The Beare Green Community Plan

 

[Version 12 - revised 10 August 2007]

Contents:

   1. Purpose
   2. The Wider Background
   3. Analysis
   4. Bringing it all Together - The Heart of the Plan
   5. The Detail - Proposed Ideas for Development under Key Areas
   6. A list of Priorities
   7. Into the Future

1. PURPOSE

The object of this Plan could not be more straightforward. Its primary aim is to ensure that Beare Green continues to be a place that people want to live in, visit, and enjoy.

A subsidiary intention, and one that augments this principal objective, is to help people get a sense of belonging to the area in which they have chosen to live and to enhance that experience.

Beare Green is enviably sited in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it is possible to take footpaths and bridleways from our village that lead one north, south, east or west into some of the most attractive countryside not only in the County of Surrey, but also in the whole of Southern England. It is also one of the few villages in rural Surrey that possesses a railway station with a train service leading directly to London.

Sadly, and in desperate contrast to these two extraordinary advantages, our settlement has been largely ill-served by the economic and environmental consequences that have been the common rural experience during the last quarter of the 20th century. Ironically, these changes for the worse have, in large measure, been compounded by a statutory planning regime that could so readily have served our community better.

Accordingly, this Plan is based on three complementary principles, which reflect these opposites:

2. THE WIDER BACKGROUND

The Development of Beare Green to Date:

Taking its name from Walter de la Bere, a local landowner in the 13th century, the original hamlet of Beare Green lay in a boggy woodland area where wild boar ran freely, four miles south of Dorking. With its area stretching from north of Capel village to South Holmwood, bounded by Newdigate to the east and Ockley to the west, the small community literally surrounded the village green[1]. The present settlement called ‘Beare Green’ owes its current location to the coming of the railway and the opening of Holmwood[2] station in 1867. This shifted the focus of development to the north west of the original village green, with the A24 dual carriageway now separating the two. From the outset, the railway service provided extremely efficient links to London [and the rest of the country] and, to a lesser extent, still does.

The railway also acted as a catalyst for some speculative development during the 19th century and encouraged the wealthy to establish country mansion houses. Otherwise, the local economy was predominantly agrarian based, augmented by employment in the local brickfields, with a multiplicity of small retail and service businesses attending to the needs of the inhabitants. Despite its rural location and small population, the basic infrastructure included a local school, post office, public houses and various shops. As road transport developed between the two World Wars, Beare Green was found to be conveniently situated between the Metropolis and the South coast, leading to the expansion of the "White Hart" public house, the construction of the "Red Arrow" café and a petrol filling station to accommodate the needs of the day trippers.

The electrification of the railway in 1938, and its improved service[3], encouraged some further sporadic development but this was immediately halted at the outbreak of the Second World War. The effects of the Blitz and the reliability of the train service made Beare Green a popular destination for those wishing to escape the bombing. This led to irregular "homesteading" in what is now Highland Road.

As part of the initial post-War regeneration, the general area around Holmwood station was identified as a potential area for "overspill" housing. However the refinement of the "Green Belt" policy and the conception of the "New Town" philosophy moved this expansive development to Crawley. The traffic congestion on summer weekends between Dorking and Beare Green resulted in substantial road works in the late 1960s that made the A24 into a dual carriageway and which effectively severed all the settlements either side of it from each other.

During the last four decades of the 20th century there was a rapid sequence of building work in the area of Beare Green south of Holmwood station, on both "greenfield" and "brownfield" sites or on backland created by the A24 road improvement works. Based on 2001 census figures, the current population of this main part of Beare Green is estimated to be 1,800.

Much of this new development has many of the characteristics of a suburban-style estate, which when coupled with the closure of the local primary school, the public house and the post office, makes the consideration of the needs of this part of Beare Green significantly different to those of more traditional villages such as Capel, Newdigate or Ockley.



[1] Now the playing field opposite the Weald School.
[2] An interesting and possibly significant choice of name. In the mid-19th century, the countryside south of Dorking was becoming popular with the prosperous who, having made their money in the City, wished to live a quieter life in more congenial surroundings. The Holmwood was one such area.
[3] For many years, Holmwood was an outer terminus for suburban trains, rather than Horsham or Dorking.


Building Work:

1930 – 1970

Houses were built by the station in what was the main Horsham Road[4], Springwell Road and the lower half of Highland Road.These last were named not numbered [see history] and this is still viewed as a social distinction. Merebank and the southern half of Leith Road were constructed in the 1960s – 70s.

In the early 1950s, the then Dorking and Horley Rural District Council, forerunner of the Mole Valley District Council, bought "Merebank House", the lake and nine acres of land north of Leith Road from a charitable trust. This is where Oak End, Oak Corner and Willow Close now stand. Mole Valley then took that land over in 1974 when the District Council came into being. Woodside Road and Anstiebury Close were ‘self-build’ areas, land on which there had formerly been holiday homes for Londoners.

