Bulletin for May 2024

Dear Members

Leatherhead Town:

Perhaps the most exciting piece of news for Leatherhead is the start of the promised consultations between the Transform Leatherhead development partnership of Kier and MVDC, and us, the actual residents of the Town.   To this end, the Partnership has engaged a firm of professional designers and architects, called Design South-East, to meet with key stakeholders to form an accurate picture of what we would like, or perhaps, not like.  The first of these meetings took place on 13th May 2024 and two more are scheduled.

A programme of consultations with members of the public is also about to start.   Two of these will be in the old Clintons Cards unit in the Swan Centre, on 8th and 15th June from 10.00am to 2.00pm, a third one will be in “The Jam Place” at 299 Kingston Road on 6th June from 2.00pm till 6.00pm and the last one, a Virtual Event, will be on 18th June between 6.00pm and 7.00pm.  We strongly recommend that as many members as possible attend one of these sessions in order to ascertain what is proposed and give their views as to whether these latest proposals are an improvement on previous suggestions, which in my opinion showed over-development and excessive building height on the Bull Hill element of the Project.

Scams and Scamming:

This was the title of the talk given by David Stoves at our meeting on 13th May.   He went through a horrifying list of scams and scammers:  those via Social Media, those from “Friendship Groups,” alarmist phone calls like “This is a message from your bank:  we have just received a request to debit your account with the sum of £900.  If this was not you, please let us know immediately!”    In other words, give the caller your Bank Account number etc.  Email scams work in the same way, often having first spun you the most appalling sob story via a letter.  Finally, even the well- known knock on the door to advise you of falling slates from your roof is bound to be extremely suspicious.  David gave me the following places to contact when suspecting a scam:   Citizens Advice Consumer Service – 0808 223 1133, Facebook.com/BucksSurreyTS, and Action Fraud – 0300 123 2040.   There is also a website:  www.bucksandsurreytradingstandards.gov.uk  David’s main message was “Be suspicious and do background searches, or just put the phone down”.

The Hub in North Leatherhead:

Meanwhile, a new group is springing into life in Leatherhead.  It is centred on The Hub in the old school in North Leatherhead.   The Organisers, Eddie McCardle and Bill Donnelly, together with others in their team are in the middle of transforming that old building.  Their aim is a united North and South Leatherhead.  They want to do a lot of renovation work and are also envisaging some new building.   There is already a sewing room with very modern machines for hire at extremely reasonable rates and an art room with plenty of space.   I am sure many of you will have visited or just called in at the café where delicious cakes and sandwiches are available together with light-hearted chat.

The former Trinity Centre:

You may remember this old school, next to the Hub above.   It is in a dreadful state, but the owners (The Diocese of Guildford) have, I understand, been approached by developers with a proposal to build an 80-bed care home on the site which would provide residential and nursing care for elderly residents, including those with dementia.   Frontier Estates is the firm behind this plan, they have produced a leaflet and they are keen to engage with local stakeholders, i.e. local residents.

The Plough Roundabout:

For some time I have been heralding the arrival of planters for the Plough Roundabout.   There are even four sites marked out and a quotation has been received for the work which was to have been paid for by the “Community Infrastructure Levy.” (CIL).  However, at the last minute various complications have arisen and until they are resolved the project is in limbo.

Our Next Meeting:

On 5th August 2024, the date of our next open meeting, PC Ewan Keen and PC Oliver Storey will be coming to speak to us.    If you have any particular questions or problems that you would like them to discuss, I am sure it would help if you first wrote to me about them, and then I could pass them on.    On a more general note, if any of you have an idea about someone you would like to hear speak at one of our meetings, please do tell me so we can discuss it.

Our Accounts:

These have been compiled by our Treasurer and are currently being “examined” by an accounting professional.  They will be presented to our next meeting in August for members’ information.

Planning:

I am informed that an Enforcement Order and fine have been placed on the owners of both the former Building Supplies shop at the top of the High Street and on the landowner of the former chapel on the Reigate Road.   Also, although not to the liking of many members, a new tenant has been secured for 5-19 Church Street, namely McDonalds.  Finally, last week, the owners of Brook Willow Farm, just off Randalls Road, appealed against the non-determination of their application for “established use” in respect of their motorcross track.  Complaints had been raised by people on both sides of the River about the alleged noise.  It is to be likely a few months before we know the result of this Appeal.

Succession:

Finally, I return to the problem of who would like to be at the helm of the L.R.A. when I leave.   This is a very important post, as the LRA is an accredited Consultee to our Council and so has an opportunity to express members’ views on many local issues.  I am hoping to remain until the end of 2025 (i.e. 31st December) by which time the new Local Plan should be in place and the form of the Transform Leatherhead project settled.  However, Surrey is an active area and there is bound to be a never-ending stream of further issues to be examined and commented on.   31st December 2025 might seem a long way off, but, in fact, now would be an ideal time to join us and “test the water.”   Someone who is about to retire from a very busy job or who has already done so and is finding time heavy on their hands would be ideal.   Also, of course, you need to be enthusiastic about Leatherhead!

And now, I would like to remind you about our website.    This has been re-vamped and up-dated and you will see the Minutes of our meetings, the Chairman’s speeches and the list of our Directors among other information.   Search for “Leatherhead Residents Association.” https://www.leatherheadresidents.org.uk/

Meanwhile, I send my best wishes to you all

Caroline (Brown, Chairman)

Bulletin for April 2024

Dear Members

At last we seem to be enjoying some pleasant Spring weather and I really should be out working in the garden!  However, the last few weeks have been surprisingly busy on a number of fronts as follows:

The Local Plan:

Following MVDC’s decision to restart the Planning Inspector’s consideration of the current Draft Local Plan, the Inspector has sought the views of the established consultees as to the Main Modifications that are thought necessary to make the Plan compliant. The LRA has submitted a Representation, which in brief summary argues as follows:  

1. Although zero carbon rating is desirable for new buildings in the future, we feel that this should be achieved by “nationally proven technologies” rather than some of the more radical and unproven methods suggested.

