Thursday, 31 July 2008


... I know I haven't posted yet today, but it's been my last working day in Chicago, and my journey to the airport (where I'm now sat) has been miserable. I'm late, the crew for my BA flight is late and has only just arrived at the terminal, and I'm going to be late in in the morning I'm sure.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Planning Applications 30th July 2008

There are no new applications for me to list this week, but I will briefly mention a related bit of info about planning in Houston.

I was reading the paper over breakfast this week (the New York Times I think), and I was reminded that in Houston there are no zoning laws for planning at all. Actually, it was to do with recycling - the company picking up recycle containers was explaining that as residential development can take place anywhere, and usually does so haphazardly, it makes it much more complex to get to all the homes, rather than pretty much driving through street after street of neighbourhoods, as we're likely to do in the UK.

Can you imagine no zoning? Factory, next to small houses, next to corporate offices, next to a freeway, next to big cinema. It really does happen this way. I much prefer the UK level control, even though sometimes it can feel onerous.

However, on the flip side of this argument, is the contention that zoning (in UK terms, our pretty strict planning laws, coupled with things like Tree Protection Orders), restrict supply (as otherwise houses will simply be slapped up all over the place), and therefore probably ensure higher property prices. Houston has seen a lower level of depression in its housing market, which could be the result of its lower house prices, in turn a result of its no-zoning policy.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Lone Star Recycle Container State

We may think that our struggles in the borough over waste and recylcing are hard, but we should feel for the campaigners and residents of Houston, one of the USA's largest cities. Presently they only recycle 2.6% of their waste, and if the photo in the New York Times this morning was anything to go by, residents couldn't even recycle if they wanted to due to the severe shortage of containers for recycling.

(However, don't you think that it's a bit uncanny and eerily worrying that the containers look so like our own - globalisation has some benefits, but I do wonder if homogenization of society is one of its ills).

Monday, 28 July 2008

Laugh? Cry?

Rod Liddle is a good writer, and an insightful one. And I usually find myself nodding in agreement throughout his articles in the Spectator. However, with this one, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. You see, he's so right, and horrifyingly so.

Sunday, 27 July 2008


That's how I might describe the heat in Chicago or Houston at this time of year, for those of a weaker disposition. I'm used to getting off a BA flight at either of those cities, and wading through the air as it's gentle dampness and intense heat wrap around me like a blanket.

However, I wasn't expecting to have a similar experience on my way to the airport here in London. But that's what it was like today. Thankfully, even though Terminal 4 is being turned upside down due to renovations now that most of BA is running out of T5, the aircon still seems to be working.

Time for a very, very cold DC I think :-)

Saturday, 26 July 2008

My name is Mike, and I'm a Diet Coke addict

It's true. I could use the excuse that the day is hot and humd, and fluids are important. But there would be immediate rebuttals by any member of my family or business who would point out that my consumption of Diet Coke rivals my father's consumption of cups of tea, and that's saying something!

One of our waitresses pointed out to me this week that there's so much of one particular ingredient in DC (that's what we addicts call Diet Coke, or, 'medicine' when we try to claim it has healing properties) that it makes drinkers need more fluids.

Actually, I'm addicted to black coffee as well I think, and that concerns all our waitresses so much that they now refuse to give me a coffee unless I drink a glass of water with it!

Well, back to my DC, and one more hour until the coffee shop shuts for the day. I'm certainly looking forward to our BBQ this evening with friends and family, and a cold beer or two :-)

Friday, 25 July 2008

Frustrated from Wrecclesham

At least, that's the way I feel like signing my emails today. I've been striving to represent a number of residents of a small new development in the village, who feel very much ignored / frustrated / badly treated by the property management company chosen by the builders to manage the estate. It's resulted (after 18 months of well documented meetings and letters) with a debt collection company threatening the residents, some of them elderly, with County Court Judgments.

Now, I dare say as with all situations, there are reasonable explanations of mistakes in communication, but there's no excuse for such a hardline attitude, particularly after the building company had committed not to do so.

However, my frustration is compounded by the sheer inability for the property management company to find anyone of any authority to speak to me, from 10.35 this morning when I first made my call, until now, almost 6 hours and 7 phone calls later. In my view, this tells me that the issue isn't important to them, and there lies my ultimate frustration: that we give planning permission for a development of homes, only to result in a new part of our community upset and angry and not enjoying living in our village.


