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AGM Detailed Planning Reports

The Woolmead

The Western Planning Committee of 15 councillors from Farnham and the former Southern Area unanimously refused the application to reduce the number of car parking spaces within the building’s basement from 141 to 80.

The Society’s planning committee chair asked David Wylde, a long time Society member, one of the ’Brightwells Five’, to speak on behalf of the Society.

A highlight of the meeting was Councillor Dickson drawing the committee’s attention to the fact that Berkeley Homes’ last reported turnover was £1.9 billion and their profit £503 million, yet they were unable to finance the cost of the car parking spaces they were trying to remove from the scheme. Tony Pidgley, Chairman of the Berkeley Homes Group died on Friday 26 June. There is uncertainty about what will happen to the site now.

Farnham Design Statement Review

Planning chair wrote to the five members of the Infrastructure Planning Group on Friday 26 June confirming that the majority of the Planning Committee were entirely dissatisfied and disappointed with the draft Plan as it failed to meet its own objectives, and suggested a pause in the work and a rethink. The planning chair did so reluctantly but said that we must grasp this opportunity to address the numerous shortfalls in the document. The leader of the Group has confirmed that he will respond when they have had a chance to consider all the issues.

Farnham Project Board

The Society have been approached, as a stakeholder, to assist the Surrey County Council appointed traffic consultants. A public consultation document is currently being prepared, time scale unknown.

East Hampshire District Council Local Plan

East Hampshire District Council has identified a site in Whitehill & Bordon for the development of up to 1,300 additional homes in preference to the site at Northbrook Park. However, they have continued to confirm that instead of allocating another large development site in the district, the council intends to identify a ‘broad area of search’ along the A31 corridor.

Brightwells Trees Planning Application

No date has been decided for the western Planning Committee meeting to determine the planning application to vary the condition in the 2016 planning approval to allow the felling and replacement of the three mature trees adjacent to Brightwell House.

Land at Green Lane Farm

Waverley Borough Council served an Enforcement Notice on the landowner week commencing 22 June. The Notice takes effect on Friday 31 July 2020 and has to be complied with within 6 months.

 

AGM 2020

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Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic it was necessary to cancel the 2020 AGM. Because of the lack of clarity as to when group meetings will once again be permitted, it was agreed to hold a virtual AGM. The agenda, minutes of the 2019 AGM, reports and Executive Committee election form can all be found below. Click on the entry to download the document as a PDF.

Voting has been by email, and the results have been circulated to members.

AGM 2020 Agenda

Minutes of the 2019 AGM

Chairman’s Report AGM 2020

Treasurer’s AGM statement 2019_20
Treasurer’s AGM Report 2019-20

AGM Committee Election 2020

Committee Reports

Planning Report AGM 2020
Air Quality Report AGM 2020
Summary Farnham Air Quality Selected sites 2013 — 2019
HODs Report AGM 2020
Visits Report AGM 2020
Talks and Events Report AGM 2020

Planning Update Report AGM 2020

Covid 19 cases in Waverley

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Keep track of the number of Covid-19 cases arising locally. This will give an indication of how relaxation of lockdown is affecting the spread of the disease in our area.

Cases for Waverley are published by the UK government, see the website coronavirus.data.gov.uk  Data is updated on a daily basis.

Historical data is listed below to show the current trend. The method of counting cases was changed on 2 July, so results before and after this date are not directly comparable. For more information on this, click here.

Weekly Covid-19 cases 12 September

For the week ending Saturday 12 September, this amounts to 21 new cases in Waverley  per 100,000 head of population. For reference, the government has imposed quarantine on travellers returning from a foreign country where the weekly infection rate has exceeded 20 cases per 100,000. While there are no mandated figures for imposing a local lockdown, a rate of 40 cases per 100,000 is likely to raise concerns. In the week 3 – 10 September, Birmingham experienced 872 new cases, over a population of 1,141,400, a rate of 76 new cases per 100,000, and was declared an ‘area of intervention’.

