A BID to change the access road to a major residential development of up to 135 houses in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Haslemere’s Sturt Farm, has triggered a strong objection from the Haslemere Society.

The housing scheme was granted outline planning consent by Waverley borough planners in March 2015 and a legal challenge mounted by the owner of Sturt Farmhouse – calling for a judicial review – was refused by the High Court four months later.

A proposal to replace the originally agreed access route north of Sturt Farm has now been submitted by Concise Construction, which is seeking to extend an existing access road serving the cluster of four homes at the farm, three of which are grade II listed.

The applicant’s supporting design and access statement said only one road would be constructed to access the new homes, and the new proposed 5.5m wide carriageway plus an 1.8m-wide pavement “presents an improved landscape solution” – as it would retain the existing retaining wall and mature tree belt.

An agreed cycleway would be merged with the new route. The access road will include part of the existing footpath to Hedgehog Lane and the scheme includes works to widen the existing junction, improve the pedestrian crossing, and provide four dedicated off-road parking spaces.

“It will have no adverse impact on the Area of Great Landscape Value or setting of the AONB,” the supporting document states.

“It will reduce the extent of hard landscape, reducing the extent of excavation and demolition of retaining walls and increasing the landscape opportunities.”

Opposing the scheme on behalf of Haslemere Society, Anthony Bennett claimed it would have a “highly detrimental impact”, both on the setting of the existing group of Sturt Farm buildings and also on the residents living there.

Mr Bennett wrote: “The existing Sturt Farm buildings are all original barns or farm buildings connected with historic 17th-century Sturt Farm.

“Three of the buildings are grade II listed, with origins dating from 17th to 19th century, another is locally listed as a building of local merit.

“All four form a cohesive cluster with overlapping curtilages. The exteriors have been exceptionally well preserved or restored – converted to dwellings, but retaining agricultural characteristics; the whole providing an attractive rural settlement adjoining open countryside.

“The properties are accessed by a short, exclusive service road, which terminates at a public footpath, where there is minimal traffic, which has no adverse effect on the overall setting.

“This proposal would envisage widening and considerably lengthening this service road, with associated junction alterations, to enable it to serve as the sole entrance and exit route to the planned housing estate, for which outline consent has been granted for up to135 new dwellings.

“The county highway authority agreed traffic generation assessments of two-way vehicle movements of 80 per hour in the morning peak – and 78 per hour in the evening – and a total of 680 per typical day.

“These additional vehicle movements would all pass within a few metres of each of the buildings.

“These buildings, as irreplaceable heritage assets, have the protection afforded by the National Planning Policy Framework. The proposed road and greatly expanded junction, and the traffic flows which would be generated straight through the heart of this small complex, would destroy that cohesiveness and recognisable relationship of the buildings to each other.

“In our view, this proposal would however very substantially harm the setting of these grade II listed buildings. Given the already approved access as proposed by the developer, and agreed by the local planning authority in consultation with the county highway authority, there is no clear and convincing justification for this harm.”

The application for a new access road follows the submission of two parallel hybrid applications for outline planning consent to build either up to 14 new homes – or up to 29 new homes – on land also in the AONB adjoining Sturt Farm.

The scheme to build up to 29 houses, following the demolition of two existing properties near Longdene House in Hedgehog Lane, has triggered 38 objections.

The larger development, if agreed, would comprise four, one-bed and four, two-bed affordable flats and two, three-bed affordable houses. They would be built alongside two, three-bed houses, nine, four-bed houses and seven, five-bed houses to be sold on the open market.

Full planning permission is sought as part of the hybrid applications, for Longdene House to be converted from offices into a seven-bedroom house.

A neighbour wrote in objection: “The major part of this site is within the Surrey Hills AONB and Area of Great Landscape Value. Strict controls are therefore necessary to guard against this whittling away bit-by-bit of our valued and lovely landscapes.

“The granting of permission would be to urbanise a previously rural area.

“I realise each planning application has to be considered separately and on its merit, but this application cannot be considered without taking into consideration the outline permission recently granted for up to 135 houses.”