Thursday, 24 July 2008

List the lot

Bryn Morgan spoke briefly at the council meeting on Tuesday evening about our brief and successful campaign to save the local red phone boxes. Bryn is the portfolio holder for Partnerships, Community Engagement and Enhanced Two-Tier Working (I know, a bit of a mouthful, and I've no idea how he fits it on the business card!) He spoke of the excellent work done by council officers to collate input to Waverley's response to BT, and failed (modestly) to mention his own spearheading and leadership.

What he did add, was that local councillors might wish to consider what's next? Might we adopt a phone box each perhaps? Or seek to have them listed and provide some protection from future such attempts.

Well, I had a wonderful reply from Waverley's Historic Buildings Officer, Russell Morris. We currently have ten listed in Waverley, out of a total 2000 listed in the country as a whole. I've popped the list below (an extract from the full list), and would add that if anyone's interested in helping apply for listed status for either of the two in our ward (see my map for their locations), I'd very much appreciate the help!

ALFOLD: Grade:  II  NGR:  TQ0379033972

BRAMLEY: Grade:  II  NGR:  TQ0082944901

FARNHAM: Grade:  II  NGR:  SU8390947037

FARNHAM: Grade:  II  NGR:  SU8366146720

GODALMING: Grade:  II  NGR:  SU9743043268

GODALMING: Grade:  II  NGR:  SU9680543797

THURSLEY: Grade:  II  NGR:  SU9011439748

TILFORD: Grade:  II  NGR:  SU8743143449

WONERSH: Grade:  II  NGR:  TQ0166845228

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Planning Applications 23rd July 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1293: 02/07/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of extensions and alterations to provide a chalet bungalow. 102 Boundstone Road, Rowledge.
E: 482786 N: 143736
Case Officer: Mrs L Smitheman

Applicant: B Smith, 102 Boundstone Road, Rowledge, Surrey GU10 4AU
Agent: Mr Peter Byrom, Richard Flowitt Partnership LLP, Jersey Barn, Loseley Park, Guildford GU3 1HS

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Pigeons vs Trees

When I stood for election to Waverley Borough Council, I had a few things in mind - I'd be able to influence policy (yes); I could intervene on behalf of residents on housing issues (yes); and more.

But I never thought that I'd be engaging in a conversation about pigeon excrement and tree protection orders! However, life has its twists and turns, and here I am learning (in the words of our own council website) that

The only effective way to control pigeons and other pest species of birds is to remove food sources, roosting sites and breeding sites.

Hence my post title today - is it pigeons who win out, or the tree preservation order, when a family's life is miserable, especially in this gorgeous weather, because of the unremitting deposit of dark, staining, smelly pigeon poo on their back patio.

I know, not the most lovely of topics, but in reality, a good example of the kind of seemingly small issue that can make life pretty frustrating for both the family, and the councillor trying to help them out.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Part 1, 2, 3

Back from our weekend away with family, I'm sat at my desk thinking about tomorrow night's council meeting. Agendas are split into three parts, some of which are subject to public speaking, some of what are not. And I want to speak on a particular item, I need to alert committee services at Waverley by midday tomorrow.

Sounds simple? Well, when the agenda in front of me is 290 pages long, with an appendix of 153 pages, it's a bit of a challenge to wisely select items on which to speak, if any. One rule I try to follow is that if I know another councillor will be saying the same thing as I intend to, then I don't believe in repeating it just so my own voice is heard.

On the other hand, many voices on one issue can demonstrate depth of feeling and commitment, and therefore communicate powerfully.

Hence, it's not simply to decide. I'm thinking about speaking briefly on a couple of issues that relate to village design statements, as I'd like the other councillors and public to know that we're looking to create these for Rowledge and Wrecclesham. Otherwise I'm not yet sure. The clock is ticking...

Saturday, 19 July 2008

6 votes

When the polls closed today, the general public (well 6 of you), had declared that local councils shouldn't be selling the elctoral roll.

Hmm... I'm not sure this gives me a mandate to campaign on this just yet! But it's something I continue to feel strongly about.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Hands up if you want to concrete over the South-East?

Ah, that will be the Secretary of State then.

If a development of 2,500 dwelling at Bordon/Whitehill didn't seem enough, then you'll be pleased. The Secretary of State has increased this provision to 5,500!

