Last night we received written confirmation that Guildford Borough Council agrees with our assessment that the “deemed discharge” certificates issued to Tormead to enable the Urnfield development work to begin are unlawful and must be quashed.
This means our legal challenge to the High Court is uncontested, and so the quashing of three of the discharge certificates should be straightforward. There is one remaining condition that was discharged, related to surface water drainage, and we are still deciding whether to pursue that challenge.
So this is good news for all residents. It shows that neither developers, nor the council officers making decisions in line with planning law, can act with impunity. It’s quite simple really, everyone just needs to do their jobs properly. If developers make an error in the way they are proceeding with their planning permissions, as happened here, then this must be picked up by the planners. Fortunately, on this occasion, we picked it up.
But most people don’t spend this much time scrutinising what goes on at the council and we need greater transparency to enable citizens to be confident in the decisions being made that will affect their lives and their neighbourhoods.
We hope this case will encourage that transparency in the future. We also expect that the material submitted by the developer to discharge the conditions for the development to proceed will receive the professional scrutiny it deserves, to ensure we limit the harm to the amazing natural environment of Merrow Downs.