Borough of Waverley
Oppida Rusque Una
(Latin: Town and countryside in unity)
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Region||South East England|
|Incorporated||1 April 1974|
|• Type||Non-metropolitan district council|
|• Body||Waverley Borough Council|
|• Leadership||Leader & Cabinet|
|• MPs||Jeremy Hunt|
|• Total||133.3 sq mi (345.2 km2)|
|• Rank||117th (of 314)|
|• Rank||182nd (of 314)|
|• Density||960/sq mi (370/km2)|
|• Ethnicity||97.4% White|
|Time zone||UTC0 (GMT)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (BSTa)|
|ONS code||43UL (ONS)|
|OS grid reference|
The Borough of Waverley is a local government district with borough status in Surrey, England. The council is based in the town of Godalming. The borough also contains the towns of Farnham and Haslemere and numerous villages, including the large village of Cranleigh, and surrounding rural areas. At the 2021 Census, the population of the borough was 128,200. The borough is named after Waverley Abbey, near Farnham. Large parts of the borough are within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The neighbouring districts are Guildford, Mole Valley, Horsham, Chichester, East Hampshire, Hart and Rushmoor.
The district was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. The new district covered the area of four former districts, which were all abolished at the same time:
The new district was named after Waverley Abbey in the parish of Farnham, which was the earliest Cistercian monastery in Britain.
For the first six years of its existence, the council was based outside the district at the former Hambledon Rural District Council's offices at Bury Fields in Guildford. In April 1980, the council moved to purpose-built headquarters at The Burys in Godalming, behind Godalming Borough Hall. The district was awarded borough status on 21 February 1984, allowing the chair of the council to take the title of mayor.
Waverley Borough Council
since 23 May 2023
since 27 April 2021
since December 2017
|First past the post|
|4 May 2023|
|Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming, GU7 1HR|
Waverley Borough Council provides district-level services. County-level services are provided by Surrey County Council. The whole borough is also covered by civil parishes, which form a third tier of local government.
The council has been under no overall control since 2019, being run by a coalition of the Liberal Democrats, Farnham Residents, Labour and Greens. The same coalition continues to run the council following the 2023 election.
The first election to the council was held in 1973, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until the new arrangements took effect on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council since 1974 has been as follows:
|Party in control||Years|
|No overall control||1974–1976|
|No overall control||1991–1995|
|No overall control||2004–2007|
|No overall control||2019–present|
The role of mayor is largely ceremonial in Waverley. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 2003 have been:
|Chris Slyfield||Liberal Democrats||2003||2005|
|Gillian Ferguson||Liberal Democrats||2005||May 2007|
|Richard Gates||Conservative||May 2007||11 May 2010|
|Robert Knowles||Conservative||11 May 2010||10 May 2016|
|Julia Potts||Conservative||10 May 2016||21 May 2019|
|John Ward||Farnham Residents||21 May 2019||27 Apr 2021|
|Paul Follows||Liberal Democrats||27 Apr 2021|
Following the 2023 election, the composition of the council was:
The next election is due in 2027.
See also: Waverley Borough Council elections
Since the last boundary changes in 2023 the council has comprised 50 councillors representing 24 wards, with each ward electing one, two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years.
Waverley's landscape is influenced by its position within the landform of the Weald. It contains parts of the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge and large parts of the borough are within the Surrey Hills AONB. It has the most green space in absolute terms in Surrey at 293.1 km2 (113 sq. mi.) according to the central government-compiled Generalised Land Use database of January 2005, approximately half of which is woodland.
Blackheath Common, in the north of the borough, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, as is the Devil's Punch Bowl in the south of the district.
A Legatum Prosperity Index published by the Legatum Institute in October 2016 showed Waverley as the most prosperous council area in the United Kingdom.
Waverley is entirely divided into civil parishes. The parish councils for Farnham, Godalming and Haslemere take the style "town council".