Countryside campaigners and residents have united to form an umbrella group to oppose threats to the greenbelt as its boundary is reviewed.

The Mole Valley Green Belt Group has been formed to fight urban sprawl and respond to a council consultation on where new homes should be built.

Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) is asking for views on about 80 potential sites, mostly within the greenbelt, so it can earmark land for hundreds of new homes.

Concerned residents and allotment holders from across the north of Mole Valley, including Leatherhead and Ashtead, have joined the group.

It includes people from other organisations such as Leatherhead Residents’ Association (LRA), Transition Ashtead, Cherkley Campaign and Save South Leatherhead.

Hubert Carr, chairman of the LRA, said: "We don’t really want to give way, but we recognise that we are going to have to give way on something.

"It’s a matter of comparing the reasons for the greenbelt against the need to have housing, and which areas are more or less vital."

Mr Carr said the controversial proposal for 500 homes by the Leatherhead Bypass would contribute to the merging of Leatherhead with Ashtead on the other side of the M25.

He also criticised suggested plans to build a total of 200 to 250 homes on two sites on parkland and pasture by Yarm Way and Windmill Drive in the south of Leatherhead.

He said: "They both very obviously can be seen from areas of outstanding natural beauty. Even if land is released from the greenbelt, they should be unacceptable. We feel that is a principle worth defending."

He said that the maps in consultation documents put out by the council should have included contour lines, adding: "At the moment Leatherhead is hidden in the folds of the Surrey Downs."

Simon Cowell, founder of the Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF), has spoken out against the proposed sites including several in Randalls Road where his charity’s veterinary hospital is located.

Mr Cowell said: "Losing greenbelt protection means concreting over fields, trees and hedges that currently provide essential wildlife corridors. Can Mole Valley afford to lose such precious wildlife habitat?"

Caroline Brown, secretary to the LRA, opposed building on the greenbelt around Leatherhead, quoting the National Planning Policy Framework.

She said: "How can we say we are 'safeguarding the countryside from encroachment' or checking the 'unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas' if we start to build on it?"

But Councillor John Northcott, portfolio holder for planning at MVDC, said: "Saying ‘no’ to new housing is not an option and while we will be making the most of available brownfield sites, it will be necessary to develop some land in the greenbelt.

"The council’s aim is to ensure those sites which are chosen are the least harmful to the rest of the greenbelt and the environment."

A public meeting to discuss the way forward to protect sites around Leatherhead is being organised by LRA.

It will take place at Christ Church (United Reformed) in Epsom Road, Leatherhead, on Thursday, February 6, at 7.30pm.

Take part in the council consultation before the deadline of Friday, March 7, at

There are also copies at council offices, libraries and the Leatherhead HelpShop.

Email comments to

Council drop-in sessions:

Park House in Leatherhead - January 27, 10am to 3pm

25-29 Leatherhead High Street - February 1, 10am to 3pm

North Leatherhead Community Association - February 7, 3pm to 7pm

Christ Church (United Reformed), Epsom Road, Leatherhead - February 13, 3pm to 8pm