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The Planning Inspectorate has rejected plans by the Shere Manor Estate to create parking spaces on Hurtwood Common near Holmbury St Mary in Surrey. This was to be in connection with the housing development proposed for the former Hollybush Tavern.
The development had been granted planning permission in January 2013 but, because the works were to be on common land, the estate also needed the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (delegated to the Planning Inspectorate).
We objected because the works were of purely private benefit and would conflict with the public’s use and enjoyment of the common. They involved levelling a steep bank and clearing the vegetation and would have suburbanised this attractive corner of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The planning inspector, Mr Alan Beckett, refused consent because of the development’s adverse effect on public access to and enjoyment of the common. The public has the right to walk and ride over the whole area but the estate intended the parking area to be for the exclusive use of the occupiers of the new houses.
We are delighted with this outcome. We were deeply concerned that common land, which has historically been used and enjoyed by the public, was to be taken for private benefit. It is excellent that the inspector understood our concerns and found our arguments compelling.
The developers must accommodate the car-parking within the development site and not let it leak over onto the common. It is right that this ancient and very special land should be protected for posterity.