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Historic college land could be developed near Leatherhead Bypass
Homes, a retail park or multiplex cinema could be built on land owned by a historic college for 750 years.
One of Oxford’s oldest colleges and Mole Valley council are seeking a partner to develop 32 acres of land next to the Leatherhead Bypass.
Merton College, founded in Surrey in 1264, owns grazing and farmland sites in the green belt neighbouring the council’s allotments which would be moved.
Walter de Merton, one-time Chancellor of England and Bishop of Rochester, founded the college in Malden, Surrey, before it moved to Oxford at the end of the 13th century.
College agent John Gloag said: "Our founder endowed the college land from Northumberland to Surrey when he created the college and one estate, Malden Rushett, now forms the area being marketed.
"We have had it for 750 years."
He said estates scattered across the country are used to further the aims of the college which are education and research.
The marketing of the land between Leatherhead and Ashtead comes as the council carries out a review of the green belt boundary in Mole Valley.
Mr Gloag explained historically the land was probably copyhold tenure, which at its origin in medieval England saw tenants use land in return for services to the lord of the manor.
Now the northern site is let to farm tenants and has a pair of cottages while the southern site used to have compounds when the M25 was created and enlarged.
A car wash and garage business is also run out of buildings on the site.
Councillor Chris Hunt, who represents Ashtead village, said he thought retail or housing developments might work, but a leisure complex was unlikely unless it was a multiplex cinema.
He said: "Will it be something special worth all the upheaval it will entail?"
The Save Barnett Wood Lane Allotments group has started on Facebook and Twitter to oppose the possible relocation of plots to a site on the other side of the bypass and M25.
There are council drop-in sessions about the marketing process in the main hall of Our Lady & St Peters Catholic Church, Leatherhead and lounge of Ashtead Baptist Church.
Leatherhead sessions are 8.30am to 10am, February 25, 8.30pm to 9.30pm, February 26 and 7.30pm to 9pm, March 1.
Ashtead sessions are 8pm to 9.30pm, February 25, 8.30am to 10am, February 26, and 7.30pm to 9.30pm, February 28.