1980 – 1990

In 1980, following demolition of a Victorian villa, Paddock Grove was developed on backland abutting the A24. In 1981 Turner House was opened with surrounding flats (council owned sheltered accommodation), which made the area into an elderly persons’ enclave. Later in the 1980s and into the 1990s, Hyde Housing Association built Willow Close. Beare Green Court, a quadrangle of shops and living accommodation, opened in 1988. In 1989 Denham Place was added (8 flats), then Paddock Close, Oak Corner, Oak End and Greenfields Place.

Statistics - 2001 Census Data

In 2001, the total population of the Beare Green ward was 1,863 with an almost equal number of males and females, 50% of which were aged 45 [or over], half again of whom were aged 65 [or over]. The population of the newly developed ‘Beare Green’ is approximately 1500 people. Out of a total of 859 households in the ward, 638 were owner occupied, 155 rented from either council or private sources. A comparison of local and national data indicates that Beare Green contains a high proportion of self-employed people, unemployed [34% aged 50+, compared with the national average of 19%] and a low proportion of those still studying. A third of the residents live alone, a higher proportion than either Mole Valley or nationally. This suggests that a higher than average number of adults will consider the village to be the priority network to which they belong. Beare Green reflects an aging and divergent culture, which is sharply polarised between the prosperous and the barely coping and which is not bonded together by any place where meeting can happen on equal terms.

Meeting Places, Social and Spiritual Life:

Beare Green residents who remember earlier days recall village spirit and energy. For them, the community does not function as it used to. People grieve for the loss of meeting places and ‘people looking out for each other’. On the whole, newer residents are seemingly less aware of each other. As Beare Green has evolved, little consideration seems to have been given to its social or its spiritual needs. The marginalisation of "The Duke’s Head" by the construction of the A24 made it much less ‘local’ and the "White Hart" public house was demolished to make way for housing. The newer Beare Green development has only had a brief encounter with the Roman Catholic Church, which is now closed and refurbished as the unlicensed village hall. The Parish Church is a mile to the north, in South Holmwood. The Community Association works hard but struggles to survive. However, the retail development at Beare Green Court does help to provide a focus where pedestrians may meet and interact.

The Relationship of Beare Green to Capel Civil Parish:

When Beare Green was just a hamlet surrounding the Green, it made sense [over a century ago] to link it to Capel for local government and funding purposes. However, the creation of this Plan provides an opportunity for a re-appraisal of this arrangement. Just as banks, hedgerows, and streams were used to create local boundaries in earlier times, so the A24 dual carriageway has now become a de facto boundary between the main housing development south of Holmwood railway station and Capel village or, indeed, the original Beare Green. Furthermore, this recent housing probably has more links with the Holmwoods lying to the north, rather than Capel village - especially as the parish church, the nearest doctors' surgery and social club are located in South Holmwood. Such a suggestion also accords with a wider sense of local identity with the Holmwoods, which has a strong historical provenance.

This redefinition would allow the wider community to emphasise the environmental qualities of our area and, in particular, associate Beare Green with this greater whole. This widened concept of the Holmwoods would help to form our own local adjunct and contribution to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and with which such a restructured boundary would largely correspond. By providing a robust landscape based context to our locality, this change should readily help to develop a stronger sense of belonging within our community.

Taking this idea to a more radical level, it might even prove legitimate to rename the settlement that has ostensibly hijacked the Beare Green name and location. In keeping with the suggested alignment with the Holmwoods, a possibility for a new name might be Holmwood Station [there will be, of course, other options]. Seizing a suitable opportunity for "re-branding" to overcome undeserved negative connotations is not a new concept - indeed it has already been used to great effect in Mole Valley, qv The Priory School in Dorking. It is recognised that this might initially seem to be 'a step too far' for many, but that is insufficient reason not to have the debate.

Accordingly, the main Beare Green settlement might well benefit by disengaging from the Capel civil parish. However, there are wider issues to consider; not the least of which is the relationship with Coldharbour and the likely impact on local government funding.

The evaluation of these opportunities will need to be carefully managed.



[4] Now known as the Old Horsham Road.
[5] Let it not be overlooked that Beare Green is a nodal point for footpaths and bridleways, in addition to having an extant railway station, a local shop, a café and, most importantly, an ability to provide car-parking facilities.


3. ANALYSIS

To reiterate, the aims of this Plan are to

  1. Make Beare Green a place people want to visit, live in and enjoy.
  2. Help people get a sense of belonging to the area in which they have chosen to live.

Accordingly, consideration has been given to what factors might help to create a sense of identity for a community. Given that the generally recognised requirements for an English village of a parish church, a post office, a public house and school are not located in the main Beare Green settlement[6], what other elements exist, or might be fostered, to create social cohesion and community? The classic village "model" probably contains most, if not all, of the following as part of its infrastructure:

  • Facilities:
    • Shops
    • Doctors’ surgery
    • Playgroup
    • School
    • Village Hall
  • General environment:
    • Attractive vernacular architecture
    • Mixture of styles and ages of dwellings
    • "Grouping" of buildings on a human scale
    • The needs of the motor car do not dominate
    • In rural area, a clear attachment to the land and "nature"
  • Enabling a sense of 'belonging' will bring:
    • A sense of tradition and history
    • Events - a continuous calendar of neighbourhood & local activities throughout the year
    • Clubs and cultural interaction
    • The wherewithal to meet spiritual and religious needs
    • Meeting places, both casual and pre-arranged

General comments:

A comparison of the physical and social attributes of Beare Green against this inventory of ideals reveals immediately the areas where work needs to be done.

