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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 11/10/2005
Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) -
Memorandum of Agreement



Summary & Purpose
To seek the Council’s continuing support for the Surrey Hills local authority partnership and the work of the Surrey Hills AONB Unit.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
Positive
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX P
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE - 11TH OCTOBER 2005

REFERENCE FROM ENVIRONMENT AND LEISURE
OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
_________________________________________________________________________
Title:
Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) -
Memorandum of Agreement

[Wards Affected: Bramley, Busbridge and Hascombe, Witley and Hambledon, Chiddingfold and Dunsfold, Shamley Green and Cranleigh North, Elstead and Thursley, Peperharrow, Ewhurst, Frensham, Dockenfield and Tilford, Blackheath and Wonersh, Haslemere, Critchmere and Shottermill, Hindhead, Haslemere East and Grayswood ]
_________________________________________________________________________
Summary and purpose:

To seek the Council’s continuing support for the Surrey Hills local authority partnership and the work of the Surrey Hills AONB Unit.
_________________________________________________________________________
Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
Positive
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive

The purpose of the Surrey Hills designation is to protect, conserve and enhance the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, encourage quiet enjoyment of the landscape for all and ensure development is sustainable and appropriate to the area’s character.

E-Government implications
There are no e-government implications arising from the report. Surrey Hills AONB promotes its activities through a dedicated web site www.surreyhills.org. Which can also be accessed via the Council’s website.

Resource and legal implications
Waverley is being asked to renew its commitment to the Surrey Hills partnership by signing an updated Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that is essentially the same as the Council signed in 2002. The Legal Section have advised that the MOA is a legal agreement that confirms the Council’s intention to make financial contributions to the core funding of the AONB Unit and to maintain the level of contribution in line with inflation in future years.


There is provision for a partner to terminate the Agreement with three months notice, which would lead to a review of the viability of the continuation of the partnership. Waverley is the only one of the six councils within the partnership who has not yet signed up to the new agreement or met its financial contributions in full. To date, the Council’s funding contributions under the MOA has been determined and allocated through the Sponsorship Organisation Scheme (SOS), which has not always approved the inflationary increases requested.
_________________________________________________________________________
Background

1. The Surrey Hills was designated an Area of Outstanding Beauty in 1958. This is of particular significance to the Borough as around 60% of Waverley is designated AONB and half of the total area of the Surrey Hills AONB is within Waverley. To assist in the co-ordinated management of this nationally important landscape (equivalent to National Park status) a local authority partnership `The Surrey Hills AONB Joint Advisory Committee` (JAC) was set up in 1998. Waverley Borough Council is represented on the JAC by Councillors Byron Grainger-Jones and John Sandy. 2. A Surrey Hills AONB Unit, of four staff, delivers the work of the Surrey Hills JAC, which includes:- Preparation of a Surrey Hills AONB Management Plan, monitoring and reviewing its progress. This has become a statutory duty for local authorities under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
Promoting the importance of the AONB widely, providing landscape and planning advice to help ensure it is protected, conserved and enhanced.
Promoting sustainable development and public enjoyment
Involving communities in the management of the AONB 3. Recent projects include: Quiet Lanes and highway enhancement, Explorer Bus and rail promotion, Surrey Hills Sustainable Tourism Initiative, Surrey Hills local produce branding and Surrey Hills boundary markers, A3 Hindhead Area economic potential project, Inspiring Views and Building Design Guidance. A summary of the current and future work of the Surrey Hills AONB Unit is at Annexe 1. 4. The work of the Surrey Hills Unit is covered by a MOA between the Countryside Agency, the six constituent local authorities within the AONB and The National Trust. The MOA includes a commitment to funding the Unit’s core costs. The Countryside Agency provides 75% of the funding and the remainder comes from the constituent local authorities based on a funding formula. Waverley’s contribution is 3% of the total core costs.

5. Following Executive approval on 12 June 2001 Waverley signed the original MOA. The financial contributions have been allocated through the Sponsored Organisations Scheme, however Waverley’s contributions have in recent years not included the inflationary rise agreed through the MOA. In 2005/06 Waverley contributed 5,423.


6. The Countryside Agency’s grant aid is dependent on the MOA being reviewed at three-year intervals. Waverley has now been asked by the Countryside Agency to renew its commitment by signing a new MOA effective from 13th April 2005 for six years with a review in 2008.

