The Society urges members to support the Neighbourhood Plan
As reported in last week’s Farnham Herald independent examiner Derek Stebbing concluded from his examination of the Review Plan that, subject to a list of modifications, the Reviewed Plan meets Basic Conditions. These words don’t sound as rapturous as maybe they could but they give the go ahead to the reviewed Plan which is exactly what we wanted to hear. Mr Stebbing could have concluded that no modifications were required at all, which was very unlikely, and could have concluded that no referendum was required but that was equally unlikely.
Because of the length of time the Mr Stebbing was taking to publish his report, several of us on the Farnham Society Planning Committee were becoming increasingly concerned that he had found an issue with it. I more than the others probably.
The Public Examination took place on Tuesday 1 October after he had conducted a Procedural Exploratory Meeting on 4 June 2019. Mr Stebbing concluded from the Procedural Exploratory Meeting that the Reviewed Plan had material modifications and therefore it was required that he undertake a public examination of the Reviewed Plan.
Mr Stebbing methodically dismissed one after another of the challenges from the developers in his report published on 9 December 2019. The report can be accessed via this link, click here.
Why was the Reviewed Plan necessary ? The Farnham Neighbourhood Plan was originally ‘made’, the technical term for adopted on 31 July 2017. The referendum on Thursday 4 May 2017 saw the original Plan receive a 88% ‘yes’ vote with a turnout of 38.75%. A truly impressive result illustrating to both developers and the former Waverley Borough administration that the residents of Farnham were overwhelming supportive of the Plan.
Along came Waverley’s past Tory administration, responsible for, in my view finalising the Brightwells potential disaster on us and decided that she would put a spanner in the works by requiring Farnham Town Council either to review the Plan immediately or they would get Waverley planners to select the sites to accommodate the additional 450 dwellings within Part 2 of their Local Plan.
They are completely responsible for the requirement for the Reviewed Plan process. She could have simply asked for a clause to be written into the Local Plan Part 1 that Farnham was required to review its Neighbourhood Plan within, let’s say five years, so 2022.
We would have had the protection of the Neighbourhood Plan and the Folly Hill housing development wouldn’t have been allowed by the Planning Inspector.
Furthermore, Farnham Town Council wouldn’t have been required to spend thousands of pounds to prepare the new Plan and go through the current process now. Further expense is still required by the forthcoming referendum.
As reported in the Farnham Herald last week new outline planning applications from Bewley Homes and Wates Developments have been submitted and validated, for 140 dwellings and 146 dwellings respectively. Application numbers WA/2019/1905 and WA/2019/1926. Please look at and comment on these applications, ideally objecting. Farnham now has provided its allocated requirement of homes until 2032. The sites allocated within the Plan will proceed, we don’t want an additional 280 plus houses in Farnham. I do hope that the developers, whose sites are not included as housing allocations, notably Bewley and Wates accept the contents of the report and look elsewhere rather than destroy our green fields.
I hope also that the new Head of Planning, Zac Ellwood, supports the Planning Development Plan, ie the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan. The harm from these developments far out-weighs the benefits to the town.
The Planning Committee are delighted that the Plan can go to referendum and hope that all residents able to vote will support it. The Farnham Society will be taking on the challenge of raising further awareness of the Plan’s benefits, and of the need to vote for it in the referendum, enabling its adoption.
The Society will be mobilising volunteers to leaflet homes throughout the town. A date for the referendum has to be determined but we hope it is before the end of February or at the latest early March. If you would like to help, please email me on email@example.com
We need to demonstrate to the Waverley, the Planning Inspectorate and particularly the developers that Farnham supports the Neighbourhood Plan.