Banstead Commons Conservators
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COVID-19 Safety Notice from the Conservators
In this time of lockdown, the Commons remain fully open. As a result, there have been many more visitors than usual and a significant proportion of those are discovering some of the Commons for the first time. Whether it be walkers, dog-walkers, horse riders or cyclists, we welcome you and hope your experience of the Commons is enjoyable and encourages you to return.
An important part of the enjoyment of the Commons is the consideration that all users should show to each other. Our recent Facebook post regarding cycling, has generated a few comments and contacts from various users of the Commons. In particular, there seems to be some confusion about the “rights” of the various users, especially amongst cyclists.
It seems sensible to provide some clarification with help from the Ordnance Survey. On the Commons the definition of footpath is somewhat irrelevant because those on foot have free access to any part of the Commons. However, even on common land, horse-riders and cyclists are restricted to bridleways and permissive rides. Note also, that the 1968 Countryside Act, that first gave cyclists that right, specifically states that cyclists must give way to pedestrians and horse riders. Furthermore, horse riding or cycling anywhere on the Commons other than on the bridleways or permissive rides, is under Section 12 And 13 of our bye-laws, a criminal offence.
We hope this clarifies the situation. Consideration of other users of the Commons will hopefully mean the above is only of academic interest.
We hope you enjoy the beauty and wildlife of the Commons, but please keep social distancing and keep safe.
Banstead Commons consist of four separate areas of common land in the north of the Borough of Reigate and Banstead, Banstead Heath, Banstead Downs, Park Downs and Burgh Heath (see map). The Commons range from the M25 in the south to the border of the London Borough of Sutton in the north and comprise a total area of ~550 hectares (~1350 acres).
Although most of the Commons are now owned by Reigate and Banstead Council, as a result of the Metropolitan Commons (Banstead) Supplemental Act of 1893, the Commons are managed by the Banstead Commons Conservators. The Act conferred upon the Conservators a statutory duty to ensure safe and free access of the public to the commons and to protect the commons from damage and trespass. At the time of the Act this was intended, as much as anything, to protect the Commons from their owners although in this more enlightened age we hope that threats from this direction are unlikely.
As well as providing important recreational areas, the open spaces of the commons are important wildlife habitats. The northernmost two, Banstead Downs and Park Downs, are chalk downland, designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), an important aspect of their attraction to users. On Banstead Heath and Burgh Heath, a thicker layer of impervious clay and flints overly the chalk and these physical properties affect both the appearance of the commons and their floraand fauna. In an age of increasing urbanization this imparts significant responsibilities to manage the areas with maintenance of the wildlife value in mind.
Within these pages we tell you more about the Commons: where they are, how to get there, something of their history and what you can see on them especially with regard to their wildlife. We also give an summary of the history of the Conservators, who the Conservators are, how they are appointed and what they do.
Overall we hope these pages will raise public awareness of the Commons and the Conservators and encourage everyone to visit the Commons. We hope to provide information and links for both recreational and wildlife interests, if you have any comments or suggestions please let us know. Contact us here.
Activities on the Commons
History of Banstead Commons
Our Act and Byelaws