• ARRSE have partnered with Armadillo Merino to bring you an ARRSE exclusive, generous discount offer on their full price range.
    To keep you warm with the best of Merino gear, visit www.armadillomerino.co.uk and use the code: NEWARRSE40 at the checkout to get 40% off!
    This superb deal has been generously offered to us by Armadillo Merino and is valid until midnight on the the 28th of February.

Follow-up: response from Cllr Hunt

#1
The "hearts and minds" bit....


Following the unanimous decision of the Planning Committee to grant planning permission for the SSAFA change of use at 36 Grays Lane, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Members of the Planning Committee.

It is now clear that the entire Ashtead and Mole Valley community will welcome the families of wounded Armed Forces personnel - regardless of any concerns at the outset of this very long process - and that this welcome reflects the public mood of the country. As a former Officer in the Royal Air Force, and as someone who has spent time at Headley Court, I know that the personnel, families and supporters of the Armed Forces will be acutely aware of the debt of gratitude they now owe to the people of Ashtead. Although the Armed Forces can appear a close-knit and closed community at times, I know that they seek every opportunity to reach out to the wider community through, for example, the support of local events and good causes. I have no doubt that the SSAFA facility will prove to be an excellent neighbour and that the good name of Ashtead will quickly become synonymous with the care and support that can now be offered to the families those who are wounded serving their country.

I would also like to express my admiration for the utmost professionalism displayed by Mole Valley District Council Officers and Staff, who deserve a great deal of credit for managing the immense workload of this case, which must be unprecedented in terms of public interest in a change of use planning application.
Thank you for your very kind email; I am copying this reply to the Head of Planning and to the Chief Executive of the Council so that they are aware if your kind words and can pass on your thanks to the staff concerned. I too am confident that both SAFFA and Ashtead will wish to integrate and help eachother as much as we can. Indeed I understand that Headley Court has already offered to host an event for the Grays Lane residents at Headley, to improve the understanding of each-others' views. Thank you once again for your email.
 
#2
I have received a letter from a Brigadier who was there.

He also had some interesting accidental observations made to him, whilst at a Church function locally yesterday

They mentioned a local paper with small circ, which confusingly is called the Leatherhead Advertiser, and isn’t part of the Surrey Advertiser group. Front page claim of opponents receiving death threats. Have typed it up – see below.
None of these notes will surprise you, and they don’t come from within Red Team, only locals. You’ll be better connected through your network, so just offering these as observers’ views in case any might be of use in the Post Op Report.

Couple of highlights of the conversation. The planning officers well known to be in the pockets of developers, especially AEM. One told me she wasn’t surprised SSAFA hadn’t spoken to planning officers. She wouldn’t have done so either; it would all have been passed to AEM and objectors. AEM have mean reputation locally, and much annoyance that they had passed themselves off (including in the Mail) as ARA. Other point they made is that MVDC tends to descend into shouting match, and sensible argument loses. Apparently on Wed, one of the later agenda items, to do a barn and gate, went exactly that way. Presumably still on the webcast, but haven’t looked. View was that was how locals expected the 36GL item to have gone.
Note AEM refers to APEM.

That Chief Planning Officer needs investigating. His perfomance on Wednesday night would have certainly given me, if I was Council Chief, cause for great concern.
 
#3
I was browsing Pprune recently and saw a criticism of the (surely) delighful Miss Westphal. I have chivalrously leapt to her defence and accosted the cad with my gauntlet!

The initial recommendation would bear her signature as case officer, but her chain of command would have given direction, and she would have to bear in mind previous cases (MVDC has a habit of refusing permission and losing the inevitable appeals). I doubt it is as explicit as exchange brown envelopes or anything like that, more like a "you scratch my back..." relationship. They would probably call it an ongoing "dialogue" or "relationship" with a key local investor or something like that! It would be interesting to lift the stone of AEM/APEM and see what crawls underneath, perhaps FoI to the council to see what emails existed but I bet it would all be done by phone calls between the chief planner and whomever. Subdivision of existing plots and higher density building makes shedloads of cash for developers and helps the planners meet their statutory obligation to provide a 5 year housing supply. Never mind, SSAFA won anyway! :D
 
#4
What you mean like a certain developer in Grays Lane seems to invariably get planning permission to knock down existing buildings in that area, and build 7/8 bedroom houses on the plots?

Surely not..... :D
 
#5
PartTimePongo said:
I have received a letter from a Brigadier who was there.

He also had some interesting accidental observations made to him, whilst at a Church function locally yesterday

They mentioned a local paper with small circ, which confusingly is called the Leatherhead Advertiser, and isn’t part of the Surrey Advertiser group. Front page claim of opponents receiving death threats. Have typed it up – see below.
http://icsurreyonline.icnetwork.co....objectid=19553846&siteid=50101-name_page.html

I notice that the Surrey Police spokesman does not confirm they had actually received a complaint, just that this type of complaint is taken very seriously.
 
#7
PsyWar.Org said:
But then their next day's report was much more positive and did not mention the alleged death threats.

http://icsurreyonline.icnetwork.co....objectid=19559116&siteid=50101-name_page.html
David Blackmore, who wrote this one, is the young local journo who first ran the story as a 'good news' story and then got bombarded by letters himself. He has always been totally on side but I think was a little shocked by what happened to 'his' story after he initially wrote it!
 
#8
My cynical take on the No 36 issue is that a few developers had the site eyed up for demolition and construction of a couple of houses or even flats. It's been tried round the corner.
 
#9
Just had a PM from an Arrser who is a Copper who was there. It's bothered him all week, he's just told me he's going to issue an FOI to get the emails between the Planners and APEM.

Good luck with that, I would think it was all done by phone.
 
#10
PartTimePongo said:
Good luck with that, I would think it was all done by phone.

...even if it wasn't!

On the other hand, people who think they're invincible and above the law think they'll never be caught out. Cash for honours, anyone?
 

Latest Threads