John’s Advice: How Do I Get Planning Approval on the Wentworth Estate?
Few places in the UK, indeed, in the world, are more desirable to live than the rolling, leafy hills of the Wentworth Estate. Tucked away near the village of Virginia Water are some of the finest and most valuable homes money can buy.
Part of what makes the Wentworth Estate so attractive is the efforts that have been taken to maintain its stratospherically high standards and preserve its luxurious character through strict planning restrictions.
From our experience of working on new homes on the Wentworth Estate, we have gained expertise on the estate’s unique planning process.
Understanding Wentworth Estate’s planning restrictions
Getting planning approval on the Wentworth Estate is more difficult than anywhere else in Surrey, due to two major differences to the planning process.
Firstly, in addition to the usual planning process where you must seek approval from Runnymede Borough Council, your plans must also be approved by the Wentworth Estate Roads Committee (WERC).
These permissions are independent from one another, so even if Runnymede Borough Council approve your plans, you still won’t be able to proceed with the works without permission from the WERC.
The WERC enforces a variety of restrictive covenants, which are legally binding conditions attached to the sale of a property which prevent certain modifications or uses, typically with the aim of preserving local character or amenity.
In the case of the Wentworth Estate, there is a highly subjective process where the WERC panel will judge your project not just in regard to whether it abides by their restrictions, but also in whether your plans suit the site and the estate as a whole.
Quality of craftsmanship, the scale of the works and how sympathetic the design is to its surroundings are the WERC’s primary considerations. Understanding the panel’s taste and researching the history of approvals is crucial for planning success.
Jura, a contemporary mansion on the Wentworth Estate by Lewandowski Architects, demonstrates that designs on the estate can still break the mould as long as they are of exceptional quality. Photo from The Times.
Secondly, there are no permitted developments on the Wentworth Estate.
Under building regulations, permitted developments are minor works which you can carry out without seeking planning approval, such as small extensions or alterations to windows or lights.
Certain permitted developments can be overridden by local constraints or, in the case of the Wentworth Estate, overridden entirely. You must be granted approval from the WERC, even for minor works.
Failing to seek the WERC’s consent will result in you having to undo the works and may result in a fine.
As with any local authority or committee, the best place to start is to have informal discussions with representatives – ideally alongside your architect – who can give you an idea of the likelihood of approval before your commit to the design process.
Talk to us for your best chance of planning approval on the Wentworth Estate
We have recent experience seeking planning permission on the Wentworth Estate and similar developments such as St. George’s Hill and are happy to assist you through the planning process.
Our track record for high quality new homes and sensitive period renovations puts us in good standing with even the strictest committees.
If you would like to book a time to talk to us, call now on 02034111828 or email [email protected]
The Wentworth Estate Roads Committee website can be found at: www.wentworthestate.org.uk