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January 2002 Planning permission given for development of the Cornhill site with an hotel and apartments behind.

January 2002 Several residents of Leatherhead independently realised that the real problems of the town were lack of access and parking, and that this Phase II scheme would do nothing to help solve any of these problems. Indeed, the Phase II scheme would be another obstruction in the heart of the town and would remove vital options which could have greatly improved the access to the town.

February 2002 Having unsuccessfully tried to get the support of councillors and the local MP, these residents formed Leatherhead AHEAD to speak up for the town and help stop its decline and realise its potential.

14th March 2002
Leatherhead AHEAD demonstrate at the crossroads

14th March 2002 Letter to Mr Paul Coen (CEO of Surrey County Council) asking for an urgent meeting to hear why the Phase II works would be to Leatherhead’s benefit and to explain Leatherhead AHEAD’s position.

16th-17th March 2002 In the centre of town 1170 signatures were collected on our petition:

Stop the water feature!
Spend the money on re-opening Leatherhead!
Restore our crossroads!

18th March 2002 Petition was given to Mr Bob McKinley, Surrey County Councillor for Leatherhead and Fetcham East, asking him to present the petition to Mr Paul Coen (CEO of Surrey County Council)

about 17 March 2002 Leatherhead Advertiser Countdown to 'death of the town'

18th March 2002 Leatherhead AHEAD produced their first Press Release.

20th March 2002 Reply from Mr Paul Coen (CEO of Surrey County Council) stating that he was “aware that Mr Jim Smith, Executive member of our council, whom you have also written to, is hoping to have a meeting with your organization. In these circumstances I doubt that a meeting with me would add value. The issues do need to be handled at local level by the Transportation Committee with the help of Jim Smith.”


Spring 2002 By the beginning of April, 3,000 increasingly angry people had signed our petition asking for Phase II to be halted and the whole situation to be re-appraised.

10th April 2002 Meeting of the PATC (Partnership Area Transportation Committee) at Pippbrook, Dorking.

We presented the petition and they agreed that they would arrange a public meeting to discuss Phase II and the future of Leatherhead.

But they did not stop the work on the Phase II works.

presentation of petition 10 April 2002: source via Leatherhead AHEAD

29th April 2002 Leatherhead AHEAD held a public meeting in The Theatre in Leatherhead. 550 people attended and the Theatre was packed. They voted overwhelmingly (only 6 abstained and 9 voted against) in favour of a resolution that SCC and MVDC should not proceed with the Phase II works as currently envisaged. MVDC produced a document giving the Council’s version of events, which they handed out at the end of the meeting.

15th May 2002 The Mole Valley Local Transportation Committee (successor to PATC) held an additional meeting to respond to this resolution. Leatherhead AHEAD was invited to give a 5-minute presentation, but we were told by a Councillor before the meeting that the vote would be to continue with Phase II ! And so it was.

19th June 2002 SCC held their public meeting called Improving Access to Leatherhead Town Centre. It was chaired by Professor John Whitelegg, who was claimed to be independent but who had in the past been a candidate for the Green Party and who goes round the world with the message that ‘motorised transport is eating our time, space and future’.

There were no councillors or council officers on the platform to take part in the advertised discussions or answer questions. The audience voted overwhelmingly to reject the water feature and the rest of Phase II.

26th June 2002 Professor Whitelegg produced his report. Whitelegg Report

4th August 2002 Leatherhead AHEAD replied to Professor Whitelegg

August 2002 In a poll arranged by BBC Radio 4 and CABE (The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, Leatherhead was named the 5th Worst High Street in the U.K.

September 2002 An application was made for a drinks licence for a proposed Litten Tree Pub to be in the centre of the town next to the ramps and water feature. If granted, the pub would then apply for a public entertainment licence. Leatherhead AHEAD joined forces with the Leatherhead Community Association and the Leatherhead Society to fight the proposal and they managed to delay the application hearing by raising objections. By that time the Litten Tree Pub owners apparently had major financial problems and the drinks licence application for the premises was withdrawn.

October 2002 SCC wrote to the traders notifying them that the Phase II works would stop for the Christmas period and that work would start again in January 2003. They were invited to The Theatre on 24th October to see how the new arrangements would work.

13th November 2002 A joint letter was written to the Chief Executives of SCC and MVDC and signed by the following groups;
The Leatherhead & District Chamber of Commerce
Disability Action Group
Leatherhead AHEAD
Leatherhead Community Association
Leatherhead & District Countryside Protection Society

asking that the construction of the water feature be abandoned, the area paved over, and the opportunity taken to agree the best way forward.

11th December 2002 Meeting of the Mole Valley Local Committee to choose one of these options for the Phase II Water Feature:

1. The works continue as planned
2. Construction of the water feature is abandoned and the area is paved over
3. Construction of the zig zag ramps without the associated water features and retaining walls

The Lib-Dems proposed that the Phase II works be abandoned until consultation with local stakeholder groups had taken place but this was refused. The Conservatives and an Independent member of the Committee agreed to abandon the water feature and go ahead with the ramps alone, without knowing the cost, the finish date or the design. (See Appendix 1 of Phase II Review)

The Committee’s decision had come about as a result of unforeseen delays and complications with the Phase II enhancement scheme, due to problems with the positioning and amount of pipes, cables and other infrastructure lying under the tarmac that became exposed once the diggers got to work.

17th December 2002 Exhibition of revised plans for the ramps without the water feature, attended by invited representatives of various groups. Leatherhead AHEAD and others expressed doubts that anybody would use the ramps because there was so far to travel for such little gain.

next: 2003

last updated 5 May 2004