5,500!!!! And where, I hear you all ask, is the associated plan for infrastructure - roads, doctors, dentists, schools.. - that must surely accompany it. Well, I think that it's buried in a number of other documents, but at 54 pages, I haven't quite read the whole of the 'Regional Transport Strategy (Chapter 9 of Regional Planning Guidance for the South East RPG9'. And, I'm certain that it doesn't include a by-pass for Wrecclesham. However, it does make reference to our area - recognise / understand any of this? I'm pretty certain it was written by Sir Humphrey:

Delivery of the necessary step change in the development and management of the transport system is likely to require the adoption of an 'integreated management' approach to the delivery of investment across all modes, supported by the consistent application of a strong suite of supporting mobility management measures.

The SoS's proposals to change the existing plans must be open for public consultation, and the 12-week period has just started. To make comments you can visit the Government Office for the South East website.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Question Time

1. How should a landowner of a large town-centre site, respond in a business-like manner to the prevailing economic climate, especially the specific signs of depression in the building industry? How might this affect their determination of appropriate building contractor and best timing?

2. Should the recent indication that F&C intend to submit a planning application for the same land, persuade Waverley Borough Council that, (acting as neither landowner, nor planning authority, but simply community representatives), they should reconsider what is the right outcome for the town of Farnham and surrounding areas, and welcome this new application?

3. Will the present gas works in Farnham, enable a sensible, a realistic (if not strictly scientific) assessment of the likely impact on town traffic of the East St. scheme?

4. The F&C sketch seems to includes a cinema potentially doubling as a theatre - does this offer a politically acceptable and popular way of meeting theatregoers' needs, as well as the youth that we assume want and will use the cinema?

5. Could F&C be persuaded to include in their application the North side of East Street, thus pleasing everyone who hopes to be rid of this eyesore?

6. Is the scheme viable?

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Planning Applications 16th July 2008

(Click here if you want to go the Waverley planning search page, and select 'Ward' from the left hand list of options)

WA/2008/1209: 18/06/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of extensions and alterations. Mayfield House, Switchback Lane, Farnham.
E: 482922 N: 143507
Case Officer: Mrs J Hammick

Applicant: C Bolton, Mayfield House, Switchback Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4BB
Agent: Mr Philip Morgan, 8 Bourne Grove, Lower Bourne, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3QT
WA/2008/1257: 11/07/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of detached double garage and conversion of existing attached garage to habitable room. 9 Echo Barn Lane, Farnham.
E: 482733 N: 144378
Case Officer: Western Area Team

Applicant: M Stevens, 9 Echo Barn Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4NQ
Agent: R Barriball, R&B Building Consultants Ltd, Wendover, Bagshot Road, Knaphill GU21 2SG
WA/2008/1268: 29/05/2008
Proposed Development: Erection of new dwelling following demolition of existing dwelling. Minadhu, Manley Bridge Road, Rowledge.
E: 482453 N: 143708
Case Officer: Western Area Team

Applicant: Rowledge Homes Ltd, Bend-Or Cottage, 35 Rosemary Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4DD
Agent: Michael Conoley Associates, Serendipity, 9a Compton Way, Farnham, Surrey GU10 1QY


Surrey vinvolvedReceived a nice email today from Philip Evans, Youth Volunteer Advisor to a new volunteering project in Guildord and Waverley: Surrey vinvolved. I don't know Philip, but reading his email made me go the website and the opportunities look great.

Philip is specifically wanting to find out about needs in our community that can be fulfilled by young volunteers. Please get in touch with him if you think you can identify such a need, or possibly be part of a volunteering tearm.
Surrey vinvolved

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Lessons Learned

Masking tapeThis is a phrase I most commonly associate with the project management I do to earn a living, but today I'm quoting it in response to a bit of DIY I did this evening. I say 'a bit' as I don't like DIY, and so blogging about it was much more preferable and will probably take up more time!

You see, I dislike gloss painting so much, that I even put off peeling the masking tape away after having done it. And this time I've left it way too long. Basically, the masking tape is now one with the pane of glass in the french doors. I tried vinegar (red wine vinegar to be exact, as it was the only thing like normal vinegar in the cupboard, and my wife thought it probably out of date anyway). Well, that didn't work.

So I went to my wife's second suggestion (note how my wife is actually much more practical than I) which was white spirit, and it's working remarkably well.

You'll be thinking by now "what on earth has this got to do with local politics?" Nothing actually, but browsing my emails regarding Waverley today there was nothing that jumped up and said "Blog about me!", and so my on-off relationship with DIY made the cut.

Monday, 14 July 2008

SOS Part 2

Money, money, moneyAnd this time SOS really is an appeal for help. I never realized that there were so many different schemes for grant giving at Waverley. From the Sponsored Organisation Scheme to the Compensatory Grants to parishes. And including disretionary rate relief (one could argue) and certainly the voluntary grants panel.

