Ten historic sites in Ashtead have been put forward to Mole Valley District Council to add to the list of heritage sites within the village.
While Historic England aims to protect historic assets through The National Heritage List for England - the only official register of nationally protected listed buildings, scheduled monuments, parks and gardens, it is down to local authorities to recognize ’non-designated heritage assets’ - those that are of local rather than national importance. These assets include, in addition to buildings, parks, monuments, cultural, and historic features of any kind including ancient hedges and trackways.
In fact, the Government encourages planning authorities to recognize such assets in the National Planning Policy Framework, but Mole Valley District Council(MVDC) , our local planning authority, has never had its own list. Councillor David Hawksworth, supported by Leatherhead and District Local History Society, has been campaigning for some years to get Mole Valley more engaged, so that local heritage assets are listed and so can be taken into consideration when determining planning applications. Some exploratory work had been undertaken, but funding to set up a system was a constraint, although provision for one is included in the Draft Local Plan (see p. XX).
This situation accelerated when Surrey County Council, which maintains an Historic Environment Record (HER; which has nine features in Ashtead) obtained funding for a new nominations system and, at the end of last year, encouraged district and borough councils to participate to increase the number of non-designated assets recognized. MVDC took advantage of the scheme resulting in 140 nominations from Mole Valley; 10 were from Ashtead, so potentially doubling the number included in the HER. MVDC, as the local planning authority, is now in a position to create its own bespoke list for the District.
The next step is to be considered by Mole Valley’s Planning Policy Working Group in April with a view to formally establishing the new Mole Valley list. Once that is done, it is anticipated all the locally listed non-designated assets will be made available through the Council’s website, and that a system to enable the list to remain open for additional entries will be established.
The development of the new local list a most welcome step forward, so ensuring increased protection for Ashtead’s rich historical heritage and helping preserve it for future generations.