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News Bulletin: January 2008

Many thanks to all who were involved in making the Christmas Cracker such a success. The volunteer organising committee, Police, musicians, choirs, dancers, stallholders, entertainers, retailers and marshals all worked very hard in the interests of our community.

We would welcome feedback from residents on our Christmas Lights. Most of the lights are leased for three years so new designs will appear in 2009. We have installed power to more street light columns this year so that additional lanterns will be on show next year. We are also considering a suggestion that more lights be placed in the trees round Grand Parade.

We have had excellent feedback on the planting near Casa Flora. One resident particularly commented: “it all looks so much better since you moved the Bus Stop!” A plaque acknowledging Bell Cornwell’s financial support will be fixed to the seat in the area shortly.

A possible planning application to demolish 25 to 31 Sheldons Road and build 41 units on the site was mentioned in December Focus. Since then it seems that a change in Planning rules could have a major impact on the ideas of this developer unless he is able to provide additional “green open space” so as to deter the new residents and their dogs from visiting the Hazeley Heath Special Protection Area.

December Focus published a letter requesting that allotments be provided in Hook and encouraging interested residents to write to Hart. Prior to that letter we had received eight requests from residents and had made Hart aware of the numbers but not, of course, of the names of those making requests. We are aware of one further request since December Focus was published. The problem is that there is no suitable land available in or on the outskirts of Hook. Allotment holders naturally want to pay a very small rent but all the fields round Hook are under option to developers. In fact when the Parish Council needed to buy land to provide the new cemetery some years ago we had to pay the development land price. The “green space” in central Hook was given on the condition that it is available to all so none of it could used to provide allotment gardens for a small number of people. We do have an arrangement with Basingstoke and Deane under which they will allow Hook residents to rent allotments from them. Details can be obtained from the Parish Council Office.

We would welcome ideas for a name for the wildlife area at the junction of Carleton Close and Newnham Road. Please ring or write to the Parish Council Office.

Residents from the John Morgan Close area packed the public seats at a recent Hart Planning Committee meeting. The Committee refused the application for a sharedO2/Orange phone mast at the Gas Compound on the B3349. The Committee gave three reasons for refusal. They were concerned about the physical appearance of the mast, were not satisfied that there was a need and were not satisfied that alternative sites had been properly considered. It seems very likely that the mobile phone companies will appeal and seek to show that there is a need for the mast and that alternative sites had been properly considered. Having received considerable sums of money from the phone companies in return for the current series of licences the Government now requires the Planning Inspectorate to work under strict guidelines when considering appeals.

We continue to receive regular phone calls from residents expressing concern about the possible Planning Application for land off Owens Farm Lane. We recently met with Premier Properties, who have options on the land, and Sentinel Housing at their request. The meeting could best be described as “lively.” Much of the developer’s case rests on their belief, for which they have no evidence, that there is massive demand in Hook from Hook residents for a development of this size and type. The site concerned is outside the Hook Settlement Boundary but their contention is that the development should be permitted as an exception to normal Planning rules. However exceptions are subject to strict criteria. In view of the importance of this proposal to the immediate area and to Hook as a whole we are engaging the services of Planning Consultants to work with us. Redeveloping Gregory House is surely a far more satisfactory and sustainable solution than attempting to channel the elderly onto a site that is well away from any facilities. It seems very likely that a Planning Application will be made and if and when that occurs we will arrange to display the plans at the Community Centre on a Saturday morning and members of the Parish Council will be on hand to listen to residents’ comments. The time and date of this event will be posted on the three Parish Council notice boards: in Grand Parade, near the Cemetery and at the Community Centre.

Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor