Bonfire Hill News

Update February 27th 2024
Elstead PC held an extraordinary meeting this evening (26th Feb) at 8pm in the youth centre to discuss the draft operating agreement for Bonfire Hill. About 12 residents attended.
Approval of Operating Agreement for Bonfire Hill
This is an agreement due to be signed shortly between the purchaser of the three fields and woods on Bonfire Hill at the western end of the Spring Hill ridge in the centre of Elstead.
  1. The land will be handed over to a charitable trust setup by the purchaser.
  2. The timescale for completion of the handover is likely to be a few months but less than a year.
  3. Its use is to be for conservation and charitable purposes.
  4. Its maintenance will be the responsibility of Elstead Parish Council.
  5. Contractors will be used for major work but volunteers are also likely to be involved.
  6. The purchaser intends to provide some funds for new fencing, security and restoration of the land.
  7. The Trustees will determine specific uses for the land, e.g. responsible grazing to provide income.
  8. The land is in poor condition and needs to be cleared of rubbish and weeds so that the grass can be restored.
  9. The woodland at the eastern end of the land is not in good condition and needs improvement.
  10. There could be some recreational use, particularly in the event of heavy snow.
  11. The fields will need the provision of a water supply for grazing.
  12. The footpath that runs between Hill Crest and West Hill is in poor condition and could do with some improvement. Its maintenance as a footpath is legally the responsibility of Surrey County Council but any work is likely to be done by the Parish Council due to lack of Highway funds.
  13. Two of the fields are protected as Green Spaces in the Neighbourhood Plan as a precaution against future development.
My comments:
  • The condition of two of the fields is very poor due to overgrazing, non-removal of horse droppings and the presence of uncontrolled ragwort. The third field has been better maintained but also needs some improvement.
  • The footpath that runs up to the hill from the Thursley Road near the Spar is narrow but generally in good condition apart from the steps by the gate at the top, which need to be rebuilt.
  • The footpath that runs up from West Hill is heavily overgrown by brambles, nettles and other hedge plants. It was originally a track and could be widened to make access easier. Improvements may be hampered by the presence of three nearby springs on the hill that overflow when the water table is high.
  • The track that runs up from Hill Crest is heavily worn by farm vehicles that access the field on the far side of the hill.
  • All the old hedges on the land produce heavy crops of blackberries and are home to badgers and other wildlife.
  • The hedge at the top contains small elm trees that have been infected by Dutch elm disease, so they grow to a certain height and then die. Cutting them back before they reach the critical height would improve the look of the hedges but in general they should not be disturbed.
  • This will be a major project for the village over the next few years.
Update June 2nd 2023
Elstead Parish Council understands that an offer for the purchase of the land at Bonfire Hill has been accepted by the vendor.
The purchaser is someone with a long association with the village, who intends to transfer ownership of the land to a charitable trust administered by the Parish Council for the benefit of the local community. The Trust Deed will determine the future use of the land, which is likely to be confined to agriculture, recreation and amenity.
The Parish Council has agreed to act as the charity administrator and to manage the land on behalf of the benefactor pending the establishment of the charity. It will take time for the sale to be processed and once there is more information we will update residents accordingly.


The Parish Council held an emergency meeting to discuss this in the Youth Hall at 8:30 pm on Tuesday May 2nd 2023.
There is a lot of interest in the idea of crowdfunding to buy it for the village. If you are interested please come to the meeting tonight.
The land has been owned for the past 10 hears by speculative developers who have applied three time for planning permission for houses and failed.
This is a second chance for us to buy it and secure it permanently against development.  [LINK]