HOLD THE FRONT PAGE! Because…
Hogwash gets a mention in the nationals!
You couldn’t make it up … our Chiddingfold correspondent told us they nearly choked on their full English when, turning to page 15 of Saturday’s Daily Mail, the name of the Chairman of their Parish Council leapt off the page.
Apparently, Richard Hogsflesh – better known to readers of Waverley Web as Hogwash … has taken it upon himself to speak on behalf of the village the Daily Mail describes as ‘polite and genteel’. ..
Polite? Genteel? Tell that to the wannabe developers of South-West Surrey who have been misrepresented and vilified by the “polite and genteel residents” of Chiddingfold and other parishes.
The subject of Hogwash’s derision this time is one Gerard Ayrton-Grime, a property developer who dared to spend some of his millions, and creative skills building himself a mock-Georgian mansion in the countryside which, according to the Daily Mail, ‘horrified’ the villagers of Lurgashall, who described it as ‘too big and inappropriate’.
Waverley Webbers have no taste of course, because we thought the exterior of the property looked rather elegant in the Mail’s photograph – a modern country house built in the style of its historic ancestors.
OK, maybe it looked a bit new but give it 200 years and we’re sure it will have mellowed and blended into its setting just as the genuine Georgian gems, so beloved of the wealthy-well-to-do of West Sussex and Surrey! After all, even old houses started out new… … didn’t they?
May we be got it wrong! and those old Georgian Rectories and Dower Houses, now snapped up by the middle classes before you can say “estate agent” sprang from the ground complete with the patina of age and grace we believed could only be acquired over generations?
Not content with building one McMansion, Mr Ayrton-Grime dared to sell up and build another in – SHOCK! HORROR! – Chiddingfold! That bastion of the polite and genteel! How dare he pollute Chiddingfold with, to quote one villager who didn’t want to be named (according to the Daily Mail), ‘a Disney impersonation of a country estate [which] is grotesque and completely out of character in this village’.
What is it with these people? Who do they think they are?…
Who made them judge and jury of other people’s taste? And why is an elegant, nine-bedroom Palladian-style home so abhorrent to them? Villages like Chiddingfold grew up around small country seats and manor houses so why should people today not have the opportunity to build splendid properties similar to those our ancestors built? Houses that may, in the fulness of time, when they have mellowed and weathered, become as treasured as those built by our Georgian ancestors? Mr Ayrton-Grime’s house is, according to the Daily Mail, set in 23 acres, surely a five bed executive home would have been equally out of place on such a large plot?
What is it exactly that Hogwash really objects to? He claims ‘ Chiddingfold needs around 100 houses ‘and it was felt this site could be used to meet that urgent need’. Oh really? You don’t say? And what’s the betting if Mr AG had submitted an application for 100 homes on a former smallholding in Chiddingfold he would have been slapped on the other cheek by Hogwash and told Chiddingfold has no need of such a large housing estate in its polite and genteel environs?
It wasn’t so long ago that neighbouring Hambledon Parish Council was only too willing to support a similar application to AG’s when they thought it was being submitted on behalf of the then Prince William and Kate Middleton. Royal Wedding fever had, undoubtedly, infected the villagers who, due to wishful thinking or a very clever but entirely misleading PR campaign, succumbed to wild speculation that the future Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were the mystery buyers behind the £20 million application by Millgate Homes to transform the old Nutbourne Brickwords into a ‘grand country seat’. The company even signed a confidentiality agreement not to identify the prospective purchasers but had, cunningly, revealed it was someone ‘famous for being very English’!
Millgate Homes went to great lengths to win Hambledon Parish Council’s support for its ambitious plans for a grand home complete with lodge gatehouse and three staff cottages, even offering to enter into a binding covenant with the Parish Council to quash concerns that it might decide to build a large number of new homes there instead!. Ultimately, the Parish Council, most local residents and Waverley Council supported the application to build on the site which was not only in the Green Belt but also the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) where development is not usually permitted, particularly in leafy Surrey!
This tale of every day Chiddingfold folk brings shame on the village and their Parish Council, demonstrating, as it does, that middle class envy is alive and well behind the Surrey hedgerows. The two-faced residents of South West Surrey were perfectly happy – jubilant even – when they thought it was the future Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who would be building a McMansion in their polite and genteel environs. The Surrey ladies who lunch were orgasmic at the thought of rubbing shoulders with Kate in Waitrose and drooling over the idea that little Tom, Dick and Harriet would be toddling into Tumbletots alongside George and Charlotte (who were, admittedly, but a twinkle in their father’s eye at that time) but they changed their minds PDQ a few miles up the road when instead of HRH they were getting GA-G!
It’s fine for them to buy a chocolate box cottage or a Berkeley Home in a picturesque village, splash out on a Landrover Discovery and the ubiquitous two-point-two Labs to slumber in front of the Aga and the log burner but the minute anyone else wants to do it or, heaven forbid, the children of the local indigenous population want some affordable housing erected , suddenly, the Wandsworth Wanderers who’ve moved down to Nappy Valley want to pull up the drawbridge!
A survey conducted by a political strategy consultancy, Development Intelligence, in early 2016 found that the British public is ‘overwhelmingly NIMBY’ and is resistant to local development. Apparently, despite local residents now having more powers than ever to shape the way development is carried out within their area, through the government’s localism agenda, more than half of respondents, whilst recognising that there was a national need for housing, objected to it being built locally to them, which means both the government and local authorities still find themselves facing an uphill struggle to tackle the UK’s housing crisis in the face of local opposition to development.
So there you have it folks, yet again, the well-off-well-housed of middle England are at war on multiple fronts with a common enemy: housing! They are determined to resist it in all its guises – whether it’s a rich man building himself a mansion or a property developer trying to create a new village. A recent study found that of 75 published neighbourhood plans, 55% were designed solely to resist development, with the number rising to 63% in rural areas. Even more striking, the figure rose to 73% in areas with Conservative councils!
So there you have it folks… it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, you’re not welcome in the polite and genteel village of Chiddingfold … unless, of course, you’re the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. But, sadly, for Hambledon and Chiddingfold they’ve decamped to the real countryside (Norfolk) and they’re left with plain old Mr & Mrs Ayrton-Grime