The Witley Parish Plan
The Witley Parish Plan was adopted on 28th September 2006. A Summary was delivered to all households in November, but is also available to download here. If by any chance you did not receive a copy and prefer a printed version please contact the Parish Office and we will post one to you. Print copies of the full Plan are available for sale for £5 from the Council Office or it can be downloaded free here.
The recommendations in the Parish Plan have been remitted to the various committees and working parties of the Council as appropriate and the implementation group are working through those that don't fit naturally anywhere else as well as having a coordinating role.
SOME PROGRESS TO REPORT
A Named Councillor for the hamlets
One interesting observation we have already discussed and are now addressing is that some of the areas around our Parish felt that they were not being fully represented by the Parish Council. Our Councillors are officially split into three Wards, Milford, Witley East and Witley West, and although we all cover the entire Parish, no mention is made of the hamlets such as Enton, Wormley, Sandhills, Mousehill or Brook. We have therefore decided that each area of our Parish will have a "Named Councillor" who may be contacted by residents regarding their local issues to be brought forward to full council. We will be publishing this list shortly
New residents to receive information about the local area
New residents in Witley and Milford will receive the Parish Directory, the latest newsletter and the Parish Plan Summary as part of their Go Godalming Welcome Pack. This was one of the suggestions in the Parish Plan. The packs are delivered by John Sandy and Elisabeth Cable and we appreciate them adding these to their load!
The Council has been in close touch with Surrey Highways Department on a number of issues, two of them being the danger spots identified as top of the list in the Parish Plan-the junctions of the A286 Haslemere Road with Gasden Lane and Roke Lane. You will have noticed some changes-anti skid surfacing and some sightlines have been improved. Soon there will be consultation about changes in the speed limit.
We have also been working with the Surrey Hills Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) in placing bollards on some grass verges around the parish where people were parking cars illegally.
About the Plan
The Plan expresses the views of the people of Brook, Enton, Milford, Sandhills, Witley and Wormley on a range of key issues. Other towns, villages and parishes are drawing up similar plans. Our neighbours in Hambledon have already done theirs.
The Parish Plan for Witley was prepared in the autumn of 2006 and the winter 0f 2007, following the distribution of a questionnaire to the whole Parish in June and July, seeking views on all of the important issues that have been raised through consultation over the last year.
The Parish Plan process is vital to enable the Parish to have a voice at all levels of local government; it is the only opportunity available to allow every parishioner to have their say. The results of the questionnaire will be analysed and will inform the Witley Parish Plan.
Now the Plan is completed and adopted, the Parish Council will take the recommendations forward. On bigger issues, the Plan will act as an well-founded statement of local opinion, to be taken seriously by the appropriate authorities (Waverley Borough Council, Surrey County Council etc).
Facts and Figures
This is very much a potted version as a background to the preparation of the Parish Plan.
10,000BC ( Last Ice Age) - 1100 AD
The population grew from probably just a few nomadic people passing through to some 200 by the Norman Conquest.
The area we now know as the Witley Parish has had an exciting and varied history. Located on sandstone beds at one time, many millions of years ago, it found itself as treeless tundra on the northern edge of the inland lake which occupied the Weald and later disappeared leaving the Wealden clay that runs south of Wormley. The last Ice Age finished only some 13000 years ago, having stopped its southward advance in the Thames Valley but the ground in our area was frozen solid with rivers running over the surface. By 10,000 years ago temperatures had become some 3 degrees higher than we experience now and as a result the land became densely forested with oak on the Weald and mixed forests on our sandy soil. With the melting of the ice cap the land and sea levels rose and the land bridge to Europe was submerged thus separating us from the continent. There was a considerable wildlife population including woolly mammoths but only the barest sprinkling of humans.
The settlements were very small but there were tracks which were used for trade and in recent years it has been increasingly recognised that Stone Age life was not as primitive as was once thought. The Romans had a substantial presence as evidenced in the extensive sites at Fishbourne and Bignor and there was a Roman villa at Chiddingfold with a road to it but they seem to have passed us by. After the Romans withdrew the area was subject to raids and not having much worth pillaging may well have led to a quieter life.
The forests and clay provided an obstacle to travel and even up to the 19th century roads across the Weald were impassable for heavily loaded carts in the winter. Though our first church dates back to 680AD the population is recorded in the Domesday Book as only 200.
The population grew from 200 to 1500.
The estate of Witley was passed to a Frenchman after the Norman Conquest and Waverley Abbey was set up with French money in 1128 but life in our area doubtless proceeded rather quietly.
Witley was the earliest named hamlet but Milford was referred to (as Muleford) in 1235, Brook and Wormley were referred to in the 16th century as was Sandhills on a 1729 map. However, though there had been modest dwellings in the area for a long time, they were built of timber and earth and did not survive the ravages of time. Thus the earliest dwellings we see tend to be the Tudor cottages in the villages and scattered in the countryside because these were strong enough to survive which stand as a testament to their time and what went before. There are some older larger more robust buildings built of brick or stone such as Moushill, Rake Manor, and Waverley Abbey. The forests were hunted in as evidenced by the Tudor hunting lodge which is now part of the White Hart. It was an agricultural area with pigs and sheep (for wool). Power, other than by man or horse, was mainly provided by watermills such as at Rake, Enton and Eashing and that continued from the 14th century right to the end of the 19th century.