2. We are concerned that the desire to increase the numbers of housing units could be at the cost of preserving our heritage assets.   More weight needs to be given to their protection.

3. Similarly, the push for housing units may lead to the construction of excessively tall buildings that will be completely at variance with the existing low-rise townscape.   More control over building height is required. 

4. We note that, so far, there is no indication of any future plans for either a Health Hub to provide medical services for the new residents that Transform will attract or for a replacement of the Fairfield Centre, should its relocation from the Swan Centre be required.   Accessible public transport is essential for both.

Transform Leatherhead:

At the February meeting between Residents and MVDC and their development partner, Kier, it was announced that there would be a series of consultation meetings at which Residents could express their views as to what they hope to see from the Project. I am pleased to say that the LRA has now been invited to those meetings, no doubt with a number of other stakeholders.  Dates to suit those involved are in the process of being organised and I will be reporting in future Bulletins on each meeting as they take place.

Planters:​

Moving now on to another, long awaited, improvement to our Town, by which I mean the improved landscaping and maintenance of the Plough Roundabout.    The daffodils and tulips planted some years ago are much appreciated, but there is a huge gap after they die down!   This now appears to be on the point of being solved as the project is on the agenda for CIL grants and various technical and administrative problems appear to have been resolved. Fingers crossed that we will see some action soon!

While on the subject of Planters, it is a relief to see those in the Town have been thinned out and planted up.   It is to be hoped that some colourful specimens have been included in the selection.

Mole Valley Safer Neighbourhood Team:

I have recently been informed that the policing of the whole of Mole Valley comes under one Inspector, Inspector James Green, whose email is james.green@surrey.police.uk. Leatherhead is dealt with by the “North Team” which comprises one Sergeant, three PCs and three PCSOs.  The officer dealing specifically with Leatherhead is PCSO 13930, Lou Lilly, whose email address is Lou.Lilly@surrey.police.uk.  

Our next meeting:

This will be on Monday 13th May 2024 in the Leatherhead Methodist Church at 7.30 pm as usual.  Our speaker will be David Stoves (whose wife is the secretary there) and he will be talking about his research into “Scams.”  Unfortunately, these are now part of everyday life, especially on the computer, and many people fall victim to them.  In fact, I have heard that more theft takes place nowadays via the internet than do with physical robbery.

From Dorking Climate Emergency:

On 30th April you are invited to the “Surrey Climate Commission AGM and Gathering” in the Leatherhead Institute at 7.30. Information on the Commission’s activities can be found on their web-site at www.surreyclimate.org.uk  This includes a new Surrey Climate e-Forum, an easy-to-use platform full of advice and tips on promoting your work.  You can also hear the results of the annual survey of groups working for the environment and the projects the Commission is about to launch.   Tickets: (free) available via Eventbrite for Tue 30 Apr 2024 at 19.00.

The Future of The LRA:

Could I ask you to look around your social circles and see if you can identify a future Chairman and a few of his/her friends?    Without being specific, many of us here are getting on a bit and it would be good for our Town to have some younger people on our team. They could then see “how the engine works“ and a seamless transition could take place in a year or so when some of the incumbents retire.

With all best wishes, 

Caroline (Brown)

Bulletin for March 2024

Dear Members
I mentioned in last month’s bulletin the up-coming public meeting on 29th February, when our Council were to introduce their development partner for the Transform projects at Bull Hill and the Swan Centre (Kier). I know that a number of LRA directors were present, and I hope that a number of you, also, managed to attend. I think most attendees left a little disappointed, having hoped to see some visual indications of what is proposed, when all that was available were some visuals of other towns that the team had been involved with. However, the good news is that between now and the summer Kier are proposing to engage in a public consultation as to what residents would like to see from the project. Whilst most of you are probably in “consultation overload“, this may be your last chance to influence the effect that this radical project will have on our Town. The LRA will certainly make its views known and we commend you to do likewise. Whilst not part of Kier’s brief, the other part of the Transform project, Claire and James House, also progresses at long last. We are told that the existing buildings will be demolished by the owners (our Council) in September, with the aid of a Government grant. The Council’s development partner (yet to be revealed) will then proceed with construction thereafter. Whether they will build out the planning consent that the Council granted themselves or apply for another is currently unknown.

The other big news is that our Council have decided that they will proceed with the Inquiry into their draft Local Plan, which was paused at the end of 2022. In order to do this, the Inspector must consult on the modifications that were identified during the hearings as being necessary in order to make the plan sound. These can be found on-line at www.futuremolevalley.org or hard copies are available in the District’s libraries. There is much to read, some on district wide policies and some relating to specific development sites. Notable MM’s (Main Modifications) relevant to Leatherhead are shown in the table below. The LRA will be making a representation but individual responses from residents are valued and must be submitted by 23rd April.
MM4 Leatherhead Town Centre
MM71 Claire and James House
MM67 Land at Bull Hill
MM72 Land at Clare Crescent
MM68 The Swan Centre
MM73 The Railway Station
MM69 36-39 Randalls Road
MM89 Local Green Spaces

And now on to other matters: Don’t forget our Litter Pick on 14th April from 2 pm till 4 p.m. We will meet in the Randalls Road side of the car park opposite Oaks Close at 2 p.m., finish at 4 p.m. and will have a good supply of materials like bags and gloves. If it would be more convenient for you, do the litter pick earlier and just bring the full bag. Some members have already written to me about Common Meadow which was particularly bad with drinks bottles and tins but, in any case, they think they have “done” it for the time being. I have also noticed that the bottom of Gimcrack Hill and the alleys in the Town have got the same sort of items liberally spread around.

Mentioning the Town brings other things to mind!! In particular, the Planters, of course. As
promised, some 15 of them have been removed from the High Street and, hopefully, will brighten up the interior of the Swan Centre. However, some are placed under a roofed area and so it is difficult to see how they will get either light or water. Perhaps another location, seeking to cheer up their outside area, would like to make an offer for some of them??

