THE FARNHAM SOCIETY
Minutes of the 71st Annual General Meeting held on
Friday 25 May 2018
at St Joan’s Centre, Tilford Road, Farnham
Alan Gavaghan Chairman
Michael Blower Vice-President
Janet Radley Vice-Chairman/Secretary
John Cattell Treasurer
98 members of the Society and 7 guests attended
Guest speaker The Rt. Hon. JEREMY HUNT MP
Presentation – Transforming Farnham
by Carole Cockburn, Andy MacLeod and Jim Duffy
The Chairman welcomed members to the Society’s 71st Annual General Meeting and gave a particular welcome to special guest Jeremy Hunt MP and to his colleaguesRichard Nelsonand Morwenna Brown.
Announcing the format for the presentation to follow, Alan Gavaghan said it would illustrate how Jeremy Hunt sees the future of Farnham – visitor friendly and addressing the increasing health hazards of air pollution
Carole Cockburn, with her vast experience of successfully organising public consultations for the Neighbourhood Plan would outline what is proposed for the future as far as this project is concerned
Jim Duffy’s visual presentation, with additional input from Andy MacLeod, would give an impression of how the future is envisaged.
Jeremy Hunt would comment and take questions on the issues raised.
Carole Cockburn talked about spearheading Farnham Town Council’s Neighbourhood Plan, now subject to a partial review as a result of the allocation of an additional 450 dwellings by 2022.
Farnham Town Council would be the anchor for a consultation on Transforming Farnham involving Jim Duffy, local architect, county councillors, borough councillors, Castle Street residents etc – a wide range of opinion would be sought
It was emphasised that the presentation was just the start, not the complete answer. Other people may have better ideas. Although previous studies on Farnham had foundered, the
aim was to finally find a solution to improve traffic flow and air quality in the town. The opinion of Farnham Society members was important
Andy MacLeod outlined the proposals and said a project like this was fundamental to the future of the town
- Gestation – where the ideas in the presentation came from
These ideas were a continuation of the 2014 pedestrianisation consultation initiated by Jeremy Hunt.
Some years ago Surrey County Council commissioned the Mott MacDonald Report which found that, as a result of the high traffic volumes and concurrent congestion, the town centre presents an unattractive environment for pedestrians, has poor air quality and discourages shoppers and visitors from choosing Farnham. Their solution was to make Farnham a ‘destination town’, achievable if there was sufficient provision of mitigation in areas surrounding the town.
Subsequently Jeremy Hunt had asked three County Councillors, The Farnham Society, Farnham Chamber of Commerce, Max Lyons and Jim Duffy to work with him on town centre regeneration
- Objectives – what the team is trying to achieve
Transformation of the town centre, not dominated by cars, done in a gradual, phased way that is acceptable, realistic and affordable.
3.The way forward – how this can be done
The way forward was considered to be wide consultation and the setting up of a proper project which would be achievable subject to finance being found
Jim Duffy of Add Architects described the vision for Farnham with a visual presentation.
As it is, cohesive market town architecture is badly let down by narrow pavements and a very poor public realm. The vision was for a café society with calm, authentic streets and squares and a prime retail pitch with an exciting range of national and local outlets
Showing comparisons with other market towns, the gradual phases of the proposals were outlined:
Phase 1a No fundamental change to the traffic system but would re-balance the town centre space between traffic and pedestrians. Ultimately a pedestrianised area with widened pavements, attractive street furniture and tree planting
Phase 1b The current one-way traffic system uses the Borough as an interchange with offset crossroads. Consideration would be given to accessing car parks without going through the town centre or using the one-way system
Possible changes: reversing the one-way system in The Borough between Castle Street and Downing Street, and between lower Downing Street and Union Road, allowing two way access to Wagon Yard and Central car parks – the beginning of a further reaching proposal. .