There's a long history behind some of these - how they came to be, and the original intentions. A key question is whether they've become so static (except for inflation), that they are only grants in name. Should we review the way in which these things are calculated, or conduct a more root and branch review into why they exist in the first place?


I'm off to the council offices shortly - a meeting with officers regarding the Sponsored Organisation Scheme. It's a little early in the year to be thinking about it, but we're looking through its structure in an effort to think about how the guidelines and parameters for making awards are set, and what improvements can be made, if any.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Reasons to be cheerful

SWF Branch Summer BBQ
The summer BBQ of the South West Farnham branch of the local Conservative Party was excellent. We were blessed with great weather, great food, and good company. Our 13 month old son reveled in the massive garden including climbing frame and slide, and a toy car just his size. I was more focussed on the fantastic desserts - but then again, so was he!

A three minute conversation with someone made my day. Vicariously it began to heal what is presently a difficult situation, and whilst the relationships won't be immediately fully restored, I feel a corner has been turned, and I'm immensely grateful.

An emotional service at church tonight, when a Venezuelan lady was baptised, and during her testimony beforehand, very tearfully thanked the church for being her extended family, as with no biological family present, we were her friends, and her fellowship. Tears of sadness mingled with tears of joy.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Traffic (Mis)Management

Click here to see the traffic order that I received in the post this morning.

Whilst it's not strictly in the ward or Wrecclesham and Rowledge, I'm convinced it's going to cause some pretty ugly traffic problems over the summer. Bus routes, school runs (come September), lorries getting confused by satnav - you name it, I'm concerned that Wrecclesham and Shortheath are going to grind to a halt. Lots of residential routes are going to be used the lorries that presently (and already frustratingly) rumble through Wrecclesham, and then circumvent the low railway bridge by cutting along Weydon Lane.

I'm not saying there's anything better, and that these diversions aren't necessary - they are, and I'm sure the Highways team at Surrey County Council have identified the nearest available routes - but this must be seen in the light of years of campaigning for a Wrecclesham Bypass - if one existed then so much of this imminent nightmare could be avoided.

For a map of the area, see my map of the ward - I've drawn on the area of the closure.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Selling our soul?

SpamGood news on two counts:

(1) The report out today on privacy of data is recommending decisive action to disallow the selling of electoral roll information by local councils. In today's modern web-enabled world, the abuse of such data leads to the calls and emails that we all label 'spam', and frankly blights our days.

(2) A source at the council tells me that they'd much rather not sell the electoral roll at all, and whilst they only do so to a small handful of organisations each year, and make very little money from it, it's something they currently are obliged to do under existing legislation. With 40% of voters opting out, it's not much use in the grand scheme of things, but it would still give tens of thousands of names and addresses to recipients.

I'm completely in support of a ban on this activity.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Interview with Jeremy Hunt MP

Jeremy Hunt is MP for South West Surrey, and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Read his parliamentary biography here. Visit his website. Read his blog.

(1) How has your shadow cabinet role been going recently?

I am lucky enough to have been given a very wide-ranging and interesting brief, with many areas that really strike a chord with the public. It's a busy time - there's on-going work to ensure the 2012 Olympics deliver a genuine sporting legacy; restoring the National Lottery to its original four pllars so more funding goes to arts, sports, heritage and charities; and looking at the future of broadcasting.

(2) When was the last time you visited the borough ward of Wrecclesham and Rowledge, and why were you there?

I was in Rowledge last Friday to inspect the red phone box there. Around half of the BT payphones in Waverley, including 33 traditional red boxes, are under threat of being removed so I am fighting to save them. I have set up a petition on my website, which I would urge people to sign if they want to save their local red phone box and I will be meeting with BT next week.
The same day, I visited Farnham Pottery in Wrecclesham, where I had a delicious blueberry cake at Smith & Causey’s tea room!

(3) I've been viewing your new YouTube channel videos. Have you had much feedback about them?

I have been really pleased with the response I got to my venture onto YouTube. I think it's a fun way to get a sometimes serious point across and it reaches lots of people that I might not normally communicate with – my video about this year's budget has been watched 1141 times so far! I was especially pleased to get emails from some of my younger constituents saying that they liked what I was doing.

(4) Blogs that comment on the national political scene are now common - how important do you believe blogs will become for more local issues and communities?