Surrounding villages have a church, school, general store, Post Office, Doctor's surgery, hall, pub or licensed club, recreation ground, playground and a clearly identifiable sense of history.

In contrast, the residentially developed area of Beare Green [the western part] only has a hall, general store[7], a café and a small recreation ground as part of the social infrastructure. The local school, a pub and the village green all lie in the "original" Beare Green [the eastern part]. The A24 dual carriageway lies between these two parts and is too unsafe a boundary for one to be readily accessible from the other - except by a circuitous pedestrian underpass.



[6] Whilst most villages in Mole Valley possess these elements, only the latter two are to be found in Beare Green - on the side of the A24 dual carriageway away from the main housing developments.
[7] Admittedly there are also a builders' merchant, a hairdresser, a print shop, a "therapy centre" and two vacant retail units [as at August 2007].


Networks:

There are varying networks of community, all of which need development in Beare Green because at present there is little or nothing for them:

  • Older people - both those living alone and the bereaved; in addition to providing for needs they may have, to see them as a resource; in a community, these are needed as teachers and encouragers.
  • Working adults - both commuters and self-employed; these are also needed as role models to the youth.
  • Parents and family life, particularly single parents - would benefit from encouragement and support
  • Youth communities - need to be social with their peers and respect other members of the community. Children need activities.

Day and Night Time:

There are two 'parallel universes' in the village - those that live there during the day and those that return in the evening. However, there are few community or social activities that allow them to meet or become involved, either within each grouping or as a whole.

'This Side and the Other Side':

The road is an unsafe barrier and as a result the area on the east side of the A24 is often described as 'no man's land'. Those who live there tend to be affiliated to Capel or Newdigate. How can they be encouraged to come into Beare Green village?

Research Findings:

A very well attended meeting in Beare Green Village hall early in 2005 resulted in a survey conducted by questionnaire throughout the village. This only obtained 13.9% return [118 returns]. This was felt to be too low to deduce any real objective representative information of village views. However the response could be deemed to be broadly indicative of the type of response one might have expected from a larger sample. Accordingly, the combination of data from this Survey and the original meeting has been combined in Section 5 - Proposed Ideas For Development Under Key Areas.

A working group has subsequently met several times to discuss the findings and to determine a way of moving the task forward, with the available data being given to 2 experienced researchers [from within the review group] for analysis and consolidation. Their work, following review and deliberation, has formed the statistical basis of this Plan. It is intended to be the start of an organic process, that will lead to long term strategies that will move Beare Green into a place people will actively want to live in and visit.

4. BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER - THE HEART OF THE PLAN

This village Plan for Beare Green aims to:

  • Involve all sections of the community.
  • Be a tool for proving the requisite need, thereby enabling applications for funding for community projects to succeed.

Priorities:

  • The village needs to have a solid structure around which activities can take place, which will be supported by the local community and others.
  • The community has to have the infrastructure in place to enable it to function effectively.
  • Both the village and its community need to be sustainable
  • The community has to have a recognisable centre - perhaps the village hall.
  • An effective public transport system that will allow suitable access in or out of the village, both for residents and visitors, which is not dependant on cars or car ownership.
  • Suitable opportunities for the community to celebrate its own richness and diversity.
  • Opportunities to establish and develop a community contribution to the immediate rural environment and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

5. THE DETAIL - PROPOSED IDEAS FOR DEVELOPMENT UNDER KEY AREAS

Area for development Residents’ perceptions Proposal for action
Youth & Education:
2001 census figures (need to be adjusted by 5 years)

0-4 = 118 (6.3%)

5-7 = 67 (3.6%)

8-9 = 42 (2.3%)

10-15 = 97 (5.2%)

16-17 = 29 (1.6%)

Within walking distance there is one school, The Weald, which caters for infant to junior ages. This is sited to the east of the A24 dual carriageway, i.e. on the other side of the road from the main settlement. After September 2007 the progression is to The Priory School, unless they have siblings at The Ashcombe School. Both are in Dorking.

There is currently [August 2007] no toddler or pre-school group in the main Beare Green settlement. However there is a flourishing pre–school, based within [although independent of] the Weald School.

A toddler group is run on Friday mornings in St Mary’s Parish Room in South Holmwood.

A further toddler group has been set up in Beare Green and will run from September 2007.

The young people need a variety of activities to suit the "cult activity" of the day and safe places into which they can drift.

An annual 5 day holiday club is run by the church.

