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Renovating and restoring over 40 hectares of North Downs

We are restoring over 40 hectares of historic farmland for residents to enjoy in this beautiful part of the North Downs and Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

As part of the re-development of Council-owned land at Tyting Farm, we are restoring the site's meadows and pond and planting a heritage orchard to make the area, which connects Chantry Woods and St Martha's Hill, one of our most diverse areas for local wildlife. The conversion of the original farm buildings to residential use is now close to completion. Other derelict buildings have been removed and meadowland restored.

Director of Service Delivery, Ian Doyle says:

"I am pleased that we are finally able to renovate this important part of our countryside and return an AONB for our residents to enjoy. It is not often that we are able to restore land to its natural state and increase both its accessibility and beauty, but this work at Tyting Farm will be of great benefit to residents and visitors to the area. It also fulfils many of the aspirations of the original Save Tyting Farm campaign to preserve the landscape and wildlife habitat.

"Walking and exercising in green spaces can improve mental and physical health, and we are developing the biodiversity of the area to support the natural habitats of the borough's wildlife and maintain ecosystems. As a working farm it will also contribute to the local economy and provide excellent fresh produce with a significantly lower carbon footprint."

Derelict 1950s farm buildings, slurry tanks and a slurry pit have been removed, and asbestos and over 300 rubber tyres have been cleared as part of the decontamination of the site.

One remaining building, a former bull house, will be converted into a bat hibernaculum, for winter hibernation. Surrey Bat Group will provide advice on the conversion and help us to monitor the bats using this building. The habitat will also welcome birds, voles, owls, swallows, swifts, bees and other pollinating insects.

We are already working with Butterfly Conservation to encourage Small Blue, Chalkhill Blue and some of Surrey's rarest and most beautiful butterfly species as this restoration of chalk grassland is one of the main is one of the main objectives of the North Downs Biodiversity Opportunity Area.

The farmland and field patterns will follow historic layouts and remain available for livestock. The 50-tree, 4000m2 heritage orchard will be part of the wildflower meadow and will create an excellent habitat for local wildlife, with restoration of the pond to follow.

Approximately 1200 tonnes of crushed concrete were removed from the site, including the walls of the slurry pit, and are being recycled to potentially contribute to footpath creation and repairs in the area, while timber sleepers from the slurry pit have also been used to create steps at Chantry Woods.

Fibreoptic broadband is being installed on the site as part of the Broadband For Surrey Hills (B4SH) campaign to provide reliable internet access to rural areas.

Prior to its use as a farm in the 1950s, it is believed that the site had been a training school for the government's secret Special Operations Executive during World War Two, with aeroplanes landing on nearby sloping farmland.

Rockwood Homes are building four apartments within the site of the original farm buildings, preserving many original walls and features and which now enjoy views of the restored meadows. One new property is replacing the previous 1950s farmhouse.

Published Tuesday 30 March