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Protesters Gather ‘To Save’ Newlands Corner Saying ‘No’ To County Council’s Plans

Protesters gathered at Newlands Corner on Sunday (January 24) to voice their anger at Surrey County Council’s proposals for improvements at the beauty spot.

The noisy protest called for the county council to rethink its plans. The campaign group Save Newlands Corner has set up a website (savenewlandscorner.com) and has been actively lobbying the council to reconsider.

Protestors demand that Newlands Corner is saved from Surrey County Council's proposals.

Protestwrs demand that Newlands Corner is saved from Surrey County Council’s proposals. Photo by John Powell.

Its petition with 7,545 signatures was presented to the council and as a result, it will be discussed at the next council cabinet meeting on February 2.

The campaign group’s spokesperson, Sally Blake, is to put the case for opposition to the proposals at the meeting.

Sally said: “The support was overwhelming. The next stop is the cabinet meeting. We hope to persuade the council to drop its proposals.”

Surrey County Council has already approved funding for the improvements it wants to carry out (click here to see the proposals). The agreed £400,000 of funding will include a family play trail, resurfacing of the ‘all ability’ trail and improvements to the toilets.

Phase I of the work is planned to start soon and car parking charges will come into force once complete.

Newlands Corner

Newlands Corner on the Albury Estate. Surrey County Council has an access agreement with the Albury Estate.

Phase II of the council’s plans are at an early stage and aim to look at ways of improving the visitor centre and café. Surrey County Council has commissioned architects to draw up possible ideas.

People will have a chance to give feedback on outline design options. There will be a display of the options being put forward at Newlands Corner. The consultation is likely to start in mid March and will last for four weeks.

The protesters believe the development will completely block the spectacular view. They also object to the car parking charges. They have accused Surrey County Council of imposing the charges without consultation.

Eric Clapton

Rock guitarist Eric Clapton is a fan of Newlands Corner.

The car parking charges are intended to enable Surrey County Council to end the subsidy that it makes to the Surrey Wildlife Trust, who manages the site, and to make the site self-funding.

Newlands Corner is much loved in Surrey but has changed over the years with visitor numbers increasing. In a recent book by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, local rock music superstar Eric Clapton cited Newlands Corner as his favourite emblem of the English countryside.

He fondly remembers family trips to the chalky grasslands and woods of Newlands Corner and says in rhe book: “It’s a sad thing, then, for me to consider that in my lifetime I will have watched this amazing place evolve into a massive rubbish dump. For the last decade a mountain of waste has been quietly growing out of the landscape.”

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15 Responses to Protesters Gather ‘To Save’ Newlands Corner Saying ‘No’ To County Council’s Plans

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    January 30, 2016 at 12:32 am

    I can but only support this group and praise them in their endeavours.

    Surrey County Council will want to be charging to walk on the public (right of way) footpaths in the countryside next.

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    January 30, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Surrey County Council should not waste its (and our) money on a vanity project, which will ruin the beautiful views of Newlands Corner for ever.

    It should spend its money on improving the toilets, building a small visitor centre, well back from the scarp.

    Not a huge blot on the landscape, as has been proposed.

    And if it must charge, then a £1 in a slot, which opens an automatic barrier. This would remove the need to pay a warden to ensure visitors have paid.

  3. Chris Cremer Reply

    January 30, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    I’m sorry, so Newlands Corner gets 7,000 responses but in Waverley fewer than 200 have objected to the plans for ‘Dunsfold new town’.

    • Richard Harrold Reply

      January 31, 2016 at 8:32 am

      In reply to Cremer:

      I assure you, as the founder of the Newlands campaign, I am also implacably opposed to the redevelopment of Dunsfold as anything other than a working airfield and will be writing to Waverley Borough Council to that effect.

  4. Pauline Surrey Reply

    January 31, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Chris, there are many people who don’t bother to write an objection to a planning application because they feel their two penny worth won’t make any difference.

    In my experience, writing in or writing to the local press, or turning up to demonstrate even, can make a difference.

    Not many people were aware of the plans for Newlands Corner until these energetic people started to kick up a fuss.

    Well done to Sally, Richard et al!

  5. John Phillipson Reply

    February 7, 2016 at 9:52 am

    I believe it has been a totally covert operation undertaken between Surrey County Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust.

    It is quite clear the people who use Newlands Corner have been totally left out of any decision making.

