I understand Waverley has set aside money and is consulting on its proposal to carry out resurfacing works to the Fairground Common Land in Weyhill.
Is it Waverley Borough Council’s intention to seek, through this consultation process to pave over this land and establish this space as a Waverley car park and to remove any existing or future claims to rights to local community usage over this land, including prevention of the fair taking place? Is it also the council’s intention to charge for parking on this land in the future?
I understand that the fair has been prevented from taking place in the last few years here because the cost of the licence charged by Waverley Borough Council makes it unprofitable. The Saturday recycling service has been very successfully taken up on the fairground land. However, would it be fair to conclude that by preventing other uses of the site, Waverley’s policy is to seek to appropriate the space permanently for commuter car parking and raise revenue from car park charges?
I note that the council, in its recent order regarding changes to car parking charges in Waverley, which came into effect 1st February 2012, refers to the Fairground Common Land as a ‘Waverley car park’. The fairground land is not owned by Waverley and therefore it is questionable whether Waverley council has any exclusive jurisdiction or entitlement over its use. I believe it would be entirely reasonable for Haslemere Town Council or indeed any local community group to manage and utilise this land for local community use under the localism agenda. Any proposed resurfacing works could be subject to legal challenge.
I grew up in Haslemere and locally this land has always been known as the fairground. The fair might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it is disappointing that young people and families living in Haslemere and the surrounding Parishes are unable to enjoy thecfair that until recently has taken place regularly every year, and in my recollection, since the early 1960s. I am certainly not resistant to change and recognise that there is an ongoing debate regarding car parking in Haslemere, but I believe turning the fairground into a commuter car park would irrevocably prevent Weyhill from benefiting from any future natural growth and inward investment in an area which is still in need of positive regeneration.
I believe the Fairground Common Land needs to be considered and promoted for a range of broader, more imaginative and sustainable uses which support and are supported by the local community. It is not difficult to envisage this space being used for local markets, continuation as a fairground, allotments, fetes, and community events. The site may well be potentially pivotal as a means of regenerating Weyhill as a thriving community considering its location and proximity to the shops, restaurants and community facilities such as the Weycentre and library. It could for example become a local square in developed in partnership with businesses, investors and community groups complimenting the streetscape and St. Christopher’s Green.
Up and down the country, communities and councils are evaluating their assets and seeking to plug the gap in grants which have been cut by central government. Those councils with a strength of vision and a sense of future prosperity, which hopefully we can all look forward to, are working in partnership to develop land sustainably and with imagination.
A more strategic and visionary appraisal of the fairground common land as is required in the context of a wider urban design vision. I earnestly urge WBC Councillor Carole King, who has special responsibility for car parking as well as Councillors Steven Mulliner, Steven Renshaw and Jim Edwards who sit on the joint planning committee and the Leader of Waverley Borough Council Robert Knowles to consider the site’s broader potential. I feel certain, local residents do not want to see this space, which lies opposite St. Christopher’s, one of the finest arts and crafts churches in the country, and a space which has such potential for regeneration, demoted in perpetuity to the status of a bleak commuter car park with all its soulless tarmac and visually detracting mast lighting and signage?
David O’Brien CMLI
From: David O’Brien [mailto: removed]
Sent: 06 March 2012 9:23 PM
Subject: Weyhill Fairground Carpark – Regeneration or Appropriation?