  • Few evening activities.
  • Dropping off and collecting children from the school difficult.
The survey showed a need for sporting activities. However,
  • Badminton - for adults the court in the village hall is too small.
  • No pub or club, no darts or billiards, pool, snooker or other play area.
  • The basketball court seen as a positive amenity but few people use it (also has tennis markings but no net).
  • Moves Fitness in the Village Hall one night a week open to older youth but young people in their mid-teens do not always want to be organised.
  • There is no safe place to play with Internet or "sit around with your friends"; all youth areas tend to be Spartan.
The youth club caters for 7-9 and 10 – 16 yr olds. There is a strong need to support the work already started; this does not yet cater for the small groups of 15 yr olds coming to BG from the villages

- many of this age group have bicycles

- boys tend to kick balls about

- roller-blading and street hockey have been popular

Youth have an overriding need for group activity mobility/flexibility – Anyone working with them has to understand that youth are unlikely to stick at anything. Youth follow the current cult.

Should organised training be provided on the Basketball Court?

Improve and provide sporting facilities

Floodlighting the courts might be an asset, as would a climbing wall

Places for young people to go and things for them to do.

Provision of a detached youth worker

A cyber café in the glassed area of the village hall (locking the main hall) - to include a drink machine and soft seating. Young people to run this enterprise and take responsibility for it.

The community event in 2005 showed a desire for:

pool, snooker, tennis, swimming, skateboard park, roller skate area, 5-a-side football, badminton.

Organised country walks, especially for looking at things like bats and other wildlife.

Use of the glassed vestibule of the Village hall as a small play area for young children - see also comment about the need for extended storage space below [under ‘Communication and Meeting Places’].

Promote ‘Wheels to work’, which offers scooters for youth to get to school and work.

Area for development Residents’ perceptions Proposal for action
Older People
2001 census figures (need to be adjusted by 5 years)

45-64 = 536 (28.8%)

65-74 = 230 (12.3%)

75-84 = 113 (6.1%)

85+ = 40 (2.1%)

The Over 60’s Club meets fortnightly in the village hall to play Bingo.

Quiz nights are organised some 4 or 5 times a year in the village hall.

  • There is no meeting place other than the café. The club at South Holmwood is inaccessible for many.
  • Transport severely limited, especially in the evenings.
  • The only open activity within Beare Green is the Monday Lunch Club run by the church.
  • Turner House has some in-house local activities: weekly darts (Tues) and coffee mornings (Weds).
  • No Tai Chi or other older adult activities in the hall except for occasional quiz nights. Other regular activities are Badminton, Moves Fitness (not for older people) and dog training.
  • No horticultural club; the nearest is in South Holmwood (shows held on the NT land adjacent to South Holmwood Scout Hut).
  • No public house or social club with licensed bar.
U3A in Dorking – provision in Beare Green?

Weekly daytime activities. NB older people of today were part of the rock era!

‘Flicks in the Sticks’ – the showing of films in the village hall.

Day trips and outings/theatre trips/organised trips to Dorking Hall.

Essential to maintain the village hall as a central meeting place, so buses have to leave from there.

Need to promote events that run regularly in a local, central venue. [The village hall is the obvious choice].

Beare Green village hall has appropriate 365-day licenses, but only for events run by Beare Green Community Association.

But under the current management arrangements, the hall trustees do not want to use the drinks licence for regular club type activities.

Also:

Need to enliven the internal décor – in particular the brown stained woodwork.

Install comfortable seats.

Remove the current "institutional" smell.

Consider using the changing rooms for storage.

Need to look at plans of hall and see how it can be adapted to be more useful.

As the BGCA are the lessees, everything involving the hall has to be done under their aegis.

MVDC indicate that the hall could be adapted or altered to make it more user-friendly and/or have alcohol sold on the premises - they would get 17.5% of takings from both, in addition to the current minimal rental.

Area for development Residents’ perceptions Proposal for action
Environment
The village seems to enjoy having countryside on its doorstep. Villagers commented that they like activities laid on by the National Trust or others, such as organised walks.

There is some litter and graffiti (generally caused by young people and "activists"). However, newly planted trees regularly get torn down and, with the wider general respect for the countryside, this upsets the residents.

There is a bottle bank at the north point of exit from the village.
  • Roads:
     - The A24 is frequently scheduled for a variety of improvements but nothing happens. It has a 60mph speed limit but it is never enforced and the village has a 30mph speed limit that also is never enforced.

     - The only entrance into the majority of the roads in Beare Green is via Merebank. This causes congestion and does not allow easy access for emergency vehicles.
  • Parking:
     - The parking bays near Beare Green Court are privately owned by occupiers of the flats above the shops and are not for general public use - a point not widely recognised.

     - Large lorries are a problem around that car parking area and in some streets; lorries and coaches disrupt the natural parking behaviour.

     - If extra garaging or parking space is not created, the village cannot take many more cars.

Specific parking dangers have been noted in:

     - the Old Horsham Road from the southern A24 access to North of the station, but particularly adjacent to Beare Green Court.

     - Leith Road and Merebank.

     - There needs to be more parking around the station.
  • Subways are not used because of fear and in wrong place.
  • Infrastructures:
There is general agreement that:

     - Beare Green does not want to extend its village boundaries.