The LRA has also been contacted by some residents who would like to see our membership spread more evenly across the Town. They call themselves “TLC 2030”. Some of these people have been instrumental in getting “The Hub” (located in the Kingston Road Rec.) up and running. The café there is warm and friendly and the chief caterer, Rachel, has a wonderful selection of cakes and buns etc. available to brighten anyone’s coffee morning. Also located there, but behind the café, are rooms with quality sewing machines available for hire by the hour and another dedicated to painting. There
are further plans for the premises, but decoration is needed.

And now a word about the Waterway Road mural. It is actually sited underneath that part of Waterway Road which carries the road across the River. I recently visited it to see how it was faring following its completion. I am delighted to report that although there is one tiny graffiti word in black on the outside of the arch, overall, it is in very good shape and particularly bright and interesting.

If you have received a hard copy of the March Bulletin with a Membership Renewal form attached, it is a polite reminder that your membership for 2024 is due for renewal.

2024 is likely to be a momentous year for our Town, with the final consultation on the Mole Valley District draft Local Plan in progress (the LRA appeared before the Inspector at the public hearings that took place in 2023) plus the appointed developer to the Transform Leatherhead project about to further consult Residents as to what they wish to see from the Project.

As a recognised, local consultee, the LRA will be party to both exercises and we hope you will support us in this, and our other work, by renewing your membership.

Two final matters. First, an apology for quoting the wrong day when I gave you the date for the Post Office scandal film. it is to be shown in our cinema on Thursday, 18th April (NOT Monday!) and, second, please don’t forget our next Members’ meeting which will be on Monday 13th May in the usual location and at the usual time. Our speaker will be talking about computer scams and how to deal with them.

With all best wishes for a happy and warm Easter,
Caroline Brown (Chairman).

Bulletin for February 2024

Dear Members

Well, another month has passed by, the days are getting longer and the first shoots are appearing on bushes and trees.   Hooray, Spring is rapidly coming up on us!

You will have noticed the recent sad loss of “The Englishman’s Castle” from their shop in Church Street.   In order to widen the range of occupiers who might lease the vacant property, the owners (Hague Investments), have submitted a planning application to broaden the permitted uses to include commercial, business, services and restaurant/takeaway. It would appear that no decision on the application has yet been made. 

On Sunday, 14 April between 2 and 4pm we will be having our biannual Litter Pick.   This will be centred on the car park in Leatherhead adjoining Randalls Road and lying between the Station and the Red House Grounds.   My (black) car with grey picnic table will be parked next to the hedge.    Many members will have their own “favoured” litter picking area but don’t be shy of trying out another.    Julia Jarrett is in charge of the day and if you have any questions, do Message her on 07866 210645.   As you probably know, we have a good stock of picker sticks and black bags.   We just need the volunteers!    Don’t forget the town itself, its alleyways and, even, the new planters.

Regarding the Planters, I have (sort of) got used to their size but not their sheer number.   However, I have been assured by Councillor Vyvyan-Robinson that 15 are going to be moved into the Swan Centre.    So, the next concern will centre on whether the plants will get enough light and water.    We have been assured of a “Maintenance Budget” but only time will tell if it is adequate.

We are still awaiting some bright and interesting landscaping on the Plough Roundabout and I went to a meeting on this very subject on 2nd February with Cllr’s Tim Hall and Vyvyan-Robinson, Bahram Assadi from Surrey C.C., a representative from “Rainbow Gardening” and Mr. Grant Way, proprietor of the Plough Inn.  It would seem that all the legal hurdles have been overcome and all that is now required is a time slot ……!    It also seems that another long-awaited town improvement, the repair of the Clock on the High Street, is continuing to make progress, albeit slowly!

I am sure that 29 February is being awaited with considerable anxiety by many Leatherhead Residents.   In the Theatre, from 7pm till 9pm, the latest Development Plans for “Transform Leatherhead” will be on display and representatives from our Council and their development partner (Kier) will be present to explain their proposals and to answer resident’s questions thereon.  For people who are fairly new to Leatherhead, there is a lot of information online on the “Transform Leatherhead” website: https://transformleatherhead.com/

As some of you may have noticed, the LRA website is being gradually re-vamped.    We are trying to eliminate repetition, generally bring it up-to-date and to improve its visual appeal.   We hope to also reveal a new LRA logo, which will be more adaptable to online usage.   We are very indebted to LRA member, Mrs. Carol Webster for this work.

And now two dates to put into the diary:   The first is a regular LRA meeting in the Methodist Church in Leatherhead on Monday, 13 May at 7.30pm.  Our speaker for the evening will be Mr. David Stoves who will give a talk on “Scams”, how they work and the dangers they represent.   David did a training course with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Training Standards which qualifies him to speak about this blight on the computer age. 

The other date is Thursday 18 April when a talk on the inside story of the Post Office scandal will be shown at our Leatherhead Theatre in Church Street.   Nick Wallis – series consultant on the ITV Drama – will expertly chronicle the very latest twists and turns of the whole affair on this one-of-a-kind tour. It will be a more detailed and in-depth study of what we all saw on our televisions a month or so ago and one of the unfortunate victims, Seema Misra, will also be there.

With my best wishes to everyone,

Caroline (Brown) Chairman …… for another 10 months only!  

Bulletin for January 2024

Dear Members,

I do hope you were all equipped to deal with the recent sudden onset of cold weather.  On the night of our Quiz, Monday 15th January 2024, our car was frozen solid on the inside and needed 15 minutes of determined defrosting before it was driveable.  

As often seems to be the case, a major announcement was made just before Christmas when the Government finally put forward its new NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework). As was indicated when this was first mooted a year ago, it allows councils some latitude in how many houses they must provide for in new Local Plans and if meeting Government targets would involve building on Green Belt land. Hoping to take advantage of this was precisely why our Council paused the consideration of its Plan at that time.   Unfortunately, as finally drafted, the new NPPF provides that councils who are well progressed through the Local Plan process cannot complete their plans using the new NPPF. They must adhere to the provisions of the old NPPF.  Our Council, therefore, had to decide whether to reactivate the Inquiry into its current draft Plan, or, 1) to attempt to modify it by removing two contentious sites or, 2) to withdraw the Plan and redraft another.   In the event the latter option was removed when Government prohibited withdrawal of the current Plan.  It was also considered that withdrawing two major sites at such a late stage of the Plan’s consideration would be so fundamental as to strike at the validity of the current Plan.  Accordingly, at a meeting on Thursday 25th January 2024 our Council decided to proceed with the current draft by asking the Inspector to resume her consideration of it.

