40 Acre Field Claygate Planning!

It is with great trepidation that I write an article about 40 Acre Field as it is indeed a complicated and controversial subject for the residents of Claygate and the respectable owners or renters of this plot of Green Belt land.

This blog is to provide a clearer picture to the edited version that has been published in the Claygate Focus.

In 2013 after being elected for the first time, one of my earliest issues was the sale, division and consequent devastation of 40 Acre Field. This quiet backwater nestles between the A3, Bridleway 34, Common Lane and Holroyd Road. It is possibly one of the last pieces of green belt which separates the village of Claygate from the London suburb of Chessington! This once beautiful tranquil setting soon became a subject of immense concern to Claygate and especially the residents of Common Lane.

Little did I know what a long, difficult and emotional journey this would be!

These pictures are taken from the end of Common Lane at the junction with Bridleway 34

1.Pre 2013

2. March 2015

3. May 2015

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Local Green Spaces are protected from inappropriate development unless ‘VERY SPECIAL’ circumstances outweigh potential harm. Ref:  DM20

Since 1963 there has been a deed between Barwell and Elmbridge borough that does NOT give full right and liberty to the Landowner or his successors to pass and repass with or without vehicles down Common Lane.

Common Lane is a private road owned by Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC). The constant toing and froing of vehicles to the numerous plots on the field via this access point, that had previously been closed for many years, has inconvenienced other users and residents. Common Lane is little more than a dirt track directly adjacent to Claygate Common. Despite the efforts of EBC countryside officers to maintain the surface and keep it free of potholes and flooding, there has been considerably more damage to this lane in the last few years. This has substantially increased the financial maintenance costs to EBC.

Access alone is not the only issue, burnt out cars, fly-tipping and various forms of anti-social behaviour eventual led to the decision of EBC to close the small car park to the public in 2017. This decision is not related to the legitimate users of 40 Acre Field that own or rent plots to graze their horses. The perpetrators of these problems are simply exploiting this relatively quiet secluded backwater but also create further costs to EBC.

The individual purchase of the plots has seen, what many consider, a detrimental transformation of this field. Access remains difficult due to the poor drainage which for most part of the year leaves it almost impassable because of flooding, unless you have a four wheel drive vehicle which inevitably causes further damage to the land.

Two planning applications for plots 11 & 12 (2015/3788 & 2016/1567) were refused by East Area Planning sub-committee (EAPS) and have resulted in a costly High Court Judgement and a Judicial Review. As the applicants failed to appear at the latter on Tuesday 11th July 2017 it was decided that all the evidence would be taken into consideration and a final decision would be returned by early September 2017. The decision is that the appeal against EBC has been dismissed. The applicants now have to remove their caravans from their plot within the agreed allotted time. Costs were not awarded to either the applicants, the borough or Claygate Parish Council (CPC).

Application 2016/2062 which has 100 objections was discussed at EAPS on Monday 4th September and a personal permission was suggested by myself and CPC. This will now be decided at the next borough full planning meeting in October.

As things now stand we have what was once an open field divided into numerous plots by fences for the individual landowners. Although many consider this unsightly, there is not a simpler less intrusive method to divide this field. Multiple shelters were added (before any sale was made) and these are absolutely permissible as long as they are on skids that ensure they are easily moveable. Many trees were also removed from the field (before its sale) opening it up to increased noise from the A3 and making it vulnerable to strong winds blowing across the land as well as flooding which has always been a problem.

Routes have been cut across the field so owners can access their plots and their livestock. Original gateways have also been re-opened for the same reasons although there is some controversy over access rights. Local residents may not like the changes that have taken place but the owners do have a right to protect and graze their animals within their plots.

However a large barn like structure has been erected. A retrospective planning application 2016/2062 is under consideration and the plight of an ailing hose has been considered with much empathy.

Travellers in two caravans have been residing on their two plots and have undergone retrospective planning applications (2015/3788 & 2016/1567) Along with other distressing issues residents have been extremely concerned about this long term complicated situation. These issues have impacted not only on the local residents but also on the people who legitimately own or rent the land to graze their horses.

Change has inevitably occurred with the sale of these plots, fences have been erected, there are numerous shelters and inevitably more vehicles. Some changes must be accepted following the sale of this field but EBC have and will deal with any aspect that is not permissible.

There has however without doubt been a detrimental effect on the flora and fauna of this once much more beautiful and tranquil area.