Date                      Total number of cases        % of population*

18 September                   556                                         0.43

17 September                   554

16 September                   554

15 September                   553

14 September                   550

14 September  Groups restricted to 6 people

13 September                   550

12 September                   550

11 September                   546

10 September                   543

9 September                     541

8 September                     535

7 September                     530

6 September                     527

5 September                     524

4 September                     523

3 September                     521

2 September                     520

1 September                     519

1 September  Schools reopen

31 August                          514

30 August                          504

29 August                          504

28 August                          501

27 August                          501

26 August                          498

25 August                          496

24 August                          493

23 August                          491

22 August                          491

21 August                          487

20 August                          484

19 August                          481

18 August                          480

17 August                          478

16 August                          476

15 August                          475

15 August  Casinos and indoor theatres reopen

14 August                          475

13 August                          473

12 August                          473

10 August                          472

09 August                          472

08 August                          472

07 August                          472

06 August                          472

05 August                          471

04 August                          471

03 August                          471

02 August                          471

01 August                          471

31 July                               471

30 July                               471

29 July                               469

28 July                               467

27 July                               466

26 July                               466

25 July                               465

25 July    Indoor gyms and pools reopen

24 July                               464

23 July                               463

22 July                               463

21 July                               463

20 July                               463

19 July                               462

18 July                               461

17 July                               457

16 July                               456

15 July                               456

14 July                               456

13 July                               456

13 July    Beauty salons reopen

12 July                               456

11 July                               456

11 July    Outdoor swimming pools, outdoor theatres reopen

10 July                               455

09 July                               454

08 July                               454

07 July                               454

06 July                               452

05 July                               452

04 July                               452

04 July    Pubs and hairdressers reopen

03 July                               452

02 July                               451

02 July    Revised method of counting cases

01 July                               308

30 June                              308

29 June                              308

28 June                              308

27 June                              308

26 June                              308

25 June                              308

24 June                              307

23 June                              307

22 June                              307

21 June                              307

20 June                              307

19 June                              307

18 June                              306

17 June                              306

16 June                              305

15 June                              305

15 June       Non essential shops open

14 June                              305

13  June                             305

13 June     Social bubbles for 2 households allowed

12 June                              305

11 June                              305

10 June                              304

9 June                                304                                         0.24

1 June        Schools reopen to selected years

13 May      Some businesses (including Garden centres) reopen

* The Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimated the population of Waverley in mid 2019 as 126,328.

 

Farnham Infrastructure Programme

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The Farnham Infrastructure Programme (FIP), a collaboration of Surrey County Council with Waverley Borough Council and Farnham Town Council, aims to deliver a single shared vision for the future infrastructure of Farnham.

The Farnham Local Liaison Forum (LLF) has been formed to engage with the local community and local businesses to shape Farnham’s future. The LLF was launched by Webinar on 5 August 2020, with a presentation by representatives of all three councils.

LLF Laptop Screen 2A

 

Click here for slide presentation.

You can watch the 2 hour webinar by clicking on the following link

https://www . youtube . com/watch?v=A45_vmXViHA&feature=youtu . be

For a list of questions raised and answers given at the webinar, click here.

 

Architecture & Design Awards 2020

Award Certificate Watermark 2021

 

The Planning Committee have received a limited number of nominations for the Awards. Having sought agreement with the executive committee they have reluctantly decided to postpone the current Award cycle until 2021. When nominations are sought again the buildings nominated by the closing date of 31 January 2020 will be included. Nomination will be sought for buildings and schemes completed between September 2017 and January 2021. It is proposed that the deadline for nominations will be Monday 1 February 2021.

The Planning chair thanks members that nominated buildings or schemes and will contact them personally shortly.

 

August updates

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We take a look at what has been happening  in August, with regard to some of  the major  development works in progress or proposed, in and around Farnham.

 

 

Woolmead
Woolmead sheet piling image TFS
A quick update on activity (or lack of it) at the Woolmead site. Work has ceased while Berkeley Homes attempt to change their plans by removing underground car parking space – the local authorities are opposed to the change. Meanwhile steel sheet piling has been delivered from a site in Hull. Sheet piling is used to retain the earth when forming basements. The views reported to come from Berkeley are along the lines of ‘don’t expect anything to happen for up to a year.’ So far Berkeley Homes’ senior management haven’t communicated their intentions to Waverley Borough Council.

Folly Heights

Planning consent was granted for this large housing development at the top of Folly Hill, in spite of opposition from the local authorities and in spite of the site not being included in the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan.Folly Heights roundabout August 2020

Construction has started, with works on the A287 to create access to the development, including a new roundabout. This is for a development of fewer than 100 new houses, yet no roundabout is planned for access to the proposed Coxbridge Farm development with more than 300 houses. Are the developers, CALA, intent on extending the development further to the west across Upper Old Park Lane, to add yet more new houses?