 I am sure Gatwick Airport’s desire for another runway will not have escaped you.  A very large, wide-spread consultation on this is being mounted.  However, Leatherhead is well north of Gatwick and it is believed that our plane noise mostly comes from high flying aircraft going to or coming from Heathrow.  If this is confirmed this may be one issue that is not of significant concern to our Town.

The project to landscape the Plough Roundabout, which now has finance, permission and a proposed meeting date with the construction and maintenance company, has just been told that a new contract regarding planters, seating and notices is about to be signed by Surrey Council and so we must now hope that this does not delay the project beyond the time when the finance offer expires, meaning we would have to start all over again.   

I am informed that finance has now been made available for the access improvements at our Station where, we understand, a new bridge and two lifts will bring access between the two platforms up to modern standards.  The work is apparently to be complete by 2025.

We have a new Police Commissioner, Timothy de Meyer.  We already have two extra police officers, one for North Mole Valley and one for the South, which, of course, includes Dorking.   At a recent meeting, we were informed about a number of successful police initiatives which have resulted in a number of arrests.  Surprisingly, we also heard about the efficacy of rubbish bins being adorned with stickers with large eyes painted on them!   Apparently, this does deter casual burglars and shop lifters.  The stickers are available at local Police Offices.

As you will have noticed, after much campaigning on our part to have the dilapidated planters in the High Street renewed, we do seem to have been given a somewhat over-generous supply of very large planters. When I questioned their size, I was informed that they are deep to ensure that the soil does not dry out in the summer months.   Notwithstanding the logic of this explanation the overall reaction I have received from residents I have spoken to has been uniformly negative and clearly our Council has had the same response because it has now been announced that the numbers will be reduced and the positioning improved.   The surplus planters will be relocated to other areas in the Town. Planting will take place at the end of February 2024, and it has been confirmed that our Council have a budget for the all-important maintenance.   I have suggested that our Council might also consider staining the timber a pale green colour, to reduce the visual impact that the planters make and to tone with their contents.

Still connected to our desire for our environment to look pleasant and cared for, a new guest came on to the recent meeting between Residents’ Associations and Mole Valley Council.   This was Ms. Emily Ayres whose special interest is Community Gardens and other Environmental Projects.   She felt that many of our social activities like Litter Picking, pond clearance, tree planting and even watering could be eligible for some money from the Shared Prosperity Fund.   When I complained about the state of many of our verges near main roads, she asked for a list and promised to look into the situation.  (So please let me know of any that you know about).

With apologies for this Bulletin being a bit late.  I had wanted to include the result of the meeting about our Local Plan, para. 2 above.  It is hoped that our next meeting will be in April or May.  Some details need to be worked out first.  But, meanwhile, please do continue to look around for a new Chairman as I would like a rest next year!

With all best wishes,

Caroline Brown

(Chairman of the Leatherhead Residents’ Association)

NOTICE FROM OUR TREASURER:

“Please do not renew your membership for 2024 until you receive a reminder from the Treasurer.   This reminder will either be an email or a hard copy of the membership renewal form attached to the January Bulletin.   This will avoid memberships being renewed prematurely.”

Draft Minutes of Meeting for the 2023 AGM

held on Monday 16th October 2023 at 7.30pm
at the Methodist Church, Church Road, Leatherhead

1. Present: Caroline Brown, Martyn Williams, Ray Brown, Louise Herrity, Paula Sabine, David Stoves, Fran Smith, Paula Sabine, Julia Jarrett, John Holton, Sarah Buttery, Hilary Porter, Daphne Vallins, Jenny Christie, Tony Russell, Jenny Day, Audrey Cleeve, Jane Pratt, Lesley Pearce Maureen Conrad, Margaret Sims, David Brett, Mike Herrity, Carol Webster, Tim Caffell, Alison Houslander, Steve Barrow, Nigel Sabine, Chris Goddard, David Slater, Anna Graham, Nathan Andrews, Cathy Anderson, Geoffrey West, Cllr Bridget Kendrick, Cllr Tim Hall, guest speaker Robert Edmundson.

2. Minutes Silence: The Chairman asked for a minute’s silence in remembrance of LRA member, Pam Wilson, who had died about 2 weeks previously after a painful illness. She would always be remembered for being full of energy and ideas, especially for the LRA.

3. Apologies Received From: Mrs. G. Hack, Mr. Ronald Buttery, Mr. Paul Sutherland-Waite and Mrs. Lesley Pearce

4. Approval of the Minutes from the last AGM dated 17th October 2022:

Had been posted on the LRA’s website for many months and no objections were raised. Ballot papers were then distributed throughout to all attendees, with item 1 addressed accordingly.

5. Matters Arising:

The Chairman briefly mentioned the status of 2 items associated with last year’s AGM, that the High Street seemed much better maintained these days and that the Town Clock has proved harder to get mended than anticipated, but otherwise no items were raised from the floor.

6. Chairman’s Report for the Year 1st January 2022 to 31st December 2022: 

The Chairman commenced her report by confirming that the somewhat belated details reflected the activities of our last financial year, but Covid had done a good job of separating our end of year from our AGM, hence some points may seem rather like ancient history!

Firstly, the Local Plan, which was drawn up by July 2022 and was then presented for discussion by the Autumn of 2022. However, before the Inspector could make her decisions known regarding certain aspects and in particular the use of Green Belt land, the Government, represented by Mr. Gove, decided to reconsider the loss of the Green Belt. So our Local Plan and that of many other Authorities is now in limbo awaiting further direction.

