An award-winning family business will be able to rebuild its farm shop as part of a new development of more than 200 homes.
A co-owner of Secretts, a family farm and farm shop in Milford, told a Waverley planning committee the plans would help the business continue to support the local community.
John Secrett said the development had accommodated requests put forward by the parish council regarding pedestrian access to the new houses, and had offered land to be used for a new GP practice.
The application, put in by Ptarmigan Land and Bewley Homes, along with Secretts, included 216 homes on the Chapel Lane site, reaching up to Eashing Lane and down to Portsmouth Road.
Documents for the committee meeting last Wednesday (August 23) show 65 homes would be affordable, many of them social rented housing.
Mr Secrett recalled two previous planning applications granted by Waverley Borough Council, in 1972 when they opened “one of the very first garden centres in the country” and when the farm shop was opened in 1979.
He said the current application would not be possible were it not for the council support in granting the previous applications, and said the farm would continue to grow crops for local and London markets and “the best restaurants in the city”.
He told the meeting: “The scheme before you this evening carries the heritage, the history and the traditions of a unique family business into the future.
“By granting consent, Secretts will continue to support the local community with a new farm shop, which is at the heart of this proposal.
“It will provide a more modern and efficient retail facility to provide for the future generations.”
Councillors unanimously agreed the application, which will now go to the secretary of state for consultation, because it is a retail development proposed outside of a town centre, because of its size and because of planning policies.
The fourth-generation family business was founded in 1908, previously operating in Kew, Twickenham and Walton, before moving to Milford in 1937. According to its website, the farm won the Observer Food Monthly Award for best produce in 2006.
Councillors also praised the application, though acknowledged such a development in a rural village would cause “some worries to local people”.
Councillor Maxine Gale (Independent, Witley & Milford) said many changes had taken place since the initial plans were drawn up.
She told the meeting: “Some people don’t like change and I’m sure when my house was built in 1940 there was some opposition.
“But if it’s done with care and understanding to the people in the area, the much-needed homes do settle in.”
Councillor Carole Cockburn (Conservative, Farnham Bourne) said she was “delighted” the parish council had worked with the applicants and achieved changes to the plans.
She said she hoped for more applications where people sat down, listened to each other and could “hammer things out”.
While she recognised it took a “long time” she said it was worth it if the benefits could be seen at the time of deciding the applications.
Cllr Cockburn added: “We’re all opposed to cow-pat planning – we’re fed up to the back teeth of just plonking the same thing on every town and every village.
“This application doesn’t do this. It considers where it sits, it considers the benefits, it’s talked to the community and worked out what the benefits are.
“Like everybody else, I’d rather leave a green space a green space, but given that we need homes, I think this could turn into a really lovely place to live.”
Part of the site falls under Guildford Borough Council, which will need to grant permission on playing fields which were part of the plans.
The existing farm shop building will be turned into a rural business hub.