By present standards a relatively sparse population was kept down by the varied hazards of the times such as the Black Death. Even by 1801 the population was only 1000, a five fold increase over 700 years (comparable to that occurring over the last 150 years). Existence reflected the ups and downs that affected the nation as a whole and there were frequent periods of adversity often close on periods of national triumph. Thus after the winning of the Napoleonic wars, there followed a period of recession in agriculture.
Transport was limited to horse drawn which in the latter times had the advantage of the turnpikes ( Milford-Witley-Wormley Hill-Petworth opened in 1750) and the waterborne traffic on the Wey which was navigable to Godalming taking wool and bringing in coal from whence it would be moved by cart. Charcoal was the main local fuel including that for the local iron industry which drew its iron ore from mine pits including those at Brook, Sandhills, Wormley and Witley. Building materials were produced locally including sand and Bargate stone quarries, local brickworks, local ironworks and growing timber.
The population grew from 2800 to 6100
More major houses such as Witley Park and Bannacle Edge were built, particularly before the Great War and they had much admired gardens. The Great War brought a major shift as employment in agriculture reduced and estates were more likely to be in rather stretched circumstances and therefore offered less employment. Conversely more forms of employment developed in Godalming and Guildford as a result of the Wey and the railway.
Between the Wars there was something of a fashion to come and live in cottages in the country and this resulted in a modest flow of new residents, some of whom would work in London. Car ownership and use was increasing rapidly. After a pause during and immediately after the War, commuting increased significantly and car use has grown unremittingly.
In both Wars the Parish played a surprisingly substantial role. There were large army camps on Witley Common in both Wars and in the 2nd World War King Edwards School was taken over by the Admiralty for research into radar.
Many larger houses were taken over by the military or occupied by offices that had moved out of London, whilst the staff and some servicemen lodged in smaller houses and cottages. The additional buildings erected for the Admiralty became the Institute of Oceanography for some 50 years and many of those located in our Parish for the War stayed on afterwards.
The population grew from 6100 to 7300
After the War and nearly a decade of austerity the economy was recovering and a more positive trend of renewal and modernisation emerged. New schools were built at Rodborough, Chandler and Milford Junior. There was more house-building and a resulting increase in population though in more recent years the tight restrictions on house-building and the reduced size of households has meant that the population has levelled off.
The individual villages have grown at different rates. Milford has accommodated more building and now accounts for 50% of the Parish population and has retained or attracted over 20 shops.
Subdivision of the larger houses into wings or conversion to nursing homes was common place in the 1960s and 70s but now there is market for large houses as single homes.
The growth in car ownership and the improvement to the road system, most particularly the A3 and M25 has greatly increased accessibility to a much wider range of employment and other activities. Towns like Woking and Guildford attracted offices decentralising from Central London and the relatively attractive rail service and rural home location has led to an increase in rail commuting.
The market gardens have had severe foreign competition but Secretts have used some of their land to open a garden centre, pick your own farm and a small shopping complex which is a good example of adjusting to changing markets.
Shops have been subject to considerable market changeswith pressure on and a reduction in the number of small village shops. However, new style shops such as convenience stores opening early to late seem to have found viable niches and shops that might previously have been in the town centre relocate into more rural locations to reduce overheads and serve a wider spread car using clientele. Milford has survived as the only small shopping centre reflecting its larger population and its accessibility. Witley has 6 or so shops and Wormley has its Post office, whilst Brook, Sandhills and Enton now have none.
The steady increase in car use has lead to concerns about the environment and safety and programmes for traffic calming are being developed and introduced.
Somehow the Parish has managed to attract notable residents and to find itself involved in all sorts of major developments over the centuries. It seems to have preserved a common sense approach taking advantage of opportunities and minimising the impact of adversity.
For residents as a whole it is a relatively prosperous and successful time. The growth in consumption causes its own problems such as excessive traffic, litter and some of the side effects of rapidly introduced new technologies.
The 1960s and 1970s were a period when functions were being centralised and more and more responsibility was being taken by central and local government. However, the increasing relative costs of some types of maintenance and service provision have meant that they are being curtailed and in some cases are even increasingly being undertaken on a voluntary basis. Examples include extension of main drainage which is now ruled out in some areas on the grounds of capital cost, maintenance of ditches and verges, maintenance of council houses, transport for the elderly, care of open spaces.
The national concern that there are widening gaps between the haves and have-nots in society is reflected at the parish level. Some easily identified groups for whom matters seem to be getting worse are those without a car and dependent on declining public transport , those with only modest means who are seeking a home in the rapidly escalating housing market and the young with very limited local activities to join in and limited transport available
These are amongst the matters being addressed in the Parish Plan.