Cranleigh Village Health Trust (CVHT) is naturally disappointed with the outcome of the Eastern Planning Committee meeting last week, refusing our latest planning application for a smaller scale development.
Councillors had to balance the perceived harm caused to the greenfield site by development with the significant community benefits arising from our proposals, including the provision of affordable accommodation for NHS and care sector keyworkers in the village, and subsidised beds for the local community.
Several factual errors were made both by those speaking against the proposals and by councillors. The most serious claim was that The Paddock (our site in Knowle Lane), was purchased from Cranleigh Parish Council for £1. This myth is too often stated; it is factually incorrect.
CVHT acquired The Paddock following a land exchange agreed in 2002 between a generous local benefactor and the Parish Council. In return, Cranleigh Parish Council received the land (now known as the Bruce McKenzie Memorial Fields), a site that is more than twice the size of The Paddock.
In addition, CVHT spent more than £70,000 on the Bruce McKenzie Memorial Fields and created a significant recreational facility for the local community, providing a car park and playing fields, on what was previously unused agricultural land. The land swap therefore materially benefited the local community (and continues to do so) and it also meant that CVHT acquired a suitable development site, to enable the Trust meets its charitable objectives.
Erroneous references made at the Eastern Planning Committee meeting about the land being acquired for £1 may well have influenced the views of councillors, thus casting some doubt on the validity of the decision made.
The trustees are awaiting further advice from our planning consultants before deciding how to best proceed, all for the benefit of the local community.