APRIL 2016
Walton Heath Land Exchange Update

Click here to read latest developments…
Walton Heath/Beecham's Fields Judicial Review -
TADWORTH & WALTON RA v Secretary Of State for Rural Affairs & Walton Heath Golf Club & Reigate and Banstead Council
MAY 2015
Please click here to read the full judgement…

March 2015

"I am sorry to say that the decision of Mr Justice Holgate at the hearing (Judicial Review) on 3 & 4 March at the High Court in London, went against us. At our TWRA Committee meeting on March 24th we will naturally consider where this leaves us and what, if any, action(s) are now open to us."
Kind regards,
Clive Elcome, Chairman.

February 2015

Full details on the current situation regarding the deregistration of part of Beecham’s Field are included in the Minutes of the Special General Meeting held on February 2nd. In brief, the Residents Association has been given leave for a Judicial Review on 3 points and the Hearing will take place on 3rd and 4th of March 2015. The case will be heard at The High Court on the Strand and everyone can attend and listen to proceedings. We hope as many supporters as possible will attend.

Inspectors Decision
The Inspector's decision was both disappointing and somewhat of a shock as it had seemed to most of those present at the Inquiry, including the Tadworth and Walton Residents Association Committee, that we had made a good case. Our Barrister, Dr. Ashley Bowes, was of a similar view at the end of the Inquiry.

When we received the decision, we asked for his views on the Inspector's decision letter. He indicated that he felt we had a reasonably strong case to take the matter further. This is bearing in mind that with applications under the 2006 Commons Act it is necessary to go to the High Court. This is both expensive and restricting as it is necessary to make a case based on legal interpretation rather than just rerunning the planning arguments.

Dr. Bowes has carefully studied the Inspector's decision letter and has advised that he thinks that the decision was unlawful on three counts, with the first being particularly strong. It should be noted that this is a matter of opinion and another legal opinion has taken a different view. We will therefore be taking a risk, although this is frequently the case with legal matters.

Click here to read the full Judicial Review Application (pdf file)
Walton Heath Application for Judicial Review - Latest Development

Click here to read the full Judicial Review Application
Walton Heath / Inquiry into de-registration of Beecham’s Field - A Disappointing Decision

We, the Residents Association, together with many local people were very surprised, and disappointed, with the Planning Inspector’s decision in favour of Walton Heath Golf Club’s application to de-register Beecham's Field for a golf ‘practice ground’, by offering as replacement land, a field on the other side of the M25. We felt that we had a very good case.

Many residents have been asking us if we were going to challenge the decision and, after careful consideration and taking legal advice, and being conscious of the further costs involved, we can confirm that we shall be appealing against the decision.

We have retained the services of the Barrister who represented us at the Inquiry, and our best advice is that our costs can be contained. This appeal would however be the end of the process for us as far as the RA is concerned.

Our feeling is that we should take this ‘final’ course of action. As a Residents’ Association we think it is important to protect our heritage and environment as far as we are able, and this includes safeguarding the open space of Beecham's Field both for current users and future generations.
July 2014
The Residents Association is very sorry to announce that the Inspector who held a public inquiry into the proposal by Walton Heath Golf Club in May has now reported his findings and supports the Walton Heath Golf Club proposal.

Needless to say, this is a very disappointing decision, particularly as most of us felt that we had the better case.

We are now considering whether we have a case to apply to the High Court for a Judicial Review. It is a difficult decision. However, we feel that some of the statements made by the Inspector should not go unchallenged.

In the meantime, we would like to thank everyone who wrote in objecting and particularly those who attended the Inquiry and made their representations in person. We appreciate all the support we received.

CLICK HERE to view and download the Inspector's full report.
Walton Heath / Inquiry into de-registration of Beecham’s Field
The Public Inquiry into Walton Heath Golf Club’s proposal to use Beecham’s Field as a golf practice facility and provide a replacement area on the south side of the motorway, took place between 20th and 23rd May.

The first 3 days consisted of evidence from the Club, and its supporters, and the Residents Association’s witnesses and other local objectors. On the morning of the last day, May 23rd, the Inspector walked the site, accompanied by residents and members of the Club, allowing us to draw attention to various points on both sites and along the intervening route, but without introducing new evidence. We then returned to the Dorking Halls when the 2 barristers made their closing statements.

The Inspector, Barney Grimshaw, has indicated that he anticipates reaching his decision in about 6 weeks.

Our Committee would like to thank everyone who gave evidence against the proposal. Many people made excellent speeches which together formed, we feel, a strong case. We are particularly grateful to Ann Sankey, who is a volunteer with the Surrey Botanical Society, who gave evidence on the comparative ecology of the 2 sites and our Barrister, Dr. Ashley Bowes. They were both excellent.

