increase in the 230 new homes per annum proposed for the Borough in  the previous version of the plan, but we are anxious to ensure that the level of development for Farnham will not spoil our wonderful historic town or overburden our already creaking infrastructure.   We would wish to maximise the use of brownfield sites (those that have already been built on) to lessen the need to build on greenfield sites,especiallylarger sites on the edge of the town. The major brownfield site in Waverley is Dunsfold Park, a former WW2 aerodrome. This is the first time WBC have included Dunsfold in any draft plan and the four scenarios give differing numbers of proposed new dwellings for this land.  Clearly the more houses at Dunsfold the fewer will be required elsewhere.  Against that background, our recommended responses to the feedback form are as  follows:-

1. Recommend tick box – Slightly agree as we shall have to accept some increase in housing numbers.

2. We recommend that you tick box – Strongly disagree. This is an ambiguous question but we have established that WBC intends it to mean developments on greenfield sites on the edge of the built-up area of the town not the town boundary. We wish to see developments focused as far as is possible on brownfield sites, including Dunsfold park.

3 to 11.  We recommend you tick box Strongly agree to all of these questions as they support the best use of land and thus help protect Farnham.

2. This requires you to give your views on the four scenarios.  It is our view that only number 4 is acceptable and even that will require building on greenfield sites. We recommend proposing that Scenario 4 in the Farnham’s greenfield allocation should be reduced from 700 to 454, the number proposed in the previous version of the plan.  Scenarios 1, 2 and 3 are totally unacceptable and not even deliverable as there is little prospect of  Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) capacity being found.

WBC also invite your views on  any different scenarios and we suggest a 5th option making even greater use of Dunsfold with 5000 plus homes, thereby avoiding the use of greenfield sites in Farnham and the rest of the Borough.

3. We recommend  ranking  Scenario 4 Box as 1 in your order of preference and leaving the   others blank to give no support to Scenarios 1,2 or 3. We are assured this is a valid response.

4. We recommend making the following points in your own words

  • The 8450 number is unrealistic as a target in the timescale, being equivalent to producing a new town the size of Godalming.
  • It has not been justified as presenting real housing needs in Waverley.
  • The public should be given the opportunity to comment on the appropriate level of housing development in the Borough, as they were with the previous versions of the Local Plan.
  • We have no confidence that adequate infrastructure improvements can be or will be provided to support this  proposal to more than double the level of housing in the Borough.

We hope this information will assist and encourage you to participate in this important consultation and thereby help control new housing in Farnham.