Rowledge

Holt Pound aerial photo TFS

There are proposals for an extra care retirement community in Holt Pound, Rowledge, comprising 121 homes plus communal facilities. For comparison, Hawthorn Lodge (the site of the former police station) has 50 apartments. The proposed development is on the eastern side of the A325, between Wrecclesham and Bird World, in what is now an open field used to graze horses. In the aerial photo above, the A325 is seen running across the top left, Fullers Road runs along the lower edge of the field.  East Hampshire District Council’s Land Availability Assessment, December 2018 has designated the land ‘undevelopable’ stating ‘Residential development would potentially have an adverse impact on the rural character of the area, and is disproportionate in size to the existing settlement. Lack of suitable public transport – particularly to the scarcity of an evening bus service – would lead to a substantial increase in private car use.
Of particular concern is the way the developers are using planning law. The proposal ls for Planning use C2 (Residential Institutions) which covers hospitals, nursing homes, boarding schools, residential colleges and training centres. C2 developments do not attract Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) for the benefit of the community, for example to upgrade the A325 nearby. The site being in Hampshire would mean that Waverley would not benefit from it in any way, despite the residents using facilities in Farnham and Rowledge.
If you feel that you would like to let the parish council know what you think, you can write to them at Binsted Parish Council, The Sports Pavilion, The Street, Binsted, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 4PB

or email either their Chairman, Ron Neil, at r.neil@binstedparishcouncil.org.uk).
or Susan Hodder clerk@binstedparishcouncil.org.uk

Our programme

AGM 2019

2020 Programme

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the committee has decided to cancel all events until further notice. We are monitoring the situation to assess whether events can resume.

Watch this website or follow us on Facebook for announcements.

Heritage Open Days 2020

Gostrey Meadow River Wey

The Covid-19 pandemic has prevented us from offering the traditional range of activities – visits to historic buildings and private houses, walks and talks. So our celebration of Heritage Open Days has a new look this year. September sees the launch of a new survey of public green spaces in and around the town, presented as self conducted tours. On offer is a collection of 38 fascinating guides to Farnham’s Green Spaces, assembled and recorded by retired tree expert Peter Bridgeman, well known for his talks and guided walks. We feature parks, gardens and recreation grounds in and around the town. Some will be quite familiar but others much less well known.

The guides are presented in a set of two leaflets. One lists spaces within the town, the other describes those in outlying areas.  They are available now from the Council Offices in South Street, Farnham Library and other locations on the town, and are also online here – click the links below to download as PDFs.

Green spaces in town centre

Green spaces in surrounding area

Information is also available on the national Heritage Open Days website:

Town centre

Surrounding area

Farnham’s Heritage open Days has its own Facebook page.

Facebook

 

 

 

 

Craft space at Brightwells

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Craft space at Brightwells, What do you think ?

As you will remember we challenged the development, campaigned and raised tens of thousands of pounds, went to the High Court but lost because the judge said that the appellants, Councillors and long-term residents of Farnham didn’t have ‘standing’. The executive and planning committee still dislike the development intensely but want it to succeed for the good of Farnham.

Residents take the Initiative

So, what would succeed ? The bricks and mortar retail sector is crashing. The shopping mall owner Intu going into administration is another example. Farnham has to take the initiative. At the moment Surrey and Crest don’t appear to be doing so, although they should be. They should be very worried, but hey, it’s not their money, it’s ours that is at risk.

During the course of the last five weeks there have been several letters to the Editor of the Herald suggesting uses for the Brightwells retail space – one arguably surreal, nevertheless portraying possible scenarios.

I have been talking to a local lecturer in retailing and to other local people about the possibilities. Here are some of the thoughts that resulted.

World Craft City

We must take full advantage of any opportunities that arise from our World Craft City status, newly awarded by the World Craft Council. A single shopping unit (or adjoining units combined) could be used to form a craft orientated space to display and sell locally made art of all forms. West Kilbride, Craft Town Scotland, have their Barony Centre. We could do the same within Brightwells.

Alternatives are a much needed space for community use or even a privately operated business hub or two. The UCA and the New Ashgate Gallery could be encouraged to further coordinate with the town and set up pop up demonstration and sales spaces, similar to that in South Street, Christmas 2018. These could also promote short courses in craft skills which there appears to be an opportunity for.

Space could be used to explore and promote shared talent and experiences, overlapping with the Maltings’ programme. The New Ashgate Galley could consider creating something on the west side of town that complements what they have in Lower Church Lane.

Commercially

Thinking commercially, space could be used for creating experiences coupled with sales opportunities. For example an ironmongery store with tradesmen providing sessions demonstrating basic DIY skills, training in sustainable living, upcycling and selling sustainable products, or, as a council officer suggested, bicycle repairs and maintenance classes also selling bicycle parts. There could be opportunities for Mother and Baby now that Mothercare are no more: classes, sales of premium products.

Then, how about combining adjacent spaces to form a membership based facility? A good model is offered by the Soho House group, who have sites in London and elsewhere.

