POW has sent an email to all Waverley BC Councillors in advance of their Full Council Meeting on Tuesday 20th February where they will consider approval of the Draft Local Plan. All Councillors were sent the email below:
19th February 2018
Dear Waverley Borough Councillors,
Protect Our Waverley (POW) is writing to ask that you give consideration to deferring the proposed adoption of the Local Plan part 1 at the Executive and Council meetings tomorrow (20th Feb) until after the Secretary of State has considered comments he has invited on the Local Plan Report (deadline 27th Feb) and also issued his decision on the Call-in of the Dunsfold Park application (by 31st March).
Officers and many Councillors are on record as agreeing that the Plan is at best unpopular, particularly due to the Inspector’s requirement for Waverley to take Woking’s unmet need in order for the Plan to be sound. The Inspector’s Report rides roughshod over Farnham’s Neighbourhood Plan, makes no reference to the huge weight of local concern expressed at the EiP about infrastructure and sustainability, yet cites unsubstantiated ‘evidence’ not presented at the EiP.
Among the Council there seems to prevail a view that ‘a bad plan is better than no plan’. However, the Borough will have to suffer the consequence of adopting a bad Plan for the whole of the plan period and at least until the first five year review.
POW agrees there is need for the Borough to have the protection that an adopted plan will afford. However, as stated by Officers at the Overview and Scrutiny meeting on 15th February, the Inspector’s Report carries significant weight and would be a material consideration at any Appeal. Therefore, POW considers that Waverley would have adequate protection if the adoption of the Plan is delayed for the six weeks we are requesting.
Attached (see earlier post) is a copy of POW’s letter of 14th February to the Secretary of State (SoS), in which, on the advice of Counsel, POW gives clear and justifiable reasons for the SoS to recover the plan. One of the key reasons is the incorrect calculation of the OAN, and in particular the insistence that Waverley takes Woking’s unmet need. It is disappointing that to date the valuable evidence of local Parishes, POW and others on the calculation of the OAN has not been given adequate consideration. This was evident at the O&S meeting when it was admitted that the Council was unaware of the further evidence of Neil Macdonald submitted to the Inspector by CPRE. Further, POW has shown that written submissions challenging ‘unmet need’ were made by Waverley to Woking (see Appendices 3a and b) under the duty to cooperate in 2017. Woking has not yet been responded but it is highly likely that Woking can meet its unmet need. Adoption of the Plan by Waverley before this has been properly tested would do irreversible damage to the Borough without any justification.
Officers stated at the O&S meeting that they had considered the possibility of a Judicial Review and the possibility of asking the SoS to recover the plan, although the reasons for not taking this action was not given or discussed.
Deferral for a limited period now is not only the most sensible decision for the Council, it is the least risky and would give sufficient opportunity for the proper completion of the democratic process to reach its conclusion to the benefit of all the residents of Waverley. That, at least, the Council owes to the current and future generations that will be affected.
POWCampaign Ltd on behalf of the Protect Our Waverley Campaign