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Waverley and Farnham Councils Considering Legal Review of Planning Appeal Decision

Published on: 9 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 10 Aug, 2023

Old Compton Lane near Farnham Image Google

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

Battle plans are being considered to challenge the “distressing” and “confusing” decision to allow nearly 150 homes on Surrey greenfield land – although the council said it was still “too early” to discuss.

The government’s planning inspector overturned Waverley Borough Council’s decision to refuse 146 homes on land near Old Compton Lane and Waverley Lane, a little to the west of Guildford Borough, near Farnham in July.

But the council has refused to step aside and call time on the eight-year planning dispute and instead vowed to “work alongside Farnham Town Council to seek grounds to challenge the inspector’s decision”.

The saga dates back to 2014 when Wates Developments submitted plans for 190 homes – which the council rejected.

Undeterred, the developers returned on five separate occasions, eventually succeeding on appeal following a four-day inquiry.

Planning inspector Lesley Coffey ruled in favour of the plans as the council demonstrated a significant shortfall in the land it was able to provide for new homes.

The ruling came just weeks after the council was slammed for having “little concrete evidence” it had a credible housing strategy.

The planning inspector made the remarks as he dismissed an appeal by developers Bewley Homes over the authority’s refusal of 140 homes in Lower Weybourne Lane, Badshot Lea.

It was only due to the strength of the Farnham neighbourhood plan that the housing plans, on protected the green countryside gap between Weybourne and Badshot Lea, were refused.

Cllr Peter Clark

Speaking at the August 1 meeting of the Waverley Borough Council Executive meeting was deputy leader Cllr Peter Clark.

He said he wanted to say a few words about “the appeal decision made by the government-appointed planning inspector regarding Waverley Lane in Farnham”.

“Normally there is no appeal against planning inspector decisions but as a council we are taking this very seriously.”

Cllr Mark Merryweather

Cllr Mark Merryweather, portfolio holder for finance, assets and property said: “The Waverley Lane appeal decision has caused an immense amount of confusion and distress to the residents of my ward.”

He added that the council was “working very, very hard to try to do what we can to fix it”.

Cllr Liz Townsend

Cllr Liz Townsend, portfolio holder for planning said: “I am very much aware of the public interest in this matter and we will continue to work alongside Farnham Town Council to seek grounds to challenge the inspector’s decision on Waverley Lane.

“It would not be appropriate at this point to discuss the merits of any challenge.”

Decisions by Farnham and Waverley council on whether to pursue a legal review are imminent.

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