In August 2018 Latimer Developments Ltd made an application under Section 16 of the Commons Act 2006 to deregister land registered as commonland to the west of the Shackleford Road Elstead (grid reference SU92048 43660) and exchange it for land a little further down the Shackleford Road (grid reference SU92099 43873). Both Elstead Parish Council and Peper Harow Parish Meeting strenuously opposed this application and each wrote a number of letters objecting to the proposal.
Following a site visit by the Inspectorate on 3rdJuly 2019 which was attended by the applicant and representatives of Elstead Parish Council and Peper Harow Parish Meeting, both Parishes are delighted to have received a report which confirms that the application has been refused.
The Inspector’s full report can be found here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/829852/COM_3213356_-_Royal_Common_5-9-19.pdf
The Inspector included the following observations in his conclusion:
“…I find it significant that the replacement land would form part of the SANG, which will be subject to public access. This would lead to there being a loss of land available for local residents and the wider public. In my view the justification for the exchange does not outweigh the disadvantages that would arise from the loss of land available for people to use in the future. “
Responding to the Inspector’s report Councillor Pat Murphy, Chair, Elstead Parish Council said,“I very much welcome the Inspector’s decision in this case, which fully reflects the arguments made by both Elstead Parish Council and Peper Harow parish opposing the plan to deregister this area of common land.”
Peper Harow Parish were equally pleased with the conclusion saying, “Peper Harow Parish Meeting are pleased that the amenity value of our common land is no longer threatened by deregistration and potential change of use.”
Elstead Parish Council and Peper Harow Parish Meeting opposed the application for the following reasons:
- The land in question is an important amenity asset which forms a natural boundary to the large new housing development at the former Weyburn Works site. It is a largely wooded area which creates an effective visual and environmental screen between the development and the adjacent roadway, to the benefit both of passers by and in time the occupants of the new dwellings. The removal of common land status could render the land open to development or enclosure, which in the view of Elstead Parish Council and Peper Harow Parish Meeting would not be desirable.
- The registered commonland is within a number of designated sites: Surrey Hills AONB, Surrey Hills Area of Great Landscape Value and close to the Wealden Heaths 1 Special Protection Area and Special Areas of Conservation. A number of species of bats are present in the area and dormice have been recorded. Elstead Parish Council and Peper Harow Parish Meeting are united in preserving the rural integrity of this special location.
- Latimer Developments Ltd proposed the provision of a section of replacement land, which would be entirely unsatisfactory in providing any separation between the development and the roadway. The proposed replacement land is scheduled to be part of the SANG (suitable alternative natural greenspace) which the developers are required to provide to mitigate the effects of the development on the neighbouring SPA. Therefore the overall proposal would lead to a diminution in the amount of amenity land on the development site.
- The applicant has given no valid reason for the deregistration application, nor any justification for the removal of common land status.