HOPES RAISED FOR BREAKTHROUGH IN TICE'S MEADOW STALEMATE
Following a meeting in MP Jeremy Hunt's parliamentary office, the CEO of Hanson UK, owners of Tice's Meadow in Farnham, has agreed to extend the timing for the decision on the preferred bid for the land they recently put up for sale.
Jeremy organised the meeting following concerns raised by local residents and user groups that a purely commercial sale of the land could put its future as an award-winning community nature reserve at risk. At the meeting the owners acknowledged locals’ appeals to sell it to a suitable buyer who would continue to offer unrestricted public access. Both Waverley Borough and Farnham Town Councils, who have been working closely together to try to secure the site for the community since the sale was announced, are now waiting on the feedback promised by Hanson UK at the meeting in order to progress with detailed proposals.
Jeremy said: "Green space is so important for Farnham, which is why there has been real concern in Badshot Lea and Farnham about the future of the Meadow. We had a very open meeting with the owners and the local councils and I think there is a way to resolve this but the next three weeks will be critical. Everyone has said they will work closely together but we need to make sure good intentions are translated into a result."
John Neale, Leader of Farnham Town Council said: ‘"ice’s Meadow has enjoyed a long history in the neighbourhood as the centre of a local hop growing industry in the 20th century. Whilst Hansons have been quarrying over the last 20 years, local people have been transforming the hinterland into a nature reserve and public amenity area. The effort put in and the benefits already received have been enormous and we have to thank Hansons for supporting this work. This area is now so important to Farnham, and particularly to the people of Badshot Lea, that the two councils want to ensure that it remains open to the public. Farnham Town Council is fully prepared to further enhance and maintain the area, whilst making sure that it is not exploited or neglected as might happen with a commercial owner. Together with Jeremy we are now asking Hansons to honour the local community by transferring the land to public ownership. We believe this will be a fitting end to 20 years of collaboration between the community and the company, and a well-deserved legacy for Hansons UK."
Mark Merryweather, Weybourne & Badshot Lea Councillor said: "Hanson UK, working in partnership with dedicated local volunteers, have successfully delivered a restoration of the site into one of the best inland nature reserves in the south-east, home to many rare and threatened species. We completely understand that Hanson UK don’t want to be responsible for it indefinitely, and the community is absolutely ready, willing and able to take it on if another suitable buyer isn’t found. This should be about more than just money, and with Hanson UK’s goodwill I’m sure there's an outcome that’s just as good if not better for them too."
Note: the change.org petition to ‘Save Tice's Meadow Nature Reserve’ has reached over 3,300 signatures, and counting, in less than two weeks!