NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM UPDATE 4
Midsummer’s Day is fast approaching. How time flies. While we have made good progress over the past few months towards establishing the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum (HHNF) there remains a fair distance yet to travel.
The mid-year point is a good opportunity, therefore, for a further UPDATE.
The public consultation begins
Reflecting the legislative requirements, Woking Borough Council (WBC) has begun the six week-long public consultation on our application to register the Forum. A notice inviting comments (hopefully all supportive) from residents was posted on the WBC website (www.woking.gov.uk) on Friday 14 June. A similar public notice will be published in the Woking News & Mail on Thursday 20 June.
It is vitally important that we are able to provide WBC with a strong and positive response to the consultation exercise. Please visit www.woking.gov.uk or buy a copy of the Woking News & Mail on 20 June.
You can register your support by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to Jeni Jackson, Head of Planning Services, WBC, Civic Offices, Woking, GU21 6YL.
The consultation period will end on Friday 2 August 2013.
Please encourage your friends and neighbours to respond too. Information about the Forum and the proposed Neighbourhood Plan can be viewed on the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum website: (http://www.hookheathforum.hhra.co.uk).
At the Forum meeting on 24 April, Dr David Dare, deputy chairman, Gerald Griffiths, treasurer, Heather Mustard, secretary, and yours truly were elected as the officers for the forthcoming year. Meeting as a management committee for the first time on 9 May, we were joined by Dr Neil Cryer, HHRA webmaster who has established a site for the Forum.
It was a thoroughly productive meeting - about which, more later - and we had a wide ranging discussion. We recognise that preparing a neighbourhood plan for Hook Heath will pose many challenges but I hope that with goodwill, support and the active participation of residents, we shall succeed. At our meeting we agreed that we should aim for a deadline of June 2014 for producing a draft neighbourhood plan. Time will tell whether that is a sensible and reasonable target or wholly unrealistic.
Working groups: volunteers needed
The principal means by which I hope it will be possible to meet our objective will be via the formation of three key working groups. Following our management committee meeting, I am delighted to record sincere thanks to several individuals who have kindly agreed to initiate that work. Maxwell New will lead the Built Environment group, Colin Kite is taking on the Open Spaces group while Daryl and Wendy Mullins will start the work of the group looking at Local Infrastructure issues. Meanwhile, Shaun Glanville has kindly agreed to take on the vitally important role of project co-ordinator.
Each group leader will need a small team of volunteers to take forward the work. The production of a neighbourhood plan will simply not happen without the active support and involvement of residents. Several people have previously expressed their interest in becoming actively involved and we shall be in touch with them - but we do need more to step forward.
Please contact me at email@example.com if you would like to join one of the working groups.
We have scheduled a further meeting of the management committee and working group leaders on 18 June when, in addition to other topics, Shaun will lead a discussion on the proposed timetable.
At the meeting, I also hope to make progress on drafting a questionnaire for distribution to residents within the proposed Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area. Neil and Nick Spencer have undertaken some useful groundwork. The responses to the questionnaire will inform the work programmes to be followed by each of the three groups.
On the finance front, Gerald has drafted specimen financial rules for the Forum and, importantly, he has also completed and submitted a lengthy application for specialist consultancy and financial support for the HHNF.
The Government has introduced a £9.5m nationwide scheme for supporting communities engaged in neighbourhood planning. Up to £7000 per neighbourhood area is available under the scheme; we have entered a bid for the maximum amount and we should know how successful we have been (or otherwise) by the end of June.
Green Belt review and more
You will have read in the local press that WBC is now pressing ahead with the next stage of collating information to facilitate the delivery of the Core Strategy Development Document which it adopted last autumn.
The Council will be allocating specific sites for development and designate areas of land for protection, safeguarding where specific policies apply. As part of this exercise - and of particular interest to Hook Heath residents - WBC is also undertaking a review of the Green Belt boundary in order to identify specific sites to meet housing needs towards the end of the plan period between 2022 and 2027. More information will be found at: http://www.woking2027.info/allocations and submissions need to be made by 5 July this year.
Meanwhile, the local press has noted our objective to produce a neighbourhood plan for Hook Heath through registration of the Forum. The Woking Informer carried an article in its edition of 9 May (page 5) while a week later the Woking News & Mail of 16 May also carried a report and photograph (page 17).
Wanted: Your Hook Heath photographs
The Forum committee is keen to build up an archive of good quality images of Hook Heath. In the first instance they will be published on our website (www.hhra.co.uk) and subsequently we shall want to include some of them in the final version of the Neighbourhood Plan that we submit to WBC.
So, if you have a favourite photograph(s) or painting(s) of a feature of Hook Heath that you feel reflects the unique character of the area, send your images to: .
Neil Cryer, who is handling submissions, asks that your images should be submitted as a JPEG file of not more than 5 megabytes.
The next meeting of the Forum will be held on Wednesday 24 July at Gorse Hill, Hook Heath Road commencing at 7.30pm. Please do your best to attend this meeting.
The public consultation period will be almost at its end so do please register your support for registration of the Forum and the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area by 2 August.
Remember, this is YOUR opportunity to help shape the future of Hook Heath.
Many thanks for your interest and support.
Chairman-elect, Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum
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