The Green Belt around Leatherhead (April 2013)

By now, from the Press and other sources, members will be aware that Mole Valley has had many comments on its Green Belt Review.   This was conducted because of a promise made to SEEDA (South East England Development Authority) around 2006 to provide some 3760 homes between then and 2026.   With 1640 already built, that leaves 2120 to be constructed over the next 13 years or 163 each year.   This figure refers to the whole of Mole Valley and not just to Leatherhead. 
Other members may well have read the Green Belt Review’s comments and noticed that a considerable number of areas are being looked at by developers and landowners.   Some of these are new, some date from the Draft Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment.   Some are in the Green Belt and some are classed as Reserve Housing sites.   The land between Cleeve Road and Randalls Road, currently under discussion, is an example of this latter classification.   Some are simply possible sites in the future, according to their owners.   Those sites currently in the Green Belt are recognized as such and would need that restriction lifted.    The existence and listing of all these sites gives Mole Valley grounds for refusal of unsuitable applications.
However, the recent whiff of more utterly desirable sites becoming available because of the Review has prompted around 9 developers to make their somewhat alarming suggestions.   Three developers are after roughly the same patch to the south of Leatherhead.   But the main hurdle they all face is the Green Belt and so, at the moment, they simply form a “wish list.”   Nevertheless, the Council will look at them and possibly add one or two to their stockpile of land available.
The LRA feels that any breach of the Green Belt will lead to a softening up of the whole circumference and must, therefore, be resisted.   This was a brilliant strategy conceived at the beginning of the last century and enshrined in law after the Second World War.   We want it to continue both for our own sake and for that of our children.
Mrs. C. Brown (Planning sub-committee chairman)


So Eric Pickles has decreed that for five families to remain permanently in a field between the cemetery and the River Lane football ground will cause "substantial harm" to the Green Belt.

This is the same Eric Pickles that last November refused to call in the decision of MVDC to allow the development of a luxury hotel complete with spa, health club, restaurants, golf course with clubhouse and an underground delivery depot. This issue was not, he said, of national importance and should be considered locally. I assume also he does not consider this significant development, with the loss of 200 acres of chalk grass land, will cause substantial harm to the Green Belt.

Consider the piece of Green Belt where the five families currently live. It is bounded by the cemetery, the River Mole, River Lane and Randalls Road. On the other side of River Lane is the Leatherhead Youth FC ground, and beyond that we have the Leatherhead Community Recycling Centre and Transfer Station. It is not, I suggest, your typical Green Belt land and I find it difficult to see how the five families are causing "substantial harm" by being there.

Indeed, with pressure being put on MVDC from central government to look again at the Green Belt for sections where housing might be built, this is surely one of the sites that is likely to be re-designated. Maybe that is the reason the five traveller families cause "substantial harm"; it prevents a developer putting housing there. Nor, if the Council are considering moving people from allotments they have tended for more than forty years, is it at all surprising that they will evict families who have been in a place for a mere thirteen years, even though the families have integrated into the local community.

There appears to be one rule for developers and another for ordinary families.

I am also minded that although Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for Surrey and the South East, urged Eric Pickles to call in the Cherkley Court planning application, it was Sir Paul Beresford, our Westminster MP for Mole Valley, who urged Mr Pickles not to call in the application; it was the same Sir Beresford who, on the other hand, urged Mr Pickles to call in the Randalls Road travellers’ site application.

Let the Barnett Wood Lane allotment holders not be in any doubt; Mr Pickles’ decision concerning the Randalls Road travellers’ site does not mean the Green Belt by Junction 9 is safe from developers – far from it!

MVDC: Recycling Plastics in Mole Valley

Message from Josh Lambe, Recycling Officer, MVDC.

Hopefully the following information regarding plastics will be valuable to the group:

Firstly, it’s important to understand that ‘the message’ and how it’s presented to 100,000 residents is of vital importance. Mole Valley DC promotes a deliberately straightforward and hassle free message when communicating what items we can accept for recycling.

