WAVERLEY Borough Council’s outgoing portfolio holder for planning, Councillor Andy MacLeod hit out at the Conservative government for setting Waverley an “impossible” housing target, and punishing the borough for developers’ failings, as he handed over the reigns on Tuesday night.
Cllr MacLeod (Farnham Residents, Moor Park) remains on the Waverley executive committee – now responsible for enforcement action and overseeing Farnham’s Brightwells Yard redevelopment – after Tuesday’s reshuffle.
But after a near three-year stint, he surrendered the daunting planning portfolio to Cranleigh’s Tory-turned-independent-turned-Lib Dem councillor Liz Townsend at Tuesday night’s meeting of the executive.
It comes just a week after a government inspector allowed an appeal against Waverley’s refusal of planning permission for 99 homes in Alfold, and in doing so tore up the borough’s Local Plan – ruling that a litany of key housing sites were not deliverable in the time-scale set out by the council.
But following fierce criticism last week of the Lib Dem and Farnham Residents-led council’s recent record on planning matters, Cllr MacLeod went on the offensive on Tuesday night – blaming the Tory government for giving developers a charter to build homes where ever they pleased.
Cllr MacLeod said: “There’s plenty of planning permissions being granted for developers to build houses. But they’re not building them at anything like the level required to maintain a five-year housing supply.
“They will build houses at the optimum level for their profitability, not for the requirements of the local council.”
Cllr MacLeod was thanked by council leader Paul Follows for his “patience” on planning matters. In other changes announced on Tuesday night, Cllr Anne-Marie Rosoman stood down as portfolio holder for housing because of ill health, and Cllr Paul Rivers joined the executive as co-portfolio holder for housing operations.