A NEW focus and a new chairman was announced last week for the localism group that has worked for six years to bring Haslemere Neighbourhood Plan to fruition.

At Haslemere Vision’s annual meeting last Thursday, founding member Stewart Brown stepped down as chairman, with long-serving member Lesley Banfield named as his successor.

The changeover follows the official handover of the neighbourhood plan to Haslemere Town Council in March. The council will now take the lead in the final stages of the consultation before the blueprint drawn up by residents can be adopted.

The focus now for Haslemere Vision’s steering group is to help kickstart projects identified in its six years of consultation as important to the town’s future, notably the future mixed use development of Wey Hill Fairground, and creation of new walking and cycling routes.

Mr Brown, who will remain a director and a steering group member, recalled the idea of producing a neighbourhood plan was first mooted in 2012 by Haslemere mayor Cyndy Lancaster, and Haslemere Vision was launched in April 2013.

Thanking everyone who had supported the project, he said: “Well over 80 volunteers have contributed to the process.

“We were one of the first towns in Surrey to form a Community Land Trust, which is the only secure way of getting affordable housing.

“Haslemere Vision and Haslemere Town Council successfully challenged the assumptions made by Waverley Borough Council about the number of windfall sites that would affect the number of new homes allocated. All the changes were accepted bar one – Scotland Park. There is quite a battle over areas of great landscape value sites.”