40 Acre Field
An area of chalk grassland on the Cherkley estate, currently used for grazing. Prior to 2010, Cherkley was owned by the Beaverbrook Foundation. In that year, it was sold to Longshot, a property development company, looking to convert Cherkley Court into a luxury hotel and much of the estate into an exclusive golf course. Under their plans, this field would be sprayed with a total herbicide, stripped of its topsoil, reprofiled, and then used for part of the proposed golf course, thus ruining a valuable and rare habitat. At the time of submission, a decision by Mole Valley District Council on the planning application is awaited, although the advice from Council officers is that the golf course application should be refused.
Update: on 4 April 2012, the MVDC planning committee narrowly voted to reject the officers' detailed report, effectively ignoring the Council's own planning policy for the sake of the "prestige" that the proposed development will bring the area. It was also argued by those voting to reject the advice that the golf course would somehow enhance the landscape and increase biodiversity, would have no adverse impact on water resources and, most interestingly of all, would ensure that public access to Cherkley Court would be maintained (despite the exclusivity tag being applied to the development). Admittedly the vote was not yet to approve planning permission which will now be referred to a follow up meeting, which will also decide on conditions that would be attached to such approval, if granted, but it seems like the start of a slippery slope.