     - The infrastructure of roads, drainage and other allied aspects are barely adequate for current needs.
  • Street Lighting:
This is not placed throughout the village - there is a 50:50 split as to whether or not more lighting is desirable. The conflict between perceived safety needs and maintaining the quality of the rural environment has to be finely judged.
  • Pavements:
Pavements are not all in a good state – this does impact on safety of the older population and could explain why some of them ask about lighting.
  • Footpaths
These are bordered by vegetation, which in the early Autumn overhangs and catch on passers by. This is cut back less often by the councils and as financial pressures ensure it will be done even less often in the future, it will start to cause real problems in the more rural areas such as Beare Green. There needs to be some local effort put in to control this and ensure that sight lines are retained.
  • Vandalism
Where individuals have been caught, have been asked to clear up the problem themselves.

There are problems with the bus shelters being damaged. This impacts on all age groups.
  • Flooding
There are areas of the roads where gullies consistently block up and restrict run off, causing flooding.

Problem areas are:

     - At the turn in the Old Horsham Road by Beare Green Court.

     - Leith Road and Merebank.
  • Recycling
Recycling is an important priority for many people.

     - Acceptance of wheelie bins, and welcome of green waste collection

     - Rejection of bi-weekly rubbish collections.

     - Desire for foil collection

     - villages at the community event requested another bin site in the centre of the village.
For safety and amenity, re-evaluate the local road system:

The Old Horsham Road still looks like a trunk road, despite being de-classified since the 1960s. With some minor street works eg strategic narrowing [but not "tables" or humps!]; pavement widening and tree-planting, traffic calming and an improved visual approach into Beare Green could be achieved at one stroke.

Cycle track needed from Beare Green to Capel on the East side of the road.

Potential for speed cameras to slow down A24 traffic.

Replace the florescent boxes that were at the turning from A24 South.

To relieve parking problems on Merebank.

Look at options of alternative vehicular access around the village, eg could the service road and the stub spur of Springwell Road be linked?

Get police to keep an eye on parking – where illegal get tickets issued.

Subway review lighting, murals, kink in access - need for mirrors.

Work with the MVDC Planning Department and District Councillors to ensure they know that the village cannot sustain any more homes of any type.

Consider safety lighting in some places.

The only way to prove whether or not the street lighting really is wanted would be to do a 100% house survey door by door.

For Safety reasons. A24 widen the footpath and sort the overhanging vegetation along the A24 from the Green to Capel.

Put a barrier between the path and the A24 by particularly by the roundabout.

SCC now only cuts back overhanging vegetation if people complain.

Look at creating or link into "green gyms" - volunteer groups who "work out" whilst working, to cut back vegetation on central footpath areas.

See also improvements to the Old Horsham Road [above].

Get community to keep an eye on the area.

Clarify what a citizen can and cannot do when catching vandals in flagrante and publish details locally.

Both Parish and District Councillors must report flooding every time it happens – eventually something will get done.

Consider provision of a community skip to ensure that abandoned items are confined and controlled.

Consider putting another recycling ‘bring site’ in the centre of the village.

Area for development Residents’ perceptions Proposal for action
Transport
  • Railway
In the week, the last up train is at 19:29 and the two last down trains arrive at 20:23 and 00:28 [departing London Victoria at 19:20 and 23:26, respectively].

The last up train on Saturday is at 18:19 and the last down train arrives at 18:32 [departing London Victoria at 17:33].

There is no Sunday service.

The station is unstaffed, but there is a ticket machine and conductors do sell tickets on the train.
  • Buses
The Arriva bus service has recently been re-routed to simplify their travel distances.

There is an ability to call Buses4U; however, buses are always on the road between 09:30 and 17:00 but do not seem to be full of people.

Few buses after 17:00.
  • Good Neighbours Scheme
This is a totally voluntary scheme, which includes arranging drivers for hospital appointments, shopping and other events. It is run by one individual.
  • Taxis
These tend to be based at Dorking Mainline Station. At about £3 a mile, they are too expensive for any trips other than essential ones.

Taxis are the ONLY public transport service available in the evenings or on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
  • Railway Timetable
Train timings at Holmwood station are designed to serve the needs of commuters. In the last 20 years, whilst journey times to London Victoria have extended from 47 minutes to almost an hour, the numbers using the service have slowly increased.

However, the service does not cater well for leisure uses, either in or out of the village, especially at weekends (when the demand for such use would be at its greatest).
  • Bus Service
The new arrangement has impacted on the older population, especially those living in the Turner House area and Leith Road.

The bus shelter is no longer utilised for waiting for buses. The bus service is now seriously curtailed to an hour’s service mid-day, which causes isolation.

It is possible that Buses4U will cease through lack of funding from SEEDA for rural transport.
Need:

A late down train on a Saturday night [to match the Monday-Friday service].

An improvement to the weekend service overall.

Need:

Evening bus service.

[This is seen as a priority]

Community transport.

Youth bus.

Can the community borrow or use buses used for schools at peak times, but not used in the daytime or the evenings?

Financial support needed for the Good Neighbours Scheme and help with finding new drivers.

Taxi vouchers have been available from SCC but few have reached Beare Green residents – needed especially by those in low cost housing.

Research if these could be used for group taxis – like trips to cinema.

Could they also be used for group minibus hire?

