Brooklands situation




I am sure all readers enjoyed your Back to the Future article, on Brooklands. However, if further progress is to be made then I believe that press emphasis is needed on current problems. Wider knowledge of these may well prompt solutions.

On the domestic front there is the ever-present need for the Brooklands Museum Trust Ltd to obtain adequate funds to develop the Museum site so that it can offer a first class interpretation of the history of Brooklands and provide for the many motoring events needing reasonable driving space. Elmbridge Council has provided over £600,000 start-up finance and much organisational support. The Council now depends on the Museum Trust to organise finance and support which, indeed, it is doing.

However, support is hampered by the existence of two separate bodies, the Friends of the Museum and the Brooklands Society. I have written to Lord Tombs, Chairman of the Museum Trust, to suggest how the problems keeping these bodies apart might be solved. The main area of dissent centres on the need, or otherwise, for the production of a new constitution for a new combined body. The present ‘Friends’ constitution over-protects the Museum Trust and allows for little independence. Given the fact that most Trusts, of which the Museum Trust is no exception, are set up as autocratic, self-perpetuating bodies it is essential that a supporting body for the Museum project must have a reasonable degree of independence and be democratically controlled by its subscribing members. Particularly, it needs objectives which will enable it to deal with all aspects of the Brooklands Heritage site. Whilst its obvious concern will be to support the Museum Trust it must not be disbarred from separate or even different action to the Museum Trust since it must reflect the wishes of its members.

So far, there appears to be little appreciation for the need of such a constitution and the Museum Trust clearly prefers a more sycophantic constitution which would largely duplicate that provided for the present ‘Friends’. This problem can be solved with goodwill.

The non-domestic problem is more serious. Trafalgar House Business Parks Ltd, and/or its immediate associated companies, has fought Surrey County Council’s attempts (backed by the local Elmbridge Council) to declare the central runway area of Brooklands as Green Belt. At the moment SCC is winning but there may yet be more appeals. It is just this central area which needs to remain open both as a setting for the Museum site and to enable supporting motoring events to take place. THBP Ltd also owns the remaining Banking, principally the listed Railway Straight as well as the remains of the Byfleet Banking, and also owns and operates sections of the central Brooklands road network as private roads which are physically restricted against public use. Supporters of the Museum would like to see the Railway Straight handed over to the Museum with use of the central runway areas for events, access and future Museum structures. The local Council/SCC would like the internal road network made over so that proper public traffic management and traffic calming measures may be instituted, particularly with regard to the massive increase in industrial, office and residential units which has been allowed, much to the benefit of THBP Ltd.

However, so far no progress has been made or is being made. Some councillors suggest that the reason why no progress is possible is that the landowners may be pursuing a ‘Ransom’ policy of holding back the real benefits to the Museum and the public in order to force our Councils to allow large scale development in the central area. I would like to call on Lord Tombs to solve the domestic ‘Constitutional’ problems for a new Museum supporting body, and on Trafalgar House Business Parks Ltd to solve the outstanding land and road network problems. Such goodwill is very much needed to further the generally professed interest in the Brooklands Heritage. ClIr Ernest Mallett,
Mayor of Elmbridge,