A PRE-APPLICATION public consultation on the detailed designs for a major residential development of 125 houses at Sturt Farm went on display at Haslewey Community Centre.
Outline planning consent for the scheme in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) was given the green light by Waverley planners in 2015, but an application to change the access road to the route originally agreed, has yet to be decided.
The site’s owner, Haslemere property developer Tony Lawson, said: “More than 100 people, including councillors, attended.
“There were a couple of people who objected, but the majority seemed to be more concerned with the detail and how the development affected them. A lot of people living in Sun Brow attended.
“We are aiming to get the full planning application in by the end of August, but that is subject to the decision on the revised access plan. We are very keen to secure the revised access.”
A mix of two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bedroom houses are proposed, interspersed with L-shaped blocks containing one and two-bedroom flats and smaller apartment buildings. The new homes front the main access road on both sides and it runs more or less parallel to Sun Brow, from Sturt Road to Hedgehog Lane, with an area of open space running parallel to the houses on the other side.
The five L-shape apartment blocks would be three storeys high, but the majority of housing would be two storeys high. A mix of 80 per cent private housing and 40 per cent affordable housing is proposed. The development will provide traffic calming and/or a traffic management scheme along Sturt Road and improvements to the Church Road junction with Hindhead Road.
Haslemere Town Council, Haslemere Society and the Waverley branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have objected to the revised access plan, which would change the agreed route to the development. The new proposed route would use the existing access to a cluster of grade II- listed buildings at the farm.
The application, which also proposes providing nine acres of farmland to be used as suitable alternative natural green space (SANG) at the development, follows two previous ‘hybrid’ applications that included re-routing the road past the four dwellings, both of which were withdrawn following an outcry.
Urging town councillors to support the latest application to re-route the access road in a presentation in May, planning consultant Ian Rhodes said: “It will be a better development at Sturt Farm if we get as near to 135 houses as we can, and as many affordable as we can. If we don’t get this route agreed, the number of affordable homes is compromised. We are proposing to build 40 per cent affordable, which is better than Waverley’s 30 per cent.”
Objectors have said re-routing the access should not reduce the amount of affordable housing provided, as argued in the recently submitted site viability report.
Responding to Waverley, CPRE Waverley vice-chairman Tony Bennett wrote: “The statement on viability document argues that due to ‘additional and exceptional’ costs, the number of units in the Sturt Farm development should be reduced from 135 to within the range 119 to 123. More significantly the number of affordable units should fall from 54 to 31, around 26 per cent of the total at best.
“The Sturt Farm consent was a controversial decision for an AONB and a Haslemere Design Statement Special Green Area. Many people may nevertheless have been persuaded to support the proposal because of the contribution it made to Haslemere’s housing requirement, but above all, because there would be a 40 per cent affordable-housing element. For both these components to be reduced so significantly for no very specific or compelling reason that could not have been foreseen would undermine the basis on which consent was granted.
“It is patently incorrect to attribute a huge ‘cost’ to not having a