NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM UPDATE 8
We have lift-off
It is eighteen months since we embarked on the journey to set up a Neighbourhood Forum for Hook Heath. We have made it at last.
Woking Borough Council accorded formal designation to the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum and to our Neighbourhood Area at its meeting on 24 October. It is the first such body to be established in the borough under the 2011 Localism Act.
Our application, which was submitted to WBC in May, was then the subject of a six week public consultation during the summer. It was always scheduled to hit the 10 October meeting of the WBC Executive to be followed two weeks later for approval by the full Council.
At the 10 October Executive meeting, members congratulated Hook Heath Residents’ Association on its initiative. Councillors noted that when the Neighbourhood Plan has been adopted, it will form part of the Council’s statutory development plan for the area and will be taken into account in relation to all relevant planning decisions.
Obviously we have much to do before we reach that point so, in every sense, the Council’s decision to designate the Forum, marks the end of the beginning. But we have hit the ground running.
We have a clear timetable, we have three working groups studying the built environment, local infrastructure and open spaces, and we have the active involvement of a growing number of residents.
We had an encouraging response to the questionnaire which was distributed recently to the 725 households which lie within the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area. Many thanks to those of you who responded either on-line or in hard copy format.
We are analysing the replies which will inform the first stage of our work on the production of the Neighbourhood Plan, and there will be a presentation on the results at the Forum meeting on 20 November (see later item in this UPDATE).
My sincere thanks to everyone who has shown interest in the Forum, given their support, and who has registered as a member of the Forum: your continuing support will be essential to demonstrate that our community can produce a Plan that secures the present and safeguards the future of Hook Heath.
Consultation will be key
The responses to the recent questionnaire will be a great help in the initial stages of producing our Neighbourhood Plan. Expect more opportunities for residents and businesses to become involved in the plan-making process over the next few months.
Our consultation exercise began with the May 2012 Newsletter of the Hook Heath Residents’ Association and we have held three meetings of the Forum in its pre-designation format. We have learned a great deal about what is involved in preparing a Plan over the past few months but one feature stands out: we must be able to demonstrate that we have a continuing, coherent and comprehensive consultation programme.
Our fourth meeting, on 20 November at DeVere Venues Gorse Hill, Hook Heath Road commencing at 7.30pm, provides us with an ideal opportunity to maintain the momentum. I hope that as many people as possible will make an effort to attend and generate a really productive discussion based on the feedback from the questionnaire.
Woodbank Care Home closure
Still no news on what is happening to the site of the home on Holly Bank Road which is to close at the end of November. The Methodist Housing Association, which owns the site, is reportedly planning to create a new “assisted living scheme” once the present buildings are demolished: no sign yet of any plans being submitted.
Four tastefully designed PVC banners which we planned to attach to the wooden Hook Heath road signs and were designed to lift awareness of the Neighbourhood Forum have fallen foul of officialdom. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say their size (dictated by the dimensions of the signs) contravened Class 3D of the Advertising Regulations. I am pleased to report, however, that two of them have escaped and have found sanctuary in the roadside garden of a Forum member!
Register as a Forum member
It is very simple and straightforward to do so: join us at the 20 November Forum meeting and complete a short application form or, alternatively, complete the form on-line. There is no membership fee.
Many thanks for your interest and support.
Peter Hill, Chairman, Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum
Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum
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