Vote for Alastair Coomes for Hinchley Wood, Claygate and Oxshott in the Surrey Elections May 4th 2017

Local teacher

Alastair lives in Claygate with his family. A trained teacher and special educational needs expert, he works locally, but also offers his expert services as a consultant to schools beyond Elmbridge.

Alastair’s Action List for Hinchley Wood, Claygate and Oxshott

  1. Better access to local school places & adequate funding
  2. Safer roads for pedestrians, cars and cyclists
  3. Protecting green belt from development
  4. Better care for the elderly, young and vulnerable
  5. Manage the budget better – with more transparency and openness

School places

Having been raised in Claygate and attended local schools, Alastair is very familiar with educational issues in Elmbridge and Surrey. With two teenagers himself, Alastair has first-hand experience of Surrey’s poor track record in providing adequate school places.

Surrey’s finances

While education is closest to Alastair’s heart, his decision to stand as a candidate for councillor is motivated by years of mismanagement of Surrey’s finances at the hands of the Tory administration. He wants to hold the administration to account and help manage the budget better.

Make your voice heard

Vote for the Liberal Democrat candidate, Alastair Coomes, in the county council elections on May 4th and help to stop the mismanagement of Surrey’s finances.

A vote for him is a vote for change and a better future for our families and all residents.

You can call Alastair on 07971 020804 or email him at AlastairForSurrey@gmail.com.

Maintaining your assets

The borough maintains 97 car parks across Elmbridge.  They ranging from our town centres through to our commons.

In becoming portfolio holder for transport in May 2016 Cllr Andrew Davis asked for a current valuation and maintenance programme for all the car parks.  Unfortunately, apart from Drewitt’s Court this had not been undertaken for many years.  Perhaps the previous Conservative administration thought the car parks could mend themselves.

A condition survey was undertaken in 2016 to identify the state of the borough’s car parks and the financial commitments for repairs over the next five years. The full cost to bring the car park up to standard is £13m.

The borough’s obligations relating to Drewitts Court in order to comply with the terms of the existing leases, require that a structural evaluation of the ramp be undertaken immediately and that the repairs be carried out as quickly as possible. It is likely that the full cost will be £1,500,000.

To catch up with the amount of maintenance required for the other car parks the borough plans to spend up to £6m over the next three years.

However, with the high need for social housing, the pressure to build over car parks is high. Not all car parks are suitable but those that are should not given comprehensive repairs until their housing status is known.

Naturally, the order of work and indeed what work will be done will be undertaken with full consultation with local councillors.  A full management programme will be produced for each car park for while they are being reconstructed.  Dewetts Court will take much longer so will have a special plan.  It is likely to begin in January so us not to clash with the Christmas season.

Tribute to ex-councillor Jimmy Cartwright

Ex-councillor Jimmy Cartwright died on Monday 25 July in East Whittering. Representing the Claygate ward he served many years as Liberal Democrat councillor for Elmbridge borough until 2013, when he retired at the age of 81 and moved to West Sussex. As a tribute to Jimmy we re-publish an interview with him and his wife Audrey from the April 2013 issue of Focus.

Jimmy Cartwright resigns from Elmbridge Council – by-election in May 2013

A long-serving Claygate Councillor Jimmy Cartwright has decided to ‘retire from active service’ at the mature age of 81. He has resigned from Elmbridge Borough Council and
this triggered a by-election as his term runs into 2014. The Liberal Democrats have selected Mary Marshall of Holroyd Road, Claygate as their candidate in the forthcoming May elections, hoping to hold on to the seat vacated by Jimmy.

The Focus team visited Jimmy and his wife Audrey as they prepare to re-locate to their new home in West Sussex. Copious cups of tea and delicious cakes inspired a memory-laden fire-side chat with the cheerful couple.

There was a time when Jimmy Cartwright, as the local area manager for Wall’s, used to witness his salesman pick up orders for meat pies, pasties, bacon and pork sausages from eleven (yes you heard right!) different grocery stores in Claygate. Well into the 60‘s the village was still a haven for small stores littered around the village and where people were served over the counter. “Social life and meeting your neighbours in those days revolved around getting your daily shop locally, that’s how important news were exchanged and village affairs were discussed”, Jimmy comments.

“There were no refrigerators either so the stock turnover had to be swift” says Jimmy when looking back at his long and happy career with food manufacturers, and at the different pace of life in the village. Jimmy’s patch as Wall’s area manager was Surrey, but his home base was in Claygate. And so it has remained to this day. In the intervening years Jimmy has witnessed the growth of Claygate into a ‘small town with a friendly village atmosphere’ and a total transformation of grocery retailing.

