Surrey Hills Annual Review 2016
The Surrey Hills Annual Review looks back over the past year on the achievements of the Surrey Hills family, whose purpose is to encourage coordinated action by all organisations, agencies and individuals to protect and enhance the natural beauty of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Chairman presents....
A Surrey Hills Year 2016

Councillor David Wright O.B.E, Chairman of the Surrey Hills AONB Board sums up the Surrey Hills year in a short video presentation.

Find out about the work of the Surrey Hills family in 2016.

Click here to view the video

Protected Landscapes Working Together

National Conference & implications post Brexit

The annual National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) Landscapes for Life Conference took place in Shropshire in June with the theme being health and well-being. There was a sharing of ideas between speakers and delegates, learning from current practice and projects to benefit our nation's health by making better use of the UK's natural beauty. Particular emphasis was on the arts and mental health, which the Surrey Hills AONB Board plans to develop through the Surrey Hills Arts programme.

The Chairmen of AONBs and National Parks met in November to discuss the implications of Brexit for protected landscapes, particularly the future of food and farming.

Click here to find out more about Landscapes for Life.


Responded to 250 planning applications

Clive Smith (pictured) has continued to provide a high level of planning advice on policy and development proposals in 2016. His annual Planning Report sets out the national and emerging local planning policy context affecting the Surrey Hills AONB and the main risks of future development on the AONB.  It also covers the latest Local Plan positions of constituent Surrey Hills planning authorities and advice to local authority consultations on planning applications.

Click here to read Clive's planning report

Undergrounding Power Lines

Restoring Thursley National Nature Reserve

The restoration of Thursley National Nature Reserve (NNR’s) historic lowland heathland landscape was celebrated in September. The infrastructure project involving Natural England, the Surrey Hills Board and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks has seen over 3km of overhead cables and 11 pylons removed from Thursley NNR and replaced by new underground circuits. A Dragonfly Nature Trail and eye-catching sculpture have also been installed.

The project has led to the restoration and enhancement of Surrey’s rare historic heathland landscape, acid mire and the incredible wildlife that it supports.

Click here to find out more

North Downs Escarpment

Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund

A Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund has been secured to work with land owners on the escarpment of the North Downs between Guildford and Dorking. The scheme provides 100% funding for farmer led initiatives covering a target area of over 2000 hectares. The project will develop a vision for the area, target funds for environmental enhancement works and work with conservation bodies to monitor habitat condition. The fund will cover the costs of the Facilitator, Shaun Page, research and training. On the back of the North Downs project, the AONB Board will be working with Butterfly Conservation to create and extend habitats for the Small Blue butterfly.

Byways Working Group

Close working with Surrey Police

The group changed it's name from Off Road to Byways Working Group this year to reflect the wider remit. Fly-tipping continues to be a problem throughout the Surrey Hills particularly with charges being introduced for some non-household waste from September. Members of the group are currently monitoring the number of fly-tips to see if these charges lead to an increase in fly-tipping.

The group continue to work closely with Surrey Police who confirmed funding to replace the two off road motorcycles that play an important role in providing a deterrent, mobility for police officers and a means of communicating with the public on Surrey Hills Byways. The group in partnership with the Trail Riders Fellowship will replace the “Byway Open to All Traffic” signs in 2017.

Mountain Bike Working Group

Working with National cycling charity

The Summer Lightning trail has greatly helped to reduce conflict with other recreational users on Leith Hill.  In Early in 2016 the group through B1KE teamed up with industry giant Specialized to help maintain the mountain bike trails on Leith Hill. This partnership will see designated trails maintained for the long-term by a team of experts and volunteers.

There has been extensive work on mapping mountain bike trails.  Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, has identified a 200km network of traffic free trails linking towns and villages. It is proposed to bid to the London Marathon Charitable Trust in 2017 for its development, following consultation with walkers and horse riders through the Surrey Countryside Access Forum.

Quiet Lanes and De-Cluttering Working Group

Monitoring HGVs & road sign audit

The Group continues to promote measures that reinforce the rural character of our countryside lanes and villages. Parish councils have also been carrying out an audit of road signs in their parish.  This has identified a number of signs that can be removed and where finger posts need to be replaced.  A priority in 2017 will be to work with local landscape contractors to carry out the work.  

Having reviewed HGV movements in the Guildford, Dorking and Cranleigh areas, the group is developing a strategy to identify Quiet Lane zones and to route HGVs on the principal roads.  Although members of the Group were in favour of a HGV ban in certain Surrey Hills villages, it was acknowledged that a ban would be difficult to police.  

Click here to find out more about the working group.

Horse Riding Working Group

Equestrian trails in the Surrey Hills

Established to promote horse riding in the Surrey Hills, the priority in 2016 has been to identify hacking trails; improvements to bridleways in the Leith Hill area and raising awareness. Proposed equestrian trails have been identified by volunteers and digitised by Jon Rogers of Hurtwood Trails and Kieran Foster of Cycling UK. Barry Wildish, Surrey County Council Rights of Way Volunteer Coordinator is organising a training session which will equip volunteers to clear overhanging branches and brambles from bridleways.

In 2017, the Surrey Hills website will develop a section on horses and riding in the Surrey Hills including raising awareness of safety issues.

Click here to find out more about the working group.

Tillingbourne Tales Heritage Lottery Project

Puppets & Pageant

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) project to reveal the industrial heritage of the Tillingbourne Valley has had a productive year. Project co-ordinator Dr Anne Sassin has worked with local communities along the Tillingbourne to bring the history to life. A celebratory event took place in Shere in October which included displays, demonstrations, story telling and a pageant. Seven puppet characters, representing industries associated with different villages along the Tillingbourne have been created. The Yvonne Arnaud created theatre workshops for schools and is keen to continue these beyond the life of the project. The Surrey Hills Society has been a fantastic champion for the project and its volunteers have identified walking trails ranging in length from 4 kms to 5 kms with leaflets.

