Fringe Box



Letter: Visitor Numbers Will Fall At Newlands Corner

Published on: 18 Feb, 2017
Updated on: 18 Feb, 2017
From Valerie Thompson
Newlands Corner, referred to as “Albury Downs”, in the relevant Surrey County Council (SCC) planning application, is now to have three Pay & Display parking meters installed.
The planning inspector’s decision to give planning consent was made despite over 1,400 objections and a petition against the commercialisation of the site signed by over 11,600 people.
The inspector has disregarded practically all the objector’s comments observing: “It appears that much of the opposition may have been influenced by a campaign, ‘Save Newlands Corner’, which encouraged people to object.”
Many of the objectors commented on the installation of seven large artificial play structures, (for which SCC have already had designs prepared), the re-structuring of the parking area, the building of a new visitor centre (on the edge of the scarp), a restaurant, retail space and a coach park on an obtrusive site.
SCC now intend, after the installation of the parking meters, as a second stage development, to refurbish the existing toilets, upgrade the play area, and re-surface the all-ability trail, but they also are still talking about placing “play and educational pieces in the woodland”, presumably the same artificial play structures mentioned before.
These play structures were discussed at one of the public meetings, set up by SCC, at Holy Trinity Church, and were rejected by 98% of the people attending.  Further applications can be expected from SCC with proposals for these other developments.
The owners, Albury Estate, which has an Access Agreement, managed  by Surrey Wildlife Trust, and leases in favour of SCC, together with the lessee of the cafe, did not raise any objections – not surprising as they hope to raise money.
SCC estimates that 255,000 vehicles currently use the car park each year and expects this number to increase, though how this can happen with a new £4 charge is puzzling.  How it will encourage regular dog-walkers, families or the elderly is not explained.
Indeed, a proposition by SCC has been made that the first 20 minutes should be free, to permit use of the toilets and cafe.  I suggest that this is an unreasonably short time, especially for children and old people.  One hour might be more reasonable.
My conclusion is, that rather than increasing visitor numbers, local people will park at other places on the North Downs, where access is free, and abandon Newlands Corner altogether.


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Responses to Letter: Visitor Numbers Will Fall At Newlands Corner

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    February 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    At least SCC seem to have quietly dropped their plan for the huge visitor centre /shop /educational building (probably because they realised that GBC would never give planning consent), from their scheme and reduced their proposal to a much more reasonable refurbishment of the existing facilities.

    In my view, the existing and greatly under used, visitor centre, could be re-modelled to become a cafe, shop and visitor centre, perhaps with some form of glazed conservatory added to it, at the side, to allow additional indoor seating and negating the need for any more buildings. The existing burger bar section of the building could surely be the kitchen area for such a cafe and the existing covered area outside the burger bar could be used for covered outdoor seating for the cafe.

    I always suspected that the pay to park scheme would be implemented, although I hope that the charging schedule will be rethought and perhaps reset to a free ticket for the first hour, £1.00 for the second hour, £2.00 for the third, £3.00 for up to four hours and perhaps £4.00 for a whole day, which seems a bit more reasonable.

  2. Helena Townsend Reply

    February 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    We live in one of the most affluent parts of the country, I’m sure visitors can easily swallow up the cost.

    I think parking charges are reasonable, especially if it encourages an upgrade of all other facilities.

    • Dave Middleton Reply

      February 18, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      I must respond to Helena Townsend above.

      Yes, we do live in a reasonably affluent area and yes, I and no doubt she, can afford to pay the parking charges once in a while.

      However, not everyone who lives in, or around Guildford is well off, or even comfortably off. There are many people who are living on low wages, being paid the minimum wage, or living on very small state pensions, who do in fact struggle to make ends meet.

      There are young families, where the sole breadwinner is on minimum wage, who are struggling to get by and feed and clothe their children and run some kind of car to get to work.

      For people like these, places like Newlands Corner, free to visit and enjoy as a place of tranquillity, or a free “playground” for the little ones is are an absolute blessing for just the cost of a litre of so of petrol to get there.

    • Ivor Terry Reply

      February 19, 2017 at 7:14 am

      Helena Townsend might be loaded but I am not!

  3. Aubrey Lehay Reply

    February 18, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Barmy. Means a lot more people will park along the verges and, to the great consternation of the owners, in the car park of Newlands Corner Hotel.

    As for the “play structures”? What’s wrong with the trees, meadows, hedges etc. as places of play? I suspect they will be brightly coloured plastic eyesores that will destroy the area for photographers, artists, bird watchers, ramblers etc.

    I will not be surprised if the next proposal is to build an airport style travelator all the way to St. Marthas.

  4. Chris Culley Reply

    February 18, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    As a child who spent hour upon hour playing on the downs and at Newlands Corner, watching wildlife, seeking, and finding, fossils and so on, I have been appalled at the proposed “improvements” to this beautiful and much loved area of nature.

    “Artificial play structures”? How odd. My friends and I used to call them trees and bushes and grasses.

  5. Mike Gibson Reply

    February 18, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    I understand that SCC hasn’t made public the “business case” for these proposals. No doubt it projects an initial drop in the number of visitors as the impact of the charges take effect?

    Meanwhile there is still time to sign the petition on the SCC website to object to the plans to cut funding to the Wildlife Trust affecting the wider Surrey countryside.