Area for development Residents’ perceptions Proposal for action
Housing
The mix and quality of the housing is generally high and makes Beare Green an attractive and appealing village.

However, the removal of the pub for housing and other comparatively recent and extensive development ignored the accompanying environmental, social and spiritual needs of an increased community.
High level of awareness of problems created by over-development

The majority of the villagers consider that more housing would be detrimental on the following grounds:

     - parking,
     - social issues,
     - drainage,
     - roads.

There is no obvious place to erect affordable housing and the mix of the village is such that the balance of affordable properties and homes is probably about right – albeit perhaps slightly unbalanced on the side of the elderly.
Unlike other villages, Beare Green specifically does not want, nor can it sustain, any more housing development, either affordable or otherwise.

Hence NO FURTHER ACTION needed.

Area for development Residents’ perceptions Proposal for action
Communication and 'Meeting Places'
  • A resident has set up a Beare Green website (which is where you are reading this now).
The only community facility that remains is the Village Hall, which is large and under utilised, especially in the daytime.
  • Hall is run by BGCA, 4 trustees hold 25-year lease for:

    - minimal rental,

    - full repairing and insuring lease [and requirement to resolve accrued dilapidations before grant of a new lease],

    - to be used for community purposes or hired (not to be underlet),

    - no reasonable works/alterations to property to be withheld,

    - BGCA has 365-day licence for sale of alcohol, music etc, with a member of the committee as the responsible person, but responsibility can be passed to hirers if BGCA agree.
An unusual term of lease is 17.5% of profit from takings, over a threshold, to be paid to MVDC.
  • Beare Green Court.
  • General Store.
  • The Pavilion on the former village green playing field.
  • Village notice boards are:
       - on the Beare Green football pitch,
       - on the junction of Leith Road and Merebank,
       - outside the Community Hall,
       - on the wall by the shops.
The village parish magazine is produced by the church and is delivered free of charge across Beare Green, Mid and South Holmwood.
This puts Beare Green "on the map" and is a potential show case for the attributes of the village and its activities.

ONLY locations for meeting are:

   - BG Village Hall,
   - The shop,
   - Café,
   - The pub (for some people).
  • The BG Village Hall is not currently seen as the centre of the village.
  • The Community Association works hard to bring the community together but the Hall is, in reality, peripheral to the life of the village rather than its heartbeat.
  • Constrained by many rules and regulations. It struggles financially.
Storage space is concealed within structure but not extensive.
  • The visible centre of the village is the courtyard known as Beare Green Court – with retail units on three sides.
  • The only other meeting place for the community is the general store run by the Patel family.
Pavilion building (now owned by Capel Parish Council) is in a very visible location. It is dilapidated and the structure needs to be improved asap.
  • Notice boards are all locked and glass fronted and not easily accessible without a key.
  • Notices tend to go up on trees and the bus shelter with pins or a staple gun.
The church has prepared a village ‘directory’ informing people of current activities, groups, and practical or professional services.
Produce a list of village activities, facilities, etc. and post it on the website. To include everything from the fish & chip van night, the mobile library, the Tesco bus, etc., etc.

To produce a village e-mail distribution list – for instant weekly distribution of what’s on, what’s happening, etc.

TO GET THE STRUCTURE RIGHT -

1st Priority


To re-evaluate use and facilities in Beare Green especially Village Hall.

Talk with Beare Green Community Association and see what is in the pipeline and if more funding could be found with Community Buildings fund etc to make it more user friendly and more used by the community.

Need to develop a flexible community project with sub-projects:

   - Some quick fix,
   - some long term.

Village Hall has a harsh ambience and resonant acoustic.

Needs to include soft seating and panelled walls need a lighter colour, lower ceiling (mushrooms?)

Perhaps a licensed club area? (May be create an upper storey in main room - extend room up?)

The committee room, or the foyer, could be used for Cyber Café location if a rota of people were available to man it.

Need to review existing construction – creatively and with architect.

(Multiple use of the hall on 14 December 2006, and subsequently, showed that Youth Club and Community Room can be used at same time).

Look at the plans to see how the existing space can best be used.

The storage space MUST be adequately extended.

Or build an entirely new licensed club facility (this could also include provision for the sports activities listed under ‘Youth") Could Great Turners be a possible site?

(Friends’ Provident Social Club is a possible model).

If the village hall is retained as the heart of the village - it needs to be run as a business with a full time paid manager, be open as long as possible with a full list of facilities and activities, eg salsa, line dancing, bridge, wedding receptions, other parties, uniformed groups, cinema etc. Its hire charges need to be competitive but just undercut other optional venues.

There is a need to ensure the central courtyard and the BG Village Hall are pivotal to ALL Village activities.

2nd Priority

The pavilion needs replacement.

A CPC strategy is in place to move this forward.

Need an open fronted notice board by the pond – or can a proper notice board be placed in the bus shelter? Need to obtain consent from owner of shelter and if this requires planning permission.

The church is prepared to fund an open fronted wooden notice board: location at the corner of Old Horsham Road and Merebank to avoid the use of trees.

