The opera house will be built on Green Belt. Although the development was concluded to be inappropriate and harmful to the Green Belt it was approved as councillors agreed with the Planning Officer that there were special circumstances which outweighed the harm. These were the contribution to a heritage asset and the educational and economic benefits. The opera house will provide some enabling to the renovation and ongoing support of the grade 1 listed building, where restoration costs are estimated as around £7 million.
The motion for approval was proposed by Councillor Jenny Wicks (Clandon and Horsley) and seconded by Effingham Councillor Liz Hogger. Liz reminded the council that the enabling scheme to restore the listed building, Ranmore Manor, in Effingham had involved residential development and that this could have been the alternative for West Horsley Place if the opera scheme had not been available. The leader of the Council, Councillor Spooner also supported the motion and said that: ”If ever there are exceptional circumstances in the Green Belt then I believe this is it. We are looking at enabling development here which is not housing. It is providing a new cultural asset. It is contributing towards the long term future of a heritage asset. It is a fantastic opportunity for West Horsley Place and for the Borough.”