Recent news from Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum
Latest Forum update published in September 2016 Click here to view
Hook Heath Neighbourhood Plan approved by residents
Residents of Hook Heath voted overwhelmingly in support of the Neighbourhood Plan for the area at a referendum on 8 October 2015.
This was the first neighbourhood plan within the borough to reach the local referendum stage of the neighbourhood planning process.
Voters were asked: Do you want Woking Borough Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area to help decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?
The percentage of those voting 'Yes' was 94.5% (545).
The percentage of those voting 'No' was 5.5% (32).
Turnout was 39 % of the total 1461 people eligible to vote in the referendum.
Commenting on the result, Peter Hill, chairman of the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum said:
" I am delighted that our neighbourhood plan, which has taken the best part of three years to produce, can now be adopted by Woking Borough Council and used to guide the outcome of planning applications within the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area. On behalf of the Forum's steering group, I record our sincere thanks to everyone who voted in the referendum and to everyone who has contributed to the development of the Plan."
WBC was formally adopt the Plan at its meeting on 22 October. Click here to see the Council's Press Release re our Neighbourhood Plan
130 Acres of Havering Farm bought by Council
The land which consists of pastureland, woodland and a lake was offered for sale either as a whole or in three lots with bids of more than £1.025m invited. The land lies within the Green Belt and therefore carries a presumption against any form of development. The land will remain in its current use until it is developed for recreation.
WBC is presently finalising proposals for changes to the borough's Green Belt boundaries to enable further development in order to meet its housing targets beyond 2022.
The sale is subject to an uplift covenant in relation to any change of use, effective for 25 years from the completion date, equivalent to 40% of the increase in value resulting from any change of use.
50 up and rising
More than 50 neighbourhood plans nationwide have now successfully completed the local referendum stage according to the Department for Communities and Local Government. Average voter turnout was 32% and the average �yes� vote secured was 88%.The latest statistics show that 1400 communities are now involved in neighbourhood planning while 6.1 million people live in designated neighbourhood areas like Hook Heath.
According to a survey conducted by DCLG, 69% of citizens consider it important for them personally to feel that they can influence decisions in their local area; 63% said that they would be more supportive of home building if local people were given greater control and say over what gets built in their area.
Chris Collison, who has been appointed as the Independent Examiner of the draft Hook Heath Neighbourhood Plan, was one of three experts nominated by the Neighbourhood Planning Independent Examiner Referral Service ( NPIERS) in response to to a request from WBC.
Peter Hill, chairman of the Forum said: "Appointments are made by the local authority with the approval of the Forum. Both WBC and the Forum's management committee considered that Chris Collison was ideally suited for this appointment and I am delighted that he has accepted the role."
Mr Collison has produced health check or examination reports on 10 neighbourhood plans in the last year. A member of the Royal Town Planning Institute since 1979, he has spent 40 years working as a professional town planner which included performing the role of chief planning officer in six Council areas. A member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, he has a particular interest in Arts & Crafts building styles.
The role of an Examiner is to ensure that the Plan is consistent with existing national and local planning guidelines and may require modifications before approving it.
Neighbourhoods nationwide receive boost
More than 6.1 million people live in one of the 1,300 areas where the local community is working to create a neighbourhood plan according to Government Ministers, Brandon Lewis and Stephen Williams. In a letter to local authorities, they stated that 62% of local planning authorities now had at least one neighbourhood plan area designated and 8% had more than 10.
Current funding to local authorities of at least £30,000 for each completed neighbourhood plan is to continue while a new £22.5 million porgramme will run for three years from April this year to support more people to take up neighbourhood planning in their area.
Plan clears its first hurdle
The emerging Hook Heath Neighbourhood Plan has cleared its first regulatory hurdle. The draft outline of the plan was submitted to Woking Borough Council for a screening opinion to determine whether or not the Plan would require a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Following statutory consultation with Natural England, the Environment Agency and English Heritage, WBC has concluded that the Plan will not require an SEA nor will it necessitate a Habitat Regulations Assessment or an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Forum chairman, Peter Hill commented: "This is very good news indeed. It means that we can now press forward with refining the Plan and making preparations for the next stage of the consultation exercise with residents and businesses within the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area."
The full screening opinion undertaken by WBC will be found in the documents section of this site or by clicking on this link - Plan clears its first hurdle
Support from local MP
Woking's MP, Jonathan Lord has congratulated the HHRA on its initiative in successfully obtaining formal designation for the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Forum.
In a letter to Forum chairman, Peter Hill, Mr Lord stated:"I am delighted to learn that Woking Borough Council has accorded formal designation to the Forum and Hook Heath Neighbourhood Area. The Hook Heath Residents' Association have put in a good deal of time and effort into becoming the first Forum to be established in the Borough."
He continued:"I congratulate the Residents' Association and the Forum on the excellent progress to date and every good wish going forward, including the hard, but very important, work of producing a Neighbourhood Plan.
I have always been aware of the terrific work done by the Hook Heath Residents' Association and the Forum offers local residents another very important platform from which to make their views known about the future of our neighbourhood."