Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum

NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM UPDATE 9
November 2013

We are building interest and momentum

It was standing room only (almost) at the Forum meeting on 20 November at De Vere Venues, Gorse Hill. Many thanks to everyone who turned out on a dark, damp November evening to make it our best attended meeting to date.

It was encouraging that so many people took time to come along to contribute their thoughts, suggestions, ideas and constructive criticism at what was our first meeting since the Forum was formally designated by Woking Borough Council on 24 October. It was especially pleasing that our two local ward councillors, Cllr. John Kingsbury, leader of the Council, and Cllr. Graham Cundy, were both able to join us.

You will by now have received the minutes of that meeting together with the PowerPoint presentation given by Dr David Dare who analysed the responses (100 in all) to our Forum questionnaire. You will also have received a separate document which lists the preliminary draft policies which have been developed by our three working groups: Built Environment, Local Infrastructure and Open Spaces.

Comments and ideas welcome

I am sure that there will be many of you who will have further comments and ideas once you have had time to read and reflect on the questionnaire analysis and on the draft policies. Do please let me have your feedback and your suggestions. I can be reached by e-mail at: forum-chair@hhra.co.uk

E-mail addresses are very sensitive, so please follow the punctuation carefully and don’t add a full point after the ‘uk’: if you do the message will circle in cyberspace in perpetuity.

The atmosphere at the meeting was very positive. I am in no doubt that there is now a much better understanding of why it is sensible for the residents and businesses within the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area to join together to produce a Neighbourhood Plan and thus be able to influence the future development of this unique part of the borough.

You will have noted in the Forum minutes that membership and interest in the Forum has grown tenfold to more than 200 since the Hook Heath Residents’ Association launched the Neighbourhood Forum initiative in May 2012. I hope that we shall be able to expand that number substantially over the next few months.

It is very simple to register for membership - there is no fee involved - just visit the website at www.hhra.co.uk and follow the links to the registration form in the Hook Heath Forum area of the site

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.

The younger generation

A (younger) resident who attended the 20 November meeting contacted the Forum committee afterwards. He said how much he appreciated the input and time committed by the, mainly, older generation to the development of the Neighbourhood Forum. However, he cautioned that it was very important to engage with younger families and potentially those coming to live in Hook Heath.

I agree wholeheartedly. If you have suggestions as to the best means of making contact with younger residents then please let me know: forum-chair@hhra.co.uk

Just for the record, the 2011 Census revealed that 335 residents (17%) were in the 30-44 age bracket at the time of the Census.

More factoids

Peter Spreckley of Pond Road, who has recently joined the Forum, has undertaken some analysis of the 2011 Census figures as they apply to the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area. The total population at the time was 2021: 969 were men and 1,052 were women.

Our Neighbourhood Area covers approximately 232 hectares (573.3 acres) with an average density of people/hectare of 8.7 (including the land embraced by the Woking Golf course) or 13.9, excluding the golf course. The Census is providing us with valuable information and there is more, much more, to be mined!

Back to school

As we prepare to embark on the serious business of developing our Neighbourhood Plan, several members of the Forum’s working groups and committee will be attending a policy writing workshop at Gorse Hill on Wednesday 18 December. It has been organised by Locality, the organisation appointed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, to help groups engaged in producing a Neighbourhood Plan.

Spaces are still available. If you would like to join us between 6 pm and 9 pm for what promises to be an informative and instructive session, just drop me a note at:

Woodbank Care Home closure

The staff and residents have left the home, located between Pond Road and Holly Bank Road and at the junction of those roads with Hook Heath Road. Security personnel are patrolling the premises but, so far, there is no sign of any planning application for the reported “assisted living scheme” which is to replace the present home which is scheduled for demolition. Watch this space.

Many thanks for your interest and support.

Peter Hill, Chairman, Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum

 

 

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