Update 22nd January 2019
The Woodland Trust have arranged a drop-in session especially for residents of Ashtead and nearby villages. It will be held in the Ralli Room of the Peace Memorial Hall between 11am and 2pm on Saturday 16th February. This is an informal drop in session, open to all, where they hope to be able to update people with what they have achieved so far at the site, and their plans for the future. Of course, they will also be pleased to answer any questions, for example around the planning application. They will have some good maps & pictures etc. with them.
Revised planning documents have been sent to Mole Valley Council (and we assume Epsom & Ewell and Reigate & Banstead Councils) and Roger Bennett on behalf of the Association has been assiduous in reading these detailed documents and has now re-submitted the ARA's comments to Mole Valley for consideration when the Planning Application comes before the Development Control Committee. Now sent, the full copy will be available to read on the Council's planning website (Reference MO/2018/0004). The hours of work put in by the Association, and in particular Roger, makes nonsense of some of the complaints about the £2.50 annual subscription.
The Association gives its full support to the overall project which will be a lasting memorial to those who fought and fell in World War 1. However it must be said we do have concerns around elements of the Application that would adversely affect residents of Ashtead, particularly in the south of the village. Both the proposed siting of the Visitor Centre and Car Park plus the traffic flow for construction and visitor vehicles are major worries as Ashtead's narrow residential roads are unsuitable. It is recommended that residents to the south of Ashtead visit the drop-in session for more details and read the ARA's new comments on the Mole Valley Planning web site https://www.molevalley.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=17563.
In March 2014, the Woodland Trust acquired most of Langley Bottom Farm with the intention of protecting the site from future development by creating a First World War Centenary site to commemorate those who lost their lives in the war.
Since then a lot has happened...
• The site has been renamed. We are proud to own and manage Langley Vale Wood
• 90,000 trees have been planted, creating 120 acres of brand new woodland, thanks to help from thousands of people including many local residents and school children
• We are managing 250 acres (40% of the site) for open space, to protect rare arable plants and create species-rich grassland, following the completion of an environmental impact assessment in 2016
• Arable plants have increased on site both in numbers, diversity and spread. Night-flowering catchfly and red hemp-nettle have both seen large increases and ground pine has returned to site for the first time since the early 1980s
• We have a team of 70 volunteers who help to manage the site, undertaking a range of tasks from removing old barbed wire fencing to building a beautiful bug hotel.
In December 2017 we submitted a planning application for a car park, hard surface paths and memorial area (in full) and a visitor centre and natural play area (in part). A number of concerns were raised, and we've been listening. This document summarises the Woodland Trust response to these concerns.
Car parking and traffic flow
• The car park will consist of 70 permanent car spaces including four accessible bays, 100 space overflow for cars, 12 spaces for bicycles and two spaces for coaches
• We expect only a few coaches per year and coach parking is only possible with advance permission from the Woodland Trust. A height barrier will prevent unauthorised access by larger vehicles
• Peak time for people visiting the site will be at weekends and bank holidays
• The increase in traffic due to the car park during rush hour will be one car every 6 minutes or 10 cars per hour
• The revised construction route (shown in red on map EIA-012v2) avoids Ashtead and uses the 'Derby' route
• Traffic calming measures have been proposed to slow traffic at the point where horses are likely to cross Headley Road.
• An earth bank of archaeological interest has been identified between the field where the car park and visitor centre have been proposed
• Both are far enough away from the bank to not cause damage. Signs will inform visitors of the importance of the bank and ask them not to walk on it
• A question was raised that the field where the car park is proposed could be a historic Saxon meeting place. Additional geophysical surveys found no evidence to support this. We'll be digging trenches to check again before the car park is built.
Rare arable species
• The proposals within the planning application do not impact on any plants found within the 250 acres of open space.
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon (1914)