With his sales experience and the knowledge of the local commercial scene, it was no wonder that in later life Jimmy got involved in running village affairs in the Parish Council. But before retiring fully Jimmy also served a number of years as a bursar in a Molesey school. “I wasn’t ready to rest on my laurels after a busy and rewarding career in a sales role, so I decided to apply for this position in a school. It got me involved in the community from the educational side.”

One thing rapidly followed another and Jimmy was elected a Liberal Democrat Councillor in 2002, representing the Claygate ward in Elmbridge Borough Council. “It’s been very rewarding and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Speaking on behalf of your community is really more about being an alert and active neighbour than politics as such. After all these years you get to know the people in the village and they know you, so serving as a councillor comes naturally.”

Jimmy’s father ran a grocery business in Kingston, which had an influence on his later career choice. But it was Audrey, his future wife, who drew young Jimmy’s attentions to Claygate. Her family lived in Hare Lane and Audrey’s responsibilities in the family home included mucking out in the stables with 15 beautiful horses. “We had a riding school and I had my very own Lad, a handsome thoroughbred stallion. I think Jimmy first fell in love seeing me mount Lad and looking the part,” Audrey giggles.

The young couple move to their first home together in Meadow Road and subsequently to Rosehill, but later took up residence at Audrey’s family home in Hare Lane where they have remained ever since. “This has been our ‘happy castle‘ for many years and we’ve enjoyed being in the centre of action in the village. The horses have long since gone, but wonderful memories remain,” tells Audrey.

A while ago Jimmy and Audrey decided that in their senior years it was time to embark on ‘a project to explore the world‘. So they started looking for a new home in West Sussex, by the sea. They eventually found just the ideal one in East Whittering, near where Jimmy’s younger brother already lives. Although Jimmy still had a year left of his term as a councillor, he decided that now is the right time to move and handed in his resignation to Elmbridge Council.

“As a councillor I have always believed that the best way to get things done is to talk quietly and personally with everybody – including those who opposed my ideas or perspective on things. Grandstanding or aggression was never for me,” Jimmy analyses his approach in Council work.

Our Kind of Claygate

Our kind of ClaygateMy kind of Claygate

Claygate’s three Liberal Democrat councillors Mary Marshall, Alex Coomes and Kim Cross are united in their commitment to greater empowerment of residents in decisions that impact the quality of their lives. They have adopted a campaign theme ‘Our Kind of Claygate’ to reflect the importance of citizen participation, coupled with more open, personal and service-minded local government. This principle applies as much to Surrey County Council as to Elmbridge Borough Council. Now the councillors are inviting Claygate residents to describe ‘My Kind of Claygate’ i.e. their vision for the development of Claygate. These responses will be noted and they will inform the councillors’ work going forward. Mary, Alex and Kim are standing again as Council candidates this May.

DSC09817

Notice Board for Claygate Village.

A new notice board for Claygate has been erected at the end of Coverts Road today. This was created for the benefit of the local residents (who live some distance from the centre of the village) as well as the many visitors that come here. Since living in this part of Claygate, I have noticed that many pedestrians, riders and cyclists are completely confused where they are in relation to the centre of Claygate when they exit the track at the Holroyd Road end of Coverts Road. The track known as the ‘BOAT’ which has no vehicular access, is used by the public mainly for hiking, running, cycling, dog walking or horse riding. This track links Claygate with Esher and also comes out on Fairoak Lane between Oxshott and Malden Rushett, depending on the route you take. Claygate village centre and train station is some distance from Coverts Road so the new board has a detailed map showing your exact location.

As you stand in front of it, you can clearly see what can be discovered in the surrounding area. There are numerous footpaths and bridleways, flora and fauna as well as directions to the village itself. Claygate is full of restaurants, pubs, cafes and village shops. It is surrounded by beautiful countryside views, walks and rides. It is well worth a day out, whichever mode of transport you choose. With the financial help of Surrey County Council, Claygate Parish Council and with a personal contribution of my own, the board has been created, developed and finally delivered on site today.

Thanks must go to Sarah Kingsley from Eclipse Creative for her patience and wonderful art skills. Also thanks to Elmbridge’s Countryside Officer Dave Page. Dave originally helped me to create the map, adding to my ideas with his in depth knowledge of the local countryside due to both his keen interest and occupation. Dave and his co workers from the Elmbridge Countryside Team put the board in place this morning. Residents will now have the benefit of seeing at a glance what is going on in their village community. Horse riders, dog walkers, cyclists, runners and hikers will find new tracks, wildlife and plants as well as discovering a little about the local history of Claygate. Thank you to everyone that has helped this community idea finally come to fruition.

