From Surrey News
Surrey County Council (SCC) is embarking on a new phase for the Norbury Park Estate and is developing future plans to create opportunities and improve visitor services.
As Surrey Wildlife Trust and Surrey County Council have agreed that the current operation at the Norbury Park Sawmill will cease, a review is now underway to consider how the site can continue to be used in a positive and sustainable way.
SCC will engage with residents this Spring on what they value about the site. Options to support this currently under consideration include:
- Natural walking trails to promote health and wellbeing
- On-site mobile catering
- Activities to support forestry and woodland management
- Supporting local rural crafts
- Car park improvements
- Support for small business wanting to locate through our £3m LoCASE green funding programme.
Natalie Bramhall, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: “The sawmill has not been profitable for a number of years, despite everyone’s best efforts and we believe that taxpayers’ money would be better spent providing tenancies to a range of small crafts organisations and supporting them through our LoCASE grant fund for green businesses.
This is also an opportunity to improve the natural environment, increase biodiversity and tree planting and reduce overall environmental impact of operations on the site. We want to ensure the estate is used in a sensitive way and look forward to being able to present proposals for the future of the site at Norbury soon.”
Additional background information:
Currently operated by Surrey Wildlife Trust, the sawmill opened in the 1970s. It was originally established with the express aim of using wood from the Norbury Estate to repair sections of the Basingstoke Canal, as part of a twenty-five-year project carried out by the Council which was completed in 1991.
Since 2002, the operation has been managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust and has diversified into producing other wood products. However, despite substantial effort, the business is not sustainable and therefore the difficult decision has been made to close the facility and for Surrey Wildlife Trust to concentrate its efforts on improving the environment and biodiversity on the site.
Though this is the end of an era, removing the industrial operations from the site will have the benefit of reducing HGV traffic in Norbury Park and open up new opportunities for woodland industry and rural crafts at the site.
As the operator of the site, Surrey Wildlife Trust will fulfil all its legal and welfare obligations to support the staff and consider whether there may be any alternative options for employment.