Companies will be operating in new ways now that working from home has been seen as a way forward. A facility in Brightwells could offer membership in tiered levels, providing meeting spaces, reducing the need for companies to rent offices of their own. Spaces of different sizes could be offered, with basic but good quality catering, maybe open to non-members. This would create a hub for networking, effectively a new business platform.

Want to be there

The ethos of the development must make residents and visitors want to be there, to experience and to enjoy. The atmosphere of each unit should be warm and welcoming, not sterile.

Where spaces are used in multiple occupation, the occupants must be required to follow guidance on presentation both inside and outside the units. Everything must be ‘quality’ and reflect ‘excellence’. Something that simply ‘will do’ will not be acceptable.

What do you think ? If Crest or Surrey won’t engage with us residents, we will have to take it to them. Please let us know.

 

The future of our high streets

Save our High Street

The Future of our high streets

At The Haslemere Society’s AGM in November 2019, PROFESSOR DAVID EVANS, a Trustee and former Chairman of Civic Voice, shared his perspectives on the challenges and opportunities for High Streets. This is an abridged version of his address to members of The Haslemere Society.

I am a trustee of Civic Voice, which is the umbrella organisation for civic societies like yours across the country. I said like yours, but all civic societies are very different. They all share the same common theme, which is that they care about the place they live in and want to make it better, but they vary enormously in size, in wealth and in the things that they do.

One of the things that has become a particularly concern in recent years has been the issue of high streets and what is happening in them. People will blame the council, while ordering books from Amazon. I should make it clear that in my view high streets have been changing ever since the industrial revolution. Before that you literally had butchers, bakers, cobblers who plied their trade in a workshop and then sold from the workshop in a high street.

After the industrial revolution you had a change, with people coming in to sell goods that others had produced, and then you had specialist retailers arriving and department stores opening up. Gradually, they expanded and chain stores started taking over high streets. So the fact that high streets are changing is nothing new, but I do think that high streets have changed enormously over the past 40 years and even more over the past 20 years. A lot of people feel a great deal of nostalgia for shops like butchers, and fishmongers.

Retail moves out of town

Then there has been the growth in out-of-town retailing. When I moved to Chester there were shops like Halfords, Currys and an electricity board and gas board shop in the main street, but they all moved out of town to places where the parking was easier. Change in the high street is nothing new and has always gone on, but something more fundamental does seem to be happening now than what has gone before. Those changes were all about expansion, and maybe these now are about decline.

Some big names have gone completely, names like Karen Millen (now online only) Toys R’ Us, House of Fraser is not what it was and Debenhams is in deep trouble. So lots of big name stores are closing and we tend to have a sense of doom and gloom about this, but you do have to remember that other things are opening on our high streets such as coffee bars and gyms. Aldi and Lidl are thriving and expanding; Primark is growing too and has no online presence at all. Then there are nail bars and tattoo parlours,and vape stores, so things are happening and they are changing.

Online retailing arrives

This all arguably started in 1984 when a pensioner from Gateshead made the first ever online purchase, using the former Ceefax service! It has gone on from there and you can argue that it is the big problem for our high streets at the moment. In 2007 2.5% of retailing was online, but by 2019 it was 20%, so a huge proportion of goods not being sold on the high street. Everything suggests that this trend is going to continue. The Office of National Statistics says that this trend will continue, and the proportion of retailing that is online will increase to 40% of total spending.

In 1950 we had nearly 60,000 stores nationwide, now we are down to just over 30,000, so just over half the number in 1950 and by 2022 that figure is forecast to have fallen below 30,000. But there are big regional differences – London and the South East have seen far fewer store closures that the rest of the country, including my patch in the North-West, which is one of the highest.

Retailing has lost over 100,000 jobs in the past few years and the British Retail Consortium suggests that there could well be nearly 1m fewer jobs in retail over the next decade. That is not just store closures, but also automation like self-service tills, that will reduce the need for retail workers. We are also not going to high streets as much as we did. There is a decline in footfall, so if people are not coming past your door, they are not going to come into your shop. That is another area for concern.

Government concern

Government has realised that this is becoming a major issue and earlier in 2019 there was a House of Commons select committee report which looked at what is going to happen in high streets and town centres by 2030. There have been a number of initiatives arising out of this. The Government’s future high street fund potentially has around £1 billion of expenditure in it. Historic England has produced heritage action zone funding, aimed at shopping centres in conservation areas. Heritage lottery funds will also support retailing in areas that have heritage significance.

