By Patrick Bisgood
The Norbury Park Community Forum met on June 22nd for the first time since November 2019 and it was agreed that it would resume its previous schedule of a spring and autumn meeting with a site visit in between.
The meeting was chaired by Katie McDonald from Surrey County Council’s countryside team with presentations from other members of the team and from Surrey Wildlife Trust, which continues to manage habitat and biodiversity.
Membership of the forum comprises local councillors, representatives of neighbouring residents associations (including the FRA), residents of Norbury Park, businesses operating there, and ecologists.
The consultation on the sawmill site and the Norbury Park estate as a whole was due to be held at the end of May but was then moved to July.
The complex issues around developing the business case for the saw mill site however, mean that the consultation is likely to be further delayed. Residents who would like to be involved in the consultation are recommended to register their interest at firstname.lastname@example.org to be informed of any updates.
An update was given on the activities at the estate team’s operational base at The Bothy next to Norbury Park Farm. Marginalised and socially excluded young people have been involved in creating a kitchen garden inside its walls following a similar project elsewhere in Surrey.
Plans were also outlined for increasing the number of parking spaces at the Young Street car park along with a larger picnic area and ‘natural’ play equipment there.
Katy Fielding from Surrey Wildlife Trust outlined the activities of the volunteer groups in Norbury Park. There are two groups – one that operates under the direction of SWT and one which is semi- autonomous. Anyone interested in joining one of the volunteer groups should contact SWT via https://www.surreywildlifetrust.org/register-your-interest-becoming-volunteer
In an effort to diversify, the tenant farmer at Swanworth Farm on the Mickleham side of Norbury, will be experimenting with a small camping site backed by SCC. Last year the government extended the number of days that farmers can operate campsites without planning permission from 28 days to 56 days.
Finally, one source of irritation for walkers and riders in Norbury Park, particularly last summer when it was very busy, may soon end. Google satnav has been sending car drivers along the footpaths and bridleways from Norbury Park Farm next to the A24 to the Fetcham car park via the saw mill. Google sent one of their Street View vehicles along the route several years ago despite it not being a public road. SCC has promised to put pressure on Google to remove it.