Anger from residents as Royal School is included in key document

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ROYAL Junior School site opponents have expressed their disappointment after Waverley Borough Council agreed to include the site in its Local Plan Part Two (LPP2).

At Tuesday night’s full council meeting, Waverley councillors agreed to submit LPP2 to the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities for examination.

The plan will be examined by an inspector.

It includes a site at The Royal Junior School, off Portsmouth Road in Hindhead, as a development site for approximately 90 new homes once the school has relocated its nursery and prep school provision to its present site in Farnham Lane, Haslemere.

When Haslemere Town Council debated LPP2 last month it agreed to Waverley including The Royal Junior School site, subject to building only on existing building, hard standing and parking, limited up to 90 units.

However, Waverley has agreed to build on the site as a whole, without those limits.

Waverley Borough Council leader Cllr Paul Follows said: “If you try to cram 90 units on to the existing hard standing, you’d probably be looking at something like flats on the edge of Haslemere, which I imagine would have a number of objections.”

The borough council debated LPP2 at an overview and scrutiny meeting last Monday evening (December 13) and a special executive meeting on Tuesday, before the full council debate and vote on Tuesday night.

The Hazel Grove Residents’ Association chairman David Fowler said: “We feel we’ve been abandoned by some of our councillors, who’ve been put under pressure to vote this through.

“With the overview and scrutiny meeting the day before the full council vote, how can you have the time to scrutinise this properly? The speed and timing of this is incredible.

“This site is not viable, and we will continue to oppose it.”

Waverley’s plan previously included a site at Red Court in Scotland Lane, but this was removed and replaced with The Royal Junior School site.

LPP2, including The Royal Junior School site, then went to a consultation which closed last month.

Cllr Follows said he believes The Royal School is a suitable site.

He said: "The Royal School connects to the Southern Water system predominantly, which is under far less water stress than the Thames Water area, which is a material argument in favour of the change of site to The Royal School.

"The Red Court site is in a much more significant area of water stress in Haslemere.

"The neighbourhood plan in Haslemere was the driver to seek new sites.

"Haslemere Town Council made it very clear they did not want the Red Court site and were looking for other options.

"They approached the borough council to see if there were other options and we pursued that with them, as was our due responsibility to do so."

At Tuesday’s special executive meeting, members heard from Waverley’s head of planning, Zac Ellwood.

He said: "There are other factors that have led to our consideration of The Royal School as an appropriate site, as opposed to the Red Court site - one of which being the fact it’s previously developed land as per the National Planning Policy Framework definition.

"It’s also partly because it allows us to deliver more housing than would be achievable on the Red Court site, which has enabled us to be much more realistic in terms of some of the other sites in Haslemere."

The formal full council motion on LPP2 was approved, with 30 councillors voting in favour, five against and five abstaining.

Among the councillors voting against the motion was Haslemere mayor Cllr Simon Dear.

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