Bricks and Mortar: It's all 'build, build, build' in Farnham

Green Lane Meadows, soon to welcome residents ()

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In an article on the Woolmead development in last week’s Herald, I commented on the lack of provision of affordable housing by Berkeley Homes. I have been reminded it was Friends Life Ltd who made that provision in their 2015 application, but my point was Berkeley Homes could very easily have included a token number.

Waverley’s policy asks for 30 per cent (40 flats) but why not provide ten or even five flats? A totally unacceptable profit-driven policy.

No date has been set for the Woolmead appeal hearing – normally a reasonably informal affair around a table, rather than an inquiry – but the date for submitting additional representations has been set for Monday, March 29, 2021. No inspector has yet been selected.

*Lower Weybourne Lane

Talking of appeals, the appeal inquiry for the land at Lower Weybourne Lane application is scheduled to start on Tuesday (March 16). The outline application for 140 houses was refused on May 15, 2020, under delegated powers, without going to committee.

The applicant’s agent is bombarding the inspector with additional documentation, submitting in excess of a further 30 documents. It looks as if they plan to drown the inspector in paperwork in an attempt to get the appeal allowed.

I calculate the houses will be worth in the region of £70 million, probably netting Bewley Homes in excess of £10m, and they will say they are concreting over the greenfield site because they care about providing houses for local residents.

The site is not included in the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan and is outside the Built Up Area Boundary. Inspectors are allowed 12 weeks to publish their decision.

*Brightwells flats

Crest Nicholson have started marketing the flats in Brightwells. I have heard the agents are reporting positive sales in the first phase released. These are in the building that abuts Cambridge Place. Purchase prices of the one- and two-bedroom flats start at a hefty £345,000, exclusive of service charges and parking.

Old Mission Hall

Another site excluded from the Neighbourhood Plan, for which planning permission to build flats is sought, is the site known as the Old Mission Hall in Hookstile Lane, off Firgrove Hill.

The applicant has been constantly nibbling away at Waverley’s proposed reasons to refuse the current 2020 application.

Hookstile Lane runs between the Farnham Marble shop and railway land with less than a four-metre gap between the two, and the applicant also wants to shoehorn in 24 flats into the confined site. A 2018 application wanted to build 39 flats on the same site. I think some developers beggar belief.

This application has been called in to be determined by the committee, hopefully in the next month, to allow the neighbours some relief.

*Folly Heights

The Folly Heights development, allowed by our friendly Inspectorate, is progressing quickly. The show houses are open, and interest in the development appears to be accelerating. CALA’s site representative was eager to help, as were their PR agents, but CALA themselves don’t seem to be in the communicating mood.

Asking for an indication of where interest in the development is coming from, their PR agents advised me CALA are looking to speak to the purchasers in April. They were unable to give me any time scales for the development.

From the outside, the completed houses look well built. CALA’s website is reporting three houses sold and 12 reserved. The development has 58 marketable houses, the remaining 38, of the 96 dwellings, being ‘affordable’.

(Since sending in the above report, CALA has since confirmed more than 30 per cent of the homes at Folly Heights have now been reserved; this is a total of 18 reservations with 40 private homes left to sell. First completions are expected before the end of March.CALA Homes has found so far that the development is largely attracting a local market from GU postcodes but have also had quite a lot of interest from SW postcodes too, suggesting the development has strong appeal to those looking to move out of London to a desirable, well connected area in leafy Surrey.)

*Monkton Place

Work progresses at the Monkton Place site located between Green Lane and the rugby club’s premises. The developers are Aster, builders Drew Smith. Aster launched a website at the beginning of February which reveals half-a-dozen parties have registered expressing interest, two of them local.

They are looking to start marketing the properties in the autumn. This is another application that was approved on appeal for reasons that baffle most of us. More greenspace forming the gap between urbanised areas disappears.

*Green Lane Meadows

The latest Taylor Wimpey development at Green Lane Meadows, Weybourne, is also progressing well, with the show houses open to the public. The sales and marketing director told me they are “delighted with the interest in the new homes since the launch in September 2020”.

She added: “Our customers represent a wide range of buyers including young professionals, first-time buyers and growing families, some of whom are local to the area, with others coming from Guildford, Woking, Kent and Gloucester.

“Many of our customers are finding they can get much more for their money outside of the M25 corridor while benefiting from great transport links into London via road and rail.

“As well as that, Farnham is a desirable location and many of our customers have been attracted to the development because of its close proximity to good schools, green open space and a lively town centre.”

They are looking forward to welcoming their first residents to the development this summer and we are excited to see the new community grow.

*No cash boost for park

Finishing on a less-favourable note, Taylor Wimpey have submitted an application to transfer their SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace) maintenance contribution to Church Crookham’s Naishes Wood SANG.

If successful, the payment of around £250,000 would be withdrawn from supporting Farnham Park, even though many residents of the development are more likely to visit the park than travel to Naishes Wood.

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