Offer further financial support for the parish magazine, in addition to that given by Capel [civil] Parish Council.

Area for development Residents’ perceptions Proposal for action
Miscellaneous
Opportunities to celebrate the richness and diversity of the community.   Revive the Beare Green Carnival procession.

Village breakfast/lunch to celebrate a local event

Beare Green Arts Festival

Wassailing

Pantomime

Local produce market

Hounds

‘Secret Gardens’ of Beare Green
Community contribution to its immediate rural environment and the Surrey Hills AONB. If the woodlands in neighbouring parishes are full of bluebells, why are our community open spaces full of brambles and weak, spindly trees? Beare Green bluebells

Beare Green bats

Beare Green buzzards

Beare Green ‘necklace’ nature walk[s]

Bring back nature into Beare Green by skilful management of public and quasi-public open spaces and "waste" areas of land. Create vistas.

6. A LIST OF PRIORITIES

This ongoing list [as at August 2007] of priorities for Beare Green has been produced to help:

  • set up the structure of the village - so that it can support the community.
  • develop a flexible community development plan with sub-projects, some 'quick fix' and others longer term.

Re-evaluate use and facilities at Beare Green Village Hall

With Beare Green Community Association, find potential ways of using and improving the hall, making it more user friendly and comfortable, whilst retaining and/or creating storage. If the village hall is to be retained as the heart of the village and as a venue of choice, it needs to be run as a business and may require a full time paid manager. It needs to be open as long as possible with a full list of widely publicised facilities and activities, offering a quality venue at affordable rates.

1] Hall Led Projects:
   1a   Develop a feasible project and sub-projects relating to the Beare Green Village Hall.
   1b   Ensure village hall and events are on a website and notice boards.
   1c   Encourage an extended list of events within the hall - especially events during the morning and afternoons.
   1d   Consider using the committee room, or the foyer, as a Cyber Café - with people or trusted youths to man it.
   1e   Increase storage and ensure access to all areas can be made when other parts of the building are occupied (this would allow Judo in the hall).

BGCA items in the pipeline

  • Disabled access to front door will help more than just wheelchairs, prams and others.
  • Replacement of electric water heaters for kitchen and toilets - could be linked to solar power. NB There is no mains gas supply.
  • Put in double doors to the car park area from main hall.
  • Replace electric cooker.
  • Undertake energy survey.
  • Create and develop a BG Village internet website - currently being done by a volunteer.
  • Get a Hall Coordinator and Social Committee Chair.
  • Replace roof and take spire off - quotes for both being separately obtained.
  • Replace main hall floor.
  • Insulate building if possible.
  • Improve heating.
  • Link back into Surrey Community Action.
  • Consider : is it better to demolish and rebuild or continue to repair?

2] BG Village Fair
   2a   Work with BGCA to make the fair bigger and better.
   2b   Increase community involvement and get more people to man stands.
   2c   Revive the village carnival parade.

3] Communications
Need: To effectively promote community events which are run regularly.
   3a   Make an open, non-lockable, centrally located notice board available for all to place notices on - to show all events in and around the village. Appoint someone to ensure that only up-to-date paperwork is retained on the board. Church prepared to put one in to save damage to trees, although the bus stop wall works well!
   3b   Ensure Beare Green website is up and running, with hyperlinks to hall and other useful community advice, together with a community events e-mail distribution list.
   3c   Find further financial support for church magazine, as this is the only non-political paper that goes for free to all homes.

4] Pavilion
   4a   Capel Parish Council to work with MVDC [and others?] to use their expertise with Football Foundation bids to gain funding.
   4b   Work with others to replace Football Pavilion at Beare Green Football Field.
   4c   Consider need for small community room in pavilion.

5] Transport
   5a   Obtain evening transport, for all age groups, both to and from Dorking Halls for events/visits on one day a week - on Monday or Friday? To leave Beare Green Village Hall for Dorking at, say, 19:00 and to return from Dorking Halls at, say, 22:45.
   5b   Can the community obtain and use SCC Taxi Vouchers to pay for this? (Can taxi vouchers be obtained for group hire of minibuses to Dorking halls cinema?)
   5c   A community or youth bus to provide transport to events in Beare Green or provide transport to events in Dorking.
   5d   Recruit more drivers and financial support for the Good Neighbours Scheme.
   5e   Campaign for better weekend and evening trains.
   5f   Can the community borrow or use buses used for schools at non-peak times, to use in the daytime or the evenings?

Create More Community Activities

6] Youth
   6a   Encourage the extension of Youth Club activities in Beare Green and linking into any at activities in Dorking.
   6b   Cyber Café within Beare Green Village Hall - open most evenings with drinks machine and soft seating, for which the youth take responsibility.
   6c   Consider some sort of organised training on hard surface of basket ball court. Floodlighting the ball court? Put in a climbing wall? Erection of net [and supports] for tennis?
   6d   Find places for young people to go and things for them to do. Would Judo be useful in BG Hall?
   6e   Get in a part time detached youth worker?
   6f   Encourage National Trust to run special country activities for youth.

