County council drops plan for play trail at beauty spot
CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed an announcement from Surrey County Council that it will not pursue proposals to create artificial play structures for children at Newlands Corner.
The council had proposed to build six play structures on the common to make a ‘family play trail’ and the decision was due to be made by the Planning Inspectorate.
The Save Newlands Corner Campaign Group previously said the play structures would change the countryside irrevocably, calling it the ‘Disneyfication’ of the site.
In February, Surrey County Council obtained approval to put parking meters and associated signage at Newlands Corner despite strong local opposition.
Surrey County Council cabinet member for environment Mike Goodman said: “As the Planning Inspectorate has now told us a public inquiry into the educational play trail is needed, we have decided not to pursue this proposal at the moment.
“While we fully intend to revisit our plans for the trail at a later date because of its educational, health and learning benefits, we are not prepared to spend around £30,000 of taxpayers’ money on an inquiry at a time when our budgets are under such severe pressure from the rising need for the likes of children’s services and adult social care.”
Sally Blake, from the campaign group, said: “We welcome this statement from Surrey County Council and the decision of the Planning Inspectorate to hold a public inquiry after receiving 1,100 objections against the proposals which it described as unprecedented.
“Artificial play structures are not wanted or needed at Newlands Corner and would be highly damaging to the environment. This is one of the most important ancient woodlands in Western Europe and home to the protected and declining dormouse.
“We cannot see how Surrey County Council intends to revisit its plans when this would have the same damaging impact.”
Surrey County Council will not pursue plans to create artificial play structures for children at Newlands Corner