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Newlands Corner – County Council and Wildlife Trust Deal To Be Scrutinised

Published on: 10 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 10 Apr, 2016

Newlands Corner 2A Surrey County Council (SCC) Cabinet decision to endorse a new agreement with Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) for the management of SCC’s countryside estate, including Newlands Corner has been “called in” for scrutiny.

This is another stage for the SCC proposals to make “improvements” to the popular visitor site near Merrow and follows on from an angry public meeting at Holy Trinity Church on March 9th.

A report was presented by Cllr Mike Goodman (Con, Bagshot, Windlesham and Chobham), lead councillor for environment and planning to the SCC Cabinet  on March 22.

The report recommended endorsement of a new agreement with Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) for the management of SCC’s countryside estate.

Both the chair of trustees of SWT, Chris Wilkinson, and its finance director, Roger Wild, were present. Mr Wild detailed ways in which SWT hoped to increase its income stream in future years.

Members of the Save Newlands Corner campaign group spoke during  the meeting and claimed commercialisation of Newlands Corner is the cornerstone of the new proposed deal.

The agreement was endorsed by the SCC Cabinet, although the vote was not unanimous.

Later, on March 31, the Cabinet’s decision was ‘called in’ for scrutiny by SCC’s Economic Prosperity, Environment and Highways Board on the basis that: “The endorsement of the Surrey Wildlife Trust decision and requirement that the strategic director ensures the business plan is delivered prevents the possibility of any further scrutiny”.

This unusual move required a request from three councillors, from more than a single political party.

The scrutiny meeting is to be held at County Hall, Kingston, on Thursday April 14th, at 10.30 am. The public can attend to listen, but not to speak.

Save Newlands Corner leading organiser, Sally Blake said: “This is a positive step forward for the campaigners, and we are hoping that the decision will be referred back to Cabinet with a recommendation to find alternative ways of raising the money to run the Countryside Estate.

“The proposals for Newlands Corner are particularly excessive, and people have shown, indeed are showing, massive opposition to £1 per hour parking charges, artificial play trails/structures and a huge commercial development that includes a coach park.”

If the decision is not reviewed, campaigners fear that it will lead to further commercialisation of the Newlands Corner site.

Sally Blake continued: “Will it stop at Newlands Corner? Probably not. Many of us feel that we must fight these, what David Hodge, the leader of SCC, calls,  ‘improvements’, and keep Newlands Corner wild, free to access, and unspoiled for future generations.”

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Responses to Newlands Corner – County Council and Wildlife Trust Deal To Be Scrutinised

  1. Elisabeth Markwick Reply

    April 11, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    I have not seen any mention of the awful eyesore the proposed shop and cafe building will be when viewed from the Albury side. It will stand out like a sore thumb.

    If parking charges need to be applied then the first hour should be free (and a ticket displayed). That would ensure passers-by and the customers of the snack bar who pop in for a drink will not be discouraged.

  2. John Oliver Reply

    April 12, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Elisabeth Markwick is absolutely right about the ‘sore thumb’ effect. It is something very much in the forefront of campaigners’ minds and will be significant factor in objecting to any planning application (something everyone must do) – if this project gets that far.

    There will also have to be an application to the Planning Inspectorate to build on common land. Again every effort will be made – and needs to be made, by everyone – to object to the Inspectorate at that time.

    This building will set a precedent for other development. What next – holiday chalets? (yes, SCC and Surrey Wildlife Trust have been actively considering holiday accommodation for ‘nature-based holidays’ as a possibility in the Surrey ‘Countryside Estate’ – no particular location mentioned).

    They are also looking at “potential sites for adventure experience providers”. The countryside is becoming one large urban playpark. And Surrey Wildlife Trust, who are there to conserve nature, seem to be a willing partner in this spoiling of the countryside.

  3. Glen Nelson Reply

    April 18, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    This beautiful place has been enjoyed for many years by so many and should continue to be kept as natural and lovely for future generations to enjoy.

    Extending the cafe and shop will indeed be an eyesore. Why create an activity centre destroying many trees etc? What next a theme park?

    Everyone needs to object before this lovely place is spoiled for good. Parking charges are another issue. All those who support Surrey Wildlife Trust must feel very disappointed that they are not protecting and conserving our countryside.

  4. John Phillipson Reply

    May 29, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    I just don’t understand Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT).

    Surrey County Council says the trust needs to be self sufficient. Not surprising perhaps considering it raised £600,000 from their own members towards its state of the art education centre at their ‘flagship’ site at Nowers Wood near Leatherhead, as well as securing a grant of £363,000 from the Lottery Heritage Fund.

    If the members of the SWT can raise £600,000 toward one site couldn’t they also raise the the much lower sum of £156,000, according to some estimates, others say as low as £72,000, toward the upkeep of Newlands Corner, without resorting to car parking fees?

    Come on SWT can we,the public have some answers please?

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