WAVERLEY Liberal Democrats chairman Stewart Edge has accused the borough’s Conservative-led administration of agreeing plans that will increase the number of houses on greenfield sites in Farnham and Cranleigh, while ruling out additional houses at Dunsfold Aerodrome.
At Tuesday night’s Executive meeting, Mr Edge asked Waverley’s planning portfolio holder councillor Brian Adams, what steps were being taken to assess the practicality of building 4,800 houses at Dunsfold Park to meet increased government housing targets.
Mr Edge’s formal question came before committee members approved an ‘emerging spatial strategy’ report on where to build 9,861 houses by 2032, which suggested that 1,800 houses could be built at the airfield in the short term with 2,600 or 3,400 homes a possibility in the long term, subject to the findings of an expert transport assessment yet to be completed for Waverley.
Responding, Mr Adams said that the transport assessment being undertaken did not cover the option of building 4,800 at Dunsfold Park and stressed that the report before the committee indicating more than 1,800 houses could be built, was “not a draft but a directional strategy” and Waverley was still working out what the draft spatial strategy should be.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Edge said: “This answer reinforces my clear opinion that the Conservative Executive is doing everything it can to minimise building at Dunsfold Aerodrome. The additional numbers at Farnham and Cranleigh could be much higher as the papers presented to the Executive focus on building only 1,800 houses at Dunsfold, with 1,200 still to be allocated somewhere - 80 per cent of respondents to the Local Plan housing consultation wanted 3,400 at Dunsfold, but this clear expression of public opinion is being ignored.”
Residents objecting to building a major residential settlement at Dunsfold Park on the grounds it would be unsustainable were backed at Tuesday’s meeting by Alfold and Cranleigh committee member Kevin Deanus, who noted that only 4,300 out of 90,000 residents responded to the consultation. “People from outside Dunsfold say put everything in Dunsfold rather than in their own backyard.” he said.
Executive chairman and Waverley leader, Haslemere councillor Robert Knowles, also emphasised the Spatial Strategy housing evidence the borough council needs to support its new Local Plan, due to be approved by Waverley next April was still a work in progress.
“This is an emerging strategy and does not tie Waverley Borough Council to anything,” he said.“We are being asked to approve the emerging strategy go forward not to approve the strategy.
“More numbers are being considered at Dunsfold Park with an application for 1,800 expected. “We must have evidence. It’s very frustrating how slow it has been, particularly the traffic reports.”
Echoing Mr Knowles, Executive vice-chairman Farnham councillor Julia Potts said: “We need a robust Local Plan in place sooner rather than later. There are indications the Dunsfold Park application potentially for 1,800 houses would be sustainable but we haven’t got all the evidence we need. Until we have all the travel assessments we need we can’t go forward with the Local Plan.”