The estate of a senior aristocrat has appealed to a community to support its proposal to build a housing estate on the edge of Richmond.
The 4th Marquess of Zetland’s firm Zetland Estates has made the unusual request after lodging a planning application to build “a development of distinction” across 4.6 acres of his farmland west of Richmond.
The proposals seek to create 30 three, four and five-bedroom homes, six of which would be affordable and three for the self-build market.
The site’s historic 70-box Hurgill yard, menage and training ground was previously home to Classics and Arlington Million winners and trainers Bill Watt and Ann Duffield.
In the planning papers, agents for Zetland Estates said: “We understand there are tensions and divides regarding the site; it’s easy to understand that disrupting the status quo is not always viewed favourably.
“After all, we are all creatures of habit and familiarity.”
The agents state that by raising the standard of design, the scheme has the ability to transform the lives of many people, contributing positively to the local community and providing a transition to energy efficient building practices on a larger scale.
The application states: “We do hope the community can get behind this, rather than fight it, after all, we are continuing a pattern of development that our collective ancestors started at the bottom or Hurgill and Westfields 100 years ago.
“None of us would have the privilege living in these areas had they not.”
Although the scheme has attracted some support from residents and traders who say it would bring much-needed affordable and self-build housing in the area, the majority of responses to the council’s consultation on the scheme are opposed to the development.
Some objectors have claimed developing the site would destroy features which link the site to Richmond’s horse racing history, while others have questioned the quality of the development, describing it as “a dense development of identikit housing”.
Richmond and District Civic Society said it was strongly objecting to the plan as it is beyond the town’s natural development limits, adding: “The very high density of the housing is also a huge over development of the site. The visual impact from Westfields will be detrimental to the enormously attractive surrounding area.”
Resident Rebecca Simpson added said developing the site would “be regretted for generations to come” as it would damage nature and wildlife and create light, traffic and noise pollution in the area which is part of the Coast to Coast route and “the magnificent Westfields open area which is cherished by everyone”.
In a letter of objection to the council she stated: “I believe planning decision makers have a duty of care to protect the mental health and wellbeing of their towns residents and this application would not only break many residents hearts, it would also cause a great deal of stress, anxiety, frustration and depression.
“Westfields has been a sanctuary to many during the recent lockdowns, some might even say a life saver, please protect it.”