7] All Ages and Elderly
   7a   Put on Flicks in the Sticks to show films "at home" in the hall.
   7b   U3A (University Of The Third Age) - create a rolling programme of mid-day activities.
   7c   Put all activities on website.
   7d   Use variety of methods to promote activities - including display on new notice board and on website.
   7e   Further survey to determine additional ideas or requirements?

8] Highways Issues
   8a   Get SCC Highways to reinstate the florescent boxes that were at the exit across the A24 south of Beare Green. Currently, strangers cannot readily know there is a turning there.
   8b   Consider how to improve over-hanging branches on paths - should there be a working party? Or, consider working with the Green Gym concept to get organised activity to remove overhanging growth - volunteer groups who "work out" whilst cutting back vegetation, etc.
   8c   Campaign for a cycle track from Beare Green to Capel on the East side of the road.
   8d   Widen footpath along the side of the A24 (both ways), especially between S Holmwood and Beare Green - always overhung.
   8e   Consider trying to get safety fences and wider paths along the A24.
   8f   Short term push for lower speed limits on the A24 and their enforcement.
   8g   Long term campaign for A24 highway safety improvements, as designed earlier by SCC.
   8h   Improvements to highway and pavement infrastructure and layout in Old Horsham Road - pavement widening, tree-planting, creation of "choke-points", etc. This work to be incorporated with redesigned and landscaped 'village focal point' at junction with Merebank.

9] Lighting
   9a   Consider what to do about street and alley lighting - fact-finding survey?
   9b   Subway review and perhaps upgrade lighting, re-vamp murals, look at kink in access, explore further use of mirrors to see round corners.
   9c   Light dark corners? Can solar energy be used to create soft light in alleys at no continual electric expense?

10] Parking
   10a   Put in restrictions to stop lorries and coaches parking where unsafe.
   10b   Find alternative exit/entrance to Merebank, to ease parking problems and so that not all village traffic has to go down it. Considered a link from Springwell Road back into service road that ends at the subway?

11] Towards an Autonomous Beare Green and Improved Community Identity
   11a   Explore the possibilities of seceding from Capel Parish Council:
            -   what are the options?
            -   what needs to be done to achieve them?
   11b   'Re-branding' of the settlement south of Holmwood Station:
            -   would it benefit from a change of name?
            -   would it benefit from a stronger association with its environment?
   Conversely:
   11c   Would it be more practical merely to change the name of the railway station?
            -   what needs to be done to achieve this?

This debate will need careful management.

The Wider Environment

12] Recycling
   12a   Provide a community skip to ensure that abandoned items are controlled.
   12b   Put another 'bring site' in the centre of the village.

13] Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
   13a   Bring back nature into Beare Green by skilful management of public and quasi-public open spaces and "waste" areas of land.
   13b   Create vistas where scrub is overgrown.
   13c   Encourage and develop the Beare Green bluebells.
   13d   Encourage and develop the Beare Green bat population by the community construction and strategic placement of bat boxes.
   13e   Encourage, develop and publicise the Beare Green buzzard population.
   13f   Develop and publicise the Beare Green 'necklace' of nature walks and rambles.
   13g   Invite local hound packs to meet in Beare Green.
   13h   Develop a "Secret Gardens of Beare Green" day - an opportunity to display the many attractive gardens not seen by passers-by and the wider public. A single community linked charity could benefit from entry donations, with a different beneficiary each year.
   13i   Develop the Beare Green contribution to, and benefits from, the economic possibilities generated by the AONB [see footnote [5] above].

All of these Surrey Hills AONB projects could involve any and every age group - doubtless there is link with the National Curriculum and the work is ideal for the active [and not so active] retired.

7) INTO THE FUTURE

It is essential that this Plan is not considered to be an end in itself. It is a living document that aims to express the continuing hopes and aspirations of our community.

As such, it not only sets out the expectations of what Beare Green requires from the tiers of local government and other agencies that affect the quality of life in our settlement, but also many practical ideas that might serve to enrich the life of the community and assist it to flourish. Additionally, it floats some deliberately provocative suggestions that are designed to encourage the resident population to consider how their settlement reflects its immediate environment and the ways it may play a more integrated role within it.

Accordingly, as times change, there will be a need to revisit this Plan and to make suitable adjustments that will reflect our further collective experiences and accommodate future needs.

That said, it is our expectation that that this Plan will be:

  • Formally adopted by the Capel Parish Council and Mole Valley District Council.
  • Used and taken into account by Capel Parish Council, Mole Valley District Council, Surrey County Council and other local or central Government bodies when making decisions that affect Beare Green and the quality of life enjoyed by its residents.

As stated at the outset, this Plan is firmly based on three complementary principles:

  • To maintain and augment the environmental and other advantages that Beare Green enjoys.
  • To mitigate or, wherever possible, improve upon the consequent difficulties created in Beare Green by economic necessities and other pressures of the 21st century.
  • In so doing, to create and foster a sense of both place and community for the residents of Beare Green.

If this philosophy is borne in mind by all those concerned with policy-making and service delivery that affects our community, no matter where they may be found or for whom they work, then Beare Green as a settlement will continue to prosper and grow.

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