London developers Bidwells have asked Waverley Borough Council for a scoping opinion on the 29 new homes following the demolition of two existing properties near Longdene House, Hedgehog Lane, Haslemere.
Although planning applications have not yet been submitted, the proposed development could mean up to 29 homes with alterations to the existing access from Hedgehog Lane.
It includes the demolition of two existing semi-detached houses plus glasshouses and outbuildings – a net increase of 27 homes. A screening opinion is also being sought for 14 homes, as an alternative to the 29 homes.
Full planning permission is also being sought for the change of use and refurbishment of Longdene House from office to residential. The large Victorian building is surrounded on all sides by large gardens with fields beyond, which was formerly a home and part of a large estate which included adjoining Sturt Farm. The old Sturt Farm can be traced back to 1220.
The site is within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, (AONB), and is also an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV), a local landscape designation.
A report by borough planning officers said the development would not need an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The report stated: “Development of any scale could have significant effects on the sensitive area of AONB.
“The proposed scheme must be considered in combination with an already authorised development considered to be Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development, adjoining the north of the site. It should be noted that the authorised EIA development for up to 135 dwellings (WA/2014/1054) has already mitigated any significant adverse effects on the environment.
“The current proposal would be relatively small in scale compared to the approved scheme (WA/2014/1054), which is an authorised development.
“While the proposal may have some moderate cumulative effects in visual terms, it is considered that there would be no significant effects in EIA terms.”
To confirm whether a project needs an Environmental Impact Assessment developers can ask for a formal “screening opinion” from the council.
Waverley gave planning permission for 135 homes at adjoining Sturt Farm in March 2015 – despite an opposition campaign to the plans from neighbours and others in Haslemere.
The decision was challenged by Sturt Farmhouse’s owner via a judicial review. But a High Court judge turned down the application for the judicial review in July last year, and in August an application for the decision to be reconsidered was also turned down.
Longdene House and the Sturt Farm site are both owned by developer and businessman Tony Lawson.
Haslemere Town Council called a public meeting over the plans in July 2014, but it officially made “no comment” to Waverley Borough Council when the plans were considered by a borough planning committee.
• Plans to earmark a site at the back of Sturt Avenue, in Camelsdale, have been identified as a preferred site for development in Chichester District Council’s emerging Development Plan document.
The document identifies the site for around 10 homes on the opposite side of Sturt Road over the border in West Sussex.