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.

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.

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

Thames Flooding – More to come?

A new group has formed in Weybridge to highlight the risks to Weybridge by the Environment Agency plans for the Thames and Wey.

To help remove the flooding risks between Windsor and Weybridge a series of new works have been undertaken and more are planned.  Eventually they will enter the Thames as shown below.

Judging from the flows of the current river it will mean that there will be new pressure building up at the upper Desborough Bridge which is only 24m wide.  This pinch-point will cause the Thames to back-up and flood its banks (as happened in the recent flood). What makes matters worse is that the new cut from Chertsey will be up to 60m wide bringing even greater pressure on the Thames around its confluence with the Wey.

Thames Channel Map One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One option is to effectively continue the new cut through the north west corner of Desborough Island.  This would keep the flood flowing within the main channel of the Thames.

Thames Channel Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the advantages of this plan would be that a new pedestrian/cycling bridge could be constructed like those that Sustrans build across the country.

Quay Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For background information please click here.

Weybridge Point

River Grant for car park-01Elmbridge has received an application for a grant of £82,000 to change the layout of the path through the car park at the end of Thames Street with an aim to highlight the Thames Path and focus on the view of the Thames.

 

 

River View-01This bid is competing with many other bids from around the borough. What do you think? If you want to know more about it click on  Weybridge Point Car Park. The meeting to decide on this is being held on Monday, 29 September.

River Grant-02

Weyfarers awarded Grant from CIL

Weyfarers websiteSubject to consultation, the Weybridge Local Spending Board for CIL has allocated £3,750 in matched funding to Weyfarers Rowing Club based at the confluence of the Wey and the Thames, hard by Thames Lock.

The award, subject to consultation, would be the first grant offer in Weybridge under CIL arrangements.

If you would like to join the club to make the most of the new facilities do so – places are already filling up fast.

If you or your group have suggestions for improving Weybridge infrastructure then go here for an application form or you can contact me.

Bidding for Weybridge CIL Funds

CILElmbridge charges developers a tax for new development known as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).  You can see how this works here.  The new tax began in April 2013 and has raised around £1m.

The national government has said that this new tax is to be raised for the purposes of providing new or improved infrastructure in Elmbridge.

The money raised has been split so that Elmbridge retains 75% and 25% is given to each town in proportion the the tax raised in each town. So far Weybridge has £22,000 to disburse.

Elmbridge is now taking applications for funding for local infrastructure projects.  Schemes can only be funded if they meet the following criteria:

  • The provision, improvement, replacement, operation or maintenance of infrastructure; or
  • Anything else that is concerned with addressing the demands that development places on an area.

If you want your project to be considered use the Community Projects Application Form and send this to Elmbridge by 23 May 2014 for your application to be considered by the Weybridge Spending Board.