Hambledon residents and others living nearby will have seen that the owner of the field beside Station Road and Hambledon Road, at the Hydestile Crossroads, has employed contractors to remove vegetation on the roadside banks.
This has resulted in a considerable change to the landscape, as did the earlier removal of trees. The preservation of hedgerows is important as they are a vital habitat for wildlife. However, Waverley Borough Council stated today that the work has been carried out lawfully and the landowner intends to replant.
Hambledon Parish Council received no advance formal notification of these works, either from Waverley, the local planning authority, or from the landowner. Consequently, the council has neither given, or been asked to give, any approval to the clearance, nor has it given any assurances of future approval, if required.
Informally, however, the owner, whose family used to operate a market garden from this and other nearby fields, has told nearby residents that he will replant native hedging and that he has removed scrub, dying or dead elms and ash with dieback, leaving behind hazel, blackthorn, and other hedging species to regenerate. His intention, he says, is to restore the field to its original boundaries and return it to agricultural use.
Today, in a reply to Ward councillor Jane Austin, Ian Brewster, Waverley’s tree and landscape officer, said he had spoken with the landowner following concerns expressed. He said: “We are now aware of the landowner’s intention to establish a hedge of least 5m width to encompass the whole site boundary. He is enquiring whether local volunteers would be willing to help plant the new hedgerow”.
“I have checked against the hedgerow criteria and have found the recent vegetation clearance is not subject to requiring consent from the Council under the Hedgerow Regulations”.
Sarah Carroll, a planning enforcement officer with Waverley council, stated: “In light of the wider plans for the site, which will improve biodiversity and increase the length of native hedging, I believe it is unlikely that it will be considered expedient for us to take any action under the Hedgerow Regulations at this stage”.
Earlier this year the parish council sought guidance when self-seeded ash and birch trees were being removed, and it was told that the landowner had been given permission by the Forestry Commission.
The parish council has invited the landowner, Andrew Farquhar, to attend its next meeting in December and he has said he is keen to do so, to outline his intentions to replant, to provide a new right-of-way and to involve the local community in the scheme.
Many will not know that this field, together with others nearby, was until the 1980s, an active market garden business, with access roads and hardstanding, tractor and packing sheds, employing eight full-time workers and seasonal staff for the growing of salad crops and vegetables. These would be taken away by lorries each day to Guildford and Covent Garden markets.
There were no trees on the fields, just rows of crops on what was excellent fertile soil for food production. The banks were maintained. Today, the only evidence of this is the skeletons of five Robinson glasshouses in one corner. These were mounted on tracks and could be pulled by tractor into three different positions to catch available sunlight.
The current owner of the field, Andrew Farquhar, is the son of the family that last operated the market garden. He grew up at the adjacent Hydon Farm and when his family sold up, they retained the field at the crossroads.
For many years, this was neglected; self-seeded trees grew up in and around the glasshouses and the banks fell into disrepair. Recently dead elms have fallen into Station Lane.
Mr Farquhar has informed nearby residents that he has now taken responsibility for the field and is restoring its original boundaries. His intention, he says, is to replant native hedging along the banks and introduce some selective tree planting. The field is to be ploughed and seeded, initially with a silage crop, and he may introduce some livestock.
He is considering erecting some agricultural buildings where the glasshouses are, close to an access gate on to Station Lane. These would require planning approval from Waverley. An application for a hay barn earlier this year was rejected. He has also stated that he would like to involve the local community in a replanting scheme next year. He has also said he is prepared to create a footpath inside his field from the bus shelter at the crossroads across to Tuesley Farm. Currently pedestrians have to walk along the narrow and unpathed road.
Hambledon Parish Council has received no formal evidence in support of his intentions but will listen to his proposals when he attends the meeting.
- The village website is grateful to Hambledon Parish Magazine which carried an article in April last year written by Roger Head, whose family operated the market garden at Hydestile prior to the Farquhar family taking it over. Some of the background in this news item, together with historic photographs, is taken from the article. Our thanks to Roger for a fascinating piece of village history.
- To read a full account of the market garden please follow this link to the magazine article, which begins on page 24 – http://www.hambledonsurrey.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/April22.pdf