A MAJOR planning application at Haslemere’s Sturt Farm linked to the outline consent already granted for 135 houses in the area of outstanding beauty, has divided the town.

Tomorrow (Friday) is the deadline for responses to the three-part ‘hybrid’ application for a 22-acre new country park, 13 houses and a new access road.

Haslemere Town Council has recommended no objection, but Haslemere Society opposes the plan.

Also objecting, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has called for the plan to be refused “in its entirety”.

Waverley Borough Council has set itself a target date of January 24 to determine the application by Concise Construction, which gained outline planning consent in 2015 for a residential development of 135 houses.

The town council agreed not to object to the latest “hybrid” plan for Sturt Farm, following a planning committee meeting with a majority vote in favour.

Councillors Jim Edwards and Libby Piper both objected because they considered the new access road would have a detrimental impact on the cluster of grade II Listed buildings at Sturt Farm.

Part of the application and another bone of contention, is the proposal to set aside 22 acres of the site as a public open space that could also be designated a Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) to enable more of the 830 new homes allocated for Haslemere which require more SANG inorder to be built.

Haslemere Society chairman John Greer objected saying: “The application also deals with the provision of SANG as an outstanding section 106 agreement, which is conditional to the granting of approval for the estate of 135 houses.

“The applicant has also offered SANG land for the as yet unapproved houses in the Haslemere housebuilding target up to 2032.

“Whether other developers will be required to provide SANG land for these houses is not yet determined and whether the offered land is suitable will also need to be determined.

“Consequently the Haslemere Society considers both of the SANG issues to be irrelevant to the other proposals in this application.”

In a letter of objection from Surrey CPRE, Tony Bennett wrote: “There are two identified parcels of land for which change of use from agricultural to public open space is sought as a prelude to potentially being offered as SANG.

“There is no SANG requirement relating to any part of this application and there is insufficient information provided to ascertain whether or not the land in question would in any event be considered suitable by Natural England or meet their detailed specifications.

“The circumstances of any future planning applications in Haslemere have to be assessed on their merits at the time.

“It cannot be known whether any such cases might be considered to have a negative impact on the Wealden Heaths Special Protection Area such that these sites might provide a measure of mitigation.

“Nor can it be known whether any enforceable agreement might be reached between a future developer, the owner of these sites, and Waverley for the establishment and future maintenance of these sites as SANG. Such is the level of uncertainty surrounding any potential value these plots might have as future SANG, change of existing use would be premature and should be refused.”

Urging the hybrid application should be approved, the applicant’s design and access statement said the new country park would be a “significant benefit” to Haslemere.

It supported the 13 new homes on the grounds the development would: “Create an attractive neighbourhood accessed off Hedgehog Lane with new homes and open spaces that provide a valuable and sustainable contribution to the proposed and existing community at Haslemere.

It would provide a change of use for Longdene House from an office to family home in an “attractive landscaped setting and provide a more suitable access off Sturt Road” to the development of 135 new homes.

Mr Greer objected changing the access would “drive the road through the heart” of the grade II listed buildings at Sturt Farm and 13 new homes would have an “urbanising effect” in a protected landscape.

Agreeing, CPRE called for the proposal to relocate the agreed access to the 135 new homes to be refused, because the road would “cause considerable harm to the buildings and the amenity of the residents”.

The application to build up to 13 houses follows a proposal to build 29 houses on the same site, which was refused by Waverley on the grounds it would “harm the landscape character and cause material harm to the intrinsic character, beauty and openness of the countryside beyond the Green Belt, the AONB and area of great landscape value,” said the CPRE

“There are no exceptional circumstances that would justify this development in the designated AONB.”

Objecting to the scaled-down housing proposal in the hybrid application, Haslemere Society considered Waverley’s reasons for refusing the previous application were still valid.

“The demolition of a greenhouse and wooden sheds to justify the building of new detached houses is unrealistic,” Mr Greer said.

“We have also expressed concerns regarding the inadequacy of Hedgehog Lane and Longdene Road to cope with the resulting increase in traffic and that a feasible drainage strategy has not been submitted.”