Fringe Box

Socialize

Twitter

Educational Camps Approved for Remote Haslemere Countryside

Published on: 21 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 21 Apr, 2022

Imbhams Farm. Image Google Maps

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

A retired teacher will host residential stays teaching countryside life and conservation to up to 60 young people at her remote Haslemere farm.

Margaret Barlow, who runs the former hunting estate Furnace Place Estate, was granted permission by Waverley Borough Council’s planning committee yesterday (April 20) to run outdoor recreation camps from what is currently an agricultural field at Imbhams Farm.

Consent includes camping in up to 15 bell tents between June and September.

Mrs Barlow said children, mostly eligible for free school meals, had enjoyed educational day camps there throughout the Easter holidays, funded by Surrey County Council.

She told the planning committee: “Without intervention, children are more likely to sit indoors for most of the day with a television, a games console, an iPad or a phone or in many cases all of those things.

“Beleaguered parents struggle and it makes for a dawn to dusk battle to occupy the children with other things. It simply isn’t a battle that parents can win on their own.”

Councillor John Robini (Lib Dem, Haslemere Critchmere and Shottermill) voiced support for the camps: “It is always difficult over the summer period for young people to find any sort of things to do.

“I think this is a first-class example of showing young people what they can achieve and teaching them about rural areas.”

But the application, for the farm accessed by an unclassified narrow road with no passing places, has upset neighbours who dread “minibuses and coaches, towing trailers turning on and off the track on a daily basis all summer long”.

Entrance to the lane off Holdfast Lane leading up to Imbhams Farm. Image Google Street View

Plans include 16 visitor car parking spaces and two for minibuses.

Geoffrey Kertesz, of Holdfast Lane, told the committee of how he recently struggled to manoeuvre a minibus he hired for his son’s birthday.

“The only thing worse than listening to 15 eight-year-olds in the back of a minibus was trying to drive it down Holdfast Lane and trying to navigate the junction with the track in order to park.”

He said once he had put up bollards to protect his cars, there was no way a coach could make the tight turn into the lane metres from his house.

“We all chose to live next to a farm,” he added. “We did not choose to live next to an educational centre.”

Committee members voted eight in favour of and two against the plans. Conditions include no tents between October and May and no amplified sound audible beyond the site.

Ward councillor Robert Knowles (Con, Haslemere East and Grayswood) said: “Having been on this council for 15 years, I know conditions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on because they’re not enforceable and there’s always an excuse for not enforcing.

“There is no doubt you’ll see a vast increase in traffic. This is not in walking distance of anywhere. This will completely change the character of the area.”

Councillor Brian Edmonds (Farnham Residents, Farnham Wrecclesham and Rowledge) thought the activities should not be permitted on green belt land. “Light pollution has a damaging effect on biodiversity,” he said.

“Once the green belt sites have been defined we should protect them; we’re not protecting them.”

But Carole Cockburn (Con, Farnham Bourne) thought that as a temporary seasonal change with no buildings added, it was okay.

Councillor Michaela Martin (Farnham Residents, Farnham Moor Park) said: “We wouldn’t have the countryside we have if it wasn’t for farmers.

“If we want to keep our countryside the way it is we’ve got to support farmers in these applications.”

The application received 12 letters of objection and 14 in support.

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *