For the past six years, a core group of more than 80 Haslemere Vision volunteers, working on behalf of Haslemere Town Council, have been consulting the community on future development priorities to include in the neighbourhood plan for Haslemere, Shottermill, Critchmere, Beacon Hill, Hindhead and Grayswood.
How and what to prioritise is a key issue in the public consultation, and responses – both supportive and negative – will inform the final version of the draft plan, which it is now the responsibility of the town council to deliver.
Following the consultation process, the plan will be submitted to Waverley Borough Council to invite further comment before submitting it to an independent examiner to approve it for referendum.
If a majority of residents back it in the referendum, Haslemere Neighbourhood Plan will be enshrined in law and its policies will apply to all planning applications in the area.
The adoption of the neighbourhood plan also has important strategic funding implications.
Waverley currently applies a community infrastructure levy (CIL) on all developments, of which 15 per cent – capped in the case of large developments – goes to Haslemere Town Council.
An adopted neighbourhood plan means the town council is given more responsibility for decision making and its share of CIL will rise to 25 per cent with no cap.
The increase in funding will mean Haslemere and the surrounding area can undertake more ambitious new projects or partner with Waverley and Surrey County Council to deliver larger schemes.
Haslemere mayor John Robini, who is chairing the working party taking the plan forward, said: “Our aim is a plan that will help deliver the long-term goals of a balanced and vibrant neighbourhood.”
The plan identifies four key objectives:
* To encourage development that meets Haslemere’s housing needs while protecting the character of the area – in particular to encourage more homes for young people, local workers and downsizers.
* To protect and enrich green spaces and the surrounding natural environment.
* To re-balance road use, limiting the adverse impact of motor vehicles by improving provision for off-street parking and/or alternative forms of transport.
* To protect existing employment and encourage more diverse local employment opportunities to create a sustainable community.