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News Bulletin: December 2014

Hook Neighbourhood Plan – A public meeting was held on 18th November to explain the process, tasks and timescales for producing a plan and recruit volunteers to help at the various stages. Please see the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group website for an update.

Major site planning appeal – Charles Church Developments have lodged an appeal against refusal of planning permission for 48 houses on a site at the end of Hop Garden Road. One of the reasons for refusal was that the proposal is contrary to saved policies from the previous local plan – which are only effective if Hart District Council can demonstrate that they have sufficient housing land supply. The principle of the housing land supply is also crucial for other proposed and future developments, both in Hook and across the whole of Hart. The District Council will be defending their refusal at the appeal.

Other reasons for refusal of this application included concerns about encroachment into the gap between Hook and Newnham and consequent coalescence of the two communities, the impact on protected trees, lack of open space and play facilities and lack of infrastructure contributions. However, it appears that if the land supply argument fails then the appeal will be allowed as the saved policies will no longer be applicable. This is a technical argument and one in which the Parish Council can add nothing to Hart’s case.

At the time of writing the Parish Council had not made a final decision on how best to be represented at the hearing. However, the professional advice received to date was that it would be unnecessary, time-consuming, expensive and financially risky if the Parish Council was to become a Rule 6 partner (an equal partner in the appeal with the developer and the District Council ), although this would give us until April to submit any new evidence.

The appeal is to be decided by a hearing next year; representations must be submitted by 2nd December. Objectors to the original application should have received a letter inviting them to submit representations on the appeal. The hearing is currently scheduled to start on May 12th. This is unfortunate timing as the Parish Council election will be on the 7th May (the count will not be until 8th), so the appeal will be underway before the new Council has met and Accepted Office.

Our thanks to all the residents who have written to us concerning this appeal. Communications have all been read, but please accept our apologies if you haven’t received a personal reply. The majority have been in favour of the Parish Council defending the appeal: some expenditure will be inevitable. We would be grateful to receive further correspondence from residents about this appeal, as the depth of local support for any defence we mount may be questioned at the inquiry. Please write to planning@hook.gov.uk

Hook Community Centre – We are pleased to announce that a new management agreement has been signed with Hook Village Halls Charitable Association. The Parish Council is looking forward to working in close collaboration with the management team.

There have been a number of delays to the completion of the project. The Base will re-open early in the New Year, followed by a phased occupation by the other permanent users will follow progressively thereafter. Hourly hire is unlikely to commence before March.

Parish Council Christmas and New Year Office Hours The Parish Council Office will close at midday on Tuesday 24th December and re-open on Monday 5th January 2014.

Anne Atkins – Clerk