NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM UPDATE 27
The end is nigh. Well, not quite The End in the apocalyptic sense, you understand, but rather the end of the long, slow but deliberate progress towards the completion of a Neighbourhood Plan for Hook Heath.
The Plan, of course, was completed some time ago but the regulatory process governing its formal introduction has two more stages to complete.
Not the EU referendum
As regular readers of our Forum Update will know, the penultimate stage in the neighbourhood planning process is a local referendum, and the Hook Heath referendum will be held on Thursday 8 October.
That is the day when the 1,541 residents of Hook Heath, whose names appear on the electoral register, can cast their votes in support of the adoption of the Neighbourhood Plan.
Making local and national history
By exercising your democratic right, everyone voting in this referendum will be making history. How come?
Our Hook Heath Neighbourhood Plan is the first neighbourhood plan in Woking to have reached the local referendum stage. What’s more this will be the 100th neighbourhood plan referendum to take place in the UK.
We will share that distinction with another Heath - Balsall Heath - the once-troubled inner city area of Birmingham whose voters will be casting their votes on the same date. Its plan covers half of the Sparkbrook ward and embraces an ethnically mixed population of 15,000.
Balsall Heath was one of the Government-designated ‘front runners’ for neighbourhood planning. Interestingly, it has taken their team about the same length of time to run the course from plan conception to completion as it has for our steering group.
An initiative of the Residents’ Association, the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum was formally designated by Woking Borough Council in October 2013 to produce a Neighbourhood Plan. After the challenges of the past two years, the Forum can now look forward to the final stage of the neighbourhood planning process and do so with a real sense of achievement.
Residents have been very supportive of the efforts to produce a Plan; their informed comments and observations provided the steering group with invaluable assistance in shaping the policies which are at the heart of the Plan.
The draft Plan was subject to two formal periods of public consultation and, earlier this year, subject to scrutiny by an independent examiner. He recommended that, subject to a small number of modifications being incorporated, the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Plan should be voted upon in a local referendum.
Make a difference
This is one of those rare opportunities where the Hook Heath community really can make a difference through the ballot box by voting to support the adoption of the Neighbourhood Plan.
Provided that it wins majority support from those residents who take part in the referendum, Woking Borough Council will be required to accord the Plan full legal status within the planning system and thus complete the final stage of the process.
How do I cast my vote?
Residents will be able to vote in person at the polling station at the Woking Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club in Pine Road which will be open between 7.00am and 10.00pm on Thursday 8 October.
Voters will receive a ballot paper which will ask the following question:
‘Do you want Woking Borough Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area to help decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?’
You will show your choice by placing a cross (X) in either the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ box on the ballot paper.
Everyone casting their referendum vote will be helping to shape the future development of the area and realising the Plan’s vision of maintaining and enhancing the distinctive and special residential character of Hook Heath. You will also be helping to make history!
More information about the Neighbourhood Plan can be accessed on the Forum website.
If you have any questions about the Plan or the referendum, please contact me at: email@example.com.
The second AGM of the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum will take place on Wednesday 18 November commencing at 7.30pm. The meeting will be at our usual location of De Vere Venues, Gorse Hill, Hook Heath Road. Ben Bridgeman, General Manager at Gorse Hill, has been extremely generous in making the facilities available to the Forum free of charge for our meetings over the past two years. We are most grateful to him and to his team.
I hope to see you at the AGM. Meanwhile, make a point to vote ‘YES’ on Thursday 8 October.
Thanks for your interest and support
Peter Hill, Chairman
On behalf of the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum Steering Group
Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum
an initiative of the Hook Heath Residents' Association
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