Waverley Council’s draft Local Plan ‘not fit for purpose’

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Waverley Borough Council’s draft Local Plan is “not fit for purpose”, according to the Surrey Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

CPRE has submitted its reasoned objections to the Draft Local Plan. [A copy of the submission may be downloaded from the branch website www.cpresurrey.org.uk.]      

CPRE Waverley Group Chairman Anthony Isaacs MBE said: “We have examined the Draft Local Plan thoroughly and have come to the conclusion that it is not fit for purpose.”

The group gives six reasons for its damning indictment of the Draft Plan:

1.  The Plan is based on out of date information which greatly exaggerates the Objectively Assessed Need for housing (OAN). CPRE thinks it should be around 400 new dwellings a year, not 519

2.  The OAN is required to be a starting point for assessing need but in the Plan has been treated as an end point. It has not been adjusted to allow for Waverley’s exceptional countryside which is 92% of the Borough’s land area.

3.  Waverley Council claims that it needs to include the Dunsfold Aerodrome site in order to meet the OAN target of 519 new houses per annum.  It would not need to do so if the OAN is properly 400.

4.  Dunsfold Aerodrome is not 88% brownfield (as stated in the Draft Plan) or anything like it. It is also, says CPRE, an unsuitable and unsustainable site. This is not just CPRE’s view but that of a planning inspector in 2009 whose opinion was supported by the Secretary of State.  Nothing major has happened on the ground to justify ignoring the Secretary of State’s decision.

5.  Waverley’s over-burdened road system – particularly the rural roads round Dunsfold – cannot stand the strain of hugely increased traffic.

6.  The need for housing will require massive new infrastructure when there is already a very large funding gap for road improvement alone   which is very unlikely in our view to be affordable or deliverable and is therefore unrealistic.

“Importantly”, says Anthony Isaacs, “CPRE wishes to protect Waverley’s superb countryside which the Plan rightly describes as one of its greatest assets. The Plan seeks to meet inflated housing needs in priority to all other considerations and fails to strike the right balance because of a demonstrable lack of environmental capacity. There is plenty of land in the country which is not worthy of protection which can satisfy housing need.”

CPRE believes the Plan is “not soundly based” and that it needs to be “extensively revised” to meet the lower housing target and not try to use an unsuitable and unsustainable site in the countryside. “It could easily do so”, says Anthony Isaacs, “and strengthen the protection for our exceptional countryside rather than weakening and threatening it.”

The author Bill Bryson, a former National President of CPRE, in his recent and very popular book “The Road to Little Dribbling”, wrote: “I have said it many times before and it really cannot be stated too often: there isn’t a landscape in the world that is more artfully worked, more lovely to behold, more comfortable to be in, than the countryside of Great Britain.  I think it may be the British nation’s most glorious achievement.  All we have to do is look after it.  I hope that is not too much to ask.”

CPRE Surrey invites Waverley residents to view its submission on the Draft Local Plan. Its principal objections are summarised in paragraphs (a) to (h). “If you agree, please let us know.”