NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM UPDATE 25
The finishing line for the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Plan is within sight - almost. It has been a long and winding road but this autumn should see the Plan clear the final hurdle. There is more about the Plan’s progress later in this UPDATE. Now read on.
Green Belt consultation
In the last UPDATE (24), I referred to the plans by Woking Borough Council (WBC) to earmark land for future development close to Hook Heath by releasing land from within the existing Green Belt.
The public consultation on the daunting mountain of documentation - formally known as the draft Site Allocations Development Plan Document (SADPD) - produced by WBC has been running since 18 June and this phase of consultation ends on 31 July.
All of the documents can be accessed on the Hook Heath Residents’ Association website at www.hhra.co.uk which also features a useful summary of points which residents may wish to make in their own representations to WBC on the proposals. Many Forum members will also have received a copy of this summary by email from HHRA chairman, Mrs Jean Dare.
HHRA has commissioned a planning consultant to provide expert guidance and advice on the Association’s formal response to the SADPD public consultation.
The Star saga
The latest phase in the long running saga of The Star Inn on Wych Hill has begun. Earlier this year, WBC accepted the HHRA’s nomination of the long established public house to be listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).
Under the procedures for an ACV listing, however, the freeholders/leaseholders are entitled to request a review of the listing. Stark Property Enterprises (the freeholder) submitted an appeal against the decision shortly before the 13 July deadline for such a request expired.
The internal review of the listing decision will be carried out by WBC’s Head of Democratic and Legal Services within eight weeks of the request being received. Meanwhile, the Co-op’s planning application for an extension to the building, which it wants to convert into a convenience store, remains in the pending tray until the review is completed.
Heathlands it is
The local electoral landscape has changed: Parliament, no less, has abolished the Borough’s warding arrangements so that from next May onwards there will be only ten electoral wards, each of which will be able to elect three councillors. This follows a review by the Local Government Boundary Commission and has now been confirmed by Parliamentary Order. St John’s & Hook Heath ward disappears and Hook Heath will form part of the large, new Heathlands ward.
Earlier this year the Forum was approached by Roubeena Joghee, who is studying for her Master’s degree in Planning and Sustainability at Kingston University, for help with a survey she was undertaking into neighbourhood planning.
She has asked me to thank those Forum members who completed her survey questionnaire. She much appreciated the help she received.
Onwards to the referendum
The local referendum on the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Plan, the final stage in the lengthy process, is scheduled to be held on Thursday 8 October. Although the date is still to be confirmed, Ray Morgan, the WBC Chief Executive, told the Council meeting on 9 July that he had pencilled in the date. I understand that on the same date there will be two local Borough by-elections taking place.
The Plan, and the policies contained within it, attracted the support of local residents who responded splendidly to the two formal rounds of public consultation which preceded submission of the draft Plan to the independent Examiner in May.
WBC accepted the Examiner’s recommendation that the Plan should proceed to a local referendum, subject to the small number of modifications being incorporated into the final Plan.
WBC will provide details of arrangements for the referendum later this year and the Forum will be publicising the importance of taking part in the referendum. The Neighbourhood Plan can only be adopted by WBC if more than 50% of those who voted are supportive of the Plan.
And the question will be…
The question on the referendum ballot form - which requires a simple YES - will be:
“Do you want Woking Borough Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”
Please use the opportunity to use your vote in the interests of your local community.
Enjoy the summer and keep an eye on the Forum website at: www.hhra.co.uk/hookheathforum for news of developments.
Many thanks for your interest and support.
Chairman, Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum
Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum
an initiative of the Hook Heath Residents' Association
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