This article appeared in the Surrey Advertiser, by Jennifer Morris: Call for people to help shape vision for Haslemere
THOUSANDS of people in and around Haslemere are being called upon to join a new group to help shape the town’s future.
Haslemere Vision will launch on April 27 as a community-led forum seeking as many members as possible to contribute to a neighbourhood plan for the town.
This Saturday will see 10,000 invitations for the launch sent to homes in the town, Hindhead and surrounding villages, with a further 5,000 sent to schools and community groups.
Haslemere is one of only two towns in Waverley to have had applications for the designation of a neighbourhood plan approved.
Neighbourhood planning is one of the new community rights introduced by the Government to give people more say, and puts communities in charge of setting out the homes, shops and amenities they want.
An adopted neighbourhood plan will form part of Waverley’s statutory Local Plan, against which all planning applications and development pro-posals will be decided.
It cannot be used to prevent the building of the homes and businesses required to meet the borough council’s current and future needs, but can be used to influence the type, design, location and mix of new development.
Haslemere Vision next year intends to lodge its own plan, working in partnership with the town council and drawing on input from as many people as possible. It will first have to go through a local referendum to agree the principles.
A drop-in event at Haslemere Hall will be an opportunity for residents, workers, community organisations and businesses to find out more about the concept of Haslemere Vision and neighbourhood planning. Stewart Brown, chairman of the organising group, said: “Haslemere Vision will be non-political and community-led.
“Membership is open to all people, businesses and community organisations in Haslemere and adjacent villages, and it will enable them to pool ideas and expertise to create a vision and plan of how we wish the town and villages to develop in the future.
“It will also initiate and, if necessary, undertake community projects needed to realise that vision and enhance the well-being of the town and the villages for the benefit of all who live, work and play here.”
The idea for Haslemere Vision was considered at a meeting at Haslemere Museum in September last year.
A group of residents proposed the formation of a neighbourhood forum to enable people to take advantage of the new community rights established in the 2012 Localism Act. The meeting was attended by approximately 100 people and 75 signed to support the proposal.
Thirty volunteers have since been working on detailed proposals that will be put to the communities at a series of events such as focus groups and workshops, following the launch.
Nikki Barton, a group member, said: “This is a very exciting concept. We are sick and tired of our politicians telling us what to do. It is the people who live and work here who should decide on our future. We are really looking at a long-term involvement here and this may just be the first plan of many.
“This is our golden moment. The opportunity to really and truly get the people here to shape their own future.”
For more information visit www.haslemerevision.org.uk, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.