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Grade II* Listing for Ash Manor House May Scupper Development Proposals

Published on: 16 Nov, 2017
Updated on: 16 Nov, 2017

Old Manor Cottage, half of the original medieval Ash Manor House, now listed Grade II*.

A homeowner in Ash Green is hoping that a new Grade II* listing from Historic England may prevent proposed developments that would surround his moated 13th-century manor house with nearly 200 houses, possibly more if further envisioned development phases are built out.

David Weller, who owns Old Manor Cottage, half of the original medieval Ash Manor House, off Foreman Road, said: “If the proposed developments go ahead the setting of our historic house will be ruined for good.”

Ash Manor House, and other listed buildings, would be surrounded by new homes if phases 1 & 2 of Bewley Homes planning application for up to 195 new homes is approved.

In a report on the property, issued on October 20, 2017, Historic England says it has awarded the Grade II* listing because it is “a building with its origins as a high-status moated dwelling… for retention of a number of unusual structural and decorative features, such as evidence of a meat smoking chamber, the remains of a built-in dresser and a carved stair balustrade; [and] for the legibility and archaeological value of its structural evolution, including at least three phases of timber framing.”

Developers Bewley Homes have so far submitted planning proposals for two phases of the envisaged development to Guildford Borough Council (GBC).

The application for the first phase, for 95 houses, was not decided by GBC within a set deadline and is now subject to an appeal, expected to be heard in March next year. A second application for phase two of the development will, because of the Grade II* listing, have to be referred to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The interior of Old Manor Cottage which owner David Weller believes was used for manorial “court” meetings to decide issues relating to management of the manor.

Local residents, when consulted by Bewley Homes in May this year, commented that while they recognised the need for homes in Guildford Borough, they objected to further housing in Ash and on this site; the design approach; and greenfield development. They also expressed concern about the impact on the listed buildings, wildlife and local infrastructure, including roads, schools, healthcare, water supply, drainage and sewage systems.

Mr Weller said: “This area lies on clay and the water table is just a couple of feet down. It regularly floods and if the developers do successfully drain it what effect will that have on the foundations of existing buildings?”

David Weller in front of his Old Manor Cottage home now listed as Grade II*

But Julia Cooke, a spokesperson for Bewley Homes, remains positive: “We are committed to delivering much needed affordable homes to the area.  We have submitted two separate planning applications. The first is a full planning application for 95 units and the second is an outline application for up to 100 homes.  Both applications provide the full policy requirement of 35% affordable housing and we are in discussions with a housing association who will deliver these units should planning consent be granted.

“We have always been aware of the listed buildings in the middle of the site and have taken care to ensure the scheme has been designed in sympathy within its existing environment.  Both applications are supported by a Heritage Assessment which considers the suitability of the proposals on the heritage assets.  Our proposals already carefully consider the setting of the listed buildings, therefore we believe our plans remain acceptable despite the change to the listing.

“We have held two consultation events prior to submitting the applications.  It is in our interests to accommodate as many of the comments we receive as possible. In this case, we made considerable changes to the proposals for phase one in response to comments received by residents, including the removal of the second access point on Ash Green Road and the provision of a significant landscape buffer along the frontage. We seek to create high-quality developments where people want to live and we therefore take care to design schemes which integrate into the communities within which we are building.”

Bewley Homes also met with planning officers from Guildford Borough Council (GBC) before making the planning applications. Ms Cooke continued: “It should be noted that land at Ash Manor forms part of a wider housing allocation in the emerging Local Plan.

“We had numerous meetings with GBC prior to submitting the applications, where the council officers expressed general support for the principle of development. Since the application for phase one was submitted we have met with officers again to discuss the responses to our proposals. As a result, we made further changes to the scheme to accommodate the comments received.”

But she declined to estimate the total sale value of the houses being proposed, saying: “It is impossible to predict what the value of the homes will be at the time of sale as the first units will not be available until 2019 at the earliest.”
Currently, smaller semi-detached houses in Ash Green are selling for between £400,000 and £500,000.

Cllr Nigel Kearse

Nigel Kearse (Con, Ash South & Tongham) said: “As a ward councillor representing my local community at Guildford Borough Council it is my belief that we should do everything within our power to protect this valuable and unique heritage asset from any form of inappropriate development and therefore I agree with the [planning] officers recommendation to refuse this application.

