Fringe Box



Concerned Residents Hear About Youth Services at Henley Fort In Latest Green Lane Saga

Published on: 19 Nov, 2012
Updated on: 21 Nov, 2012

Anger over restrictions on driving vehicles and parking along the Green Lane bridleway on The Mount led to a public meeting being held to discuss the matter.

The entrance to Henley Fort Outdoor Education Centre on The Mount.

Called at very short notice and held at St Catherine’s Village Hall in Chestnut Avenue on Monday last week, about 25 people, ranging from residents of Guildown, Onslow Village and The Mount, attended to hear the head of Surrey Outdoor Learning Development (SOLD), Martin Cusselle, talk about its field centre at Henley Fort, off Green Lane.

Local resident and one of the organisers of the meeting, Auriol Earle said: “Mr Cusselle told us that SOLD delivers gold standard courses to young people involving outdoor activity and linked to the school curriculum.”

Signs on the gate that some residents see as obtrusive.

Mr Cusselle added that at the moment this is a Surrey County Council-funded service to schools of all types but the funding will be reduced annually until it is self-supporting: it has four centres the largest being in Ashurst near Box Hill. Two focus predominantly on water sports on the River Wey and the one at Henley Fort (which currently caters mainly for 11- to 12-year-olds) provides outdoor experiences in the field where children can camp under canvas.

Henly Fort, which belongs to English Heritage, is used for office and teaching accommodation and storage. A particularly popular activity there offers a living history experience of the Home Front during the Second World War.

View looking west along the un-made-up part of Green Lane. The Henley Fort field centre is to the right behind the tress.

Orienteering along with any other activities which encourage the development of team working, initiative and leaderships skills are encouraged. Users are both schools and youth groups and include able bodied, physically handicapped, and special needs young people. Many who attend are working towards their Duke of Edinburgh awards.

A piece of equipment (a climbing wall) inside Henley Fort is visible beyond the fence.

On the activities offered at Henley Fort, Mrs Earle said: “There seemed to be little opportunity to learn about the countryside as such – types of soil, types of trees, wild flowers, farming and countryside activities.”

And she added: It seems inevitable that SOLD’s activities will continue to threaten the rural nature of Green Lane and the walking country which all locals have come to appreciate.

“Traffic on Green Lane, already increased by the building of homes in the gardens of Guildown Avenue, has been added to by SOLD. They have acquired small coaches to transport children to and from the site, and vans to transport equipment: these are clearly visible when parked on the car park at the fort which has recently been extended.

“The whole site is surrounded by metal railings, and locked metal gates block off the fort itself and the parking and storage area – 40 trees have been felled.

“The gates are adorned by large and highly coloured posters advertising SOLD. In the not too distant past, walkers who climbed The Mount, walked along what is now termed Bridleway No 14, under overarching trees and verges green with hedgerow bushes, flowers and grasses. Those who reached the turning into the fort barely noticed any difference as they proceeded into the un-made up part of the lane. Today it is like re-entering suburbia. The increasing suburbanisation has not been helped by Guildford Borough Council’s flailing of the hedges and cutting of the verges two or three times a year. The hedges should only be cut once every three years and the verges only once if necessary.”

Mrs Earle pointed out though it was traffic problems which dominated discussion and that,”the chairman of the meeting, Lorimer Burn, has written to thank Martin Cusselle for telling us all about SOLD activities and in his letter suggested that it would be helpful if SOLD could warn neighbours of any major events likely to cause exceptional traffic congestion and that there would have staff on hand to supervise.”

She continued: “Ideally schools should use mini-buses rather than individual cars to drop off children. Lorimer also said that there was a general wish for more replanting to take place to improve the screening of SOLD’s boundaries and said that an annual briefing regarding future plans would be much appreciated. If there is compliance with these wishes, the meeting will not have been wasted.”

What do you think? Is the area around Henley Fort now like “re-entering suburbia”. Or do you think that it is a good place where young people from all over Surrey can go to enjoy outdoor pursuits? If you have an opinion or something to say, please leave a reply in the box below.

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

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