A developer looks set to continue its eight-year battle to force through plans for nearly 150 new homes either side of Waverley Lane in Farnham, after the Planning Inspectorate confirmed an appeal against Wates Developments Ltd’s latest refusal of planning permission will go to a public inquiry.
Wates, one of the leading privately-owned development companies in the UK, first submitted plans for 190 homes on land known locally as Compton Fields in 2014, but was refused planning permission by Waverley Borough Council a year later.
It has since come back with five further applications for developments on the same fields, and claimed victory in 2018 when a government inspector recommended Waverley refusal of plans for 157 homes be overturned at appeal.
However, the many objectors to Wates’ Compton Fields plans rejoiced when the-then housing secretary Sajid Javid called in and overruled the inspector’s decisions on the grounds the plans would be in conflict with the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan.
Wates’ latest application, for “up to” 146 homes, was submitted in June last year – and was promptly refused by councillors, against the recommendation of planning officers.
However, the developer – which told the Herald last July its homes were “vitally needed” in the area – has again appealed against Waverley’s refusal.
And the Planning Inspectorate confirmed this week the appeal will be decided by a public inquiry, to be held on April 12, 13, 14 and 18.
The four-day inquiry will be held from 10am each day at Waverley Borough Council’s offices at The Burys in Godalming.
Groups, organisations and individuals who wish to take an active part in the inquiry are invited to apply for what is known as ‘Rule 6’ status. See here for details.
Wates’ angle of attack has already been revealed in its appeal papers requesting a public inquiry, in which it argues that while the secretary of state, Mr Javid, dismissed its previous plans on the grounds of a conflict with local planning policy, he had also agreed the effects of the development on landscape “would be limited”.
This, however, was the key reason for refusal cited by councillors last November – with Wates asking that the council’s approach now be “tested through cross-examination”.