Saturday, May 31, 2008


ABC Newsletter May08

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ABC Releases In
terim report 21st February 2008

The report identifies the major issues from the survey and discussions with over 1,600 adults and 400 younger people.

Several areas are highlighted for improvement and projects to tackle them ar
e proposed.

Initial project teams are being formed for "Shabby to Smart" to help improve shopping areas and "Community Facilities" to work with Tandridge & Surrey County Councils on a variety of schemes.

Volunteers can still play a major role in creating more detailed bids for funding and to see the ideas into action.

The report was published in February and distributed to all households in the area via County Border News or the Caterham Independent.

You can read it or download it here, or it is also available in the libraries, in Stafford Road and Westway.

Additional more detailed information is also available for download at the same site. ( Password is "public")

  • ABC File a detailed report on findings and recommendations.
  • ABC Snapshot the collection of facts we gathered on people, cars, transport, business, development, health, schools, environment, social & community.

or by post on request.

Click on the pictures above to download the interim report, or read it below.

Kind regards
Chris Windridge
Chairman ABC

A Reminder: What is a town Healthcheck?
It is a tried and tested process that has already taken place in over 300 towns nationwide. Having completed the healthcheck, Caterham is now eligible to bid for a number of external grants, including funding from the SEEDA (South East England Development Agency) Small Rural Towns Programme.

Already in Surrey over £400,000 has been secured to transform the centre of Cranleigh, £150,000 to improve Beacon Hill, Haslemere and over £220,000 to improve access in and around Leatherhead.

We named our project "ABC - A Better Caterham" which began in March 2006 and has involved over 70 volunteers to date, plus local councillors, officers and some experienced helpers, all of whom have energetically supported the exercise.

The first step was to seek feedback from the local community about what people think of Caterham and what could be done to improve it. We surpassed our goal of 2,000 completed survey forms (representing 10% of the population) which contained more than 4,000 additional comments. Furthermore, our presence at various locations attracted over 1,000 visitors. This helped us to record people’s opinions through many interviews and discussions that took place. The unexpectedly high volume of information meant that people's feedback took longer than expected to analyse.

The purpose of this report is to tell you about ABC's findings and outline the next steps.

We have compiled statistics to demonstrate how, over the last decade, increases in population, new dwellings and car ownership have been greater in Caterham than elsewhere in East Surrey. Such pressures place increasing strain on the town's infrastructure, so Caterham has some unique challenges to face. Information we collected on this is being published in a separate ABC file, together with other background details.
Overall, respondents thought our local area is an 'above average' place to live, with the quality of the environment being rated quite highly. Other factors scored closer to average, with business the lowest, scoring below par.

All the survey data has now been analysed under 5 main headings and a summary of where you place certain items in terms of importance has been created:-

-You said "Retain local landscape and character"

Retention of the Green Belt was people's main priority, followed by initiatives to improve the Valley Town Centre and action to transform the blighted Rose & Young site.

Respondents were concerned that too much 'garden grabbing', for chaotic in-fill developments is proceeding without the necessary improvements to local infrastructure. Current levels of development are seen to be damaging the area's character.

There is also a desire for more facilities to enable greener lifestyles, such as enhanced plastic recycling, better maintenance of open spaces; and the protection of wildlife in smaller wooded areas.
Social & Community

-You said "Improve youth and other community facilities"

Personal safety rated as the highest priority with a desire for more visible policing.

A clear message is that Caterham needs a stronger overall local voice so that views and wishes of the residents and businesses are listened to on a whole range of topics.

Some residents suggested that other more favoured towns receive investment to the
detriment of Caterham and that local housing developments are not benefiting the community.

Concerns focused on the capacity of GP practices to serve the expanding population and the need for better youth and leisure facilities, given growing numbers of young people in the town. Most people accept that Caterham is well served by the provision of retirement homes, although more extra care
services for the frail elderly will be needed in the future.

Secondary School choices and performance are also causing concern.

Transport & Access

-You said "Improve traffic flow & parking"

Public Transport emerged as the most important issue under this heading with many comments about bus services, routes and frequency. Next was congestion followed by ease of travel. Parking was also high up on the list, whether for shopping, commuting or finding a space outside your home. Suggestions were made both for and against the use of one-way systems to ease trouble spots.

Given the growth in car ownership,many respondents identified the need to increase parking provision for new homes to two spaces per household.

Transport overall received the most individual comments.

Town Centers & High Streets

-You said "Enhance the town's appearance from Shabby to Smart"

There was a lot of emphasis on the Valley Town Centre, perceived as less attractive than, say, Oxted or Reigate. 60% of respondents supported the pursuit of ambitious redevelopment plans (subject to due process )
As far as the Hill is concerned, the survey identified an overwhelming desire to smarten up the Raglan Precinct, Westway and the Coulsdon Road area near the Barracks development.

Business & Economy

-You said "Attract new business & choice"

Many factors came together here, but extending the range of shops/facilities and improving the town's image emerged as predominant needs. Measures to encourage new businesses into the area also rated as a key priority.

