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Farm plans run into stiff AONB opposition

East Woodhay development 'for benefit of community' says applicant

Jonathan Ashby

Jonathan Ashby


01635 886637

Farm plans run into stiff AONB opposition

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a multi-purpose development in East Woodhay have been objected to by the North Wessex Downs Area of Natural Beauty (AONB).

Emily von Opel, the wife of billionaire Georg von Opel, is proposing to build a mixed-use building on Sungrove Farm, East End – opposite her Malverleys home.

It will see the demolition of a 1980s farmhouse and construction of a new building, which will house a farm shop, gift shop, bakery, plant nursery, café and education space.

A dilapidated barn would also be demolished and replaced by a much smaller agricultural dwelling.

Mrs von Opel claims the project is socially motivated and will be for the benefit of the community, acting as a potential meeting place while focusing on local produce.

The AONB is objecting to it on the basis that its location will have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area.

In a response to the planning application, the AONB states: “East End is a remote hamlet accessible by narrow lanes which provides an intimate character as you approach the settlement.

“The village lacks street light, which further enhances the sense of remoteness and tranquillity and plays an important role in maintaining one of the special qualities of the AONB – dark skies.

“The North Wessex Downs is particularly sensitive to developments that are visually prominent, of an urban, suburban or industrial nature or are noisy.

“Although the scale of development has been reduced from that submitted in a pre app, the layout, design and scale of development would overly urbanise this isolated and tranquil locality to the detriment of the natural beauty of the AONB and its special qualities.

“The erection of a large commercial building… would have a negative and harmful effect on the local character, which fails to conserve or enhance the special qualities of the NWD AONB.”

Mrs von Opel’s plans for the development have come under fierce criticism since they were unveiled.

Original plans were downsized following a backlash from local residents. However, the planning application on the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council website still has 176 letters of objection, with just 55 supporting the scheme.

On December 2, 2019, the application was marginally given the backing of East Woodhay Parish Council with a majority of five to four.

For full details of the proposed development, visit  and enter reference 19/02956/FUL.

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