In terms of development of our Leatherhead town, the original chosen developer for Claire and James House has decided not to go ahead and so it remains as it is now. Just recently a new company, ME, had been engaged and we should be hearing more quite shortly. The improvement of the land adjacent and all along the riverside path is going to be upgraded by Messrs. Allen Scott.

For the largest and most significant change in the town of Leatherhead, known as “Bull Hill” and “the Swan Centre”, we were told in May 2022 that the well-known firm “Kier” has been approved by Mole Valley but, as yet, no details have been released. It is an 8 to 10 year development, so we will be in for a long haul.

While still considering the buildings and structural make-up of Leatherhead, our Chairman and, indeed, others too found it painful to witness the deterioration of the Santander building in its prominent position in the town centre as it falls victim to all the elements. It was noted that it has Planning Permission to create 3 flats above the ground floor, but with large parts of the roof missing, its ancient floorboards stand little chance of survival after two years of rainfall.   This sad state of neglect in our area is, unfortunately, not the only one because last year we also learned of the sewage release happening in the River Mole on a regular basis. But since then, news has surfaced that many other rivers the length and breadth of our country have suffered the same fate. The accumulation of this knowledge is at last coming to the Government’s notice and we here in Leatherhead had been invited to attend a programme called “What’s Stopping Us Stopping Change” on 28th September. River watching is continuing in Mole Valley and throughout the country, with a dedicated group in Fetcham called FoRML.

Several smaller but useful changes have occurred: Leatherhead now has a total of six ward Councillors who share the difficult task of achieving local objectives. Our Chairman stated how she admired them all, for stepping up and accepting such proposals and then trying to have them implemented!

Last year also saw the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how we, in the LRA, were able raise some funds to help refugees. A stall had been set up in the town and furnished largely by goods supplied by Hilary Porter, rescued over the years with some such good cause in mind.

Another successful venture, this time initiated by Mole Valley district council, had seen help and advice being made available to new Retail Managers, the “classroom” for which is the former Next Shop in the town. A variety of art work and crafts all produced by skilled workers is quite amazing, but the upstairs was not to be forgotten either, being unexpectedly spacious and the goods are many and varied.

The Chairman expressed the feeling that one of the joys of living in this part of the world, and in Leatherhead in particular, is the sheer variety of other local activities to look at or partake in:  Mole Valley has drawn up a list of 24 lovely walks and Heritage Week opens up doors, normally closed, to the general public. Early booking is often essential and now Arts Alive performances are in full swing.   The full list of offerings can be found at Google <Arts Alive> and many of the activities are both free and open to audience participation.

The biggest and most serious item on the current agenda, as far as our town is concerned, is the proposed development on Headley Road east, on the far side of A243. This is not just a small collection of houses, but instead a very large estate badly placed in the Green Belt, on the far side of an open and exceedingly busy road with no local amenities like shops, surgeries, schools etc.   The LRA are currently working with other local groups to get this Application dismissed.

To end on a positive note, the Chairman informed the meeting that Cllr Keira Vyvyan-Robinson had suggested that the LRA put in a bid to have a Mural painted on the brick structure (the ‘tool house’) on Station Road, next to the half dozen free parking places. It will probably have a large swan on it somewhere and should improve that rather messy and overgrown area. The Chairman did point out that when builders Kier get going it might have to come down again, but Kier’s work is, apparently, going to last 8-10 years so it will have a reasonable life span!

Also, the Community Hub is thriving and ideas are being assembled to deal with the perennial Roundabout problem nearby. It does seem like other hopes and objectives, such as stylish Planters in the High Street and the Banking Hub, will just have to wait a bit longer.

Finally, the Chairman reminded attendees that the Statement of Accounts, pertaining to this AGM, had been dealt with at the August meeting and so will not feature further at this time.

The Chairman then made way for Cllr Tim Hall to independently conduct Voting items from the Agenda.

7. Voting matters including election and re-election of Directors:

In the process of handing over to Cllr Hall, our Chairman addressed the floor by stating how pleased she was that all existing directors had agreed to serve for another term, if elected, and that we also have Hilary Porter and Tony Russell offering themselves for election as new Directors.

If elected, Hilary would retain her interests in Health problems generally in our town and will also continue with the Access group and report back on any significant changes that she hears about.   She would also continue with designing her excellent posters and using the barrow in the Swan Centre prior to special meetings to alert both members and non- members.

Tony is to continue to let us know about serious traffic accidents and problems, keeping us abreast of any further changes in medical provisions within our area. This is very likely to involve the Ashlea Practice at Linden House, although we were unlikely to hear more until Transform Leatherhead makes its official appearance! This same document is likely to include changes in our roads layout and Tony will study it and then bring the results to our notice.

The full list of voting matters were confirmed as:-

Resolution 1: Adoption of the last AGM minutes
Resolution 2-4:  re-election of Paula Sabine, Fran Barnby-Smith and Louise Herrity
Resolution 5:- re-election of Martyn Williams
Resolution 6:- election of Hilary Porter
Resolution 7:- election of Tony Russell

Cllr Hall then went onto the floor in the collection of voting forms, followed by the count, the results of which are given towards the end of this meeting, within section 9 of these Minutes.

The Chairman then gave a warm welcome in the introduction of our guest speaker.

