Our QC made a robust opening statement, see separate document linked below, raising the level of the discussion to include the Local Plan and the Secretary of State’s role in the 2009 decision and in the local plan process. He emphasised that the site was unsustainable and cannot be made sustainable. WBC’s opening statement focused on their oft-repeated theme that things had changed since 2009. The Applicant’s opening statement comprised the usual arguments and half-truths.
A private individual spoke about the impact on the emergency services; about how they cannot cope now and could not handle extra people in Waverley.
Our first witness Nicola Brown of Huskisson Brown Associates presented the case against the development on the landscape issues. She emphasised the loss of ancient woodland on the site and the impact of the development on the nearby AONB, particularly the view from Hascombe Hill. The cross-examination focused on technical planning issues and Ms Brown gave robust and consistent responses. The Inspector himself asked whether 100ft towers were common in Surrey villages and was told that other than church towers, no.
Lastly, Phil Bell of Motion took the stand giving a comprehensive rebuttal of the applicant’s position on transport. It is clear that as there is no alternative to travel by car, the application site cannot be made sustainable within the current planning framework. The provision of a bus service has become a key issue in the argument about sustainability. Mr Bell drew on evidence from Stagecoach that the kind of bus service proposed would be economically unviable. Mr Bell will continue his evidence tomorrow.
A good first day from Team POW and the Joint Parishes.
The Inspector is allowing submissions from the parishes – despite a procedural objection from the Applicant. Individuals will also be allowed to speak without prior registration. They will be able to make their statements on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.