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Ash Manor Housing Development Appeal Rejected

Published on: 11 May, 2022
Updated on: 14 May, 2022

The Grade II* listed Ash Manor is thought to have 13th-century origins

By Martin Giles

An appeal by Bewley Homes against the out-of-time refusal of a planning application by GBC for a development of 69 houses at Ash Manor, the ancient moated manor house in Ash Green, was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate yesterday.

Both GBC and the Ash Green Residents Association (AGRA) opposed the appeal at the hearing held in Guildford over days in March and April.

GBC’s defence of its decision was based on heritage, the five-year housing land supply and planning issues. AGRA was given equal status at the hearing with the appellant Bewley Homes and the borough council.

Bewley produced witnesses to give evidence in support of their appeal on numerous grounds including: planning matters, affordable housing, heritage, ecology, trees, highways and transport, drainage, flood risk and hydrology, landscape and design.

Gill Squibb, chair of AGRA, said: “We are delighted with the planning inspector’s decision. Not everything has gone our way, but we were commended for challenging some points.

“The heritage setting, the buffer zone between Ash and Ash Green and the pond were of concern to the inspector. The drainage and ecology were not but have highlighted where we would need to concentrate in the future.

“The AGRA committee has supported Sue Wyeth-Price during this lengthy appeal process, addressing all aspects of the preparation required, contacting our experts in ecology, drainage and heritage and the local residents who spoke at the planning inquiry for us.

The chairman also spoke of the fundraising activity necessary to support the association’s appeal efforts: “We asked for donations, used a GoFundMe page, and raised money at several car boot sales to get through this expensive process.

“We couldn’t afford a barrister, but we feel that Sue Wyeth-Price did an amazing job up against an experienced legal team, and we feel sure that Ash Green residents appreciate all the effort and hard work.”

Protesters campaigning against housing at the Ash Manor site, Ash Green in 2021. On the left is Sue Wyeth-Price.

The Leader of Guildford Borough Council, Cllr Joss Bigmore, said: “We are pleased that the appeal was refused. A huge amount of officer and councillor time has been spent on defending this and we used expert witnesses at the public enquiry.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

“We welcome further discussions with the developer on a housing scheme which addresses the concerns of the planning inspector. and the community.”

The inspector, Christina Downes, based her refusal on several points, of which the most important was heritage. She said in her decision notice: “The appeal site is as important to the setting of the heritage assets as the other land surrounding them. Overall, the wider setting of the listed buildings contributes to their special interest both individually and as a group.”

The ruling addressed the cumulative impacts of the proposed developments surrounding the manor, May and Juniper Cottage and the Ash Station Bridge.

But she did not agree with either the council’s or AGRA’s stance on the pond and the ecology, nor on the drainage/hydrological issues. In her conclusions, she dismissed several of the purported benefits and found that the harms outweighed the benefits.

Bewley Homes have been invited to comment.

See also: Campaigners Jubilant as Ash Manor Housing Scheme is Rejected

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