It would also be an ‘enabling’ development to fund an expanded farm shop and continue the long tradition of the family-run business in growing speciality produce for sale on site and for restarants on the rest of the land .
Controversially, Waverley Borough Council has so far decided not to allocate the Secretts site put forward as part of Witley Neighbourhood Plan, instead proposing two sites in the village located in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to provide up to 130 houses.
Keen to get local feedback on the suitability of 37 acres of the farm site, which extends to 129 acres, as a potential housing allocation, Secretts teamed up with Ptarmigan Land experts to mount an information display at the farm shop in Chapel Lane on Saturday.
Around 300 people packed into the exhibition to see what is envisaged for land currently occupied by the farm shops, offices, car park and glasshouses. Their feedback will be analysed by Ptarmigan to get a clearer picture of what residents want, before meeting with Waverley planning officers to discuss how to take the scheme forward.
Ptarmigan is urging supporters of the scheme to speak to their borough councillors or write to Waverley requesting the site is allocated for housing in the Local Plan Part 2 before it goes out to consultation.
Promoting the development as the most ‘sustainable’ option, Ptarmigan flagged up the benefits of its central location, and the proposed inclusion of a park of 30 acres and a health centre.
The site also has the support of Witley Parish Council and the Witley Neighbourhood Plan team and was voted as one of preferred sites by the local community in a previous survey.
Secretts says the enabling development would allow the business to create new jobs, provide space for new shops and other community facilities, including a rural business centre.
Secretts Farm was founded in 1908 and has been at the forefront of the ‘growing revolution’, but the family business says it requires the redevelopment to thrive and to create more jobs for the village.
Managing director Charles Secrett said: “It is certainly true we are heavily constrained in our current farm shop premises and they are grossly inefficient as well in terms of energy consumption, customer flow and display space.
“An expanded business will certainly create more jobs and specifically for local people, and the proposed residential development will ensure the future of the business.
“I envisage the new farm shop as having the character of the existing while providing a building that is energy efficient and better suited to modern-day retailing.”
“This proposed redevelopment of Secretts will enable the company to have a secure and viable future in the village where it has been an integral part since 1937.”
Ptarmigan associate director Jo Hayes, who was on hand to answer questions at Saturday’s event, added: “The purpose of this exhibition is to gauge the local community’s views on where new development in Milford and Witley should go and to explore what could be included in the possible redevelopment of Secretts.
“The Waverley Borough Local Plan Part 1 identifies Milford and Witley need to accommodate 480 homes. Taking into account existing commitments, including land at Milford Golf Club, land for approximately 200 homes still needs to be identified.
“Waverley Borough Council has decided not to allocate the sites identified by the local community, which were put forward as part of the Witley Neighbourhood Plan, and have identified other sites instead. These include two sites in the Surrey Hills AONB and others which offer no benefit to the local community other than the provision of new housing. We will continue to fight for the most suitable location in Milford and Witley.”