Firstly thank you all very much for the energy, enthusiasm and plain hard work you have put in in writing letters, delivering leaflets and coming out to the meeting. Sadly we did not win
but it was close (8 votes against and 12 votes for). In other words we made a big impact and our efforts did not go unnoticed. If you want to see the debate search “Guildford Borough Council Webcasts”.
Our speakers and Councillors spoke very well and with authority and the case presented against the application was compelling. It should have been refused. They received support from a number of councillors with local knowledge, including Colin Cross from Ripley. However, as you all know we are up against a hard core of influential members and officers who are not inclined to listen and intend to follow a preset agenda if they possibly can.
Much was made at the outset of the meeting of the Planning Committee being akin to a jury and judging each case on its merits at the presentation. This does not take into account the access applicants have to the planners and the ‘grooming’ process that takes place over many meetings where they are able to put their case and are advised how to hone their application so that it may be accepted. This compared to the flawed consultation in this case and the ongoing limited access the public are given in general is lamentable.
The weight of letters of objection was recognised and it was noted that some important points were made but it was also conveniently breezed away with dismissive comments.
BUT all our ‘noise’ did make a difference and it was a cautiously conducted meeting with every speaker who supported the application making an opening statement about careful balance in assessing the case. I am sure there was a lot of behind the scenes activity before this meeting!
Amazingly despite the very small number of dubiously sourced letters supporting the application the room seemed to be full of people cheering loudly when the applicant and his adviser commented. I suspect they were an orchestrated group shipped in by the applicant to make a noise. Par for the course where any trick goes.
Douglas French sums it up very nicely:
Unfortunately we were faced with a lethal combination:
- False information from the applicant
- Poorly researched submissions from some of the statutory consultees
- A case officer’s report which misrepresented what some of the consultees had said
- A case officer’s report which reached recommendations illogically
- Wrong advice from officers, especially on the law
- A large number of substitute councillors, not equipped to make planning decisions
- Other councillors who clearly had not read the papers still less grasped the issues
- A willingness to shuffle everything into conditions
This says a lot about the UK planning process.
We are down but not yet out.
And Mike Hurdle:
“When I saw the case being made in the agenda for the meeting, I thought we had a mountain to climb. Thanks to the research done, we were able to make a strong case and came close to winning. We have more battles ahead; let’s go forward with confidence !”
This is true, and we should not lose heart.
The Fight Goes On. Next time it will be Housing!
SAVE SEND ACTION GROUP