8. Guest Speaker: Mr. Robert Edmundson, with a presentation in respect to Local Flora and Photography:

Robert opened his talk by stating that all wild plant and flower varieties in his presentation were taken within 3 or 4 miles of Leatherhead. These were:-

Cowslips – related to primroses, found early in the year and referenced by Darwin for cross – pollination
Rosebay Willowherb – (fireweed) – tall spikes of pink flowers found on roadsides and riverbanks
Bluebells – some found with white flowers, taken on Ranmore. Not to be confused with the invasive Spanish bluebell
Dandelion clock – recommend taking the pictures into the sun!
Celandine – (stinking hellebore) is also part of the buttercup family but is not the same plant – found on slopes on the outskirts of Dorking
Guelder rose – this has “false flowers” on its outside, to encourage pollination of the small inside flowers
Wild carrot – (very common in the area) has one dark flower in the centre of the white flower
Toadflax – with yellow flowers like snapdragons, and found growing in meadows, roadsides and open grassy places
Yellow Rattle – (the conservationist friend) to be planted where invasive plants are a problem
Ribwort Plantain – grows on roadsides and meadows
Teasel – on local hillsides (guides insects with “lines”)
Rose of Sharon – attractive, but is actually non-British and an invasive species
Deadly Nightshade – beautiful flower but poisonous
Alkanet – quite attractive with red buds opening into blue flowers
Greater Bindweed – beautiful white trumpets but very invasive!
Wood Anemone – a very common ground cover plant
Sweet Woodruff – delicate and common
Greater Stitchwort – commonly found close to bluebell woods
Early Purple Orchid – often grows between bluebells
Pyramidal Orchid – purple in colour
Common Spotted Orchid – pale pink, almost white
Bee Orchid – very colourful
Musk Orchid – strong smell of honey, but only when close
Ivy-leaved Toadflax – found on walls around Dorking and Leatherhead, but from Italy
Eyebright – small white or lilac flowers
Corn Salad – grows as a weed but is also cultivated as a salad crop known as lamb’s lettuce
Spindle Tree – small, but beautiful red/orange flowers
Common Vetch – attracts ants and they work together to repel harmful insects
Robert recommended The Collins Book of Wild Flowers for anyone interested in learning more.

9. A.O.B. and Closing Address by the Chairman: 

Our Chairman gave a vote of thanks to Robert Edmundson on behalf of meeting, with our great appreciation being shown in the usual manner.

Our Chairman then provided a closing address under A.O.B. raising a number of items, as follows:-

Two members, Anna Graham and Carol Webster, had volunteered to perform other tasks.

Anna, like Tony, is to keep a watchful eye on our local environment, including some roads, but this will also include our Public Gardens, particularly concentrating on the “green” areas in Leatherhead, like the Mansion Gardens and other public areas. Carol has nobly volunteered to overhaul our website and to get rid of inaccurate or outdated material, and has already started with the Bulletins, putting them in chronological order.

The Local Plan, which, of course, is delayed because of the Government’s announcement in December 2022, has still not been formalised. Hence our undefined housing targets make Mole Valley an attractive proposition for speculative builders and developers, a position probably reinforced by the Labour party speech at their October Conference. The Appellants in the Headley Road Appeal fall into this category, although this was not quite finished and results are unlikely to appear before Christmas.

Another long drawn-out battle is that of the Plough Roundabout, where it is agreed that it should present a well maintained, attractive entrance to Leatherhead, rather than just a stretch of grass very occasionally tended. But even when money is offered by Mole Valley, along with muscle to maintain it, Surrey County Council will not then permit anyone to work there, because of the risk!

Undaunted, we are to try one more solution, namely to offer our grant money to the Groundsmen of Surrey County Council, namely ‘AC Verde’, to get the work done through them. It is hoped that they have the imagination and sufficiently high standards to successfully complete this task.

Our Chairman mentioned how the Mole Valley area is extremely active at this time of year, with Heritage Open Days in September and now a whole month of Arts Alive, so we are not short of things to do! A talk next Saturday 21 October at 11 a.m. was highlighted at the Institute and called “A Celebration of Ukrainian Heritage”. Flyers had been placed on chairs throughout the meeting room in support of this event.

Reference was also made to another event, this time in St. John’s School from 21st to the 28th October (from 10-4pm) is the Autumn Exhibition of the Leatherhead Art Club, where free admission and parking is on offer.

Finally, the Chairman confirmed that the LRA will be holding our next official Litter Pick on Sunday, 29th October starting at 2 p.m. and finishing at 4 p.m. The starting point is the car park opposite the Station as usual and you can either pick up a bag and gloves etc. there (then start on whatever is your chosen area) or alternatively just drop off a bag that you have filled earlier in the week.   Julia will be there with bags and pickers.   All borrowed equipment must be returned.

Cllr Hall returned to the podium, to provide the voting count and confirm that all Resolutions had been passed by a majority vote. The Chairman welcomed all re-elected and new Directors, looking forward with working with them all in the months ahead.

The Chairman called for any other items of A.O.B. – whilst at the same time pointing out that 2 further Flyers had been placed on the chairs throughout the room. These related to:- The MVDC “Have we got it right?” consultation on their draft Council Strategy, running from 25th September to 5th November 2023, and The “Royal Coat of Arms” Conservation programme running at St Mary’s Church, Fetcham.

David Slater stepped up to the podium at the invitation of our Chairman and spoke briefly on this latter subject of the “Royal Coat of Arms” Conservation programme, explaining that it was affixed to the church wall, dated back to 1660 and marked the accession/restoration of our Monarchy. A request for donations was made, by either cash, QR code (on the Flyer) or directly to the Treasurer at Fetcham Parish.

Sarah Buttery, a resident of Beech Holt, Fortyfoot Road, then took to the podium to highlight local traffic and parking problems being experienced in the area, including the blocking of pavements, where the disabled and the blind were being particularly disadvantaged to the point of being house-bound.   Should the need of a Fire Engine ever arise, it was considered unlikely that it would be able to reach the event! In addition, noise levels on the nearby A24 in Leatherhead now had an assigned Action Group and a petition was in the process of being raised, so the future support of the LRA in such local issues was requested.

Finally, Tony Russell wished to acknowledge the wonderful contribution of our Chairman, where great appreciation from all those present was shown towards Caroline Brown.

The meeting closed at 9.05pm.

Bulletin for November 2023

Dear Member(s),

I hope this Bulletin finds you warm and in good (or reasonably good!) health.   I keep expecting to see a white lawn in the morning, but so far, so good!   

You will be aware of Gatwick Airport Limited’s (GAL) application to bring the existing emergency runway into regular use.  Mole Valley Council has submitted their views on this and has, therefore, secured their future involvement in this process.  There are wide ranging concerns about this proposal, and they will be addressed at a public examination likely to be held early next year.

