Welcome to the Sustaining Chobham Community Land Trust website for the proposed development of 30 homes on the site of Mincing Lane Nursery. To complete our survey, please click here
With the news in May 2021 that the project was going to a Planning Inquiry in August, a number of people had questions about how the project came about, who was involved and how the homes will be made affordable, amongst other questions. This page aims to answer these questions, and more, and direct you to further information.
Who created the proposals and will deliver this project?
Sustaining Chobham is the applicant seeking planning permission for the new homes. It is a not-for-profit community land trust, set up by Bioregional Homes in 2018 to co-design affordable and sustainable homes with the local community, for local people. And to own and to manage the common land once the homes are built, for the benefit of the residents and the wider village.
Founding directors include three representatives from Bioregional Homes, the partners who have committed to fund and build the homes, and two directors from the local community.
Once the homes are built, the majority of directors will be from the community, and all residents will become members. The name was suggested by a member of the community who noted that the project is about helping the village to thrive, by providing homes for those who would otherwise be unable to stay in the village.
Bioregional is an award-winning Surrey-based environmental charity with a 25-year track record in creating zero carbon, sustainable homes, creating environmentally friendly products and for mainstreaming these ideas into everyday practice using the One Planet Living framework.
Bioregional Homes is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bioregional, set up in 2018 to deliver a better model for eco-friendly and affordable home ownership. As it is a 100% owned subsidiary of the charity, any financial surplus from the investment made by Bioregional Homes in the project will be used to create more sustainable, affordable homes.
Hill is a family owned, award-winning housebuilder delivering both private for sale and affordable homes in partnership with government, local authorities and housing associations. Hill formed a partnership with Bioregional Homes in June 2020 to fund and build the homes. Hill have industry standard financial surpluses that they need to meet in return for taking the risk of funding and constructing such projects.
Why this site in Chobham?
Surrey Heath Borough Council has identified the site at Mincing Lane as suitable for housing development as a ‘rural exception’ site. This type of site can only be used for affordable homes for people with a local connection. The land has a lower value because of this, which means it is possible to bring down the cost of the homes here.
How do we know there is a need for this type of housing in Chobham?
In 2018 we commissioned a housing needs survey from Surrey Community Housing Partnership, the body which Surrey County Council recognises to do this work. They wrote to every household in the village. With a response rate of just over 10%, of 185 respondents in total, 48 households said that their housing needs were not being met and 25 wanted to join this community-led housing initiative. A further 16 respondents said that someone in their family had moved away from the parish in the last 5 years because they couldn’t afford to buy or rent locally.
This survey was carried out three years ago. We are currently updating the findings. If you need such a home, please complete our survey. If you know of someone else who might be interested, please pass on the information.
Who are we building for?
Sustaining Chobham members include an NHS worker, a young graduate and a sports teacher, amongst others, in need of this type of housing. They are either currently living with family, or just outside the village for affordability reasons. or in temporary accommodation. We firmly believe that people who have connections to this village, either through family or work should be given the opportunity of local, secure home ownership.
How do we make it affordable and ensure it is affordable indefinitely?
We make the homes affordable through a combination of the lower land price, and, to reduce the cost further, by having a proportion (eight) of the homes for sale at market price. This enables 22 affordable homes to be built.
The discounts proposed vary from 33-40%. For example, 5-person, 3-bedroom family homes will be marketed at £355,860 instead of £593,100. A full list of the proposed prices is shown within the survey. The lower prices are permanently protected by a restriction on the title deeds which ensures that it can only be sold to another person with a local connection and at the same discount.
Is this project eco-friendly?
The environment is at the core of everything Bioregional, and its subsidiary Bioregional Homes, do. We are proposing to build a One Planet Community, which uses the ten principles of One Planet Living® in design, construction, and facilities management to enable sustainable living. Homes that are also affordable to run, are zero-carbon, built from sustainable materials, and encourage recycling, food growing and biodiversity.
This is a wooded site, and we must maintain a home for nature as well as people. So we concentrated the homes in the centre of the land, which was more open from its previous use as a nursery business. This allows for both privacy and neighbourliness, keeping the mature trees around the perimeter. With a plan created with Surrey Wildlife Trust to put in place measures to create a positive biodiversity gain.
Chobham suffers from lack of public transport and too much traffic on the roads. So as part of the project we have aimed to reduce the need to use a car, including a car-sharing club and incentivising the use of e-bikes for local journeys. We also investigated with local councillors and county officials the potential to bring forward safe cycle routes. There are sufficient car parking spaces to meet standard Surrey Heath requirements, designed to include low level planting within the spaces to maintain natural habitats, drainage and flexible use if they are not needed.
Why is this project going to a Planning Inquiry?
Surrey Heath Borough Council has identified the site at Mincing Lane as suitable for housing development as a rural exception site and has proposed its allocation in the emerging local plan for 35 homes.
Bioregional Homes, the promoter of the development, has proposed the development of 30 homes here because it is a rural exception site. The reason given for the refusal of planning permission was that the Council would prefer to see a different form of development.
The Council’s Head of Regulatory, J Rickard, identified an adjacent scheme that had been approved and explained to a resident that: “the scheme at Little Heath was a rural exception site which included a range of tenures and we are asking the same for this site”.
The Little Heath scheme next door is a social housing scheme providing rented and shared ownership properties run by Vivid Housing Association.
This project will not offer social housing but instead offers subsidised full home ownership affordable housing with discounts for those within a local connection of between 33-40% from market prices.
Our appeal against the Council’s refusal of the application will decide whether the alternative proposals put forward by Sustaining Chobham are acceptable.