A new battle is brewing in Farnham Old Park after plans for 83 homes on the former hop fields to the rear of the University for the Creative Arts left objectors rushing to grab their muskets this week.
Four centuries after gunpowder wafted over the same fields during the Civil War, the battle lines are again being drawn after house-builder Gleeson delivered its outline plans to Waverley Borough Council.
The proposal sits on land rejected for housing in both the community-led Farnham Neighbourhood Plan and Waverley’s Local Plan.
But earlier this month, Waverley saw an inspector overturn its refusal of 146 homes on a similarly rejected site in Waverley Lane, Farnham.
And that same inspector told the council it is currently falling 32 per cent short of its housing delivery target and must find sites for up to 1,300 new homes on top of those identified in its out-of-date Local Plan.
On Tuesday night, councillors agreed to undertake a “comprehensive” redrawing of the Local Plan to address this shortfall – though it has not yet revealed which strategic housing sites could be added to the plan.
If approved, Gleeson Homes’ planned 83-home estate would see almost 30 acres of countryside concreted over and tacked on to Taylor Wimpey’s 120-home Abbey View estate.
Vehicle access would be provided through the existing estate and on to Crondall Lane, after Gleeson abandoned plans for an access from the narrow Old Park Lane.
But Abbey View residents have hit out at the plans, with one early objector, Margaret Prevost, saying the new access will cause “considerable disruption and inconvenience to the entire estate”.
Taylor Wimpey completed the final phase of Abbey View 18 months ago, after which residents thought they had seen the last of construction vehicles trundling past their doors.
But they now fear Gleeson’s plans could see a return to the noise and round-the-clock disruption caused by living next to a construction site.
Residents have also hit out at a proposal to renege on a planning condition to build tree and grass-lined ‘boulevards’ through their estate to increase the width of roads and accommodate heavy construction vehicles.
As such, access through Abbey View is deemed by residents to be “totally unacceptable and inappropriate”.
And there are fears too that further construction traffic could worsen the already poor state of Crondall Lane at its junction with Waverley Lane.
Gleeson’s proposed estate is also located on a designated Area of Strategic Visual Importance.
It sits outside the town’s built-up area boundary as defined in the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan, and is thus against the democratic wishes of Farnham Town Council and the near-7,400 residents who backed the plan.