Many perceive Caterham as shabby and badly in need of a makeover, with survey returns making frequent reference to sites that blight the area. Over 85% of respondents supported action on specific sites and an upgrade to the shopping areas.

In summary ABC has identified the following six objectives for future action:

Retain local landscape and character
• Improve youth and other community facilities

• Improve traffic flow and parking
• Enhance the town's appearance from "shabby" to "smart"

• Attract new businesses

• Maintain the impetus generated by the Healthcheck

Many potential initiatives have been identified to achieve these objectives over varying timescales from immediate to long term. Some discussion has already begun with partners, including Tandridge District and Surrey County Councils, about how to progress these ideas. While not all may be feasible as currently conceived, we hope they will serve as signposts for the kind of improvements that the people of Caterham want to see.

Stop press: Surrey CC have agreed to fund an interim youth facility on the adult education site, while a review takes place of needs for community facilities. We welcome the decision to provide a youth facility but nevertheless remained concerned that reinvestment in Caterham of a substantial share of sales of Local Authority assets occurs. In today's carbon concious age, community facilities on a local basis are clearly preferred to remote ones with poor transport links and associated cost and resource use.

So, where we are now?

At this stage, the project can be compared to a giant jigsaw where the accompanying picture is still blurred and lacking much of the detail and where some of the pieces are currently missing. However, it is worth pointing out that there is tremendous support among local volunteers and statutory authorities to complete this difficult puzzle and to succeed in achieving our goal of "A Better Caterham".

Here is a Summary of the initiatives that ABC recommend;


• Establish an ABC follow on group to work with statutory agencies in overseeing delivery of Healthcheck projects.
• An overall " Shabby to Smart" initiative for the Valley & Hill shopping areas as first steps to improvement.
• Extend parking restrictions, enforce more vigorously, and free up existing parking spaces for commuters, traders and other users.
• Youth - safeguard existing facilities; lobby for a new Council run outlet; and establish a Youth Council. (See stop press)
• Encourage new businesses to come to Caterham and influence the expansion of existing enterprises.
• Pursue initiatives to enable the town's infrastructure to withstand the pressures of new residential housing developments and use
• ABC findings and local people's input to influence future planning guidelines.
• Enhance open spaces and promote eco friendly policies.
• Assist in promoting Neighbourhood Policing activities to the


• Encourage development of the Rose & Young site to regenerate the north end of the Valley.
• Establish a Farmers' Market.
• Ensure community input regarding the provision of local education services.
• Monitor the capacity of doctors' surgeries via an annual survey.
• Celebrate Caterham's character (signs, heritage trail, website & Festival).
• Achieve cleaner streets & open spaces (incl. coordinated collection of trade refuse).
• Seek a review of storm water and sewer systems.
• Review bus / train services (links to Oxted, E.S. Hospital and between Hill/Valley)
• Identify schemes to relieve traffic congestion in the Valley and Westway and consider options to provide new parking for commuters and shoppers
Longer term

• Consider options to redevelop Caterham Valley with enhanced public space, improved retail area, additional car parking and better traffic flow.
• Provide a new purpose built community centre that could accommodate a variety of functions such as a museum, library, cinema, community hall, cultural events and youth services.
• Consider options to enhance the Raglan area on the Hill.
• Work with Schools to reduce the number of cars used to transport pupils.

What happens next… can you help?

Now that we have a vision for the future of Caterham it will be exciting to see at least some of the ideas put into practice. Initially, we will work closely with the relevant authorities and pursue funding from SEEDA to achieve as many short / medium term goals as possible.

However, we are aware that some of our ideas could take a long time to implement and, in some cases, may be very difficult to achieve. The viability of the more complex proposals will need to be assessed by the relevant public bodies. If deemed practicable and financially viable, more detailed work can begin to see how the bigger projects can best be achieved.

During the next few weeks, it is particularly important that we attract more volunteers to help with the work ahead. There would be plenty for new ABC members to do and this is an exciting time for additional people to become involved. Please make contact if you would like to find out more about how you can help. Full details are provided below.

The first two projects we are forming teams on are "Shabby to Smart" and "Community Facilities"
If you are interested in working with ABC on any of the ideas, contact;

Post: ABC Project, C\O Tandridge Voluntary Services, Soper Hall,
Harestone Valley Road, Caterham, Surrey CR3 6YN


Summary information collected by the ABC team is available at our
Web site and includes:
• Survey
• Background facts. "The ABC File" - Coming soon.
• ABC Heritage collection. Pictures & articles - Coming soon.


Thanks to: All the volunteers, residents, local businesses,
organisations and services, Council staff, Councillors and other
advisers, who have contributed their time , knowledge and ideas.

Copies of the interim report and the more detailed background report will be available from the Libraries on the Hill and in the Valley.

Click Register to add yourself to our eMail or Mailing list.

How to help us

Volunteer to take part in one of the study groups. We need individuals to participate in the groups and be responsible for developing proposals and seeing them through to implementation.

Click Helpers for information on where you can help.