I am a strong believer in localism so I think local blogs can play a really important role in local communities by providing a forum for discussion, a portal to local information and a way of holding elected persons to account. I think your blog is leading the way in Waverley and I hope other areas and other councillors will follow suit.

(5) How do you balance your own opinion on issues, in cases where the majority view of your constituents is the opposite?

I think you must vote with your conscience, even if you believe that a majority of your constituents have a different view. Although that circumstance does not often arise, I think that when people vote for me they are putting their trust in me to make judgements on their behalf on the basis of the facts and the issues as I understand them. Ultimately, the way our democracy works - rightly in my opinion – is that if people disagree with me over too many issues they have the power to take those decisions out of my hands when a General Election comes.

(6) You've demonstrated an unusual level of openness in your letters to the Herald, and other means such as YouTube. Do you have a particular approach to communications that you can outline?

I am keen to embrace new modes of communication, so that I can reach and engage as wide a group of people as possible. I especially like the interactivity that new media offers: I believe that the way to restore trust in politics and politicians is by moving from one-way communication to two-way interactive communication. I want my constituents to know what I am doing and thinking (and to be able to respond) so launched my blog and YouTube page to make that a bit more entertaining and accessible to them.

(7) The Waverley website is hosting a poll to discover residents' favourite places in the borough - for where would you vote?

My favourite place is sitting in my living room in Red Lion Lane looking out over the meadows and the tower of St. Andrew's Church - when the sun is shining!

(8) Do you have a creed that you live by, and can you summarise it in 3 sentences?

Victor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor, said that happiness is not something that can be pursued, but it ensues when you devote yourself to a cause that is greater than yourself. I think that's not a bad philosophy, even if it's sometimes hard to live up to.

(9) Why did you want to be an MP?

I grew up in a happy family in a lovely Surrey village - a great start in life that many people do not have. So I always felt the need for a part of my life to be devoted to public service in one way or another. Being an MP gives me the opportunity to do that and I consider it to be a great privilege.

(10) What's your favourite coffee?

I have a decaf filter coffee for breakfast and then a regular supply of cappuccinos throughout the day. By lunchtime I am on caffeine overload!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Planning Applications 9th July 2008

There are no new applications for me to report this week, but I will use this post to mention one that I've been informed will go before one of the next two Western Committees (30/07 or 27/08): WA/2008/0645.

It's the application I blogged about last week - the land to the rear of 86 Boundstone Road that is tricky due to the status of the land under consideration, and the history of use of the site. My main aim is to allow this to be heard in public: for councillors to consider such a tricky situation with an eye to the future, especially for neighbours of the site, and with regard to risks of precedent setting.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

I'm really annoyed with BBC Radio 2

They simply can't report the proper sense of what David Cameron says. Instead of pointing out that his speech in the constituency of Glasgow East yesterday said that 'some' of the poor in our country are poor because of their own choices, they decided to quote him without the sense of 'some', and imply that he said 'the poor', as if it were all of them.

I get so annoyed! Why is it so difficult to report accurately the words of our political leaders? And it works both ways. I'd much rather they report Gordon Brown's words without prejudice, and enable listeners to respond to the actual speech / event / report, rather than something that sounds like the original, but really isn't.

And my point isn't whether David is right or not. My point is that without much more honest reporting, the electorate doesn't stand a chance of distinguishing between the real ideologies of any party.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Rowledge Village Design Statement

Rowledge Village InformationToday I've emailed out to a number of Rowledge residents who have expressed an interest in learning more about a village design statement. Following on the learning curve of setting up such a group in Wrecclesham, I'm simply seeking interest, with a view to holding a meeting one evening in August, when myself and Sarah Wells from the planning of Waverley can give an overview of what such a statement is, and how it is created.

You find out move by visiting my earlier posts. If you do think you'd like to join then now is a good time, and everyone is welcome.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Saints, not celebrities

"The day will not belong to the celebrities, but to the saints."

The quote above is from our pastor's sermon this morning. He was speaking from 2 Corinthians 4, and passionately advocated a life of servanthood rather than one seeking prestige: that it is so much more important to see what is on the inside, rather than the outside (alluding to Samuel's search for a new King of Israel to succeed Saul), and being directed by God to David, who was in no way what Samuel thought the next King would look like!

I hope that I'm able to live this out to some extent, and allow this aspiration to be part of the way I serve as a councillor.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

50 and going strong

What a wonderful day it has been at the Weydon School 50th Anniversary celebrations and reunion. Beautiful weather, a lovely atmosphere, and very joyful to see so many old friends meeting up, and the present pupils providing music, parking attendance, and general guidance. Here's to 50 more years.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Have you seen one near you?