    It is quite clear from the timings, and the fully drawn-up proposals, things are well in advance.

    The public has been presented with a ‘fait accompli’.

    This coming week sees the showing of the design of the play trails.

    Tuesday, February, 9: Albury Village Hall, 3pm to 7pm.

    And then on Wednesday, February 24: Merrow Village Hall.

    The redevelopment should be stopped.

    As the Surrey Dormouse Group states, there is a colony of dormice in the Newlands Corner vicinity.

    The dormouse is a protected species and along with its habitat. It is illegal to disturb, endanger or destroy them according to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

    Perhaps the way forward is to seek an injunction against Surrey County Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust.

  6. Dave Middleton Reply

    February 8, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Presumably Surrey County Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust will say that the two afternoons when the plans for the play trail are displayed are the “public consultation” on the matter?

    Two four-hour afternoon periods, at relatively short notice, when most people will be at work, or getting home from work and most women with school-age children, will be busy collecting the kids from school, getting them home and sorting out their evening meal.

    Guess what – I bet there’ll be a low turn out to the exhibitions, for the reasons I’ve given above and SCC will then say that there is no significant objection to their plans.

    That’s local democracy in action!

  7. John Phillipson Reply

    February 9, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    It definitely seems the way it’s practised here in Surrey, sadly.

  8. Peter Challens Reply

    February 10, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Forgive me for not signing the petition as this at best will only move the problem on, which is that of finance for Surrey County Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust.

    If Surrey County Council would rather not spend taxpayers’ money in this way then gift the land to the National Trust who will look after it as they do Box Hill and Leith Hill, sympathetically and in perpetuity without taxpayer money.

    Problem solved?

    • Dave Middleton Reply

      February 12, 2016 at 11:32 am

      In reply to Peter Challens

      And the National Trust will then charge £4 to park, regardless of the length of stay, as they do at the Devil’s Punchbowl car park at Hindhead.

      Be careful what you wish for.

      • Peter Challens Reply

        February 12, 2016 at 5:14 pm

        In reply to Dave Middleton:

        Become a National Trust member then you park free in any National Trust car parks and free entry to an amazing number of interesting properties, all over the UK.

        This is a voluntary act, to become a member, and help preserve this country’s heritage for about £70 for a family.

        There are so many vantage points for magnificent views all over Surrey where there is no cost.

        If you have to have a toilet, cannot be bothered to take your own flask of tea and picnic and need to have an “adventure trail” to keep you amused then you should pay for it and not use my taxes to pay for it.

  9. Pauline Surrey Reply

    February 11, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    The land belongs to the Albury Estate, who presumably would not wish to gift it to the NT.

    • Peter Challens Reply

      February 12, 2016 at 10:14 am

      In reply to Pauline Surrey:

      If the land is owned by the Albury Estate, presumably Surrey County Council has been granted a very long lease – if it is prepared to spend so much taxpayer money on dubious “improvements” and for which facilities it now finds it must also make charges to the public?

      Perhaps if the Albury Estate was not prepared to “gift” the land as I had suggested, then the parties involved could come to an agreement whereby the long leasehold could be passed from the council to the National Trust who could be given some undertaking that the Albury Estate would only not renew the lease in very exceptional circumstances.

      It just seems to me the land is being managed by totally the wrong people.

      • Diana Holder Reply

        February 21, 2016 at 11:10 pm

        In reply to Peter Challens:

        For The Albury Estate read The Hon Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland.

        A brief search of the Sunday Time Rich List shows that he is not short of a bob or two, and is no fool and a wise custodian of the family assets.

        Perhaps His Grace might feel that the gratitude of right-thinking Guildfordians would be something to treasure, even for a scion of such an ancient family?

        A way to obtain that gratitude might be to set up a Newlands Trust Fund, able to fund (modest and necessary) countryside management work (not SCC’s grandiose, ugly over commercial developments) and maintain the status quo of tarmac, serviceable loos and great cafe. There would be no need to ‘gift’ the land, and the shades of Alnwick need not be thus polluted.

        Every time we walk on Pewley Down we bless the name of the Friary Brewery trustees who rescued that smaller green space for posterity in the early 20th century. How many more blessings would flow to the House of Percy from the future generations enjoying Newlands Corner as it is today?

        I’ve signed the petition, of course.

        Just thinking laterally here.

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