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Save Newlands Corner

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Enterprise M3 Application

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.

Surrey Countryside Under Threat

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.

Click here to see our letter.

 

Parking Charges agreed. 1,400 Objections Ignored!

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:

  • lack of public inquiry when there really should have been one according to PINS’s own criteria;
  • rigid enforcement of the public’s deadline to make representations;
  • PINS allowing three extensions to SCC’s deadline to respond to representations, doubling the length of time given in law – even though it does not have the power to do so;
  • two significant changes to the application – one which the public was not told about, the second revealed but not properly notified to the public (see next);
  • the public being sent a copy of SCC’s response “for information” rather than with the usual invitation to make further representations;
  • a dormouse survey and bat survey, completed for the next application (for large artificial play structures) withheld by SCC until 24 hours before the decision. These indicate that licences to work in or near habitats (“mitigation licences”) might be needed for the installation of the parking charge equipment.

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.

What next?

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.

Decision Letter – Click Here

Application Decision detail – Click Here

Customer survey – Click Here

 

 

 

Letter from Save Newlands Corner in Response to the Surrey County Council Response

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.

Click here to see our letter.

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.

Our Concerns Over the Surrey County Council (SCC) Response Letter

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.

To read our document click here.

Click here to read our original post from 18th January 2016 regarding the Surrey County Council (SCC) response to Objections

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 – rob.davis@pins.gsi.gov.uk

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.

 

Surrey County Council (SCC) Responds to Objectors Letters

Nearly 1,400 people objected to SCC’s proposed parking charge infrastructure at Newlands Corner.  The Planning Inspectorate has now sent out a copy of SCC’s response to those who objected.  To those of you who have received it, please read it carefully.  It is what SCC does not say that is just as important as what it does say.  (Read a copy of the SCC letter and Planning Inspectorate covering letter by clicking the links below.).  Save Newlands Corner concerns are listed on the document linked below.

Save Newlands Corner Concerns Document

SCC’s response letter – Click here

Planning Inspectorate Letter – Click here

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 – rob.davis@pins.gsi.gov.uk

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

 

Dormouse and Bat Survey Summaries Released

Surrey County Council has released the executive summary of a recent dormouse survey completed by Danial Winchester of Surrey Wildlife Trust and the conclusions of a bat survey carried out by Wychwood Environmental.  These can be seen by cicking the link below.  We have been assured that the surveys have been properly completed and that they represent a professional view.  We have no evidence to doubt this.  SCC has withheld the full surveys as they pinpoint locations of animals found. SCC does not want to compromise the animals’ safety.  This is entirely reasonable, but we are pursuing obtaining copies of the surveys with the precise locations deleted.

Click here to read the full executive summary.

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.

 

 

Recent Communication from Surrey County Council

A recent communication from SCC continues to confirm its intention to generate an income stream at Newlands Corner from parking charges.  The e-mail also says that charges will increase over time.  However, it has not said whether these increases will be limited to inflation.

Additionally, it is unclear whether funds raised at Newlands Corner will be used to manage Newlands Corner alone, or will be used to fund the wider Countryside Estate.

 

 

 

 

SWT Chief Executive Claims that Parking Charges will go ahead at Newlands Corner next year

We attended the Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) AGM at the University of Surrey on 12 November.

We asked what SWT’s plans are for generating more income or cutting costs, if parking charges do not go ahead at Newlands Corner due to the Planning Inspectorate?
Roger Wild, Finance Director, said that SWT would have to go back to Surrey County Council (SCC) about how things will be managed in the future.

Later Nigel Davenport, Chief Executive, said that there will be parking charges at Newlands Corner next year, and some improvement to the facilities.  [Save Newlands Corner: Interestingly that is what SWT and SCC said would happen this year but clearly they had not considered the level of public opposition to their plans.]

His explanation for supporting the proposals to commercialise Newlands Corner was that SCC had to reduce payments due to financial constraints and SWT could have walked away or had a fight with SCC or worked with them.  They chose the last, and said he is absolutely sure it was the right decision. [Save Newlands Corner: However, this financial argument is not supported by SWT’s own annual accounts (Click link here). These show that, despite a reduction in the SCC grant, SWT still made a surplus of over £1M last year and currently have reserves in excess of £5M.]

Planning Inspectorate inundated with objections to council plans for Newlands Corner

Following last Fridays deadline for objections to the Surrey County Council planning application for Newlands Corner, our campaign group has issued the following press notice to the local media, a copy of which is included below.

This news has now ‘broken’ and, this morning, was headlines in the ‘Get Surrey’ online newspaper – Link to article

We are confident that there will be an article in this week’s Surrey Advertiser.

Further updates to follow on the website.


