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December 2016

GUILDFORD RESIDENTS TO SUBSIDISE THE REST OF SURREY

For some time, we have been seeking clarification about how parking charge and parking penalty income will be collected and what will happen to it, if these measures are imposed at Newlands Corner.

 

Surrey County Council (SCC) has, at last, confirmed that:

 

  • income from car park charges at Newlands Corner would be collected by Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) and would become part of the total income for the SCC Countryside Estate.  SWT already collects all income generated from the Estate;
  • the money would be collected by a cash collection service provider;
  • money collected from Newlands Corner would be used to fund future management of the SCC Countryside Estate, priority being given to managing Newlands Corner.  Any excess funds over and above the running costs would be used to invest in maintaining and improving visitor facilities and enhancing habitats across the Estate;
  • SCC has agreed with SWT that the money raised from the whole of the SCC Countryside Estate will be spent on the SCC Countryside Estate. However, if there was a substantial additional windfall, how this would be used would be dealt with on an individual basis;
  • an enforcement company would collect money from parking penalties and would use the income to cover the costs of its services;
  • the level of penalties has yet to be agreed. It would be finalised when SCC knew what date car park charging might be introduced;
  • on accountability, SWT’s accounts are audited and Surrey County Council has access to the SWT’s detailed accounts;
  • SCC will not be providing an annual contribution to Surrey Wildlife Trust from 2021.  SWT has provided a draft Business Plan that shows it would be possible to reach this position in 2021;
  • SCC may invest money in the future for specific projects.

 

This confirms, yet again, that SCC is seeking income well above the needs of Newlands Corner and is, therefore, imposing a tax on mainly Guildford residents to pay for areas across the whole of Surrey.  The last bullet point is ominous – the words “visitor centre” and “retail space” spring to mind.

 

 

Planning Inspectorate Expected to Make a Decision in March

There were about 1400 objections to the Planning Inspectorate against the proposed car park charging infrastructure at Newlands Corner – massive in terms of both quantity and quality, according to the Inspectorate. The objectors included at least 10 parish councils and 4 residents associations. The Open Spaces Society and Natural England also raised objections. The Surrey Hills AONB agreed to the proposals but it does have Cllr Mike Goodman (the project leader at Surrey County Council) on its Board and Nigel Davenport (the chief executive of Surrey Wildlife Trust) as one of its Advisers.

The Planning Inspectorate sent copies of the objections to Surrey County Council (SCC) on 2 December. SCC has been given until 6 January to respond with its comments on the objections. Extra time, beyond the normal 21 days, was given due to the festive period. After this, the Planning Inspectorate will copy SCC’s response to all who objected, including those who sent objections by post (unacknowledged by them, they acknowledged emails only). The Planning Inspectorate will not be inviting comments back on SCC’s response, but said that does not stop objectors commenting if they want to.

After that, the Planning Inspectorate are planning a Site Visit, probably in February, and say they are likely to make a final decision in March. They have decided not to have a Hearing or a Public Inquiry as they say they already have enough evidence to make their decision.

Once the application has been determined, the Planning Inspectorate (which has inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State) has no further role in the case. There is no right to appeal against the decision, but it may be challenged in the Courts within 3 months of the date of the decision by applying to the High Court for permission to seek judicial review.

 

 

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