Fringe Box



Letter: West Horsley Place is ‘Cashing In’ During the Current Development Climate

Published on: 28 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 28 Aug, 2023

West Horsley Place

From: Susan Leedham

West Horsley resident

The recent letter to West Horsley residents from West Horsley Place (WHP) confirming the decision to sell a plot of land in Cranmore Lane comes as no surprise, money will always outweigh the concerns of residents, however the wording of the letter is in my view disingenuous and disrespectful to residents.

The letter [see below] says, in summary, given the strength of local feeling towards any housing development on the site all offers will be reviewed taking a number of factors into consideration.

Letter to residents from West Horsley Place

As a charity and as acknowledged by Ms Harris and the Trustee who attended with her at the Parish Council meeting in November 2022 WHP must follow the law in relation to charities which amongst other things will require WHP to realise the most money it can from a sale.

Even if WHP considers it can get around that requirement, the likelihood is the land will simply be sold to what appears at the time to be an ethical company for it only to be sold on to a developer.

I find it hard to believe that WHP is not aware of the reality of the requirements of charity law or of how any constraints around to whom the land is sold can be circumvented by a determined developer.

I am not against all of the development in the Horsleys although there has clearly been too much at the same time, but in this instance, WHP is simply “cashing in”, during the current climate.

Cranmore Lane is a rural track, any further building on the lane will completely destroy the character and history of this part of the Horsleys.  Furthermore, Cranmore Lane directly borders a large amount of land owned by WHP which could easily be filled with hundreds of houses.

The sale of this plot will be only the beginning.  WHP is an ancient property which requires extensive repairs and maintenance at huge cost, once the Trustees have sold this land I am in no doubt they will look to see how they can break the remaining green belt protection on the rest of the land owned by WHP and look to see how they can sell that land to fund the ongoing endless repair and maintenance needs.

I am sure many will say that given the current green belt protection, WHP would not be able to do so but in the Horsleys we well know that green belt protection is fragile and that the views of local people are not enough to maintain it.

We can only hope that when matters reach that stage, as in my view they will, any estates built are a mixture of high-end housing for those that wish for and can afford it,  genuinely affordable housing (which is not what the current new builds in the Horsleys are) and social housing.

It is very regrettable that a charity which holds itself out as trying to protect a historic house considers it appropriate to do so by taking steps that contribute to the destruction of the village of West Horsley and its history.  Such tunnel vision does not reflect well on the trustees or others responsible for this decision.

I would suggest anyone who is considering buying a property in West Horsley on the basis of its rural character would be foolish to do so, as every day it becomes clearer that in years to come the Horsleys will simply be a suburb of London with the rural character and history of the villages long forgotten.

I wonder if West Horsley Place will still attract visitors when it is surrounded by housing estates and tower blocks?

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Responses to Letter: West Horsley Place is ‘Cashing In’ During the Current Development Climate

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    August 28, 2023 at 11:46 am

    The residents could always club together and buy the land themselves.

  2. Julian Cranwell Reply

    August 28, 2023 at 12:03 pm

    This development is so contrary to the wishes of Bamber Gascoigne when he set up the trust, that the only option is for Ms Harris to resign, and hand over to a director who has the wishes of residents at heart, as was intended.

    The Horsleys are suffering terribly already from the orgy of unwanted development, as a result of the deeply flawed Local Plan. We cannot cope with any more.

    • Sarah Relf Reply

      October 18, 2023 at 3:12 pm

      As the land in question can only be accessed by a public bridleway, motor vehicle access is forbidden without an easement or the express permission of the owner of the land over which the bridleway runs.

      Surrey Highways and the Land Registry both confirm that there is no registered owner. Therefore, unless West Horsley Place can find the owner (unlikely as the Land Registry cannot) permission cannot be sought or granted, so any motor vehicle using the bridleway to access the land would be doing so illegally.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 18, 2023 at 3:38 pm

    Apart from the obvious betrayal of Bamber’s wishes. I am concerned at the precedent that this will set.

    Once any plot of land is sold, what is to prevent Ms Harris from casting around for other plots from the estate, each time they are cash strapped. There is a very large plot belonging to the trust on the other side of the A246. Any developer would love to get their hands on that.

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