Report on the Surrey County Council (SCC)/Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) Drop-in Session on 9th February 2016

Over 80 people attended a ‘drop-in session’ from 3pm-7pm on 9th February at Albury Parish Hall. This session was called by SCC to enable the public to express views on the Phase 1 Play Trail designs.  Councillor Mike Goodman, Lisa Creaye-Griffin and Keith McKain attended for SCC, with Richard Hunt and Karen Guest for SWT.  Adam Hunt for Davies White (the designers of the play trail) presented the designs for the 10 climbing elements that make up the Play Trail.

Anger was expressed that the meeting had been called at less than a week’s notice, in working hours and with little publicity.  Also that the meeting was intended to comment on design details for the large play trail only, when the public had received no opportunity to comment on whether or not the parking charges, play trail or other parts proposals should go ahead at all.

Widespread opposition was expressed towards a Play Trail in the unspoiled surroundings of Newlands Corner, especially given the lack of any evidence of demand for it. The plans shown depict large climbing areas that would clearly negatively impact on the surroundings. Click here to see more details of the plans and click here to feed back your thoughts to the designers.

We look forward to seeing you at the next drop in session on Wednesday 24th February, from 3pm to 6pm at Merrow Village Hall. As soon as we have information about the public event that Councillor Goodman mentioned, we will let you know and also add a post on this site.

Shown below are some brief notes on items of information that emerged from presentations and from discussions with SCC/SWT/the design teams. We will, naturally, be following these up as appropriate!

  • Cllr Goodman announced that in response to public demand a public meeting on the proposals would be held before 8 March.
  • They stated that changes were needed at Newlands to pay for upkeep of the countryside. There would be no charge to the Council/taxpayer from Phase 1 because the £400,000 cost would be paid back over 8 years by the Newlands parking charges.
  • Finance was being sought for Phase 2 and its future and nature were uncertain. Cllr Goodman said that the published Phase 2 masterplan submitted to Cabinet on 27 Oct 2015 was indicative not final.
  • The cost of the Play Trail sites would be £210,000 plus the cost of re-surfacing the trail itself.
  • The Play sites were also aimed at wheelchair users, people with dementia and adults to share with their children.
  • They say there would be no restrictions on dogs and no interference with bridleway access.
  • For safety, a ranger would be at the play trail sites in working hours.
  • SCC are targeting young families with children so they state that there should be no increased traffic pressure because children’s usage would be after school from 4-6 pm.
  • Play site designs will be adjusted in the light of public comments. There was a lot of negative feedback during the drop in session about the size and volume of the 10 climbing structures.
  • Consultations on the Play Trail will close on 8th March. Public comment until then was welcome. Click this link to go to the consultation pages.
  • Ecological studies would be carried out from 1st April, focussing on intended play sites, and Commons consent would be sought.
  • The play sites should be finished by September 2016.
  • Parking charges would not be applied until the play trail was ready to use.
  • Differing views were held about planning permission requirements for the play trail sites.
  • Assurances were given that the play sites would not be fenced in and no charge would be made in the use of the trail or sites.

We will be following up on these and other points and look forward to seeing you at the next drop in session on Wednesday 24th February, from 3pm to 6pm at Merrow Village Hall. As soon as we have information about the public event that Councillor Goodman mentioned, we will let you know and also add a post on this site.