“I have been and will continue to work with residents and all parties involved to ensure that this heritage asset remains protected.”

Bewley Homes pointed out that the borough council has an out of date Local Plan and can only identify 2.6 years housing land supply, which, they say, “falls woefully short” of the government’s requirement for all local authorities to demonstrate at least five years supply.

Their spokesperson, Ms Cooke, added: “It is acknowledged that Guildford is a constrained borough with 89% designated as green belt.  Ash is one of the few settlements located outside the green belt and is identified in the emerging Local Plan as a key settlement to deliver much-needed housing to Guildford.

“Our aim is not just to get a planning consent for the maximum number of houses but for a scheme which will deliver an environment where people want to live.  This development has been very carefully designed to consider its setting, not just in terms of the listed buildings but also the surrounding community and will provide much-needed housing to the area.”

Cllr Nigel Manning

Nigel Manning, chairman of Ash Parish Council, as well as a Conservative borough councillor for Ash Vale, wrote on behalf of the parish council to the planning department in September: “Under the listing Ash Manor is also known as, or recorded in historical documents as: Henley on the Heath; Henley by Guildford; [and] South Henley. Given that the remains of Henley Manor cannot be found [and] that Henley and Ash were one manor before being split, it is reasonable to suppose that they could be the same Manor House.

“…the Gatehouse listing [states] that the manor was purchased by Edward II and largely remained a royal property until the region of Henry VI.

Letter from Ash Parish Council

“It is essential that such a historic site is preserved intact for future generations.”

The letter was copied to the Prince of Wales and local MP Michael Gove.

And Tim Harrold, of the Guildford branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, wrote: “The recent proposed building expansion of Aldershot, Ash, and Tongham makes it all the more important that Ash Green should be protected from further urban sprawl and development encroachment into its countryside.”

In addition to many letters of objection from local residents, Ash Green Residents Association, Tongham Parish Council, Farnham Town Council, Thames Water and the SCC Conservation Group have all written objecting to the planning proposals.

The Manor of Ash is believed to have been part of a holding left to Chertsey Abbey by the major Saxon landowner Azor on his death in the 11th century. The Abbey held the land until the Dissolution, when Ash became property of the Crown. Shortly after the accession of Edward VI in 1547, it was granted to St Mary’s College Winchester (Winchester College) which owned it for nearly 400 years.

Remains of the moat to the rear of medieval Manor House.

The site of Ash Manor House is believed to have been occupied since the 13th century, although no standing fabric of this date has been conclusively identified. Part of a square medieval moat survives, as well as some medieval fabric within the house itself.

Records reveal a number of leaseholders for Ash Manor, or Manor Farm, during the 19th century, including William Spode, grandson of Josiah Spode, the Staffordshire potter.

Winchester College sold Ash Manor in 1925 and it was sold again in 1934 to Maurice Kelly of Kelly’s Directories. Following Kelly’s bankruptcy and suicide in 1948, the house was divided into two: Ash Manor and Old Manor Cottage.

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Responses to Grade II* Listing for Ash Manor House May Scupper Development Proposals

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    November 16, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Great and welcome news for Ash. Now let’s have the same level of councillor objection to similar proposed blights on the many listed properties in the Horsleys, Ockham and elsewhere.

  2. Russ McPhillips Reply

    November 16, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    It’s a beautiful setting and should be allowed to remain so. The area surrounding it is being built on dramatically.

    Hopefully the appeal inspectors will take on board the reasons as to why so many people and bodies have objected. Even Surrey County Council Highways have stated it should be refused as the transport infrastructure does not exist.

    Please do not build on this piece of land. Its history and setting should be kept as a reminder of its heritage.

  3. John Perkins Reply

    November 17, 2017 at 10:12 am

    This can be done; there is a precedent. According to GBC’s Local Plan, the village of Send is to have its green belt status taken away, easing development restrictions. Yet the council have preserved one of the oldest parts and its manor farm house by not designating it as within the settlement boundary. Only the most hardened cynic might think it because a senior politician lives there.

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