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Headley Court planning applications – October 2021 Update

The following are the main issues raised by Headley Parish Council (HPC) regarding the currently outstanding planning applications at Headley Court.

Two themes apply across all the applications:

  • The piecemeal approach to applications has prevented any comprehensive assessment of the proposed development, including whether its scale is covered by the size of the permitted current buildings across the estate. A masterplan should have been submitted for approval by the Local Planning Authority.
  • There have been fundamental flaws in the estimates of likely traffic generation, made worse by failure to include the increased traffic generation from the existing houses.

MO/2021/1846 & 1847 – Re-designation of Jubilee Complex as permanent

  • HPC oppose the principle of the retention of any buildings with temporary permission now that the MoD’s use of Headley Court has ceased
  • The buildings are subject of a Breach of Condition Notice which requires them to be removed and the land restored before 31/12/2022.
  • The previous temporary permission was given solely for use by the MoD to meet an expected upsurge in campaign casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan, when Headley Court was the only place with the facilities and skilled staff to meet this unique need. This amounted to a truly exceptional Very Special Circumstance and explains why the highly unusual personal conditions was applied.
  • At the time and subsequently various commitments were made to the local community that these buildings would be removed before the MoD left; these promises need to be honoured.
  • The application site should be restored as an integral part of the gardens at Headley Court.
  • Whilst we accept the need to improve mental health facilities locally and in light of Surrey & Borders NHS Trust’s significant disposals of land for residential development, it is not credible that they had no plan to meet these needs elsewhere.
  • The needs described do not outweigh the harm to the Green Belt or match the earlier Very Special Circumstances when the buildings were constructed for the MoD.
  • When HPC was briefed by Surrey & Borders NHS Trust, they gave no clear long-term use for the buildings; their medium-term plans (up to 5 years) included a decant facility whilst they rebuild at Chertsey and to enable them to complete sale of land at West Park, Epsom for residential development.
  • Any agreement to designate the buildings as permanent will open the application site up for more residential development; given Surrey & Borders Trust’s track-record in selling land for residential development and lack of any information regarding the commitment of Angle Property to complete its arrangement with the Trust, there can be no confidence that this is not the eventual intended outcome for the site.
  • The applicants have failed to engage meaningfully with the local community on their proposal.

MO/2021/0871 – Reserved Matters for residential development on the Western Element

  • HPC do not oppose the principle of some residential development forming part of the redevelopment of the Headley Court estate; however we do object to the scale of the proposal and to some aspects of the design.
  • The proposed development represents an unacceptable loss of open-ness in the Green Belt, especially across the Northern parcel where the current buildings are single-storey with flat roofs and much of the area is car park with limited impact on openness; moreover the development will introduce substantial domestic paraphernalia as well as the built-form.
  • The design of the development fails to provide a satisfactory environment for occupants in an inherently unsustainable location, declared “unsustainable from a transport perspective” by the Highways Authority. For instance very few of the houses have a separate study (or even dining-room) which would accommodate working from home; also the very small size of the gardens would deter households from having leisure time in the gardens or taking up gardening as a hobby.
  • The scale of development proposed in this application exceeds the allowable replacement of existing permissible buildings in the Green Belt and no Very Special Circumstances have been put forward to justify this inappropriate development.
  • Having reported various inadequacies in the applicant’s Transport Assessment, HPC still considers that the development will increase traffic levels that cannot be safely accommodated without increased risk to existing road users – notably pedestrians, horse-riders and cyclists.
  • There is also inadequate provision for bicycle storage in more than half the proposed dwellings.
  • The density and the predominance of detached houses represents a suburban style which fails to reflect the rural setting and character of Headley where almost all houses have an open outlook.

MO/2020/2263 – Outline application for Retirement Community around Mansion House

  • HPC do not object to the principle of a retirement community but have yet to see convincing evidence that the proposal will in fact meet the criteria for a care home (C2 use class) rather than being primarily residential (C3 use-class)
  • HPC object to the proposed scale of development as we maintain that all buildings with personal permission to the Secretary of State for Defence should have been removed and the land restored, whether the buildings were designated as temporary or permanent.
  • HPC object to the layout extending to areas covered by buildings with lapsed permission.
  • HPC are also concerned to ensure that the setting of all heritage assets is protected, including those in the gardens.
  • The proposed parking is inadequate. Our analysis has identified major shortcomings on the applicant’s Parking Assessment. In view of the absolute lack of off-site overflow parking, provision should be made for at least 1 parking space per apartment, plus an allowance for staff, visitors and deliveries. In the absence of any indication of the likely staff numbers, a generous provision must be made for staff parking.
  • HPC also strongly opposed the previous suggestion for car parking in the tennis court in the South Gardens; this area includes heritage aspects such as the main house frontage, the beech arbour and the topiary sundial and should be left as intact as possible. This suggestion must not be re-introduced.
  • HPC remain unconvinced that the Transport Assessment makes a reasonable estimate of the impact of the redevelopment of the entire estate on local traffic levels and safety. We note that re-occupation of Dale View and Cunliffe Close has been accompanied by a significant increase in the number of parking spaces and has led to noticeable increases in local traffic levels.
  • The continual re-issue of changing proposals has confused residents and undermined any attempt at local engagement.

Note we understand that another application is due proposing changes to the buildings and high fencing around parts of the land.  It is clear that the fencing will reduce the openness of the Green Belt and damage the integrity of the Mansion House gardens, of which the Jubilee Complex should form an integral part.