Please click here to see the map: Claygate Coverts Road Map (004)

Coverts Road Notice Board

Coverts Road Notice Board Claygate

 

Claygate Horse Crossing

Horse Crossing3On the afternoon of Saturday, 14 June 2014, following a collision with an unsuspecting motorist there was the tragic death of a horse. It was spooked by selfish fly-tipping, lost its experienced rider and in fear bolted straight out into the road. I have managed with the help of the Claygate community, the Equestrian Community, Claygate Parish Council and SCC Councillor Mike Bennison to raise enough money (£5,000.00) to rebuild with improvements the dilapidated horse crossing in Woodstock Lane South. A road safety audit determined what measures were required to implement the new crossing and it is now in place, improving the safety of everyone that uses this fast and busy road. There is now a large pen for horses to enter, secure and separated from the road. Site lines and signage have also been enhanced and the pedestrian footpath which runs alongside the track has been cleared so pedestrians and horses no longer share the same path. Thank you Claygate for trusting in me to deliver this project for the safety of our community.

Horse Crossing2

Elmbridge Youth Service

Youth Club smallSurrey is halving the funding for Claygate and Weybridge youth centres.  Given the cut is so severe, Surrey has given the youth centre management committees time to raise funds from other sources before withdrawing its own funding – although it will not wait for ever (or even a year).  If you are in a position to offer support then please get in touch.

How did this happen?

It began with the Conservative state administration reducing its contribution to
local government revenues.  This is particularly painful because local government in England (unlike in most countries) is heavily restricted in how it may raise its own funds.  Even the tax that it is allowed to raise is heavily controlled by the state.  For example, income tax, national insurance and VAT increase year on year with inflation but council tax decreases.  The state even proscribes local governments’ ability to keep council tax in line with inflation; a situation that would not be tolerated in America, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy or Spain.

Surrey has chosen to cut its youth services across the county by 11% in nominal terms.  It could have cut the service in all districts by the same amount.  Fortunately, the youth service took the view that it was time to examine need across the county afresh.

The primary directive is to ensure neets (young people not in education, employment or training) get into sustainable work and then to reduce neets to zero.  To disburse funds across the county according to need, the neets have to be located and various other indicators of deprivation have to be assembled.  The county used eleven indictors and determined that Elmbridge would have its funding increased by 6% – despite the general county cut of 11%.

Surrey took this analysis down to town level within Elmbridge itself to match the service provision with need.  This has meant that some towns, for example, Claygate and Weybridge had their service reduced and others, for example, Cobham had theirs increased.  Ditton and Oxshott have no provision from Surrey.

Lib Dems Buck Trend

Elmbridge Lib Dems have bucked the national trend with very strong holds in the two Elmbridge Borough Council wards where Lib Dem councillors were up for re-election  -Shweta Kapadia in Long Ditton and Mary Marshall in Claygate.

Both Lib Dem councillors increased their lead over their second-placed contenders.

The Lib Dem wards had the highest turnout in the borough at 46%.

More locally, Sue Bohane maintained herself as the challenger to the Conservatives in Weybridge South.

Elmbridge remains a Conservative administration.

Claygate
Electorate:                      5,444
Total Votes Cast:           2,491
Turnout:                        45.76%

COLLIGNON, Bernard Michael    UKIP                                 239    10%
MARSHALL, Mary                       Liberal Democrats       1276    52%    Elected
SUGDEN, Mark                            Conservative                    956     39%

Long Ditton
Electorate:                     4,658
Total Votes Cast:           2,131
Turnout:                       45.75%

CUNNINGHAM, Susannah          UKIP                                259    12%
FOX, Martin                                 Conservative                   602    28%
HUGHES, Roger                         Labour                             158      7%
KAPADIA, Shweta                     Liberal Democrats      1105     52%  Elected

Weybridge South
Electorate:                   3,360
Total Votes Cast:        1,169
Turnout:                       34.79%

BOHANE, Susan                      Liberal Democrats        231     20%
CUNNINGHAM, Redvers Paul   UKIP                                178     15%
JONES, Elinor Mair                   Labour                              102       9%
KNIGHT, Richard Albert            Conservative                    646     56%       Elected