We object to abuse of St John’s Lye common, Woking

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We have responded angrily to Woking Borough Council’s consultation about car-parking on St John’s Lye Common, south-west Woking, Surrey.

Local residents had complained about the inadequate parking after the opening of the new St John’s memorial hall and the council proposed to provide car-parking spaces on the common. The options are for the extension onto the common of the existing car-park to take an additional 22 cars, or an informal parking area for 28 cars on the common a bit further away.

We are dismayed that both options take common land. The council has not troubled to find a solution which avoids the common.

We consider this to be an abuse of common land, which is for public recreation and enjoyment. Both sites would be a blot on the landscape in a conservation area.

It seems extraordinary that the provision for parking was not considered and resolved before the memorial hall was opened. It is entirely wrong to use common land for this purpose.

In any case, if the council wishes to provide for parking on the common, it will need to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in addition to any planning permission. Ideally it should be offering exchange land for that to be taken.

We have urged the council to abandon its plans and find a solution which avoids the common.

We are also concerned that the council has failed to consult the Open Spaces Society, which must be notified of all applications for works on common land, and has allowed only 12 days for a response—the closing date is this Friday, 27 March.

Responses can be made here or by sending an email to stakeholderengagement@woking.gov.uk.

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