THE FARNHAM SOCIETY
Minutes of the 68th Annual General Meeting held on
Tuesday 12 May 2015
at South Farnham School, Menin Way, Farnham
Sir Ray Tindle President David Berry
Alan Gavaghan Chairman Simon Bradbury
Michael Blower Vice-President Michael Clements
Andy MacLeod Vice-Chairman Gloria Dyche
John Cattell Treasurer Krish Kakkar
Janet Radley Secretary Roger Steel
Approximately 65 members of the Society attended.
The Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming Mayor Jeremy Ricketts, the Society President Sir Ray Tindle and Society members
The Farnham Society Amenity Awards 2015 preceded the AGM and were presented by Sir Ray Tindle. The citations for each award were announced by the Chairman, who spoke of the Society’s aim to promote the preservation, improvement and construction of buildings in Farnham and expressed appreciation for the individuals prepared to put time, money and effort into preserving what is valued so much.
Winners of the Farnham Society plaque:
Farnham Pottery – Guy & Elaine Hains
Daniel Hall – Robert Humphrey
The Old Forge, 5 Upper Church Lane – Andrew Tomkins
Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe, 51 Downing Street – Liz Fearnley
Sir Ray Tindle spoke about his memories of The Old Forge before its renovation
- APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Committee members: Peter Bridgeman, Michael Murphy, Rosemary Thomas
Members: Rosemary & Ron Mansfield, Christine Bean, Mr & Mrs Walford Taylor
Mike & Gill Cubitt, John & Carol Wainwright, Pamela Wagerfield, Margaret & Terry Gibbon, Barbara Bradshaw, David Adams, Bob & Ann Blackman, George & Maureen Briggs, Jan & Roger Bradley
- MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING held on 27 May 2014
The Minutes had been circulated and were approved and signed
3. (i) CHAIRMAN’S REPORT
- The Chairman’s report had been distributed to the meeting but there were some additional comments
- Housing. There are real and genuine concerns about the ability of existing infrastructure to cope with demands. The Society has a unique position in monitoring what is happening in Farnham, with an overview of current developments, while the Residents’ Associations focus on their individual area. At a meeting last November Residents’ Associations had called on the Society to write to the appropriate Minister and to Jeremy Hunt to outline the threats to Farnham. The Minister’s reply emphasised Waverley’s need to adopt a Local Plan. Jeremy Hunt declared an active involvement with local politicians to discuss specific problems. There was an indication of his opposition to large-scale brownfield site developments – with an inferred opposition to development at Dunsfold Park (which would attract enough subsidies to deal with infrastructure), but encouragement for discussion on a western relief road or by-pass. It had been agreed at the Residents’ Association meeting to maintain momentum for Dunsfold Park to be developed (5,000 houses approximately)
- A more rational distribution of housing was sought, rather than the criteria for a so-called growth plan for development potential, given to places like Woking and Guildford, being applied to Farnham.
- The Chairman had already had discussion with Councillor Pat Frost on relief roads, unpalatable to some areas of Farnham but necessary for avoiding a worsening of the problem.
- East Street/Brightwells. Counsel’s opinion was still awaited on perceived parallels with Winchester’s Silver Hill development, also the possibility of an injunction being served on Waverley.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
- (Celia Sandars) What could be done about the impact on train services of a huge increase in population.
Chairman: South West Trains had reached capacity but had no intention of spending significant amounts of capital. Suggested discussion with Alton Train Protest Group
- Jerry Hyman expressed a view that the most effective route was to cite breach of EU Environmental Directives. The Chairman responded that the consensus view of the leading organisations in Farnham was to seek advice on parallels with the ‘Winchester decision’ and to explore the possibility of a successful legal action. An opinion from Counsel was awaited
- (ii) COMMITTEE REPORTS
Committee reports on Planning, Traffic, Heritage Open Days and Social Events had been circulated
- Traffic. The committee were awaiting a proposal for Hickley’s Corner, to be put forward by a Society member.
- Heritage Open Days. The Chairman pointed out the extent of the commitment of those involved in what was a huge operation with long-term planning, and thanked Sue Farrow, Erica Wilkinson and the committee members who supported them. We were fortunate to have people in Farnham willing to open their homes to the public.
- The Chairman thanked Janet Radley for her previous work as Visits Organiser, and Diane Bradbury who had now taken over this role.
- Evening talks. The Chairman announced the bequest of a significant sum from a deceased Society member. It was hoped some of it would be used to engage high-profile speakers in the future.
A proposal was announced to increase the entry fee for evening talks from £2 to £3 (members) and £5 to £6 (non-members). Approved.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
- (Hans Dumoulin) Was the Society proposing to take any action on the proposed development of 157 houses at Compton Fields, Waverley Lane.
Chairman: The Planning Committee were making a strong objection to development on this greenfield site, which would have enormous impact on the railway crossing
with resultant ‘rat-runs’ developing.
- It was hoped that the problem of air pollution in Farnham was at the top of the Society’s priorities.
Chairman: confirmed that it was
- David Beaman suggested more pressure is brought to bear on politicians to improve transport services in and around Farnham.