The future high streets plan has about £1 billion available and 100 areas have been allocated seed-corn funding of around £150,000 to work up a bid that will be in the region of £25-50 million then that funding will be made available, possibly in April/May 2020. There are also 69 areas that have been awarded funding from Historic England for heritage action zones funding, which can be up to £1 million, and Chester is one of those places to be allocated funding. There were over 300 expressions of interest in this high street fund, of which 100 were short-listed.

Portas Pilots

Mary Portas was appointed some years ago to look at ways of transforming high streets and it can be argued that her attempt was pretty unsuccessful. It was good PR but apart from making a television programme, most of the pilot towns don’t seem to have progressed very far. However, there are some honourable exceptions to that. Broadstairs, for instance, was an original “Portas Pilot” and set up what was called a “town team” using volunteers to try to revive the town centre and that pilot project is still running today, despite the fact that the funding has ended.

Barnes, in SouthWest London, also had a Portas Pilot, and instead of spending the money on external consultants they actually decided to have a community workshop to bring local people together and ask them about what they should do. So there was a team made up of businesses, residents, community groups and councillors and they planned a visioning event to create a vision for the town that was led by the residents.

They held a workshop called the “Big Barnes Ponder” in October 2013, which attracted 350 local residents. They grouped their ideas and from that devised six projects and they got 60 volunteers to help implement those projects. Since then, it’s kept going and volunteers have been campaigning and lobbying from the bottom up to try and make their high street a more interesting and refreshing place.

The difference between these two and most of the other Portas Pilots has been that they didn’t concentrate on trying to bring retail back in, but instead to make their town centres an interesting and lively place where people could congregate and felt a sense of belonging and could carry out community activities.

Success in Barnes

That has led to some spectacular successes. Civic Voice held a workshop in Aldershot to look into a similar project there and, in response to Aldershot Civic Society’s Tweet, they got one back from someone in Barnes, telling them that the footfall there since the start of its project had actually doubled. The project in Barnes succeeded in bringing people back there, and if you can bring people back to your town centre, then you have a better hope of keeping retail alive. But you also have to provide people with other reasons to come.

So where do we start if we want to revive high streets? The Institute of Place Management (IPM) at Manchester Metropolitan University came up with a model where they looked at the factors affecting towns, shopping centres and high streets. There are some things – called spatial – which you can’t do anything about, so you are where are, you have no influence over where the town is located, and whether it has a big city nearby. There are also macro factors, political and economic, social and environmental factors which an individual high street cannot do much about.

There are factors about competition – maybe you can do something about those, internet shopping, out-of-town retailers – the high street can have limited influence on those, but actually there are examples where high street retailers are succeeding. But it is the factors in the high street itself that you can influence most. Individual retailers – how the transport system works, whether you can park, how you can encourage regular customers, those are all things that you can do. So the message is basically to focus on the things that you can change, not on the things that you can’t.

Success factors

The IPM came up with 201 factors that influence vitality and viability in the high street. They start with footfall as number one, accessibility, types of retailers, convenience, and they go right the way down to cycling, land contamination, and healthcare, so a huge range of factors. You are a civic society and we are an organisation of civic societies, what can we do about it? Well lots of civic societies are doing things about it. Meetings such as this are taking place all over the country. You are asking questions and thinking about what you can do and what your influence might be.

To give you some examples of things that are happening, Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust has succeeded in buying up properties in the town centre, renovating them and then renting them out to independent retailers at reasonable rents, to try to encourage development of the town centre. Nantwich Civic Society has managed to set up a town centre partnership, including the council and local businesses and the civic society is chairing it, so is in the driving seat.

Bradford Civic Society is involved with the Business Improvement District (BID) – an initiative that has been discussed for Haslemere, where businesses in an area agree to pay an increased business rate in order to fund activities that will boost retail and footfall in the town centre. In Chester, the BID employs local “ambassadors” who are present in the high street to help and guide people and deal with any problems them may have.

The role of civic societies

Local people have a much better chance of understanding their area, particularly when they get to act collectively. The national level is important too, and that’s where Civic Voice comes in, because we are representing you at a national level. Civic societies in general need a national body to press their case at the national level. We are getting somewhere. The House of Commons Select Committee, which I mentioned earlier is very much in line with what Civic Voice is saying, namely that local plans need to be living documents and BIDs need to have community representation on them, not just business representation.

It is no good harking back to the mass retail-led model that has been the norm, town centres and high streets need to become activity-based community-gathering places and retail is just one part of the range of offers and activities, along with green space, leisure, arts and culture, social services and housing all have a place in town centres. My message to you is that anywhere anyone can be part of this change. It is happening in communities across the country where local people are taking the lead in trying to revive their town centres and high streets, and civic societies are an invaluable mechanism in helping to make this happen.