Planning Inspectorate inundated with objections to council plans for Newlands Corner

A few weeks ago, Surrey County Council applied to the Planning Inspectorate for consent to put parking charge machines at Newlands Corner. This was the Council’s first step to try to gain approval for their highly unpopular plans to commercialise and develop the site.

The deadline for objections was 21 October and the Planning Inspectorate has been inundated with around 1,500 objections – an extraordinarily large number by Planning Inspectorate standards.

These objections have come not only from the people who go to Newlands Corner and love it as it is, but also from parish councils, residents associations and specialist groups.

Sally Blake, coordinator of the Save Newlands Corner campaign group, said:
“I’m delighted at the scale of the objections. People don’t want their favourite beauty spot turned into a ‘visitor attraction’ that they won’t be able to afford. They don’t want this natural site spoiled with parking charge machines, pay-and-display signs in front of the view, or artificial play structures. They want it to be properly maintained and the essential character of Newlands Corner to stay as it is.

We call on Surrey County Council to drop its proposals for Newlands Corner in the face of overwhelming opposition, and to accept that those plans are ill conceived and unwanted.
In the meantime we hope that Surrey County Council will carry out basic maintenance of the site, which is long overdue.”

It will take the Planning Inspectorate a few months to consider all the objections and to reach a decision, and it could go to a Public Inquiry.

-ends-

Click here to read the press release.


Action Required NOW to Save Newlands Corner

The deadline for objections to the Surrey County Council Commons Consent application has now passed.  Thank you to everyone for the amazing response. Once we know how many objections have been received or have any further information we will post on this site.  

Thank you!!

You can still view the documents we produced regarding this application.

Click here to read How to Object and What you can say.

Also please remember to personalise your objection slightly.  Mention your emotional attachment to Newlands Corner and why it is important for you and your family.  This will then carry much more weight with the Planning Authorities. 

Thank you!


You will have heard about the significant controversy surrounding Surrey County Council’s (SCC) proposals to develop Newlands Corner.   We need to object to its proposals at every stage to stop this commercialisation.   SCC’s first step is to introduce car park charges and for this it needs to erect parking charge machines on the site.  On 14 September 2016,  SCC submitted an application to the Planning Inspectorate for the introduction of three parking charge machines onto the common.  They need to do this as Newlands Corner is registered common land.

This may not sound like much but the implications of this are very significant.

The Planning Inspector must be shown that this application is inappropriate, would lead to the degradation of Newlands Corner and is deeply unpopular.

Every single objection counts, so please send yours in by 21st October 2016 and encourage others to do the same. 

Please send objections:-  

By email to:        commonlandcasework@pins.gsi.gov.uk

By post to:          The Planning Inspectorate, Commons Team, 3F Temple Quay House, Temple Quay, Bristol. BS1 6PN

The three documents below will give you more detail and some ideas on what to say in your objections.  (They are all in both Word and PDF format).

Action Required Now to Save Newlands Corner – Gives more detail of the situation:

    Action Required – PDF version            Action Required – Word version

Appendix 1 – Gives information about the application and suggests the sort of things you might want to object to:

    Appendix 1 – PDF version                     Appendix 1 – Word version

Appendix 2 – Gives you lots of background and sets out our concerns about all of the proposals:

    Appendix 2 – PDF version                    Appendix 2 – Word version

Planning Information – This document contains further planning background information

   Planning Information

 

 

 

Surrey County Council – Commons Consent Application!

URGENT – We have now heard that the first of Surrey County Council’s Commons Consent applications has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.  This application applies for consent for the parking infrastructure at Newlands Corner.  This is the start of the commercialisation of Newlands Corner! 

Action needs to be taken now and we are in the process of putting together details on how you can object.  We are also finalising plans to give the application much wider publicity.  This will all be completed in the next few days and we will put full information on this website.  Please encourage everyone you know to object!

The links below are to the various application documents.  

Pay and Display Signage Plan

Newlands Corner Proposed Location of Parking Meters

Area Map CL344

Additional Sheet to Application for Consent to Carry Out works on Common Land

Representation Notice

Signed Application

CL344 Register of Common Land

The State of Britain’s Dormice and their Newlands Corner Habitat

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species has just issued a report, ‘The State of Britain’s Dormice’, which describes the rapid decline of the hazel dormouse in Britain and says that they are vulnerable to extinction.  Newlands Corner is a known habitat for these shy, endearing creatures.  SCC’s proposals will bring noise, habitat clearance and a 50% increase in vehicle emissions.  Stopping SCC’s proposals will at least give the dormice a fighting chance.

Read more here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37290176

 

Open Spaces Society Article

Under the heading “Space Invaders” an Open Spaces Society article has said the following:

“Surrey wants to make money from the beautiful Newlands Corner near Albury in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The proposed commercial developments there, which include a large visitor-centre (replacing the much-loved café), coach park and trail with artificial play-structures, are causing much local concern. Some of the structures would be on common land, needing ministerial consent. This sensitive site is not one to muck around with; we shall resist.”