Conclusion

7. The Surrey Hills Unit carries out important strategic work, which delivers key parts of Waverley’s local plan and the Council’s AONB statutory management responsibilities. It levers in additional funding which benefits the Borough, through the substantial funding per annum from the Countryside Agency (138,000) and other project funding (80,000). If Waverley does not renew its commitment to this local authority partnership the grant funding from the Countryside Agency would be put at risk and the other local authorities are also likely to reduce or withdraw their funding. This would then require Waverley to pick up some elements of the Unit’s work itself resulting in additional financial and staff resource implications. Waverley’s annual contribution of only 3% of the costs (around 5,700 in 2006/07) represents excellent value for money bearing in mind 50% of the AONB is within Waverley. It would cost Waverley considerably more than this, to fulfil its statutory duty, without the work of the Surrey Hills AONB Unit. 8. The report was discussed by the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 13th September. The Committee agreed to support the proposals to make an ‘in principle’ commitment to sign the new memorandum of Agreement. The Committee had some concerns about funding and was reassured that financial implications would be considered a part of the Sponsored Organisation Scheme.
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Background Papers (DoE&L)

Memorandum of Agreement from 13th April 2005
________________________________________________________________________

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Jane Bowden Telephone: 01483 523443

E-mail: jbowden@waverley.gov.uk

ANNEXE 1
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

ENVIRONMENT OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 13TH SEPTEMBER 2005
_________________________________________________________________________
WORK UNDERTAKEN BY THE SURREY HILLS AONB UNIT


The Surrey Hills AONB Unit delivers the work of the Surrey Hills Joint Advisory Committee (a local authority partnership). This covers a wide range of work including policy, promotion, influencing, advising, community and project development and ensuring delivery of the Surrey Hills Management Plan across the AONB.

The Unit has delivered the following work under these main themes that has benefited Waverley and its residents:-

Building Support – coordinating action by all organisations, agencies and individuals to protect and enhance the natural beauty of the AONB. Prepared and launched the statutory AONB Management Plan; commented on major issues such as traffic management, key development proposals, support for Areas of Great Landscape Value; prepared and agreed a statement of intent with SE regional partners (SEEDA, SEERA GOSE, Defra, CA).

Keeping the Surrey Hills Special – ensuring protection and enhancement of the natural beauty of the landscape. Delivered the Inspiring Views project, which secured 45,000 funding to support the Hurtwood Control Committee in restoring Holmbury Hill Fort. Supported the RSPB heathland restoration project at Farnham Heath.

Protecting the Landscape – influencing and controlling the impact of traffic and development in the AONB. Supported the A3 Hindhead proposals at the public inquiry and explored the potential for economic benefits from leisure and tourism opportunities in Hindhead from the new road scheme. Published research work on `Traffic Management for Rural Lanes in the Surrey Hills`. Developed Quiet Roads schemes which aim to make rural roads more suitable for all users not just cars and worked with communities in Elstead, Thursley, Blackheath and Hambledon to develop sensitive traffic management schemes. Provides planning advice and published guidance on appropriate building design in the AONB

Becoming more Sustainable – promoting the AONB for rural tourism so enhancing people’s enjoyment of the area and sustaining a healthy rural economy that supports traditional land management. Established a Surrey Hills Quality Brand for local produce Developed Rail to Ramble promotion and Surrey Hills Explorer Bus. Tourism promotion through working with local businesses, attractions and accommodation. Developing cycling routes.

Enjoying the Surrey Hills – raising awareness of the special qualities of the AONB to enhance people’s understanding and enjoyment. Developing the Surrey Hills website; Promoted walks around Frensham, Tilford & Churt linked with local pubs and shops. Surrey Hills boundary markers and Jigsaw Project working with local communities to understand and conserve local distinctiveness.


Future work will be based on delivering the Surrey Hills statutory Management Plan 2004-2009 which covers policies and action for delivering the following visions:

Land Use Planning – New development that enhances the local character and has minimal impact on the environmental quality of the area.

Traffic and Transport – Transport measures tot reinforce the rural character of the area and provide safe and convenient access for people who live in, work in or visit the Surrey Hills.

Community Development and the Local Economy – Ensuring the Surrey Hills is an attractive and affordable place to live, work and enjoy for all members of the local community.

Recreation and Tourism – Helping local people and visitors enjoy the Surrey Hills in a way that contributes to the economy with minimal impact on local communities and the quality of the environment.

Historic and Cultural Heritage – Recording, protecting, managing and celebrating the historic and cultural heritage that defines the distinctive sense of place of the Surrey Hills.

Nature Conservation – Enhancing the biodiversity of the Surrey Hills through the management and extension of designated sites and other important habitats in the wider landscape.

Woodland – Ensuring woodlands are managed and linked in ways that protect and enhance the landscape, ecological, archaeological and recreational value.

Farming – Ensuring farming is a viable enterprise that plays a positive role in maintaining the character of the Surrey Hills.


Further details are available in the following documents which can be viewed through the web site www.surreyhills.org :-
Surrey Hills Management Plan 2004-2009
Surrey Hills Partnership Annual Review 2003-2004




Comm/Executive/2005-06/115