Read the latest Get Surrey article about Newlands Corner.
Read the latest Get Surrey article about Newlands Corner.
Representatives from Save Newlands Corner (SNC) went to the Surrey Countryside Access Forum meeting yesterday (16th April). Surrey County Council (SCC) was giving an update on rural parking charges. Lisa Creaye-Griffin, Head of the SCC Countryside Group, said that parking charges will be introduced on a phased basis at Newlands Corner and the other five sites involved (Ockham, Rodborough, Norbury Park, Chobham and Whitmoor) by mid-July. SCC said work would begin at Newlands Corner today. The sad news is that we can confirm that it has indeed started – posts along the roadside to stop parking on the verges when charges are introduced.
SNC asked again what we have been asking since October (eight times) and that is “What is the legal basis for introducing charges at Newlands Corner?”. For the second time, we were told that it has been referred to the SCC legal department and that we would receive an answer in due course. Considering that they intended to introduce charges two years ago, you would think that they would know the legal position by now. We are staying on the case with this!
The good news is that the Albury Estate is undertaking work to help protect the ancient yews on the site. The woodland has been neglected for many years and the yews have been suffering damage from a variety of causes. One ancient tree has died and some others have signs of stress. So, it is good to see this work happening, with the likelihood of further measures being taken to conserve these venerable and ecologically-valuable trees.
Sally Blake, Coordinator of the Save Newlands Corner Campaign Group recently gave an interview to That’s Surrey TV.
Democracy and common sense were left behind when Surrey County Council made its recent decision to put parking charges of £1.30 an hour (up to £5) to access natural countryside in 16 Surrey car parks at Newlands Corner, Chobham Common, Rodborough Common, Whitmoor Common, Wisley and Ockham Commons, and Norbury Park. This completely ignored the results of its own consultation.
Click on the link below to view the interview on You Tube.
A group of campaigners say that introducing non-cash…
This is the exact wording of the SCC response other than the one square-bracketed wording. The last bullet point was in response to our question: “To help those who are on low incomes, and for whom a single payment of £60 is a large blow, has any consideration been given to part-year payments, say, quarterly permits at £15 a quarter?”.
Why can’t people who buy a permit at Newlands Corner not use it at other SCC Countryside Estate sites? What has private ownership got to do with it? Answers on a postcard, please…..
We thought that you might all like to hear of a Newlands Corner Litter Pick that is being organised by some local residents. The details are shown below along with a link to the Facebook event page.
“Let’s give Newlands Corner a spring clean! Join us for a community litter picking session at Newlands Corner to help clear up the rubbish that inconsiderate people leave there.
Let’s help make Newlands Corner beautiful for the spring.
Meet up outside the visitor centre at 10am on Sunday 25th February.
Litter picking equipment and rubbish bags will be provided but please bring your wellies!”
On Tuesday, 30 January, the SCC Cabinet approved the introduction of parking charges at the five ‘Pay and Conserve’ sites (Chobham, Ockham, Rodborough, and Whitmoor commons and Norbury Park). This was in the face of bitter opposition from residents, community groups and, of course, Save Newlands Corner. This move is inextricably linked to the equally-opposed introduction of charges at Newlands Corner, rumoured to be implemented by the end of March.
Following an obviously well-orchestrated performance, Cabinet members voted unanimously to introduce charges at 15 of the most-used car parks. Payment will be by phone-only at some car parks and by card and phone at others. This is despite the fact that 75% of people responding to the ‘Pay and Conserve’ consultation said they did not want charges at all and 59% said they wanted cash-payment facilities.
It paves the way for the elderly (who often don’t have or want to use phones or cards), low income groups and other vulnerable groups to be effectively barred from using these sites. Despite our numerous questions, SCC has remained silent about the negative effects on health and wellbeing of these groups and the long term adverse impact on the adult social care budget, which is already under huge strain, and which could well dwarf any income received from parking charges. This is short-term gain for long-term loss.
