Chobham Common Riders Association

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  • Phone: +44 (0)1276 858479
  • Contact Name: Mrs Diane Beach

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Business Overview

Formed in 1980 to liaise with Surrey County Council in relation to horse riding on Chobham Common in order to assist with the management of the common and uphold the rights of the riding community.

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Formed in 1980 to liaise with Surrey County Council in relation to horse riding on Chobham Common in order to assist with the management of the common and uphold the rights of the riding community. We continue to liaise with the Surrey Wildlife Trust who now manage the common on behalf of the County Council.

About the CCRA

  • 1966 Surrey County Council bought the freehold of Chobham Common from the Earl of Onslow for recreational use.
  • 1973 The Chobham Common Riders Working Party was formed and set about finding and clearing the bridIepaths in the area under the guidance of Mrs Josephine Lloyd. She had been appointed Bridleways Officer for the British Horse Society, and was a horse rider living on the edge of Stanners Hill Common.
  • 1976 The County Council called a meeting in Chobham St. Lawrence School and riders were told they had no rights on Chobham Common. They were asked whether they would prefer a limited network of paths, or unlimited riding by means of a Permit Scheme. Naturally the vote was for the Permit Scheme.
  • 1981At the request of the County Council the CCRWP was incorporated into the Chobham Common Riders Association having a proper constitution, in order to be able to liaise with the Council on all matters concerning riding on Chobham Common.

    The Association discovered that the "right to air and exercise" applied to Chobham Common by virtue of a Deed of Declaration sworn in 1936 by the Earl of Onslow, then the owner of the common. It was not clear whether this included on horse back.

    The County Council began prosecuting people for riding on Chobham Common without a permit and everyone pleaded guilty thus receiving a criminal record. One rider, Miepe Mienes decided to challenge the legality of the Permit Scheme in the High Court. The judges couldn't agree so the matter remained unresolved until 1998.

  • A proposal to divert two bridleways on the North side of the common led to a public inquiry, where it was decided that the original routes could not be opened up for fear of damaging rare habitats. Because of pressure brought by the Association the alternative routes are quite generous and are enjoyed by riders today.

    The Association then brought two cases in Woking Magistrates Court and won orders to have Bridleways 90 and 87 put into proper repair which the Council were unwilling to do. This was necessary since people unable to obtain a Permit were limited to bridleways only and the few that existed were mostly impassable in winter. Permits were reduced to 100 per year and people "hoarded" them even when they didn't have a horse in case they lost out in the future.

    Although the High Court judges couldn't agree, nevertheless., in the Spring of 1989 the County Council decided to suspend the Permit Scheme.

    Throughout this busy period the local and sometimes national press were very supportive and many press cuttings exist recording the bitter battles that were fought on behalf of recreational riders.

    It seems that the County Council had plans to restrict horse riders to a specific network of bridleways because in 1995 they began surveying Chobham Common and proposed many new footpaths and bridleways. The Association reluctantly decided to agree to the proposed "package of footpaths and bridleways" but with the caveat that it would not prevent the inclusion of permissive routes in use by riders.

  • In 1996a public inquiry was held and all but two bridleways were confirmed. The Parish Council having objected to three routes.

    The next major battle was the County Council's proposal to permanently fence the perimeter of the North side of Chobham Common for the purpose of "conservation grazing". CCRA was instrumental in forming CICs (Common Interests Committee) which has since been used as a model for the group in Frensham, trying to prevent parts of their common from being fenced.

    By uniting all the interest groups in Chobham it was possible to mount a substantial challenge to the County Council's proposal which, had it been successful, would have cut off that part of the Common to many horse riders and dog walkers.

  • The Inquiry went on for almost a month in February 1998 and at the same time a case was being heard in the High Court concerning a claim for bridleways on Ranmore Common. Once again the issue of whether the "right to air and exercise" included on horse back was raised and the judge, Mr Justice Sullivan ruled that it did. This most important decision vindicates the stance taken by the Chobham Common Riders Association as far back as 1986.

CCRA Code of Conduct

While enjoying your right of air and exercise, please take care not to spoil the enjoyment of others

  • Ride slowly past walkers, especially children. Given plenty of room where possible.
  • Do NOT ride fast along tracks if visibility is restricted
  • Do NOT set up jumps on the Common
  • Do NOT leave litter
  • Do NOT smoke while riding
  • In the interests of conservation, where requested, please keep to way-marked recommended routes
  • Wear approved hats, suitable foot wear and if riding on the roads, high visibility clothing
  • If planning to ride longer than two hours, leave behind an indicated of your intended route
  • Inform the Ranger or CCRA of any problems, such as obstructions, waterlogging etc
  • Report any illegal tipping to the Ranger
  • Always be pleasant to other users of the Common

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Located in: Sports Clubs
This entry was last updated: 07/Nov/2012