GBC Planning Department under Pressure
GBC's planning department clearly cannot cope with the volume of applications it has been receiving recently. Some staff have already left and, with the amalgamation of some functions of Waverley and Guildford Councils under the direction of the new joint CEO Tom Horwood, it's quite possible that there will be more redundancies, although we can't anticipate in which departments.
We're concerned that this 'double whammy' is causing delay to many planning applications. If GBC has failed to rule on the application within set time limits applicants can go to appeal and, in order not to prejudice developers, this leads to a presumption in favour of development.
A case in point is Elmsleigh Farm on Send Barns Lane, Send, where approval of 6 houses in 2017 was followed by an application for a further 8 houses. (Note that applications for 10 or more houses must include an affordable housing quotient but this doesn’t apply to sequential applications!). The second application was non determined and has now gone to appeal.
Send Parish Council objected strongly to this development, citing inter alia limited parking, overdevelopment of the site, onsite flooding and the fact that the amount of hardstanding and limited landscaping would only exacerbate this problem, and poor sight lines on exiting the property onto a busy section of the A247.
It is obviously far from ideal that the democratic method of approving or declining planning applications is currently being undermined by the impossibility of GBC planners being able to manage their case load.
Far be it from us to say that non-determination could be a back-door way of approval being granted automatically without having to go through the normal procedures. What we will say is that this situation must be remedied; and that applications involving more than 4 homes should be prioritised until GBC clears its backlog.