These parking charges are also too high, inefficient, self-defeating, and legally debatable: too high because £1.30 an hour for a natural countryside car park is unreasonable; inefficient because, using the Council’s own figures, only £201,000 a year on average, out of £448,000 a year raised, will be used to help maintain the countryside; self-defeating because, from the Council’s own consultation, up to 70% of people said they would avoid coming to these sites, or come less often, if charges were applied; legally debatable because the Council says it will not be applying to the Planning Inspectorate for consent to install the parking meters – we firmly believe it should, as it did for Newlands Corner.
Other, more efficient, options should be used to maintain the countryside. Democracy and common sense were left behind when this decision was made.
On Thursday 18 January, Melvyn Bragg wrote a full-page article in the Daily Mail condemning proposals to put zip wires across Thirlmere in the Lake District. The article said everything about Thirlmere that we have all been saying about Newlands Corner. It said that it should be kept in its natural state, that is what people want and that is why they visit there.
One of our team wrote to the paper to congratulate him on the article, highlight the onslaught that is happening to open spaces around the country and in particular publicise the SCC and SWT proposals for Newlands Corner. Click here to read the letter.
This year, Save Newlands Corner has exposed the fact that Surrey County Council (SCC) and Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) have been allowing commercial activities and events to take place at Newlands Corner without receiving the necessary, and legally required, consent of the Planning Inspectorate. This has included very large activities and events, in return for large financial payments. Their actions have not only been illegal, they have deprived the public and other groups, such as parish councils and environmental bodies, of their legal right to make representations against these activities.
This exposure is, of course, an inconvenience to SCC and SWT. To try to find a way around their problem, Councillor Goodman, SCC Cabinet Member for the Environment, wrote to Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for the Environment asking him to relax the Planning Inspectorate guidance in a way which would allow greater commercialisation of all common land in England and Wales.
As soon as we heard about this, we wrote to Mr Gove asking him to not only reject any such relaxation, but also to strengthen the legislation to allow greater protection of the commons. Mr Gove’s officials have now written back to Sally Blake, Save Newlands Corner Coordinator, saying that there is no intention to make any changes to the legislation or guidance as it is considered that the current situation strikes a fair balance.
We are delighted that Cllr Goodman has been thwarted in his attempt to circumvent the law, although we would have liked to see increased security for common land. We have yet to see the Minister’s reply direct to Cllr Goodman, but we are seeking a copy. Please see the links below to Councillor Goodman’s letter, to our letter, and to the response we have had from DEFRA officials (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs).
Please click on the link below to read a Get Surrey article. It details how, via a Freedom of Information request, they now know that Surrey County Council spent nearly £35,000 on plans for play structures at Newlands Corner before the authority decided “not to pursue this proposal” for the moment.
Surrey County Council has withdrawn its application to the Planning Inspectorate for a series of artificial play structures through the woodland at Newlands Corner. This followed the decision of the Planning Inspectorate to hold a Public Inquiry after receiving 1,100 objections against the proposals, which it described as unprecedented.
We made the Planning Inspectorate aware, with expert evidence, that this is vitally important ancient woodland, the habitat of a number of protected species and that the proposals would cause irreversible damage to the woodland and its habitat. The application did not mention any of these facts. We also made the Planning Inspectorate aware of the many commercial events that have taken place at Newlands Corner for financial return without its permission. The Planning Inspectorate is responsible for protecting common land and considering any works or development. This is common land, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its environment should be protected.
We also made all 82 councillors at Surrey County Council, the 13 trustees of Surrey Wildlife Trust, local parish councils and residents associations and many others, aware of these facts.
The statement made by Cllr Goodman of Surrey County Council, the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport and project leader, can be seen by clicking the link at the end of this article.
We welcome this statement but have concerns that Surrey County Council has threatened to revisit this damaging, unwanted, unnecessary and expensive proposal. We will stay on the case to try to stop any inappropriate developments taking place at Newlands Corner.
