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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 07/12/2004
Surrenders of Lease and New Arrangements for Grazing the Lammas Lands, Godalming



Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to obtain authorisation for accepting the surrender of the lease of the Lammas Lands. It also outlines new arrangements for grazing.

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
Positive
Positive
Positive
N/A
N/A
Positive


APPENDIX CC

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 7TH DECEMBER 2004

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Title:
SURRENDER OF LEASE AND NEW ARRANGEMENTS
FOR GRAZING THE LAMMAS LANDS, GODALMING

[Ward Affected: Godalming Central and Ockford]
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Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

The annexe to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in Paragraph 9 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, viz:-

Any terms proposed or to be proposed by or to the authority in the course of negotiations for a contract for the acquisition or disposal of property or the supply of goods or services.

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Summary and Purpose

The purpose of this report is to obtain authorisation for accepting the surrender of the lease of the Lammas Lands. It also outlines new arrangements for grazing.

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Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

The Lammas Lands is a key countryside site on the doorstep of the Council Offices. It provides an important landscape setting for the town of Godalming, as well as being a popular local recreational area and significant for biodiversity.

E-Government implications:

There are no e-government implications.

Resource and legal implications:

The current lease arrangement for the site has proved to be unsatisfactory over a number of years. An opportunity has arisen for the Council to take back the direct management of the site. This will improve efficiency and ensure the Council can deliver all the management and grant scheme requirements for the site without the impediment of a third party.

The lease provides a rental income, which is subject to a three yearly review. It also gives the lessee the right to terminate the lease, having given 12 months notice. The lease contains terms requiring the lessee to maintain the land in “good heart”, the demands of which conflict with the requirements of conservation grazing. As such, grazing is less viable and so in order to comply with the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, it has been necessary, in recent years, for the Council to pass over the annual grant received to the grazier to cover the rent he pays to the Council’s lessee for a grazing licence. The financial return to the Council has therefore been neutral.

In terminating the lease, it is proposed that both parties bear their own costs. There will be some time implications for Waverley’s own legal representative in drafting the necessary documents and minimal Land Registry fees. The lessees will expect to be released from all liability arising out of the lessee’s covenants under the lease. However, your officers are not aware of any breach of covenant for which any action could be contemplated.

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Background

1. The Lammas Lands are important for their recreational, landscape, wildlife and historic value and are designated as an Area of Strategic Visual Importance. This makes their management more complex and problematical than that of a typical area of agricultural pasture.

2. The lessees have held the Lammas Lands since 1985, under a lease due to expire on 14th October 2036. They are absentee landlords and do not directly graze the lands themselves but sublet on grazing licences. Farming in Surrey has undergone a decline within the recent past and the livestock sector in particular (following Foot & Mouth). This makes it very difficult to find graziers willing to take on the Lammas Lands. As the wildlife value of the site increases the herbage value for grazing decreases and stock quickly go out of condition. It is therefore unattractive to most livestock farmers and best suits robust, low productive stock, which affects the grazing value.

3. The Lammas Lands are a series of flood meadows to the north of the River Wey. They are an area of registered common land, a Site of Nature Conservation Importance and a proposed Local Nature Reserve. There is a current Management Plan and a 10 year, Defra Countryside Stewardship Scheme, both of which prescribes environmental management objectives and specific grazing requirements.

4. The grazing of the Lammas Lands is vital to maintaining the area’s ecological diversity and its appearance. It is also a condition of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. It is important it is carried out correctly as overgrazing/undergrazing and the use of chemicals will have a detrimental effect on the diversity of the Lammas Lands. The present lease does not contain modern clauses relating to conservation management and in fact, it specifically requires it to be grazed as agricultural pasture, which is detrimental to the ecology of the site.

5. The lessee’s desire to surrender the lease provides Waverley with an opportunity to take a more active role in the management of this site. By removing the third party it will make the management of the site more effective and save staff time.

6. After accepting the surrender, Waverley will want to ensure that the land is grazed for good management reasons and to ensure the diversity of site is maintained.

7. The (Exempt) Annexe to this report outlines new arrangements for grazing.

Recommendation

It is recommended that Waverley accepts the surrender of the lease of the Lammas Lands from the lessees.

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Background Papers (BP&DM)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Ailsa Rhodes Telephone: 01483 523459

E-mail: arhodes@waverley.gov.uk
Name: Jane Bowden Telephone: 01483 523459

E-mail: jbowden@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/2004-05/324