Phase 1c Reinstating the historic road link between Castle Hill and The Hart, bypassing Castle Street by re-routing the A287 along The Hart and via a new connection to Caste Hill, mainly through The Hart car parks. This would facilitate an area for market stalls at the bottom of Castle Street
Phase 2 Hickleys Corner/Station Hill – a very poor junction made worse by the level crossing and likely to deteriorate further with the reinstatement of direct train services to Guildford. Firgrove Hill to A31 link to be given priority
Phase 3 Wrecclesham bypass – redirecting heavy traffic from the village centre and reducing risk of repeated railway bridge strikes on theA325
Jeremy Hunt thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to show the presentation but emphasised that it was not his own plan and he was grateful to everyone who had contributed. Ultimately it was a matter for traffic engineers to say what is practical and what is not.
He said that now is a moment of choice and future generations will judge us on whether we did or did not tackle the great issues of traffic and air quality – a long-standing problem, particularly in The Borough. The two big developments going ahead in the town centre (Woolmead and Brightwells) provided an opportunity to persuade the developers to contribute financially on the basis that the proposals would enhance their developments
He cited Carole Cockburn’s approach to the Neighbourhood Plan consultation as a model of how to obtain a consensus across the town as to what would be the right thing for Farnham
If this vision is to be realised there was a need to be flexible about the details. There would inevitably be winners and losers. North Farnham and Hale would need consideration.
Re a possible Wrecclesham bypass – finance for big road schemes were generally linked to large-scale new housing developments which did not apply here.
One challenge is to find a scheme that is workable – the other is financing it
If a scheme is found which was generally agreed the way to go he would make it his principal job to raise the finance via SCC, Dept of Transport, WBC, and the developers of Woolmead and Brightwells (Berkeley Homes and Crest Nicholson respectively)
It was important to stress that this is a consultation, open to other ideas. The hope was that a broad consensus would be found among Farnham people. Once a plan is in place the developers could be approached.
The Farnham Society’s role was very important, as was the Chamber of Commerce. The short term impact on retailers would be a drop in revenue, but with a significant increase in the years that follow. There were many practical problems but the potential for Farnham was huge, with its green spaces, stunning architecture and the quirkiness of its culture.
It will take many years but these proposals were the start on the journey.
David Lea (Lord Lea of Crondall OBE) referred to previous traffic modelling by professionals and asked the meeting to bear in mind a former proposal for an underpass at Hickleys Corner
David Wylde: Mr Hunt was looking for our goodwill and support but in recent years, citing the East Street development and Dunsfold, contact seemed to have been one-sided
Alan Gavaghan replied that support was being asked for in the context of these proposals and should be encouraged
Yolande Hesse totally supported the idea which would have a huge impact, and felt a lot could be done with it, citing French towns as an example
Celia Sandars expressed concern about the provision of parking if more people are to be attracted to the town, and asked what is being done to plan for that, and for accommodating delivery vehicles, especially in Downing Street and The Borough
Jeremy Hunt agreed the need for the provision of infrastructure and the deliveries issue had to be worked on. Jim Duffy said lay-bys could be constructed for delivery vehicles
Stephen Cochrane pointed out that residents of Castle Hill had not been consulted
There were inaccuracies in the map shown
There would be an overall loss of car parking spaces as a result of the East Street development. If the town is to be vibrant, sufficient accessible car parking is needed.
Have people whose houses back on to the proposed new roads been consulted, given the potential impact on their market value?.
Jeremy Hunt replied that this is a first step only, at a very tentative early stage, to gauge reaction from the people of Farnham
Simon Bradbury asked what financial support can we expect for improvements to the A325 with traffic from the new Bordon developments coming through Farnham via Wrecclesham
Jeremy Hunt said he had talked to Hampshire County Council about developers putting money into the A325 improvements
Mary Parker expressed doubt about financial input from the developers of Woolmead and Brightwells as the latter had already been substantially subsidised by SCC
Andy MacLeod pointed out that the Surrey funding was via a government loan which it was hoped would be repaid from rental revenue from the retail units if the scheme is successful
Jeremy Hunt said that in both cases this kind of vision would make the developers’ flats more valuable – a good reason to support this initiative
Zofia Lovell, Chairman of SOFRA, expressed concerns about the impact of re-routed traffic, pointing out that Farnham is currently impacted hugely by impending developments and we are constantly having to comply with more and more planning applications for housing on greenfield and brownfield sites. We need to support our MP and our county councillors and pedestrianisation is a wonderful idea but planning issues need to be addressed for it to work.