The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 as the Commons Preservation Society and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body.  It receives copies of all applications made to the Planning Inspectorate (which is part of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) for works on common land and plays an important role in advising the Secretary of State.  So, this is a real boost to the campaign.

It is interesting to note that the Planning Inspectorate recommends that the Society is consulted, on an informal basis, about any such plans.  Our understanding is that, as of two weeks ago, no informal approach had been made to the Society by Surrey County Council.  Yet these proposals first came to light in October last year!

Friends of Newlands Corner Proposal

Friends of Newlands Corner

Introduction

At a meeting with Surrey County Council (SCC) on 19 April 2016, the Save Newlands Corner Campaign Group (SaveNC) agreed to put forward alternative arrangements for the management of Newlands Corner. SaveNC believes that the site could be managed on the basis of a ‘Friends of Newlands Corner’ model in a much more cost-effective way than is currently the case. The ‘Friends’ concept would also retain the wild and open nature of the site and avoid the commercial proposals put forward by SCC.

SCC said ‘we remain open to discuss any thoughts or proposals you may have’. SaveNC welcome this opportunity to submit our outline ideas for an alternative way forward and the reasoning behind them.

At the time of the meeting, critical information about vehicle figures and maintenance costs was still awaited. Much of that has information has recently been provided, but further clarification is being sought.

This report is, therefore, correct to the best of our knowledge. It was completed in a short time frame and we acknowledge that much more work needs to be done to firm up on the proposals.

Click here to read the full proposal.

Fact Sheet – Summary of the Situation at Newlands Corner

We have put together a Fact Sheet, which details the main points covering the situation at Newlands Corner.  It is complex so we felt it important to put as much information as possible in one place for everyone to read.  Fact sheet latest update 4th April 2017.  The new version is linked below.

This will be updated regularly as situations change so do keep looking in for changes.

Please click this link to read the Updated Fact Sheet.

Please feel free to let us know your thoughts via the ‘Contact Us’ section and remember to ‘Follow Us’ so you receive our latest posts via email.

The links shown in the document are shown below so you can connect to them direct from here.

 

Dodgy Figures Exposed

Dodgy Figures Exposed

Councillor Goodman, leader of the project that wants to commercialise Newlands Corner, has stated, on many occasions, (including to support his business case to the SCC Cabinet), that 122,000 vehicles visit Newlands Corner every year.  Campaigners have challenged these figures consistently, believing them to be far below the reality of the situation.  Now, under the pressure of a Public Question at the Cabinet meeting on 26 April, he finally admitted that Newlands Corner is visited by 255,000 vehicles a year.

Why is this important?  We don’t agree with parking charges at all but if they are to be imposed, this means that they do not need to be anywhere near as high as initially proposed to achieve the amount of money Councillor Goodman wants.  In fact, they should be less than half of what he is proposing.

This is yet another example, in our opinion, of these proposals being put forward on the basis of very questionable statistics and a misplaced ideology.

 

What the Save Newlands Corner Group Seeks to Ensure

What The “Save Newlands Corner” Group Seeks to Ensure:

  1. Newlands Corner continues to be one of very few publicly accessible countryside sites free of charge to visitors, consistent with the enjoyment and understanding of the countryside and its flora and fauna – such understanding contributing to the well being and good mental and physical health of people of all ages, abilities and means. In particular, in the absence of regular public transport to Newlands Corner, the introduction of car parking charges would present a deterrent cost to those of limited financial means, including the elderly.
  1. The conservation and management of Newlands Corner keeps it in as natural a state as possible to retain its special character recognised by its status as in an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” to include maintenance of the existing “all weather” paths, the car park, café and toilet facilities without extension or expansion of these.
  1. Nothing is done to restrict or impede the views from the present access roadway and car park, this including any location selected for coach parking.
  1. Newlands Corner is kept free from any more commercial activity or development than is presented by the current Visitor Centre, Café and toilet facilities. “Save Newlands Corner” opposes the introduction of parking charges to in any way subsidise commercial ventures that should to be entirely self-funding.
  1. The existing environment continues to present the best possible experience for all, including and play value for the young by encouraging use of imagination, resourcefulness and direct understanding of nature. Man made recreation facilities and equipment, perhaps based on natural materials, may be of value in urban locations but their use at Newlands Corner is not needed and would detract from the very understanding and enjoyment that nature provides better for itself. Additionally, the cost of such equipment would only add unnecessarily to ongoing maintenance and future renewal costs

We continue to work hard in many areas to achieve the above goals.  You can contact us using the ‘Contact Us’ link on the web site top menu.  We welcome your feedback and thoughts.  

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