reblogged from Get Surrey 6.9.12
CONSERVATIONISTS are seeking proof that a path from Virginia Water to Chobham Common is being actively used.
It runs between the former Tank Factory land, now known as the DERA North site, and the railway line, passing Longcross Halt station on the way.
The Chobham Commons Preservation Committee fears the path could be closed as part of development plans for the 40-hectare DERA complex. It wants to contact walkers and horse riders who use the route or have done so in recent years.
Secretary Rob Searle said: “The developers, Crest Nicholson and Aviva Investors, say they intend to prevent people living in new housing on the site from having direct pedestrian access to the common.
“This would mean blocking off the path at the gate leading to Longcross station. Residents would be able to get to the station but not follow the track to the common.”
He claimed it was a ploy intended to deter dog owners from walking pets on the heathland – a national nature reserve and part of a European special protection area for rare birds.
A landscaped area with a network of paths had been included in the latest plans for the DERA site as an alternative exercise area. It was intended that the office blocks and 200 homes would be securely fenced from the common.
“Blocking the path from Virginia Water would take away a safe route to the common, as Chobham Lane has no pavement and suffers from fast cars and motorbikes,” said Mr Searle. “The path has been there for decades and we want it kept open.
“We are certain the section from Burma Road to the station is a public footpath but the other part is a permissive path.
“A sign at the gate at the Chobham Lane end says it is closed each Christmas Day, which we believe has not happened for many years.
“We want to show that people, including riders, still use the track or have used it recently. Proof of use will help us oppose any attempt to close the route and hopefully claim it as a public right-of-way.”
Email email@example.com or call Mr Searle on 01276 857914 if you have any information.