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Letter: Our Shalford Planning Issue Has Not Been Properly Dealt With

Published on: 21 Oct, 2015
Updated on: 21 Oct, 2015

Planning Let 2From Graham Moore

It is not only Mr Mansbridge who has given Guildford the reputation of being a Rotten Borough by refusing to adopt a policy of openness and transparency. There is, in my view, something very wrong in the planning department of Guildford Borough Council too.

The two new Shalford ward councillors, Michael Illman and Mike Parsons, have refused to examine apparent irregularities in a recent planning application decision, and have ignored their predecessor James Palmer’s undertaking, to refer the case to the planning committee.

A developer bought a plot of land in Shalford, outside the village settlement area, in the green belt and an area of great landscape value. He has built a replacement house more than 60 per cent larger in volume, with a roof ridge two metres higher than the existing house.

This is contrary to the planning permission for permitted development, which he originally obtained in 2013 only after pre-application advice to reduce his plans. It also ignores the policies that ensure replacement buildings in the green belt are not materially larger or taller than the original.

The developer has been required to make a retrospective planning application. It has taken eight months for this to be decided. In spite of the fact that the new building breaches GBC’s policies, and in spite of the many inconsistencies and omissions in the application, the officers’ have refused to justify their decision to recommend approval.

We therefore alerted our ward councillors and asked them to refer the case to the planning committee who set those policies. They refused to do this, and now refuse to explain their reasons.

We need to know why the planning officers seem to be biased in favour of a particular developer, and why our councillors have failed to ensure that the council’s own policies are upheld.

Moreover they are neglecting their responsibilities under the Nolan Code to explain their decision.

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Responses to Letter: Our Shalford Planning Issue Has Not Been Properly Dealt With

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    October 21, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Sounds familiar. It would appear that the rules are not always applied with the same rigour.

    Three Farms Meadows is an example. Application 15/p/01206 was for permission to erect a single three bedroom dwelling in place of a tennis court within the green belt and within 400m of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Area in Ockham. It was refused on the officer’s recommendation, inter alia, because:

    “i)By virtue of its location within 0-400m (the exclusion zone) of the Thames Basin Heaths
    Special Protection Area (TBHSPA), it is not possible to mitigate against the effects of the proposed development.

    “ii)The proposed development would represent inappropriate development within the green belt which is, by definition, harmful. No very special circumstances have been demonstrated that would outweigh the harm to the green belt by reason of inappropriateness. Furthermore no very special circumstances are considered to exist.”

    Precisely the same considerations apply to application 15/p/0012, which is for permission to build a whole new town of 2100 houses at a density greater than that of Tower Hamlets on the adjacent site.

    In the former case the rules have been applied. In the latter the applicant has been given up to a whole YEAR to alter its application after it has been submitted. GBC and SCC have been falling over themselves to find ways of altering the local lanes (including plans to close Ockham Lane and Plough Lane and to make Old Lane and Guileshill Lanes one way) to accommodate a new town in a completely unsuitable location.

    We even had a member of the Executive come to Ockham Parish Council this month where he said that a new town would not affect Ockham. To say that is not very well informed would be an understatement. Three Farms Meadows is slap bang in the middle of the Parish!

    The inclusion of Three Farms Meadows in the now infamous draft Local Plan and its inclusion in the GBCS could be considered efforts to predetermine its suitability for development.

    This example (and there are others) strongly suggests that there are definitely rules for applications that the Executive considers ‘strategic’ and rules for the rest. Local residents who have lived here for decades have to follow the rules. So should the Caymans property developer that has bought into agricultural land only very recently in the hope of a quick profit.

  2. Anna-Marie Davis Reply

    October 21, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    This is unsurprising. The redress available to you is a formal complaint addressed to Satish Mistry in his role as monitoring officer. This is a hoop which must be jumped through prior to seeking a response from the Local Government Ombudsman.

    It may also be worth a quick look at the Councillor Code of Conduct. Mr Mistry’s job to ensure that this is upheld.

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