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Letter: A Dismaying Disregard and Disrespect for the Opinions of Our Parish Council

Published on: 9 Sep, 2022
Updated on: 9 Sep, 2022

From: Penny Panman

In response to: Are Councillors Apologists for Developers or Advocates for Residents and Voters?

See also: ‘Urban Housing Estate at Heart of a Surrey Village’ Approved

On Wednesday evening (September 7) the Guildford Borough Council Planning Committee considered the detailed application by Taylor Wimpey for a site in East Horsley that had already been given outline planning permission for 110 houses.

This is a significant development that will have considerable impact on the village and is actually just one of several developments in East and West Horsley.

As this development is at the end of my garden I have been taking an interest in the planning process, so I viewed the streaming of the planning meeting with interest.

And surprise. The proceedings were dogged by technological glitches, confusions and unmuted mics. Taylor Wimpey’s application was read out in its full glory of “landscape-led”, “vernacular architecture”, and “wildlife” developer-speak, with accompanying attractive images of leafy lanes and trees and not a parked car in sight.

A very limited discussion then ensued in an atmosphere that was quiet, not very interested and not bothered about detail.

So some of the buildings were slightly too tall? Shrug. Only a little bit so who cares?

So the tall boarded fences around the gardens would inhibit wildlife? Shrug. There were probably going to be some little hedgehog holes so that was all right.

There weren’t enough bicycle racks? Shrug. Most people would have their bikes in their houses.

Would the bungalows have dedicated disabled parking bays? Shrug. Probably.

So far, so amateur. But what dismayed me the most was the committee’s total disregard and disrespect for the opinions of East Horsley Parish Council, who had submitted a very careful and considered response to the application in writing, listing their objections on many fronts, one main one being the developers’ disregard for the East Horsley Neighbourhood Plan.

This plan was created with local input over a long period to establish the ground rules for the future appearance of the village. But to no avail. And when the Taylor Wimpey representative blithely claimed in his statement that the Neighbourhood Plan had been adhered to only one councillor mildly questioned this.

Local opinion counted as naught and the application was approved by 11 to 3. This outcome would have been more acceptable had a more energetic, involved discussion taken place first, but the tone was listless and barely interested. I doubted that many councillors had bothered to prepare by reading up the details of the application.

I assume that councillors who stand for election have honourable motives and sincerely intend to represent the opinions of their constituents. At some point, this intention seems to be lost.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: A Dismaying Disregard and Disrespect for the Opinions of Our Parish Council

  1. Simon Mason Reply

    September 9, 2022 at 4:43 pm

    I believe the Parish Council could seek a judicial review of the decision if they feel that the approval is contrary to the policies in the Neighbourhood Plan and these policies were overlooked. Jules Cranwell has experience of crowdfunding these.

    I wonder whether there is councillor fatigue creeping in as well with all the applications they have to study.

    Parish councils spent a lot of time and money producing these Neighbourhood Plans and if they are ignored then this is completely unacceptable.

    What is also totally unacceptable is the fact that the Conservatives misled the Parishes into believing that with a Neighbourhood Plan in place they stood to receive 25 per cent of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) received from developers yet they and subsequent parties have failed to adopt a CIL charging structure. If CIL had been adopted then East Horsley PC would be looking at a cheque for circa £2.5 million from this development to spend on their community. That would soften the blow.

  2. David Roberts Reply

    September 9, 2022 at 8:54 pm

    Neighbourhood Plans cannot be adopted without the approval of the borough council, who have to verify that they comply with the borough’s Local Plan, nor without a local referendum vote by residents.

    This gives them a far greater democratic legitimacy than the Local Plan itself which even one of Guildford’s Tory MPs described in 2019 as “disastrous”, “flawed” and “adopted in a hurried and undemocratic manner”. The contempt council planners routinely show towards Neighbourhood Plans is therefore a scandal typical of our thoroughly corrupt planning system.

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