Still on the Planning front, I have heard within the last week that it seems highly likely that the Planning Inspector will announce his decision in respect of the proposed residential development on Headley Road (east) by the end of this month.   Assuming that is the case, I will let you all know in the next Bulletin.

Another item of general interest is that of the Railway Ticket Offices.   I am pleased to report that, as a result of the public outcry, Train Operators have withdrawn their proposals to close all ticket offices across England and that would, of course, include Bookham, Ashtead, Dorking and Leatherhead.

Some Residents will be relieved to hear that the Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) have been extended for another three years.   These orders help to deal with low-level anti-social behaviour including alcohol consumption and dog fouling. 

I am also informed that our council has been making strong efforts to press Royal Mail to return postal service levels to normal for residents of Dorking and Leatherhead.    An answer is expected any day soon. Meanwhile, I would like to remind you of the seasonal entertainment available on our doorstep: Robin Hood is being staged in the Leatherhead Theatre and Snow White in Dorking Halls.   Appealing perhaps to a different audience, our local “Moodswingjazz” group has hired the Mezz Bar in the Leatherhead Theatre on Tuesday, 5th December and have a special guest, Stacey Dawson.  Stacey has played privately for Tony Blair, Barack Obama and Prince Charles.   His music degree was obtained at Guildford

and he plays in all the top London venues, including a regular slot at the Dorchester.   (Tickets are £10 which includes £1.50 towards the Theatre Restoration Fund).

Many of you will, I am sure, remember Mr. Bill King who came to talk to us last August about the very old Royal Arms painting hanging in St. Mary’s Church in Fetcham.   Efforts to raise funds for the cleaning of the painting (on wood) have now received a major boost.  The Surrey Churches Preservation Trust has given £2,000 towards the Appeal target of £10,000 which is the estimated cost of cleaning off years of dirt and varnish.  Local people have also donated around £1,700.   And for those who missed the talk, a little of the background history: This large picture of King Charles II’s Royal Arms is dated 1660, the year he was restored to the English throne after more than a decade of Commonwealth rule under Oliver Cromwell.  Sadly. no records have come to light to show exactly when it was acquired by the Church.   Many people have asked how rare the painting is.   After the Restoration, churches were required to display Charles’ royal arms as a symbol of supremacy over the Church of England.   But the practice died out as royal arms changed and only one or two similar pictures have been located.

Returning to the subject of the L.R.A. and our next meeting, I am pleased to be able to tell you that this will be on Monday, 15th January 2024 at 7.30pm, in the Leatherhead Methodist Church.   One of our new Directors, Tony Russell, has bravely offered to organise a quiz and there will be prizes!

So, with that I will now thank all my Directors – old and new – and wish you all a very happy Christmas. 

With all best wishes for next year,

Caroline Brown (Chairman).

*Further donations would be much appreciated.   “St. Mary’s Fetcham Parochial Church Council.”   Sort code:  20 29 90   A/c no. 00774715, and ref. “Royal Arms.”

Our Next Meeting

is on Monday 5 August 2024 at 7.30pm.  The meeting will take place at our usual venue, The Leatherhead Methodist Church on Church Road and non-members are welcome.  If you wish to join our Association, please see the Membership section on our website.

Read our May 2024 Bulletin

Bulletin for October 2023

Dear Members,

It was good to see so many at our meeting on Monday, 16th October.  I do realise that sorting out the intricacies of a Limited Company are not compelling reading or listening, but the more care we take with our outward appearance, the more seriously we will be taken by the powers that be.

Two new Directors were voted in at the meeting:  Hilary Porter and Tony Russell.  Hilary will retain her interest in Health problems generally in our town, will continue with the Access Group and report back on any significant changes that she hears about.  She will also continue with designing her excellent posters and using the barrow in the Swan Centre prior to Open Meeting so as to alert both members and non-members.

Tony will continue to let us know about serious traffic accidents and problems and will keep us abreast of any further changes in medical provision in our area.  This is very likely to involve the Ashlea Practice in Linden House, but we are unlikely to hear more until Transform Leatherhead makes its official appearance.  This same document is likely to include changes in our road layout and Tony will study it carefully and bring the results to our notice.

Talking of which, new Director Tony Russell has been looking into the unsafe situation in Forty Foot Road caused by the traffic going to and from the school but also from the Mid-Surrey Mencap.  He was shocked at what he saw which was a total disregard for normal rules regarding where and how to park.  It is hoped that by requesting a Fire Engine to attend as if to a fire, it could be shown that the road width is simply not enough for it to pass through unimpeded.

Now, an important item:  one of our members, Mrs. Julia Jarrett is organising a litter pick on Sunday, 29th October.  We, the LRA, have some equipment, and MV Waste Management Dept. is going to lend us some more.  The litter spot you personally would like to clear up needs to be decided upon now and you can then contact Julia to see when would be convenient for both of you to collect the picker, the jacket and the black plastic bag.   The equipment contains a small box of plastic gloves, but really I think that stout gardening gloves, if you have any, would be better.   Julia will be in the park between Randalls Road and Station Road between 2 pm and 4 pm on Sunday 29th October and has arranged for MV to collect the bags the next day. Mole Valley gives us £1 per (largish) black plastic bag, which in turn, enables us to sponsor other charitable events.

Julia is very anxious to know who will be supporting her efforts on the 29th. Please complete our contact form with your details and inform her whether you plan to do an “early” pick or an “on the day” pick.

Two further members have offered to help with running our LRA but not to become Directors. They are Anna Graham and Carol Webster.  Anna will keep a watchful eye on our local environment, including some roads, (a bit like Tony), but will include our Public Gardens.  She will concentrate on the “green” areas in Leatherhead, like the Mansion Gardens and other public areas.  Carol has nobly volunteered to overhaul our website and to get rid of inaccurate or outdated material.  She has already started with the Bulletins, putting them in chronological order.  I am hoping to meet up with her soon so as to get other areas sorted out.