  6. Jim Allen Reply

    February 18, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Ms Thompson is quite right and I believe places like Burpham’s Riverside nature reserve car park like many others will become inundated and without a visit from “International Paints – Yellow Division” these access points will become nightmares for the residents.

    The SCC approach seems to be “one site at a time” but for the community it is all the (countryside) sites at a time. I wonder how they will work charging road side parking at countryside sites – individual parking meters?

  7. John Oliver Reply

    February 20, 2017 at 8:57 am

    “At least SCC seem to have quietly dropped their plan for the huge visitor centre /shop /educational building”. Beware. Here is what Cllr Goodman said in May in a letter to selected stakeholders: “In view of public feedback, we won’t be considering any other proposals until the improvements we’re making this year have been successfully implemented”.

    If you ask SCC if there will be a new building it will say it has “no plans”. Ask if it has any “intention”, it will fail to reply – done it to me. In the last 15 months SCC has constantly used such unclear language, made promises it hasn’t kept (upgrade of toilets were promised for last year), and withheld information (business plan is only one example).

    I query everything the SCC Countryside Group says and does. They will do anything to push their plans through.

  8. D Gregory Reply

    February 20, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    So Helena Townsend is “I’m alright Jack” so I don’t care. Well unfortunately not everyone is well off enough to pay. For some the fact it is free means they have somewhere to take the children during holidays.

    I am lucky I work full time and can afford it. Unfortunately not every one can.

  9. Helena Townsend Reply

    February 20, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    I think a lot of people need to get a grip on reality here.

    Firstly, spending the price of a Tesco meal deal on parking does not make me loaded. I completely understand that there are people who struggle to get by but there are numerous free sites they can visit across Guildford.

    We have some stunning countryside and playgrounds in the area which are all free to use. Has anyone walked around the gunpowder factory in Chilworth or even parked in the White lane car parks and walked to Newlands Corner – these are cost effective alternatives.

    From what I can see the majority just park up, pollute the air in their 4x4s and eat a greasy burger. You can do this anywhere.

    We should actually be discouraging cars its ruining this beauty spot.

    Guildford is a very affluent place.

    • Dave Middleton Reply

      February 25, 2017 at 11:59 am

      The car parks on White Lane and at St Martha’s that Helena Townsend mentions are tiny and I doubt if they would accommodate 25 cars between them – so not really a viable alternative.

      White Lane is also a very narrow and winding road. It is not suitable to absorb the volume of traffic that might use it, in an attempt to avoid the parking charges at Newland’s Corner.

      Incidentally, I park up at Newland’s Corner on my very fuel efficient and low emissions motorcycle, which takes up less car park and road space than a car, to buy and eat my delicious and very non-greasy burger.

      As for banging on about Guildford being an affluent place, as they say in Parliament, “I refer the honorable lady to my previous answer”.

  10. John Oliver Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    It is a matter of record that SCC intends to promote an increase of vehicle visits from 255,000 a year to 365,000 a year within four years. Even Surrey Wildlife Trust has said that around 200,000 is the capacity. Newlands Corner is over-used at the moment, but SCC’s policies don’t care about that. All it, and the Surrey Wildlife Trust, is after is the money from parking charges.

    Saying that people have got other places to go (i.e. they need to “get a grip on reality”) is forgetting a fundamental principle. By law, the public has a right of access to the Newlands Corner common. What the SCC proposals do is to deny that fundamental right to a segment of the population. I think that that right is worth fighting for.

    If Ms Townsend is happy for her rights to be swept aside in the gold rush, fair enough. But she should not criticise others in such patronising terms for standing up for what they are entitled to.

  11. Valerie Thompson Reply

    February 22, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I feel obliged to respond to Ms Townsend. I think it is she who needs to get a grip on the realities of life in Surrey, which is not as universally wealthy as she asserts.

    There are many people who have used Newlands Corner for years as a place to bring children or dogs or their elderly relatives, to walk, play sit and enjoy the views, the air and the play opportunities that open spaces, woodland and tracks offer. Many of these visitors go, because it is free.

    Surrey has many families on benefits and pensioners on limited incomes. Dog walkers would certainly resent these payments every time they brought their pets, some, twice a day.

    For Ms Townsend to claim that everyone will be happy to pay for these pleasures is quite misguided. The whole exercise is a money-making scheme thought up by SCC and the landowners.

    Sadly there is no right of access: Mr Oliver is wrong in thinking this is common land. But the law will support the continued use, by members of the public, of a footpath, or an abandoned piece of land, if it has been in regular use for over 20 years.

    Therefore it should support the continued free access to Newlands Corner, unless the owners could prove that the general public have enjoyed this area only with their express permission for centuries (i.e. they are “permissive footpaths” crossing privately-owned land, but with the land-owner’s permission).

  12. John Oliver Reply

    April 28, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    A very late response as I haven’t been here for a while, but Valerie Thompson is wrong.

    Newlands Corner is a registered common – its reference number is CL344. This can be checked with Surrey County Council.

    It is owned by the Albury Estate (ie the Duke of Northumberland) but it is still a registered common and, therefore, the public has rights of access to the land. Most commons are privately owned.

    Another point to clarify is that “commoner” does not mean “resident”. A commoner is someone who has a legal and recorded right to graze animals, collect firewood etc. A commoner is not the generality of the public. What the public has is right of access to a common in order to enjoy it.

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