Update from the fields
There has been lots happening on the Fields front and some time since the last update, so bear with me...
At the end of January plot M4 in the upper AONB field planted a rectangular grid of 1800 trees, each tree covered by large plastic tubes, using a private contractor but subsidised by Woodland Trust as part of their MOREWoods initiative. The contractor told me he will return regularly over the next two years to treat each tree with glyphosate herbicides. We have complained to the Woodland Trust to say that, although we are pro-tree, it is not an appropriate place for a woodland and will not conserve the natural beauty and openness of the AONB. The response dismissed these concerns, quoting various management plans and saying that ‘A diverse mix of native species with a path network and two open areas was planned, so that the site could provide recreational value and enjoyment’.
In early February concreted wooden fencing was installed in the lower AGLV field, shortly followed by a mesh and shingle base and two new caravans close to the gate at the corner of Westwood Lane. These were not covered by existing notices. GBC have visited and have said that one caravan is being lived in, the other empty, and have started procedures to find out who owns them and what they are to be used for. More recently hardcore and wood has been dumped in the same plot, now covered by an open enforcement notice.
On 8th March Wanborough presented our opposition to the latest application for a tap in a plot in the middle AGLV field, which went to Planning Committee having greater than 20 objections from local residents. The opposition was rejected by the committee who refused to see the bigger picture of development in the fields, of standing water on Westwood Lane or the impact on the local amenity, and approved the application.
On 11th March we had five Conservative MPs visit Wanborough to show support for our case for inclusion on the enlarged AONB. After an intro from Heather Kerswell, the Surrey Hills AONB director, I presented our case, followed by a presentation on the damage being done to the fields, the causes, and what we would like to be done about it. It’s not clear whether anything concrete will come of it but it can't hurt to have our local MPs supporting us, and at least it raises awareness https://www.guildford-dragon.com/2022/03/16/five-surrey-mps-hear-first-hand-of-wanborough-fields-need-for-aonb-protection/.
The consultation period for the AONB review is over now with a decision due Q3 2023. The Wanborough response is available on the parish council web site https://www.wanboroughpc.uk/_files/ugd/eba05d_57adea6ab5ed4fbf8142e1749f303e1f.pdf
On 28th March the GBC strategy team visited Wanborough to update Wanborough and Normandy parish councils and to answer our questions about the Fields. It was a very useful and candid session. GBC are trying to take a more joined-up approach internally, using a mix of enforcement, environmental and antisocial behaviour notices as appropriate. Indeed, they plan to use this approach to crack down on the fires in the lower field, which we have been seeing lots of recently with commercial waste regularly brought on site to burn.
It seems our hopes of having the fields returned to nature are not considered realistic, however. Even if all the notices are complied with, GBC consider much of the development acceptable, which includes caravans in some cases. In the case that enforcement notices are not complied with it is going to be some time before we see the illegal development cleared, due to a mix of legal process, cost and effort. GBC also highlighted that they have a duty of care for the wellbeing of the plot owners who are illegally resident, which may delay their eviction. In short, GBC are doing all they consider possible and have the right people on it, but it seems that, rather than being an issue that GBC can hope to crack any time soon, it will remain an ongoing and messy fight involving multiple notices, court cases etc., indefinitely and on a case-by-case basis.
Meanwhile we are seeing a number of plots being sliced, diced and put up for sale or auction, which could greatly multiply the number of owners, both in the AONB and AGLV. Obviously the more owners the more likelihood of creeping development, and potential work for the council. In the last week or so we have seen planting of a leylandii hedge around one plot in the AONB, as you will see if you look to the left as you drive down Wanborough Hill, that is currently being sold on Rightmove as 25 lots ranging from 100m2 to 400m2.
On the positive side, GBC have to-date refused all major development, have a significant number of open enforcement cases open where owners have not followed the rules, and are communicating more regularly and in more detail with locals and the parish councils.
Sorry not to provide a more positive update this time, but be assured that Wanborough Parish Council will continue to apply pressure on the Guildford Borough Council to make sure they keep their promises!
Update from Oscar de Chazal
THE GREAT BARN
The Great Barn Re opens on April 23rd 2-5pm
For a full list of open days visit the website .
The exhibit looks great
WANBOROUGH VILLAGE HALL
To find out more details or to book the hall
for the future, email: bechenry01@AOL.com
NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do.
Call the Community Helpline on 01483 444400 for support or if you'd like to help others
Emergency Gas Telephone Number: 0800 111 999.
Emergency Water Telephone Number: 0800 820 999 or 0330 303 0146
Emergency Electricity Telephone Number: 0800 783 8866 UK Power Networks
PARISH COUNCIL MEETING
The next meeting Parish Council meeting is on Wednesday 25th of may 2022 at 7.30pm to be held in Wanborough Village Hall. Meetings are open to the public and contributions welcome.
NORMANDY COMMUNITY SHOP AND CAFE PROJECT
You can read all about it here which includes ways you can support the fundraising efforts. There is a small but excellent Farmers' Market held every Friday in the Normandy Village Hall car park including fruit and vegetables , bread, chutney and cheese stalls.