Save Burpham Court Farm land

Save Burpham Court Farm land for future community usage . . . Conserve this estate, encompassing historic farm buildings and an area of outstanding natural beauty which lies along the river banks of the Wey. The council plans to build a new Slyfield access road and housing. The short-term future of a multi-million pound farm where a bankrupt farmer apparently killed himself with rat poison has been resolved. Bob Dearnley died after breathing in a toxic substance at Burpham Court Farm, Guildford, in May 2009. He was facing eviction. Guildford Borough Council, which is the leaseholder, will let the 30 hectares of farmland on a short-term lease. Two Grade II-listed cottages and the farmhouse will be put up for sale. Declared bankrupt Mr Dearnley, a long-term tenant who ran the site with his wife, had developed the farm as a conservation centre and tourist attraction. The farmer was declared bankrupt in 2006 after losing a court case against the National Trust about the opening of a weir. The substance Mr Dearnley inhaled at the farm was a pesticide called phostoxin which is commonly used on farms to kill rabbits, rats and moles. Seven police officers and three ambulance crew members were taken to hospital as a precaution after they were exposed to the poison, but they were released later. The decision to let the farmland on a two-year lease was made at a meeting of the council's executive on Thursday evening. Link road The farm is located next to the Slyfield Area Regeneration Project which has been earmarked for housing and retail units. The council said letting the farm on a two-year lease will give greater flexibility when proposals for Slyfield become firmer. One option is to build a link road through the farmland to the new development. The council will also seek to change the site's planning conditions, which currently state the farm can only be used for rare animal breeds. The local authority is consulting the Guildford Society and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England on the farm's future. More info and background can be found at


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