The new Tillingbourne Gallery in Shere Museum will house the puppets and provide a permanent display for the project.  This will be opened in Spring 2017.

North Downs Way National Trail

First National Trail on Google Street View

The spring of 2016 saw the North Downs Way National Trail as the first National Trail in the UK to be fully visible on Google Street View, providing a 360° panoramic experience of the trail. Launched at the start of the trail in Farnham by then Mayor of Waverley, Mike Band along with a new sign commissioned to mark the start of the Trail.

Priorities for North Downs Way Manager Peter Morris include upgrading the Trail with significant Surrey improvements including recently confirmed funding for re-surfacing works at St Martha's.  There is also continuing work on a European Pilgrimage project which would involve developing St Swithun’s Way to link the South Downs Way and North Downs Way National Trails between Winchester and Farnham

Surrey Hills Enterprises

A full events programme

Surrey Hills Enterprises brought CowParade to Surrey this year. The World's largest public art event saw 64 full-size fibreglass cows decorate Surrey's towns, villages and countryside. The project engaged the public, arts community, schools, charities and businesses and raised funds for the Surrey Hills Trust Fund. Surrey's largest temporary Sculpture exhibition organised by Surrey Hills Enterprises took place at the Birtley Estate in May and the first Surrey Hills Food Festival took place at Coverwood Farm in September attracting over 2500 visitors. The annual Surrey Hills Wood Fair had another record year attracting over 5000 visitors and The National Wood Fuel Conference at Sandown Park Racecourse focused on woodland’s growing role in the rural economy.

Surrey Hills Enterprises continue to work effectively with the business community and will be introducing new membership tiers in 2017.

Surrey Hills Arts

Interpreting views through art, poetry & sound

2016 has seen the delivery of 'Inspiring Views', a collaborative arts project between the Surrey Hills, Surrey County Council & Surrey Arts. With funding through the Mittal Foundation, this project has worked with landowners to open up hidden views along the Greensand Way, improve access and commission artists to interpret the views through art, poetry and sound.

Five sculptors and designers were commissioned to create sculptural benches at Gibbet Hill, Reynards Hill, Holmbury Hill, Winterfold and Hascombe Hill. The project not only produced artworks but also poetry and sound pieces. There was also lots of community engagement including workshops for schools and artists.  Surrey Hills Arts have collaborated with iFootpath to create an Inspiring Views walk.   

Surrey Hills Arts has secured funding for Ali Clarke to continue as Programme Manager for the next 2 years.  This will include an exciting range of residencies and the continuation of Inspiring Views with a focus on the North Downs Way National Trail.

Surrey Hills Trust Fund

In partnership with the Community Foundation for Surrey

The Surrey Hills Trust Fund has benefited this year from some major Surrey events. In June a Son et Lumiere took place at Great Tangley Manor to commemorate 1000 years of the historic house, which raised £6000. Councillor Gordon Jackson, Mayor of Guildford nominated the Trust Fund as his Mayoral charity for 2016/2017 and undertook a sponsored walk, organised by the Surrey Hills Society. CowParade Surrey, and the Surrey Hills Challenge were high profile events that helped raise funds.

Grants have been awarded to the Leatherhead Youth Project to offer outdoor learning opportunities to a disadvantaged group of young people, the RSPB to help protect the Farnham Heath National Nature Reserve from fire damage and the Downlands Trust to carry out scrub clearance at Quarry Hangers a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Surrey Hills Challenge

Raising money for the Surrey Hills Trust Fund

The inaugural Surrey Hills Challenge charity event took place in September. Over 500 entrants participated in one of four walking and running challenges across the Surrey Hills AONB.

People of all ages and fitness joined the event which saw competitors and families walk or run The Ultra (60km), the Half (21km), the Ten (10km) or the Five (5km). The event raised awareness and funds for the Community Foundation for Surrey and the Surrey Hills Trust Fund.

Chairman of the Surrey Hills Trust Fund, Neil Maltby comments;The support received for this event was fantastic and a great opportunity for people taking part to not only learn more about The Surrey Hills Trust Fund but understand how they can help to safeguard this beautiful area for future generations.

Click here to register your interest for the 2017 event

Surrey Hills Society

Another busy year

The Surrey Hills Society continues in its main role of promoting and raising awareness of the AONB. The Society trailer is a regular feature at shows and events with Society volunteers. Vice Chairman, Ken Bare delivered 10 talks to various groups across the County, and membership of the Society is rising with around 1000 members.  Not only have the Society been busy with a varied events programme they have also helped to support the Gatton Trust by fundraising £1000 to enhance and reinstate more of the Capability Brown landscape. They have been the principal partner in delivering the Tillingbourne Tales HLF project and were instrumental in organising the Mayor of Guildford, Gordon Jackson's fundraising walk across the Surrey Hills which raised money for the Surrey Hills Trust Fund. A successful Chairman's Day took place in June and AGM in October.

Surrey Hills AONB Board Financial Summary

Reporting on the 2015/2016 budget

Members of the Surrey Hills AONB Board approved the out-turn report at its AGM in October. To view the financial summary click here.  The budget for the AONB unit does not reflect the tremendous efforts of the Surrey Hills family and partners in implementing the Management Plan, which is coordinated through the AONB Board and monitored through the Delivery Framework.
© Surrey Hills 2016.

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Surrey Hills AONB · Warren Farm Barns · Headley Lane, Mickleham · Dorking, Surrey RH5 6DG · United Kingdom

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