May 012008
 

The Election for one of Hook’s three District Council seats takes place on Thursday 1st May. Polling will be at the Community Centre in Ravenscroft this year, between 7am and 10pm, due to current lack of parking space at the Elizabeth Hall.

In the meantime work on the new Elizabeth Hall moves ahead and internal fitting out and landscaping are well underway. A firm date for the move of equipment and bookings from the old hall to the new hall cannot yet be set because the area under the stage remains very damp, largely as a result of excessive rain last autumn, and needs to dry out thoroughly before the building can be brought into use.

Removal of the old skate park and construction of the new one on the same site in Hartletts Park will start in early May. The design has been put together with substantial help from a user group and those of us who are not skateboarders have needed to learn a whole new vocabulary! Providing there are no hitches along the way we hope to have it in use by Half Term.

A formal application to demolish 25-31 Sheldons Road and build 37 sheltered apartments on the site has now been made. Many objections from residents have been made to Hart and these are recorded on their website along with the objection from the Parish Council. Regrettably McCarthy and Stone, the developers, have taken little meaningful account of the opinions expressed to them at a Public Exhibition last November and the core concerns expressed by so many last year still remain. Although the site concerned is large it slopes down from Sheldons Road towards Middle Mead and Butts Meadow and the development would be detrimental to homes in those roads. The scheme would be overbearing and dominate the Sheldons Road street scene. Proposed parking is totally inadequate.

The Planning Inspector appointed to consider two appeals against refusal for redevelopment of the Ivy Lodge site behind Londis in Elms Road has made his decisions. He has allowed the appeal against refusal of permission for five flats and dismissed the appeal against refusal of permission for four small houses. His rationale includes his belief that the design of the flats is less intrusive generally and a better fit for the site than the scheme for the houses. The five flats will have a total of nine bedrooms but parking on the scheme will total only six spaces. The Inspector believed that this on site parking will be adequate because it is in line with Government Policy which states that “if parking is not provided people will not have cars.” Unfortunately he was not swayed by our argument at the Hearing that all trains and buses that serve Hook run east to west which is no help to those who work in, say Reading, Guildford or at Heathrow or Gatwick. It seems to us inevitable that parking will overflow onto Elms Road which is already littered with cars during the working week.

The “trim trail” in Hartletts Park is worn out and both for that reason and the fact that it does not meet current needs is poorly used. We are investigating the possibility of replacing it with an “outdoor gym” designed for all users from teenage to the elderly. Modern and flexible outdoor equipment is now available and examples can be seen at the Hook Fun Run on Sunday 18th May. We will be having a stand at the Fun Run so that residents can see what sort of equipment could be on offer. In putting together an outline proposal we are keen to have residents’ feedback on the possible design so consultation questionnaires will be available at the Fun Run and also through other Hook groups and organisations. There is more information on the web at www.hookrunners.com.

After four years I stepped down as Parish Council Chairman following the Annual Village Meeting at the end of April though I will, of course, remain on the Council. The Annual Parish Council meeting in May will elect a new Chairman for the coming year as well as make appointments to our various Committees.

Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor

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