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Row over planning for 'Vanity Fair' estate in West Horsley

5 minute read
Row over planning for 'Vanity Fair' estate in West Horsley

Published at 12:39pm 6th September 2018. (Updated at 12:40pm 6th September 2018)

By Rebecca Curley


It might be the grand setting for ITV's period drama Vanity Fair, but a grand estate in West Horsley is not winning over disgruntled neighbours.

Local residents are up in arms over an application to convert and extend a Grade II listed barn and other buildings into a restaurant and cafe at West Horsley Estate.

It is the latest in a number of changes since television star Bamber Gascoigne and wife Christina embarked on a creative venture to turn the stately home into a base for the culture and arts.

In 2017 it held its first season for Grange Park Opera in a newly-built theatre and has recently been granted permission to hold weddings and conferences, with the owners opening up the rooms to artists and creatives for cultural workshops.

The changes are part of an extensive renovation at the manor house which was built in the 15th century and once gifted to Henry Courtnay in1536 by his cousin and childhood friend Henry VIII.

But the latest change has been met with opposition.

Last week East Horsley Parish Council submitted a response to the planning application saying it believed that the time has come to say “enough is enough."

It urged Guildford Borough Council to reject the proposal for Place Farm Barn and what it called “further salami-slice” of development at the historic site.

They said it would greatly impact the green belt land and residents and businesses.

Writing to the council in response to the application, the parish council said: “Given the availability of existing facilities across the local area we find it difficult to believe that a new cafe/restaurant can reasonably be considered to represent very special circumstances in a planning context sufficient to justify new building within the green belt.”

It added that the impact of planning applications for the estate must be “considered on a cumulative basis” and that “overall there will be significant green belt encroachment, significant detrimental noise impacts for local residents and traffic implications which taken together with all the other development occurring at the estate are potentially severe”.

The Mary Roxburghe Trust, the charity set up to oversee the restoration and creative and arts use of the estate, submitted the application for the Grade II listed barn at the farm in June and since then 41 letters and comments objecting to the proposal have been sent to the council.

Resident Morten Frisch said the trust had failed to deliver promises it made when it obtained planning consent for the Grange Park Opera opera house to support local businesses and that Place Farm, which has been used as a paper recycling facility, would be returned to green belt farm land.

He said: “Instead of receiving the benefits from the above promises, we are now faced with a major commercial entertainment, hospitality and film enterprise which will be in operation late into the night on a year round basis, to which the the MRT now wants to add a large commercial restaurant and cafeteria complex in a Grade 11 listed building to which it is proposed to add major extensions.”

A spokesman for West Horsley Place Estate said the trust was working with all the relevent authorities and the application for the South Barns followed part of the overall strategic plan for the site which was approved in November 2017.

The spokesman said: “Under the planning and listed building consent legislation additional planning consent must be sought as detailed plans are developed. This planning application is part of this process.

“As the detailed design for the site evolves, further applications must be submitted, and these will be open for public consultation as well as receiving scrutiny from the local authority and Historic England.

“West Horsley Place is of very significant historic and architectural importance, now in such a poor state of repair that it is on the Historic England ‘At Risk’ Register. The Mary Roxburghe Trust was established to rescue, repair and conserve this important part of our heritage and to enable the public to enjoy and to benefit from it. Ensuring that West Horsley Place is an asset for the local community is at the heart of our vision.”

A spokesman for Guildford Borough Council said the application would be considered by the committee “towards the end of the year”.