A new guidance document was launched at a Surrey Hills Community Forum last week promoting key principles and best practice that should be considered in country lane maintenance and improvement programmes, signage and in the design of building developments within the Surrey Hills.
The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is well known for its network of winding, narrow, secluded lanes, often with high banks and hedgerows, connecting villages and hamlets. These lanes are often rich in history reflecting centuries of human use and still retain much of their traditional charm. In a climate where there is increased pressure on the rural road network and with Surrey having a higher level of car ownership than any other county the new design guide offers a series of principals to follow in order to protect and help to encourage a safer and more considerate approach to driving in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. One focus of the guide is to encourage through traffic and HGVs to keep to principal roads to help protect the country lanes which are not designed to cope with large volumes of traffic and HGVs.
Colin Davis, author of Streetscapes and national expert, comments; “The design guidelines for the Surrey Hills is an excellent document in setting out principles that both enhance road safety and the beauty of the Surrey Hills. The document features some wonderful projects that Surrey County Council has undertaken with its local communities. This best practice should be encouraged throughout the Surrey Hills and other National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.
Another important area that the guide focuses on is signage. Not only best practice for installing village and directional signage to promote and reinforce the rural character of the Surrey Hills area but also providing advice where unnecessary and unsightly signage could be removed, also known as ‘de-cluttering’.
Liz Cutter, Vice Chairman of the Surrey Association of Local Councils and Surrey Hills Board Member comments; ”‘De-cluttering’ is the process of removing unnecessary roadside and village signage clutter to help reinforce the rural character of the Surrey Hills. Research shows us that reducing unnecessary signing actually benefits road users who find it hard to distinguish those signs which provide crucial information from those which do not. Less signs actually help to discourage through traffic and HGV movements from our country lanes.”Being so close to London and other urban areas means there are significant development pressures on the Surrey Hills landscape.
Development needs to take place in response to the needs of society but it is necessary to ensure that the very features that make the Surrey Hills special and worthy of its AONB designation are protected. The guide highlights a series of principles that should be adopted for all forms of development within the Surrey Hills AONB, whether inside or outside settlements, or for large and small developments.
Trevor Leggo, Chief Executive of the Surrey Association of Local Councils comments;
“Maintaining the quality of our countryside in the face of so many planning and development pressures is a priority for our rural communities. I commend this excellent guidance to our parish councils which I am sure they will welcome and use locally.”
The Surrey Hills Environmental Design Guide is aimed at local communities and Borough and District Councils as well as transport planners, contractors and developers.
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