In practice, this means we keep the message as broad as possible, and purposely shy away from giving residents huge great lists of items which we can accept. It also means we deliberately do not publish the Recycling Identification Codes ( ). Research shows that you’ll gain the highest yield of plastics for recycling when you keep the message simple, as it is understood the ‘average recycler’ will be put off by always having to check the code on every article they’re disposing of, or
having to check a long list of products/materials.
So, in Mole Valley, we try to give the consistent message that as far as plastics go we will accept:


And that’s it.

So, when considering whether a plastic item is fit to be put in the recycling, firstly, if it is a plastic bottle of any kind, it is accepted for recycling. Secondly, if it is a plastic tub, pot or tray that held any kind of food substance, it is accepted for recycling.

For those diligent recyclers who wish to know what codes can be accepted, the codes we can accept are:

  • 01
  • 02 (but not plastic carrier bags)
  • 03 (but only in bottle form)

However, some plastic items may have one of the above codes, but will be of the hard plastic variety. We cannot accept what are known as ‘rigid plastics’. Therefore a good rule of thumb is that if you cannot bend the plastic by hand, it is not suitable for recycling via the green bin (plastic kitchen utensils and children’s toys are good examples of this). Conversely, some plastic items may have one of the above codes, but be ‘flimsy’. The second rule of thumb then is that if you can crush the plastic in your hand and it stays in that shape,it is of too low-grade to be recycled (plastic bags or cling film are good examples of this). Lastly, if you think the plastic item could fall in between rigid and flimsy but you’re still not sure, the test is that if it is pretty hard plastic that still bends, but you can snap it in your hand, then it’s not accepted for recycling (flower pots are a good example of this) I hope all that will be of use. I’m always happy to answer any further questions you may have, so please do not hesitate to get in touch. I’m sorry I could not make the meeting.

Kind regards,
Josh Lambe
Mole Valley District Council
01306 879118

Other information from correspondence:

Thanks for the information. I only have one question, which is, what happens if we put an item in the recycling bin, which should not be put in there? Does this invalidate the whole contents of the bin, or is it just a nuisance because it has to be fished out?

Hi ,

When our crews notice something in a recycling bin that is not accepted for recycling, they will reject the bin and leave a ‘contaminated bin’ sticker on it, to inform the resident. The onus is then on the resident to fish the errant item out and present their recycling again next time round. Sometimes things are only discovered once the load is delivered to the recycling facility. This will then have to be handpicked out by one of the ‘pickers’ at the site.

We’ve had bad instances in the past where people have put things in their recycle bin so bad that it has meant the whole vehicle load has been rejected at the recycling facility. For example, someone once tried to dispose of a whole massive tin of cooking oil via a communal recycling bin. This burst inside the compacter in the vehicle and… well, you can imagine the mess. A similar thing happened when a resident tried to dispose of a bottle of engine oil. Not good!

Kind regards,
Josh Lambe
Mole Valley District Council
01306 879118

Surrey Police: Purse stealing scam

Good morning,

I wanted to inform you of a new scam that is being used mainly in and around supermarkets whereby elderly and vulnerable people are being targetted by thieves who watch them pay for items with cash or card and then approach them with a £10 note asking if it is theirs and whether they have just dropped it or asking for change for a £10 note.  When the person takes out their purse or wallet to check the thieves snatch it and make off.  Another option is to ask for directions and whilst the person is occupied another will take the purse out of their bag.

If you are aware of anyone who would benefit from this information would you please pass it on, and of course, should you, or anyone you know be the victim of this type of crime please report it to us using the 101 telephone number.

Thank you.

If you need to contact us in the meantime, you can reach us on

Tel: 101

Leach Grove Wood

Can you help Leach Grove Wood?

In the early 1980’s, SCC decided to sell this wood for housing. A group of residents fought for the woods  and won. In 1993, SCC transferred the wood back to the NHS. It has strategic open plan classification, but this does not ensure it’s safety, so I am applying for Village Green Status, (supported by the LRA),  to safeguard  the wood for future generations.