It felt rather like David against Goliath as the Golf Club had a senior QC and several expert witnesses. However, we hope that we have done enough to persuade the Inspector to refuse the de-registration application. We now await his decision.
Walton Heath / Beecham's Field Case History 2013
Good news! We have now heard from the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) that there will be a public inquiry into the Golf Club’s proposal to de-designate Beecham’s Field as part of Walton Heath Common and, in exchange, provide a replacement parcel of land on the other side of the M25.

This is excellent as it provides us with an opportunity to present our opposition to the proposal in front of an independent inspector. So, many thanks to all of you who wrote to PINS setting out your concerns on the proposed land exchange. The scale of opposition has led to the decision to hold a full inquiry instead of just written representations or an informal hearing. The inquiry is likely to be either in March or, more probably, April 2014.

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Although we tried to notify most households in Tadworth and Walton on the Golf Club’s application to PINS, we are aware that many residents did not receive our literature. However, even if you did not send your representations to PINS in August, there will still be an opportunity to make your views known. It will be possible to write in or attend the first day of the inquiry and ask the inspector if you can give your views.

It is likely that the Residents’ Association will hold a public meeting later this year when the Club’s proposals will be fully explained and information will be given on the sort of evidence the Inspector will be looking for. We will give details in our autumn newsletter. Basically our case rests on the loss of the popular Beecham’s Field as part of the Common with its associated public access, and the unsuitability of the replacement land which will be over a mile away.

As the Walton Heath Golf Club will be legally represented at the inquiry, the Tadworth and Walton Residents’ Association will also be getting legal advice and will be looking for potential witnesses who use Beecham’s Field at present. If you would like to help or have any questions, please get in touch with us via our Contact Page.
Jan/Feb 2013

Walton Heath Golf Course - Deregistration of Beecham's Field as Common Land

Walton Heath Golf Club has applied to the Secretary of State, (DEFRA) under Section 16 of the Commons Act 2006, to deregister, as common land, part of Beechams Field. They wish to use the land as a golf practice range The users will purchase tokens from the club's shop. In return the club is proposing, as exchange land, a parcel of land in the their ownership, on the opposite side of the M25. This is about a mile from Beecham's Field. It comprises fields and woodlands with extensive views.

A plan is attached showing the location of both the exchange land and Beecham's Field, which lies alongside the Dorking Road. As residents will know, this area is currently well used for informal recreation, namely children's play, walking, practising golf and dog walking.
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Representations have to be submitted by August 9th to The Planning Inspectorate, Room 4/05 Kite Wing, Temple Quay House, 2, The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6NN. Objectors are requested to give their name, address, reasons for objection and signature. The application can be inspected at Reigate Town Hall.
The representations can also be emailed to: commonLandCasework@pins.gsi.gov.uk

The Residents Association is objecting very strongly. Our main reasons are:-
1. We are concerned that there would no longer be legal right of access to that part of Walton Heath..
2. The replacement exchange land is far too remote and will not function in the same way as Beecham's Field.
3. Increased commercialisation would affect openness and the character of the area; the proposed deregistered area would include the bridle path (The Gallops); and the increased driving of golf balls could be a health and safety risk to those using adjacent bridle and footpaths.
(Further guidance is provided further down the page on the sort of issues the Planning Inspectorate will be considering)

We urgently request that if you have any concerns at the current proposal, please write in to The Inspectorate. We are confident that we have a good case but it will be strengthened if a large number of representations are sent in leading, we hope, to a public inquiry.
So please help if you can. We hope to put our response onto the Tadworth and Walton Residents' Association web site in the near future.

Here are some of the issues the Planning Inspectorate will be considering when looking at this Section 16 application of the 2006 Commons Act. We have asterisked those issues which we consider to be important. DEFRA's 'Common Land Consents Guidance' July 2009 is a useful document. This sets out the benefits which common land should deliver, and the outcomes that it considers must be ensured by the consents process in section 16 of the 2006 Act.
*The outcome relevant to deregistration is that 'our stock of common land and greens is not diminished - that, on balance, any deregistration of registered land is balanced by the registration of other land of at least equal benefit'.

These are some of the issues raised in the guidance:-
* What will be the impact on those with rights of access across the land?
* Does the proposed replacement land add something that will positively benefit the neighbourhood?
* Does the loss of the release land mean that local people will be prevented from using the common in the way they are used to and interfere with the future use and enjoyment of the land?

Are there potential benefits to nature conservation from carrying out the proposals?
* What will be the impact on the landscape if the proposals succeed? Is the land is a specially designated area?
* What effect will the proposals have on those wishing to use the common for recreation and access?
(In the case of any exchange, it should be assumed that the release land will cease to be available for recreation and access, unless a legally binding provision is intended to be made to assure public continued use.)