This time last year, the hot topic was the new Local Plan.  But, as many of you will remember, this plan was halted in its progress by Mr. Gove announcing possible changes to the regulations as to how many houses councils must provide where this might involve encroaching into protected land, such as the Green Belt. This prompted MV to pause consideration of their draft Plan by the Inspector.  Unfortunately, Mr Gove has yet to confirm the anticipated changes and this has left MV without an up-to-date Plan, which makes MV an attractive proposition for speculative builders and developers.  The Appellants in the Headley Road Appeal fall into this category.   After a Hearing of two weeks in length, the Inspector has now left Pippbrook and will be considering all the evidence presented to him. We are unlikely to hear his decision before Christmas.

I do hope many of you will take advantage of the invitations being offered through the “Arts Alive” month of October.   One event particularly easy to access is the Exhibition put on by the Leatherhead Art Club in the old Chapel of St. John’s school.  This starts on 21st October and lasts until the 28th (10 am till 4 pm).  Conveniently, there is free admission and free parking.

And now for a small bit of really good news – just right to finish with:  one member has been complaining bitterly about the state of the pavements along Poplar Road and part of Forty Foot Road. The bushes alongside had become so overgrown that they covered the pavement, and one tree stump completely blocked any wheeled vehicle from using the pavement in that area.  Now both the Surrey Roads management team and NHS Property have looked into it.  The bushes are now cut back and revealed the fence in its state of disrepair which the NHS Property group plan to mend!

Finally, fans of Greggs donuts and sandwiches will be happy to learn that the whole of the current business is moving into the ground floor of Santander and will be opening up in the new year.

With best wishes to you all,

Caroline (Brown).

Bulletin for June 2021

L.R.A. Bulletin for the end of June 2021

Dear Member(s),

I hope you are well (or reasonably so!) and I am sure you have your eyes firmly fixed on July 19th in the hope that this does not prove to be another false dawn.

Mole Valley District Council has informed me of several initiatives, some of which I feel may be of interest to you:

1. Tickets are now on sale (via internet or phone) for The Mole Valley Community Lottery.   This weekly online lottery raises money for good causes and green initiatives in the District.     Players have a chance of winning a £25,000 jackpot each week.    Tickets start at £1 and the draw is held weekly on a Saturday evening, starting Saturday, 24 July.   Other prizes include a Dorking Halls Family&Friends Membership and a Surrey Hills Enterprises shopping voucher.    Half of the ticket money goes to a good cause of the player’s choice and 10% goes to a fund run by the Council which benefits climate change initiatives and the Environment Fund.   To view the various “good causes” asking for help, and for further details about the Lottery, visit www.molevalleylottery.co.uk or phone 01306 310016

2. The District Council’s  “Walk for Health” group walks have resumed across our District.    This is a programme of fun, free and accessible weekly walks ideal for anyone looking to become more active and meet new people.    It can also, if advised by a doctor, assist with recovery from the long-term effects of Covid.   The walks last from 30 to 90 minutes, ideal for a wide variety of ability levels.    There are weekly walks in Leatherhead, Dorking, North Holmwood, Buckland, Brockham and Bookham.   The group is always looking for new volunteer Walk Leaders, so please get in touch if you are interested.   Training, support and equipment is provided and walks can take place anywhere in the district. during the day or evening.     For more information on the walks or to find out how to become a walk leader, visit www.molevalley.gov.uk/walkforhealth  or email wellbeing@molevalley.gov.uk or call 01306 885001

3. Mole Valley Climate Emergency’s Hub is going ahead, and in Leatherhead this will be at the former Book Potato shop, in the Swan Centre in September and October.   In a nutshell, this will be:

  • A drop-in information centre for passers-by and interested people to relax, chat and find out more about what is happening in our world.
  • Lasting for 9 weeks throughout September and October, 10-5 pm (or later, if evening meetings).   Potentially a longer term presence.
  • Each Thursday, Friday and Saturday
  • And it will have displays,  a workshop/talk area with coffee and biscuits etc.

Each week will have a theme with linked workshops, talks and activities such as plastic pollution, biodiversity, travel etc.    This is also an opportunity for you to enlarge the membership of your own group and to publicise your aims and campaigns.

And now for other news concerned with Leatherhead:

1. The application for a very tall mobile phone mast on “The Circus” roundabout off By-Pass Road, has been turned down.   We shall have to wait and see if an Appeal is submitted.

2. I am sure you will be pleased to know that the LRA made a donation to The North Leatherhead Community Hub.

3. We are organising a Litter Pick in Leatherhead on Sunday 25 July, starting at 2 p.m. and finishing in the Red House Gardens at 5.00 pm.   At the end, there will be refreshments and a chance to meet up with old friends and acquaintances.    Perhaps our regular Pickers could let me know which area they, personally, would intend to cover  and also offer a couple of suggestions as to other littered areas which new volunteers could deal with.   Our long-standing member, Dorothy Stapleton, has kindly agreed to organise the details of this, where to work and so on.

Finally, concerning the wooden planters in the High Street, some may be interested to know  that I have written to the relevant person in the District Council for some indication of their budget for the upkeep and re-planting of the planters..    So far, I have learned only that Surrey Council was responsible for the installation, but someone also needs to actually carry out their proper maintenance

Following up on my email requests to lapsed members to renew their membership, we have had some success, but there still remain many who have not renewed.   Could I, therefore, make another plea to those people to renew?   It is easily done via the LRA website by entering www.leatherheadresidents.org.uk/contact

Finally, a reminder that our next Open Meeting will be on Monday, 2nd August at 7.30 in the Methodist Church in Church Road.   Jenny Moore of B@titude and also of The Hub in North Leatherhead has kindly agreed to give us all an update on developments and hope in that area.    Should the meeting prove impossible , due to continued restrictions, I will let you know well beforehand.

With all best wishes,

Caroline Brown (Chairman) 30:6:21

Telephone:  01372 813013    email: info@leatherheadresidents.org.uk

Registered Office: Fewston, St Nicholas Hill Leatherhead

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