Many birds and animals are seen here,  including song  and mistle thrush, coal tits, field mice and bats. Village Green Status would ensure that the land would remain open and unbuilt on. 
If you, family, or friends have used Leach Grove Wood, (behind Leatherhead hospital) whilst living in Leatherhead, at any time in the last 20 years, would you fill out a simple  ‘Evidence of Use’ form? My application is in  and accepted. I need 340 more forms by May 1st . For forms :


AGM Report

On Monday April 8th, about 100 people, including 3 councillors and a MVDC officer, gathered at Letherhead Institute for the LRA’s largest AGM to date.  Local Green Belt issues, proposed developments, and the possible loss of the Barnett Wood Lane Allotments had clearly aroused interest.

Three eminent  speakers with diverse backgrounds shared their experience and brought a  common thread to the fast moving evening;  ‘We all need to engage with our community and the council to ensure decisions are not made over our heads and in ignorance of our thoughts and feelings on matters that concern our environment’.

John Howarth, Director of ‘Action for Market Towns’, and Leatherhead Area Partnership(LAP) chairman, talked of potential developments planned in the Green Belt near Junction 9 of the M25: ie a hotel complex, housing, a shopping mall, or a luxury retail outlet similar to Bicester Village in Oxfordshire.

John questioned whether developments such as Bicester Village, should be regarded as opportunity or threat to neighbouring towns. Some evidence suggested the latter, as  he found considerable traffic and parking problems at Bicester and, and nearby, the original Bicester ‘dead’.

John suggested we should be gathering as much retail information and data as possible concerning the Leatherhead area in advance of such planning applications, with a view to either preventing development altogether, or ensuring that its financial benefits would spread to existing retailers and the wider community.

Lucy Quinnell, owner of the Fire and Iron Gallery, updated progress at Teazle Wood.  Her account of how she had galvanised the community into supporting her bid to secure the future of Teazle Wood was heartfelt and heart warming.

She described the erosion of the countryside with the coming of the M25 motorway in the early 80s and the consequent destruction of large areas of grassland and woodland. She showed evidence of destruction of nearby woodland and grassland as recently as winter 2013.  Thanks to Lucy, a 57 acre wooded site is now safe.

Andy Smith, Surrey Branch Director of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) explained the origins of the Green Belt and the reasons why it had come under threat, particularly in Surrey.

Andy expressed concern that too little was being done to ensure that brownfield sites were prioritised. His passionate appeal was that the Green Belt should only be considered when
all other possibilities had been exhausted.  He firmly believes in MORE Great Belt as a result of
MV’s Boundary review, not less.

He commented on John Howarth’s,  “nightmare vision of a retail village . . .  It would destroy Leatherhead High Street once and for all. Defending the Green Belt, saving the Barnett Wood Lane Allotments and thwarting plans for a retail village are all part of the same thing.  This really is a question of saving Leatherhead from developers!”

The mood and applause of the audience showed an appreciation of the three speakers and their messages.

Whilst we don’t know what the future holds for the Barnett Wood Lane Allotment/Merton College Green Belt site,  this AGM showed us just how many threats there are to the future of Leatherhead.  Please join the LRA in our efforts  to continue to support the preservation of the Green Belt and the allotments and to ensure a future for Leatherhead as a viable market town.

Comings meetings
If you have a pressing issue that you need to speak about on the night of any closed  meetings
please come to the door at 7:20pm to pass on your concerns.

May 13th –   Closed meeting
June 3rd –   Open meeting
July 1st-      Open meeting-speaker-possibly the Police Commissioner who has asked to visit us
August-      Closed meeting

Locomotive Update

Many of you may remember this article that appeared on our blog a couple of years ago:

The Ashtead & Leatherhead Local recently featured an article on the restoration of the locomotive and the preservation society’s progress on getting the engine back to its former glory.  The website for more information is

There is also a video on the web showing the loco being moved..

