Fringe Box



Letter: Three Meadows Farm Does Meet Community Asset Criteria

Published on: 25 Jan, 2017
Updated on: 25 Jan, 2017

Part of the area submitted for listing as an Asset of Community Value

From Ben Paton

Further to the article which included parts of  my statement to the council on the application for Three Farms Meadow to be listed as an asset of community value, I would like to add the following:

To designate an ACV certain criteria must be met.

1. There must be an actual use by the community within the last two years prior to the application. Ockham Parish Council has shown the actual local use as farming. Up until September 2015 the lease to farm the land was granted to a local farming tenant – Mr Maiklem of Pound Farm, Martyrs’ Green, Ockham. He held the lease for many years. Before Mr Maiklem, Mr Bill Shere held the lease and farmed the land from Bridge End Farm, Ockham.

So there is an actual and continuing use.

2. There must also be a social and economic value to the community from the actual use. The actual use was farming by local farmer. This provided multiple local social and economic values including local employment for farm labourers and utilisation of locally owned farming equipment.

The farming benefits are very important to a ward which is essentially a farming ward where the local employment is all based on use of local land for raising pheasants, for arable crops, and for equestrian activities.

In addition local use of the land allowed the local tenant to provide other social benefits such as preventing  illegal trespass onto the land. Surrey County Council (SCC) has designated this land as part of a Local Biodiversity Opportunity Area – which is enhanced by local farming. Local farming plainly provides real benefits to the parish.

The new landowner removed the lease from the local farmer and granted it to a farmer from Maidenhead. In order to farm it from Maidenhead farm equipment must be brought across the countryside- which is less efficient and has an environmental cost.

The remote farmer uses farm hands from outside the parish. (In fact, most of them seem to come from Poland.) Local employment has been lost. Moreover the new farmer is remote from the land and does not and cannot provide the local services – such as securing the land against trespass and sustaining the wildlife which local tenants have hitherto provided.

The land therefore meets the criteria for an Asset of Community Value (ACV).

The Guildford Borough Council has ignored these facts and borrowed all its arguments from the current land owner – which is seeking permission to develop a new town on the land. The council argued

i) there was no local actual use. It concentrated on the occasional use by the public of public rights of way (PROWs). The PROWS are not the primary local use. The council has deliberately missed the point – because it has a clear precedent from Ash where it was held that PROWS do not by themselves create an actual use of the land for ACV purposes.

ii) the land is not actively farmed. This claim by the owner is plainly untrue.

iii) not all of the land is farmed. This is a hair-splitting and pedantic point. The council repeats the landowner’s claim that the land is derelict and that the ‘remainder’ is farmed. That’s plainly the wrong way around. The fact is the vast majority of the land is farmed and was farmed locally providing local employment and social and environmental benefits.

The council’s presentation is highly selective and uses the new landowners’ self-serving arguments without testing or critically examining them. Both the new landowner and the council have a conflict of interest. The landowner is seeking to develop a new town – and thereby generate hundreds of millions of profits. The council is seeking to have the land included in its forthcoming local plan.

The council had a statutory obligation to make its determination within eight weeks. Instead it has taken over six months – clear evidence of a procedural irregularity.

See also: Council Leader Accuses GGG Leader of Being ‘A Disgrace’ During Wisley Debate

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Responses to Letter: Three Meadows Farm Does Meet Community Asset Criteria

  1. Tony Edwards Reply

    January 26, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Well said, Ben, but you must surely be aware by now that relevant facts tend to be regarded as hostile elements in the on-going cause of vandalism by this council.

  2. Helena Townsend Reply

    January 27, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I have never heard of Three Farms Meadow nor can I find it in any google search.

    Is it a name now given to a large hard surfaced derelict airfield suitable for housing? A euphemism if you will?

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