“I don't want to see any more homes built in Farnham” – that was the rallying cry of town council co-leader David Beaman as he called on the public to help draw up the town’s strongest defence against over-development.
Town councillors agreed to kick-start a review of the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan at last Thursday’s full council meeting despite continuing uncertainty over government planning reforms.
Up to now, Farnham Town Council has delayed discussions on an update of its three-year-old town planning blueprint until more detail emerged on long-mooted plans by Number 10 to tear up housing targets to dodge a rebellion by MPs.
But after councillors expressed frustration at the wall of silence from Michael Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the council instead resolved to “kick-off” meetings with residents’ associations and other interested parties.
Councillor John Ward (Farnham Residents, Wrecclesham and Rowledge) led the government bashing at Farnham town hall, saying: “Waiting for the government is like Waiting for Godot. The evidence won’t change – there will still be sewage in our rivers, our schools and GP surgeries will still be overcrowded.
“Politically, we are seen to be dragging our feet on this, and I am not comfortable with that.”
Town council co-leader David Beaman (Farnham Residents, Firgrove) told members that without more information on housing targets, “we cannot make much progress” on the town plan review.
But Cllr Beaman, who is also the Waverley planning committee chairman, added his “personal” view that Farnham has already delivered more than a fair share of Waverley’s housing target, particularly in Badshot Lea, and should not be lumped with any more.
The town clerk, Iain Lynch, also warned councillors that if the review of the town planning blueprint began now, the council may have to “start again” if the government again moves the goalposts.
But Cllr Mark Merryweather (Lib Dem, Weybourne and Badshot Lea) suggested hosting a “kick off meeting” with interested parties to focus minds on the forthcoming Neighbourhood Plan review. This was agreed unanimously with a meeting date to be confirmed.
What is the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan?
The Farnham Neighbourhood Plan, established under the Localism Act, empowers local residents to shape the future of their area.
Adopted in 2017 and revised in 2019, it coexists with Waverley Borough Council's Local Plan.
It sets out a community-led vision for where housing should be built in the town area between 2013 and 2032.
But the plan also covers a wide range of issues beyond housing, focusing on high-quality development, open space preservation, biodiversity protection, and local business promotion.
It must align with higher-level planning policies and complies with sustainability and habitat regulations.
Of the 7,848 people who voted in a referendum in March 2020, 95.5 per cent said they want Waverley Borough Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area.