This vide

CPRE Lead Fight to Save the Green Belt

The Leatherhead Residents’ Association is an affilliate of the of Campaign for the Protection Rural England (CPRE).  Those who fear for the survival of the Green Belt will be heartened by the information we gathered at the 8th April AGM of the LRA.  One of three speakers, Andy Smith, Surrey Branch Director of the CPRE, offered the following passionate statement of the organisation’s views.  
After some introductory quotes about the purpose of the Green Belt.  Andy informed us that the Green Belt is not safe due to Government-imposed housing targets, and general attitude that ‘Planning is an obstacle’ to economic growth.  
He then continued: 
…Which brings me to the very specific challenge of Mole Valley Council’s Green Belt Boundary review. In CPRE we fully recognise the pressures that Mole Valley is under and the need for the council to undertake a GB boundary review. We have, like the LRA, participated in the consultation on GB boundaries and made our views known.
In summary we are extremely concerned at the prospect of Green Belt loss. We have argued in our submission to MVDC that in seeking to meet local housing need a greater effort should be made to identify brownfield sites across the district, vacant properties, especially accommodation above shops, ‘windfalls’ and change of use from commercial to residential. 
And ONLY consider taking Green Belt as a very last resort if and when all other possibilities have been exhausted.  We are NOT convinced that brownfield development opportunities have been sufficiently investigated and included in MVDC’s calculations. 
We believe that the council should be more imaginative and proactive in seeking development scope within the urban areas. 
In our submission to MVDC we have made clear that our concern that land holdings by the Council could influence planning policy because of financial pressures. This would be unacceptable. The Green Belt review should be completely objective, without outside pressure, including from other council departments.
It is clear to us that the GB fields along Barnett Wood Lane are at risk now because Mole Valley council wishes to ‘package up’ the Barnett Wood Lane Allotments – which are JUST outside the Green Belt – together with Merton College’s land holdings, which are IN it, so that the complete package can be developed. And, as we’ve heard tonight from John Howarth, the nightmare vision of a retail park, which would be catastrophic, both for the local environment and for the life of the local community and the economic viability of the town centre.
CPRE is totally against the loss of the Barnet Wood Lane allotments – a vital amenity for the people of North Leatherhead – and the removal from the GB of the adjacent fields. We are opposed to the development of this area WHATEVER the developers want to put there. These are vital green spaces and should remain so. 
As I stated at the outset, one of the major aims of the Green Belt from the start has been to prevent urban sprawl and town-merging. This is what the fields at Barnett Wood Lane do.
I was horrified to see the response from an Ashtead councillor, the leader of MVDC as it happens, when I made a comment along these lines in the local press recently. His reply was that the M25 provides the buffer between L’head and Ashtead merging, so green spaces are therefore not needed! 
It seems that some of our elected representatives are happy to see a GREY Belt instead of a Green Belt! 
Call me old-fashioned but surely it is countryside that stops towns joining not concrete! 
We have also been concerned about the exclusion from the Mole Valley Green Belt review of Ashtead and Bookham due to the fact that these communities are developing their own Neighbourhood Plans. How is it possible to take an objective view of the Green Belt in Mole Valley in its entirety if large areas of the GB are excluded from the review? How for instance is it possible to look at the role of the GB around L’head without considering the entire Green Belt between Ashtead and L’head, and between Bookham and L’head?
We also believe that a truly objective Green Belt review, far from seeing green spaces surrendered to development, would lead to a justified
EXTENSION of the Green Belt, especially in the south of the district where there is countryside and open space not currently protected.
 We want MORE Green Belt as a result of this boundary review, not less! 
In addition there is the fact that Natural England and the Surrey Hills AONB board are currently undertaking a review of the boundaries of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and indications are that the AONB will be growing as a result. This is something that CPRE strongly supports and we have been pressing for for some time.
One of the areas that we hope will be brought entirely within the AONB is Cherkley Court. It is currently an Area of Great Landscape Value but not fully AONB. It is, as we all know, Green Belt – but that has not protected it from TWICE facing the threat of a golf and leisure development, and this time, due to what we believe to have been a fundamentally flawed decision-making process at MVDC, being seemingly unable to resist the threat. 
The quality of the landscape, wildflower meadows and farmland at Cherkley is such that CPRE believes it is right to seek to resist the development even now, after the council has granted planning permission. And that is why we have thrown our full weight behind the local action group, the Cherkley Campaign, in its legal challenge to the council over the decision to grant permission for the development.
And let us not forget that Mole Valley’s development control committee gave this permission DESPITE the advice of the council’s own planning officers who strongly recommended refusal, and despite the strong opposition of not just CPRE but the National Trust and numerous local and national nature conservation bodies. The fact that MVDC voted the Cherkley golf course development through amply illustrates the danger that we in Surrey face from a lack of willingness on the part of our elected representatives to stand up for our countryside and green spaces. 
The drive for economic growth at all costs, unrealistic and unsustainable housing targets, pressures from developers, and a lack of political WILL at
both local and national level – these all mean that the threat to our Green Belt and countryside has never been greater. 
We have recently launched a special CPRE campaign to SAVE SURREY’S COUNTRYSIDE. We are being backed in this by the local press. I hope that you will all support this campaign. 
The thrust of the campaign is that we in Surrey cannot continually accommodate new development, especially when other parts of the UK that are in need of economic regeneration are still being neglected. Here in Surrey we are already over-developed, our roads are congested; we haven’t enough schools, hospitals, public transport – all these public services are chronically overstretched.
 More development will just pile the pressures on. And we will lose what is
most valuable and precious about Surrey – our remaining countryside and
green spaces.
The message should be: SURREY IS FULL.
We are holding a public meeting at Dorking Halls on Saturday 18 May to
articulate this message. All are welcome. I hope you will come along.
We need to get our councillors, of all parties, to stand with us on this.
So – thank you once again for inviting me here tonight. The LRA is doing
excellent work – and long may it continue. And I was heartened to see the
robust statement in this week’s local press, reiterating the LRA’s firm belief in
defending the Green Belt.
In conclusion… Surrey’s green spaces are precious. They are worth defending.
Once gone, they are gone forever.

