Hedge removed from Goose Green common

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Surrey member Hugh Craddock reports a success in waking up a district council to its duties under the Commons Act 1899.

Many commons in west Surrey were put into schemes of regulation and management under the 1899 act by rural district councils in the first half of the twentieth century; Waverley Borough Council is now responsible. But in 2004, Waverley decided to withdraw from management of the 72 hectares of scheme commons to save money.

Gosling Cottage before Photo Hugh Craddock

Gosling Cottage before
Photo Hugh Craddock

Gosling Cottage after   Photo Hugh Craddock

Gosling Cottage after
Photo Hugh Craddock

Recently I noticed that the owner of a cottage on Goose Green, part of Selhurst Common near Bramley, had planted a laurel hedge dividing the green in front of his house from the road. Waverley initially refused to take any action. However, I showed that the officers’ report to the 2004 council meeting had failed to identify the council’s duties under the scheme, which had been treated as a discretion from which it might withdraw.

Waverley agreed to investigate, and found that the cottage owner had been misinformed by his solicitor about the common’s status. The council told the owner to grub up the hedge. Regrettably, the green has now been planted with trees, which the council could, but refuses to, act against.

Ironically, it seems the hedge and trees are intended to screen the cottage from the road—yet the character of Selhurst Common depends on these rough lawns set out between the road and neighbouring cottages.

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