About Mole Valley

Mole Valley

Mole Valley lies at the heart of Surrey, mid-way between London and the Sussex coast. It takes its name from the River Mole that runs the length of the District. It covers an area of a hundred square miles, and has a population of around 86,000 people. Around 72% of the District’s population lives in the towns of Dorking and Leatherhead, and in the villages of Bookham, Fetcham and Ashtead.

Over 90% of the district is countryside, and much of it sits within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The North Downs run across the middle of the District and include Box Hill a popular visitor destination. To the south lies Leith Hill, Surrey’s highest point.

Dorking: a historic market town nestling in the Surrey Hills

Dorking is a historic market town lying at the centre of the District with an array of independent shops and places to eat, set against the backdrop of the North Downs. Visitors come to see its antique shops, caves, museum, award-winning giant cockerel sculpture and nearby vineyard. The town also provides a range of services for its surrounding rural communities and is home to the District Council’s offices.

Leatherhead: gateway to the Surrey Hills

Leatherhead is in the north of the District. With easy access from Junction 9 of the M25 and good rail services to London, the town is home to many national and international companies while also providing a range of services and facilities for the local community.

MVDC is currently leading the Transform Leatherhead project which aims to create new retail, residential and recreational opportunities to modernise the town centre taking advantage of the town’s location and skilled workforce.

To the east and west of Leatherhead are the villages of Ashtead, Fetcham and Bookham. Each has a strong sense of community, good local facilities and network of popular green spaces.

The Rural Areas

The rural areas of Mole Valley are home to over a quarter of the District’s population. The countryside contains a wide diversity of villages, hamlets and isolated clusters of houses and farms. It boasts sites of national and international significance in terms of biodiversity, culture, heritage and landscape. Despite this, the District’s rural areas face some major challenges. These include the limited amount of available affordable housing; slow broadband speeds and managing the pressure from visitors, including the increasing number of cyclists wishing to ride the course of the Olympic Games road race, which took in a large part of the District. Gatwick Airport abuts the District’s south east border. Its operation impacts on the adjacent rural communities in Mole Valley and its future growth is an on-going issue for MVDC.

MVDC recognises these issues and challenges and has recently adopted a ten year Rural Community Strategy to address them. It is to be delivered through on-going Annual Action Plans to ensure the rural agenda is reflected in its decision making and that of its partners.


MVDC has begun the preparation of a new Local Plan which will establish the District’s development agenda for the next fifteen years. MVDC will have to balance increased demand to build nearly four hundred new homes a year which is twice the current delivery rate, against the constraints on new development in the District . These are significant. For example three quarters of Mole Valley is within the Metropolitan Green Belt and over a third is in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Accommodating the housing needs of future generations while protecting the high quality environment enjoyed by the existing population and ensuring the necessary infrastructure is delivered to support future growth is the single largest challenge facing MVDC.


Mole Valley’s economy is robust. It has thriving SME sectors and is the location of several national and international business headquarters, including Unilever and ExxonMobil. Mole Valley has an unemployment rate of 0.5%, and it is one of the few districts in Surrey with net in-commuting.

The District’s commercial hub is Leatherhead, which, as well as being close to the M25, has regular, fast trains to London, and is equi-distant between Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Dorking acts as a secondary commercial centre, supporting more local businesses, and a number of campus-style office locations on its outskirts.

The District lies in the area covered by the Coast To Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and works in partnership with neighbouring local authorities under the Gatwick Diamond band. By working closely with the C2C LEP it has been possible to lever in funding to support the Transform Leatherhead initiative.

MVDC is currently developing an Economic Prosperity Strategy to inform the debate about ensuring the District’s healthy economy remains sustainable. It is being prepared alongside the new Local Plan to ensure each can inform the other’s policies and outcomes.

Click below to download a map of the Mole Valley District Council.