AGENDA Annual General Meeting held on Monday 8th April 2013 at 7.30 pm in the Letherhead Institute.

  1. Apologies for absence (1 min)
  2. Minutes of AGM 28th May 2012 (2 min)
  3. Matters arising from the Minutes (2 mins) 
  4. Chairman’s Committee Report 2012/13 (2mins)
  5. Treasurer’s Report and  Statement of Accounts(2 mins)
  6. Election of Officers: Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer, Secretary (2 mins)
  7. Election of Auditor (1 min)
  8. Election of Committee members (3 mins)
  9. Leach Grove Wood – Request  for Evidence of Use forms  (3 mins)
  10. Refreshments (10 mins)

8 p.m. Panel of 3 Speakers

Each presentation  to be followed by  Q & A session of 5 minutes.

  1. John Howarth (20 mins)
  2. Lucy Quinnell (20 mins)
  3. Andy Smith (10 mins)
  4. Final Q & As (10 mins)

Andy Smith, Surrey Branch Director of CPRE, will speak about the Mole valley Green Belt, andgreen spaces.

John Howarth, Director of the charity “Action for Market Towns” and Chairman of the Leatherhead Area Partnership, brings a wealth of information about Market Towns. He will tell us what has happened to other Town Centres when they had to compete with out of town developments.

Lucy Quinnell brings in words and slides, to tell the story of how she led a campaign to ‘save’ Teazle Wood for the sake of ecology and community. Come and hear her current concerns and actions

Request for more LRA helpers
Have copies of meeting schedule  & our contact details

Close 9.15