- ADOPTION OF DRAFT ACCOUNTS for financial year ending 31st March 2015
The draft accounts had been distributed to the meeting and the Treasurer outlined his financial statement, also distributed. Membership fees would remain unaltered. He asked that members checked Standing Orders to ensure they were paying the correct amount and thanked them for their support
Adoption of Accounts, proposed – David Berry, seconded – Gloria Dyche. Carried
- ADOPTION OF REVISED RULES
It had become necessary to update minor details in the Society’s Rules and the suggested amendments had been circulated. Approved
- ELECTION/RE-ELECTION OF HONORARY OFFICERS
The Chairman explained that there was one significant change to the list circulated.
Vice-Chairman Andy MacLeod had been elected as a Councillor for both Waverley and Farnham Town Council in the recent local elections, and as a result felt unable to continue.
NOMINEE PROPOSER SECONDER
|Alan GavaghanRosemary ThomasJanet Radley
|Janet RadleyAlan GavaghanAlan Gavaghan
|Michael BloswerErica WilkinsonGloria Dyche
The Chairman suggested they be proposed en bloc
Proposed – Roger Steel, seconded – Krish Kakkar. Carried.
- ELECTION/RE-ELECTION OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS
The current Committee members were all willing to stand again.
David Berry Michael Clements Michael Murphy
Simon Bradbury Gloria Dyche Roger Steel
Peter Bridgeman Krish Kakkar Erica Wilkinson
Proposed – Alan Gavaghan, seconded – Andy MacLeod. Carried.
- CONFIRMATION OF INSPECTOR OF ACCOUNTS
The Chairman expressed thanks to Roger Smith who had taken over the role from Colin Christmas, and confirmed he would remain as Inspector of Accounts for the coming year.
- ANY OTHER BUSINESS
The Chairman outlined arrangements for the forthcoming coffee morning at Monkshill,
Tilford in aid of the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice.
Charles Stuart congratulated the Chairman for his continuing stewardship of the Society.
The Chairman said he had enormous support from the Committee and hoped the good done by The Farnham Society over the last 100 years would continue.
Following the AGM the Chairman introduced the presentation by Michael Blower and Michael Holden of an alternative scheme for East Street, emphasising that the Society could not claim credit for what was intended to be a community-driven scheme.
A group of local people had been working with professional advice to set up an alternative plan which, if progressed, would be run by a Community Trust. Members had the opportunity earlier in the evening to view artistic interpretations of the scheme by Michael Blower, who drew attention to a model of the original proposed East Street development, built 3 years ago, and said It had been a team effort to find a lower impact alternative to that – one which captured the Georgian spirit and upheld the guiding principle of reflecting the historic character of the town.
Michael Holden then presented details of the scheme’s main features :
- Brightwell House at the centre
- Widened green open space landscaped as a park, with an avenue of trees framing a view towards the River Wey
- Gardener’s Cottage retained
- Two terraces of elegantly designed town houses bordering parkland at Brightwell Gardens
- Overall, 103 housing units, including affordable flats
- 394 car parking spaces
- Retail units of mixed size on ground floor of old cinema site, with 400 seat, 3 screen cinema/bars above, linked to theatre and 180 seat restaurant at Brightwell House
- Cultural and entertainment provision, with retail and residential use to ensure vitality and commercial viability
- An independent cinema (like Curzon or Everyman) would be more responsive to its audience, more catholic in its tastes, provide a better service to the local community
The Chairman then asked if it was the wish of members for the Society to move towards something of this nature. With support from Farnham Building Preservation Trust, the Farnham Interest Group and possibly the Chamber of Commerce, also Independent Councillors recently elected and established Councillors leaning in this direction, a political move may be possible, beginning with Farnham Town Council.
There followed general discussion on the current situation re East Street and the alternative scheme presented
- The proposed Non-Material Amendment to Rule 16, due to be heard by Waverley’s Planning Committee at the beginning of June, would exclude the provision of a bridge over the River Wey from the A31 on to the Brightwells site. There was concern that by establishing work on the site, however minimal, the need to renew planning permission would be avoided.
Two mitigating factors were that the land had not yet been amassed, and there was a strong proviso in the original contract for a bridge from the A31 to the development area.
In response to a question as to whether there can be a legal challenge to the breach of the provisional contract the Chairman reaffirmed that lawyer’s advice was still awaited
- Re funds for the new scheme
(Jackie Stinton) – suggested maximum exposure in the Farnham Herald and a request to The Farnham Society members asking for donations
Chairman: When donations were previously requested, for legal costs re East Street, the result had been relatively disappointing.
(David Beaman) - raised a point on the Waverley attitude to property values and the answer given was that Waverley would have to sell properties back at the same price.
(Michael Holden) Financial backers lending money for the scheme would want provision of a covenant. Farnham Town Council has the ability to hold a covenant on behalf of the community and the hope was they could be persuaded to do so.
- The proposed alternative scheme does not provide enough accommodation in the centre of Farnham.
Michael Holden: There was provision for more than 60 affordable units
- Offering Crest Nicholson the housing on the site could be a way forward
The Chairman stressed that the Society would not take action until the appropriate legal advice was received, then persuasion rather than demand would be the best approach.
Michael Blower concluded by saying the team wanted quality for East Street and felt the scheme was the way forward to achieve that.
Proposal – that this audience supports an alternative scheme for East Street. Carried.