Bonfire Hill Proposed Housing Development
Framptons Planning Exhibition of their latest proposals for housing development on Bonfire Hill was held in October 2018.
I visited the exhibition. The presenters seemed to be convinced that they have the pricing right with a 2 bed semi at £300k and a 1 bed maisonette at £195k. These were based on a 25% discount on local valuations, which could change during the period before they are built. The discounts will be permanently tied to the homes by legal covenants to prevent them from being sold later at full market prices. Framptons expected that deposits can be kept to 16% of the sale price. They have an earnings cap to prevent people with high earnings from applying for the houses.
On one of the display boards they gave a timetable for applications - 1 month on offer for people with direct connections with the village, then 2 months on offer to Waverley's list, then offered to a wider area. THIS IS NOT LONG ENOUGH!!! It only allows just enough time for publicity, nothing like enough for serious consideration and preparation for a bid. It should be at least 6 months for local people.
They have now applied for Planning Permission
> 10 x 1 bedroomed maisonettes
> 2 x 1 bedroomed semi-detached houses
> 3 x 2 bedroomed bungalows
> 2 x 2 bedroomed maisonettes
> 14 x 2 bedroomed semi-detached houses
These are all "affordable" homes to be sold at 75% of local market value and they believed that a 2 bed semi-detached house would be sold at £300,000.
The land at the top of the hill would be given to the village as a public open space.
Theyhave held a discussion with Waverley about release of this land from the Green Belt for development.
A previous proposal in 2016 (see next map) would have had 50 new homes almost to the top of the hill with a through road from West Hill to Springfield. They have not made any planning applications since they bought the land in 2013.
Two sets of proposals have been presented to Elstead Parish Council previously by Framptons Planning Consultants for housing on Bonfire Hill. The first in 2013 was for homes in two groups around the lower slopes of all three fields, the second took the development almost to the top of the Hill. Framptons have also been lobbying Waverley Borough Council to remove Bonfire Hill from the Green Belt to allow development. A new proposal was presented to the Parish Council on Monday July 18th 2016 at the Elstead URC Hall. No planning application has been made by the owner, a speculative land development partnership.
Framptons' previous arguments in favour of development have included the need for housing to meet Waverley targets, the convenience of the site for access to the village shops, school and other facilities and their willingness to include an open area at the top of the hill as a public amenity space. (This fits in with one of the declared aims of the Elstead & Weyburn Neighbourhood Plan - CIL Funding Project 2: "BONFIRE HILL LOCAL COMMUNITY GARDEN Development of a community hill garden with an adventure playground and small gathering space with seating and a beacon feature on its highest point with far ranging and commanding views across the surrounding valleys and hills.") Development here would also reduce pressure on other sites around the village.
In the past Framptons arguments have been vigorously opposed by residents and the Parish Council.
An Opinion Survey was run in 2013 by Elstead Online Magazine and the results are available here: BONFIRE HILL 2013 OPINION SURVEY RESULTS [LINK]
I have re-opened the 2013 Opinion Survey asking for residents' views on development of Bonfire Hill [LINK]
ABOUT BONFIRE HILL (Report dated August 2013)
In the centre of Elstead there are three fields on Bonfire Hill, between West Hill and Hill Crest, with beautiful views over the Surrey Hills that surround Elstead.
Bonfire Hill Views Peter Facey (c)
The fields were sold to ELS Developments LLP, 58-60 Berners Street, London, United Kingdom, W1T 3JS., a Limited Liability Partnership founded on June 12th 2013. The partners are two small companies:- SUMMIX LTD involved in the development of building projects & ROBERT LECKIE ESTATES LTD. From their viewpoint this is a relatively low cost greenfield site in a high value location with well established local facilities and social infrastructure.
Bonfire Hill is outside the Village settlement boundary, on Green Belt land in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is not a site that would normally be considered for development unless it was declared an exception site for some overriding reason, such as a local requirement identified by a housing needs survey.
The Hill dominates the centre of Elstead and is a popular spot for walking and picking blackberries. When there is snow on the ground there is a steep slope that is perfect for safe sledging, within easy reach of the village. There are three footpaths onto the hill from the village and one of them leads on through fields to Ockley Common. There are also good views of the hill from the village and from the hill of the surrounding countryside for miles around.
There is a need for more houses in Waverley to meet government targets and some of these will be built in Elstead but is this the best site for them? It does have advantages in that it has easy walking access to the school, shops, the churches, sports and playgrounds, social entertainment and the buses. Vehicle access is also possible at two points, Hill Crest and West Hill. Development is unpopular because of the dominant position of the hill in the village and the Parish Council opposes it because there are better sites available.