Patrick Webber praised the presentation and the idea behind it and stressed the importance of goodwill and co-operation from Waverley
Mr Hunt concluded by saying that he was in the best position, and it was absolutely his job, to bring together Waverley, Surrey County Council, Farnham Town Council and elected councillors and agree what is best for Farnham. The next stage would be to explore where the finance might come from, for traffic engineers to look at what the options are, and to form a tangible proposal for the people of Farnham
Mr Hunt asked for an indication from the audience that the proposals were a step in the right direction and should be pursued. By a show of hands the majority felt that they should.
The Chairman thanked Jeremy Hunt and the presenters and welcomed a positive initiative for Farnham
The Farnham Society Annual General Meeting
- Apologies for absence
Sir Ray Tindle, Brian & Judith Hunt, Michael & Gillian Cubitt, Charles & Franke Stuart
Bev & Heather Fox, Robert & Tempe Mansfield, Gloria & Bob Dyche, Erica Wilkinson Michael and Tandy Murphy, Peter and Wendy Duffy, Virginia Bottomley
- Minutes of the Annual General meeting 9 May 2017
The minutes had been circulated and were approved and signed. No matters arising.
- Chairman’s report
The Chairman’s report had been published on the website Members’ Area and distributed at the meeting. In view of time constraints he did not elaborate on it but invited questions.
- (i) Adoption of draft accounts for financial year ending 31 March 2018
The Treasurer said that the Society was in good financial health and the Treasurer’s Account was doing well. Referring to the Restricted Funds, a ring-fenced account for the balance of funds from donors to the East Street Judicial Review campaign, he said this separation would be maintained in future.
Referring to the Society’s long-term investments, there was concern about the uncertainty of the current market and consideration would be given to changing investment procedure to reduce risk
Adoption of accounts
Proposed: Michael Blower Seconded: Sam Osmond Agreed
(ii) Confirmation of Inspector of Accounts
Roger Smith of Milne Eldridge had agreed to continue as Inspector of Accounts for the current financial year
Proposed: John Cattell Seconded: Dennis Pratt Agreed
- Amendment to The Farnham Society Rules
In view of the new General Data Protection Regulations it was necessary to make minor adjustments to the Rules. A draft had been posted on the website Members’ Area and circulated at the meeting. Agreed.
- Committee reports
All Committee reports had been posted on the website and circulated at the meeting
David Howell announced updates to his report
- The Folly Hill Application Appeal Public Enquiry will be re-opened in June or July
Realistically a decision cannot be expected until July/August
- The Regulation14 six week public consultation of the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan will not commence until the end of June or early July. It is expected the Plan will be discussed at the Full Council Meeting on 14 June
- Protect Our Waverley (POW) have launched a legal challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision to allow planning permission for 1,800 dwellings at Dunsfold
- Bewley Homes are not challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse the Lower Weybourne Lane application.
- It is not yet known whether challenges will be made to the Waverley Lane and Bindon House refusals.
John Slater commented on the much improved change in establishing better communication with Waverley, after a long period of lack of response.
- Re-election of Honorary Officers
Chairman – Alan Gavaghan
Proposed: Michael Blower Seconded: Janet Radley
Vice Chairman/Secretary – Janet Radley
Proposed Alan Gavaghan Seconded: Michael Blower
The Chairman explained that, pending the appointment of a new Secretary, Janet Radley had agreed to stay in post until December
Treasurer – John Cattell
Proposed: Alan Gavaghan Seconded: Janet Radley
- Re-election of Committee
Proposed: Alan Gavaghan Seconded: John Cattell
The Chairman thanked David Wylde for the exceptional amount of work he had done
and for his determination to protect Farnham
Questions from the floor
Patrick Webber expressed concern about the involvement of Surrey police in Waverley’s air quality policy and the perceived possibility of David Munro, as Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner, not remaining impartial
John Slater replied that it is a police matter, not our concern and the Society should not get involved
John Price questioned whether the Society’s records were appropriately stored.
The Chairman assured him on this point. All past minutes are securely housed at the Museum of Farnham
The Chairman thanked members for attending and hoped they would feel that what they had heard this evening would give some hope for the future of the town The Society will continue to do its best to protect Farnham
25 May 2018