Following the recent ruling by the ECJ, we have temporarily suspended planning decisions for new residential developments in the 5km protected zones of the Thames Basin Heaths and Wealden Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA).“This is a precautionary measure and nothing we have done is unlawful.
“This ruling is about procedure and changes when the council considers mitigation against development in the SPA.
“The council is confident that by making some small changes to its documents and the procedure to assess applications it will be in line with the new judgement. Natural England has supported this approach.
“This decision does not impact on planning decisions already made. Therefore, the two Farnham sites and the Milford Golf Club site allocated in Local Plan Part One are not affected.
“The consultation on Local Plan Part Two is also not affected.”
The ruling has already prevented Waverley’s Joint Planning Committee from determining plans to build 45 apartments in two blocks on the boarded up site in Wey Hill running between the railway bridge and the Majestic Wines warehouse.
Councillors were due to consider the application when they met last Wednesday. Planning officers had recommended the scheme be granted approval.
The site is directly affected by the ECJ ruling as it is too close to the Wealden Heaths SPA.
In guidance to borough councillors concerning the ruling seen by The Herald, Elizabeth Sims, Waverley’s head of planning services, said: “The latest judgment indicates the screening stage cannot include consideration of mitigation.
“This means that, going forward, consideration of mitigation will need to occur at the full assessment stage, otherwise known as appropriate assessment.
“Please be assured the planning decisions Waverley makes will continue to be lawful and in accordance with the relevant judgement.”