Could you “maximise the opportunities presented by the Urnfield”?

If so, then you might consider applying for the soon-to-be vacant post of Director of Sport for Tormead. In that short phrase in the person specification, the developer sums up succinctly its approach to the site.

One must assume that “maximising the opportunities” means those accruing to Tormead’s pupils, not those at County School. And I am guessing it doesn’t mean maximising the opportunities for the local community to enjoy unspoilt dark skies, or the opportunities for bats, badgers, dormice and owls to live, forage and breed in the adjacent woodland.

In case you’re still interested in applying, the good news is that the Urnfield is described as being “within walking distance” of the school, so perhaps that traffic management plan is about to be re-written on the basis that journeys will be made on foot and not by bus. Perhaps we don’t need those coach parking spaces after all?? And all of this is “under development” and due to be “fully operational” by November this year.

They’re going to need to get their skates on then, as Tormead still needs to produce a respectable ecological plan, landscaping plan, drainage plan (version 5) and construction plan, because what has appeared so far is a long way from being fit for purpose, as acknowledged by GBC’s ecological advisers, Surrey Wildlife Trust. Not to mention the fact that the lighting design approved by the Inspector cannot meet her requirement for minimal light pollution.

I wonder how much of this dog’s breakfast of a project has been explained to prospective candidates for Director of Sport.

Meanwhile, we are reviewing the implications of yet another proposal that has slipped into the landscaping plans. This would replace the whole northern boundary fence within the woodland. The current fence is old and decrepit in places, and right along the boundary mature trees have grown in and through the chainlink, making it almost impossible to replace the fence without damaging the trees along its entire length. New fence posts will damage the roots and new chainlink to a height of 1.8m would require significant pruning and branch removal. This would thin out the screening provided by the woodland, as well as damaging yet more of the natural environment that contributes to what makes Merrow Downs special.

There’s been talk on Twitter and Radio 4 this week about the proliferation of cowslips this year. The fabulous writer and academic, Robert Macfarlane, asked why there seem to be so many (something to do with frost), so I thought I would check them out on Merrow Downs and he was right – there are loads!


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