Also, although Surrey County Council did receive permission from the Planning Inspectorate for car park charging meters and signs, we are revisiting this, to see if car park charges can still be stopped.
A huge Thank You goes to everyone who has backed the campaign so far, and to everyone who made objections against the artificial play structures. This was a massive result against a professional team at Surrey County Council, determined to commercialise and develop our iconic beauty spot for the money it could generate, regardless of the wishes of the people that love it, and regardless of its unique environment and species.
We have just learned that Surrey Council Council has ‘pulled’ its application for a play trail.
It threatens to come back to it but it is wonderful news in the meantime. It’s on Eagle Radio at:
Midnight today (7th July) is the deadline to submit your objections and comments!. Every voice counts so please do email:
Our post ‘Deadline Object and Comment’ gives you more information and contains some thoughts on what you could say in your email. Thank you!
Our active members, and those of you who have been keeping up with our website, will know that Surrey County Council (SCC) has applied to the Planning Inspectorate for consent to put six large artificial play structures at Newlands Corner – five in areas in the woodland along the easy access trail, requiring clearance of natural habitat, and one at the back of the café. The aim of SCC is to turn the site into a visitor attraction, to attract 110,000 more cars each year on top of the 255,000 that go there at the moment, to produce more income from parking charges when they are put in. The deadline for objections and comments to the application is 7th July. Details of how to do this are shown below.
We have been distributing a flyer at Newlands Corner and through letterboxes. It is a useful summary and you can click here to read it.
The application including the play structure designs is linked here and more information on why our group will be objecting, here. The designs are (A) tree top rope swing between two trees set in concrete 6.5m wide by 5m high in a large area of cleared brambles and bracken (B) hanging log on chains between 4 large posts set in concrete (C) half hollow log set in concrete on a slope with steps up to the top (D) ready-made den structures (E) large bouncy acorns on springs set in concrete (F) hollow log on ground behind café. The structures may be made from wood but they are still artificial and Newlands Corner is an inappropriate and highly damaging place to put them.
Last week we had valuable statements from the Tree Register and the Ancient Yew Group. We quote from parts of these “The ancient yew trees at Newlands Corner and the area known as Merrow Downs are of international importance” and “Here we have one of the most important ancient woodlands in Britain, containing standing heritage trees which approach 1,000 years in age”. “The Tree Register of the British Isles has records of 94 notable trees at Newlands Corner but a more complete survey by the Ancient Yew Group lists 133 notable yew” and “the biggest threat to these trees is increased footfall and compaction through people pressure” and “The proposed plans by Surrey County Council will have a direct impact on the health and survival of many ancient yew at Newlands Corner”.
Please give your views on the play structures to the Planning Inspectorate by midnight on Friday 7 July 2017 and forward this message/post to friends and family asking them to do the same.
State your views, for example
The Save Newlands Corner Group
As promised in the post of 2nd June 2017, the Save Newlands Corner Campaign Group has produced detailed thoughts on the issues raised by the Surrey County Council Planning Application.
There are three documents (see the links below), which provide:
Please note the 7th July 2017 deadline.
Please let family and friends know about them. If you wish to print copies out, you can also print on both sides of your paper and you end up with two A5 leaflets.
Please don’t let the fact that SCC received approval to place parking charge equipment on the Newlands Corner site deter you from objecting to this proposal.
Every single comment/objection made to The Planning Inspectorate in Bristol is vital for Newlands Corner!
Surrey County Council has applied to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol for permission to place six large, artificial play structures on common land at Newlands Corner. Details of the application are in the attached documents. Our detailed thoughts on the issues will be on website in the next few days.
There is a deadline of 7 July for comment/objections on the proposals.
If you need to make representations urgently (e.g. going on holiday), before you do so, read part 4 of the additional attached document “Common Land Consents Policy”. This indicates what should be taken into account by the inspector and so any representations should be based on these factors – basically what benefits will these structures give to the neighbourhood, the population in general and for the Newlands Corner site. (We can’t think of any.) And remember to include your name and address.