Recycle StickerIt's possible that one of these stickers has appeared near you this morning.

As far as I understand it, it's been sometime since the requirements for plastic recycling specifically excluded things like meat trays, yoghurt pots and margarine tubs. But if habits take 3 weeks to form, they take at least 3 months to break. And so I'm sure, that even though a leaflet on this topic went to all Waverley residents in the past month or so, there will still be many stickers going out this morning and this coming week.

The bottom line is that we make (or save, depending on which way we look at it) money based on the quality of our recycling materials. So, if low grade plastics form an increasing percentage of the load, then it becomes less likely that the load can be used for recycling. Basically, no-one is going to buy it from us. It's the same with paper (shouldn't include brown envelope for example), but presently less of an issue.

So, whilst it looks draconion, it's probably the easiest way for the council to communicate the rules. In the end, we all wish for our council tax to be kept down, and maintaining quality in our recycling is one way of helping that happen.


At our next meeting about a Wrecclesham Village Design Statement we're hoping to hear from someone involved the very recent Frensham VDS, which was considered at the Executive meeting of 20th May.

Unfortunately, a bit of regulatory and legal disappointment has come our way, meaning that whilst the statement can be adopted by the council, it cannot yet be designated as a supplementary planning document (SPD), and thus automatically included in the due process of determining planning applications. Here's the explanation as given by Geraldine Molony of the Planning Department:

The legal implications are that the document will be a material consideration of the Council, pending the enactment of the new Planning Act, which it is anticipated will enable the document to be a Supplementary Planning Document without needing to be included in the Development Scheme. It is not in the Scheme at present so it cannot be Supplementary Planning Document as things stand at the moment. It had been hoped that the new Regulations, which have just come out, would have done away with this need to be in the Scheme, but that has not proved to be the case. We have to wait for the Act. Once the Act is in place (probably at the end of the year), then the document could be made a Supplementary Planning Document. Its interim status will be a material consideration of the Council when assessing planning applications.

Basically, it's frustrating, but not a showstopper. By the time we've completed the Wrecclesham VDS, the new planning act will be in force, and its adoption as a SPD will be straightforward.

Thought you'd like to know!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

What's more important?

Land to the rear of 86 Boundstone RoadThat's the question I'm asking myself when thinking about a planning application for the land behind 86 Boundstone Road (which I previously posted about on 29th May). It has permission to be used as a turfing business, but over many years this has morphed into a more generic use as a builders yard, thus serving to frustrate and annoy neighbours living in such an otherwise peaceful part of our ward.

In addition, it's designated as land beyond the greenbelt, (not quite greenbelt), which, under policy C2 of our local plan should not be developed... unless consideration is given only under 'special circumstances'. The fear is that if permission were to be granted, it would provide an example that could be pointed to by other similar applications in the future, and thus be the top of a slippery slope for such near-but-not-quite greenbelt land around the borough of Waverley.

However - and it's a big 'however' - the reality is that the surrounding properties are suffering because of the present use of the land. It's a bit of an eyesore, noisy, and used at unsociable hours. Heavy machinary, including cranes, are sometimes parked on the land, providing what can only be described as the antithesis of what would otherwise be an uninterrupted view of countryside, or sky, depending from where one is looking. And the access to this builder's yard / turf business? A small lane off Boundstone Road - an otherwise neighourly street with little heavy traffic.

So, that's my conundrum. I'm presently crafting an email to ask if the application could be brought before a planning committee for a decision. It's an important decision for many neighbours, and one that deserves a sounding in public I think, to air both sides of the argument, and see whether in open debate we can as councillors determine if a decision in favour would endanger the future direction of planning in the borough.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Planning Applications 2nd July 2008

There were no applications in the list today. I know there's a bit of a backlog at the moment though. Since the new infrastructure contributions were brought into effect it's taken it's toll on the time to get through each application.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Green Cone

How it worksI received my green cone today! Having ordered it just before I went to the US on business, I'd forgotten it was due to arrive, and so when popping home at lunchtime today it was great to see it waiting by the front door.

And it was a lot bigger that I had imagined! We should be able to get all our food waste in it no problem, and I have just the spot for it behind the shed. I'll post about it once it's up and running and I can give some more useful feedback. First I have to dig a hole for it, but I think I'll wait until this sweltering day has cooled down a bit.