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We have responded to the consultation on an upgrade to Wisley M25/A3 interchange by calling on Highways England to put its own house in order first.
The society is opposed to the upgrade, but also notes that, more than 30 years after the construction of the M25 through Wisley common and Chatley Heath, the motorway remains designated as registered common land* to this day — land to which the public has a right of access on foot and on horseback.
Moreover, land given in replacement for the taken common land has never been registered, so that the public cannot find out where it has a right to walk and ride instead.
Our case officer, Hugh Craddock, comments: ‘It is unacceptable that Highways England’s predecessors, the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency, have failed to sort this out.
‘Valuable common land and open space were lost under the M25: the least that the government could have done would be to ensure that the replacement land was properly recorded and registered. It has had 30 years to sort it out.
‘Now, Highways England is proposing to upgrade the junction—but no-one knows whether it is planning to build across land which was designated as common land or open space in the 1980s.
‘We say it must resolve this administrative failure before it develops plans for upgrading the Wisley interchange, so that people can see how the plans affect public rights. Otherwise, it risks a severe embarrassment of its own making.’
* Registered common land is shown in registers maintained by the commons registration authority, Surrey County Council. The M25 passes across Chatley Heath, register unit CL446, and Wisley common, register unit CL350. Ockham common, despite its name, is not registered common land.