We have recently received evidence of Surrey County Council’s aspirations for Newlands Corner. SCC applied to the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in 2014 for funding to develop Newlands Corner. LEPs are government-sponsored organisations which give grants for business-orientated projects. Even we have been shocked by the scale of what SCC wants to do. It plans the “redevelopment and extension” of this iconic site for economic reasons, and says it will serve as a “trailblazer” for work on other iconic sites in Surrey and neighbouring counties. We have stated many times that the proposals would have implications for the rest of the SCC Countryside Estate, but this is much more than we anticipated. Fortunately, the application was refused. However, SCC’s intentions do not seem to have changed as it is ploughing ahead with the same proposals.
Click here to see the unabridged text from SCC’s application.
On 29 March 2017, we sent a letter to all 81 Surrey County Councillors asking them to think upon what sort of legacy they want to leave for future generations, and to take action to prevent this pending disaster. It updates them about the parking charges and proposed play structures at Newlands Corner, and illegal activities taking place there.
The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has published its decision which allows Surrey County Council (SCC) to introduce parking charge equipment onto the Newlands Corner site (see attachments). Whilst disappointing, the result is not unexpected. There have been a number of indicators:
The greatest disappointment is the quality of the decision itself. It lacks intellectual rigour, fails to address properly the impacts that the machines will have on the neighbourhood and simply accepts SCC’s vague promises about future monitoring. The main consideration has been sympathy with SCC’s financial situation, rather than with the registered common and natural countryside PINS is there to protect. SCC’s refusal to even provide a financial/business plan has been ignored. There is no consideration of a Friends of Newlands Corner alternative.
Most disturbing is the way the inspector fails to acknowledge that 10 local Councils objected and dismisses the 1,400 objections because of the existence of a Save Newlands Corner campaign. All our campaign has ever done is to try to keep people informed of the facts, set out the issues and counter the misleading information that has flowed out of SCC. It has always been your decision as to what you do with that. The inspector implies that neither you nor elected Councils have any independent thought and that your concerns are not worthy of consideration. That is indefensible.
Natural England has been told about the surveys. We shall see what that brings.
SCC has to apply to itself (unfortunately) for planning permission and to the Planning Inspectorate again for ‘commons consent’ for the play structures. Notices must be placed in the Surrey Advertiser (in ‘Planning applications’ and ‘Public notices’). This may well happen very quickly, within 2-4 weeks, now that the parking charge equipment has been approved.
Save Newlands Corner will oppose the applications.
We sent a letter to the Planning Inspectorate on 22 January 2017 in response to Surrey County Council’s lacklustre, inadequate, incomplete and in some places incorrect response to the 1400 representations to the car park charging infrastructure and the project it is designed to fund.
Surrey County Council’s response to the 1400 representations was dated surprisingly vaguely as “January 2017” and we have since learned that it was received by the Planning Inspectorate on 16 January 2017, 10 days after the deadline the Planning Inspectorate told us it had set, and 21 days after the deadline specified in the Regulations. The validity of the Surrey County Council response has been taken up with the Planning Inspectorate.
Further to our post of yesterday, we have now documented our concerns over the SCC response to the almost 1400 objections received by the Planning Inspectorate.
The Inspectorate has not asked for responses, which it normally does. It considers it has enough information. However, if you wish to challenge the letter, the Inspectorate has confirmed that it would accept those letters. However, it will not accept objections, evidence or comments from anyone who did not object by the original 21 October 2016 deadline.
If you wish to challenge the SCC letter, please send it to:
The Planning Inspectorate, 3F Hawk Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN. Mr Rob Davis – firstname.lastname@example.org
APPLICATION REFERENCE COM/3158795 – Commons Act 2006: Section 38. Application to Construct Restricted Works on Common Land at Albury Downs (known as Newlands Corner), Surrey.