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News Bulletin: February 2003

The entire Parish Council retires in May after four years, and Elections for all twelve seats will be held on Thursday 1st May 2003. The firm date for submission of nomination papers has yet to be set but will be no later than Monday 31st March 2003. Current Parish Councillors firmly believe that residents should have a choice and that election unopposed is a bad idea! Some of the current members may not stand again, but in any event new members are crucial to the ongoing life of Hook.

There are many people in Hook who could make a very valuable contribution as a Parish Councillor. There is much that needs to be done, so any newly elected Parish Councillor who wishes to champion a particular idea will find a warm welcome.

The tradition in Hook is that at Election time individuals represent their own views and do not stand as a representative of any particular national party. There is also a recently established custom that all candidates help to distribute leaflets for all other candidates. This means that no one needs to leaflet more than about two hundred houses and that new candidates are not disadvantaged. Please give any one of us a ring to talk about the role of a Parish Councillor. Nomination forms can be obtained from David Ridley who will confirm the date for their return to Hart.

The design for a permanent traffic calming scheme in Reading Road, which will lead to a reduction in the speed limit from 40 mph to 30 mph, and the design for a further scheme in Newnham Road will be on display at the Community Centre in early April. The date will be on Parish Notice Boards.

The Planning Inspector has allowed the appeal by Barratts and granted permission for 56 dwellings on the Foundry site. At the heart of his decision is current central Government policy, which provides for higher density and less parking spaces per dwelling than than was previously the accepted norm.

Arguments made by the Parish and individuals are discussed in his decision, but regarded as of insufficient weight to refuse Planning Permission. The following quotes are designed to give a flavour of the overall tone.

  • “The density of 56 dwellings per hectare does not appear unduly excessive … in the light of Government advice that Local Planning Authorities should encourage housing development which makes efficient use of land and should seek greater intensity of use at places with good public transport accessibility. The appeal site meets this criterion …. even though it may well be the case, as argued by the Parish Council and some others, that some occupants …. would not find existing bus and train services convenient for all their journeys.”
  • “The proposed parking arrangements (79 spaces or 1.39 spaces per dwelling) is also reasonable …. bearing in mind national and strategic guidance which seeks to limit parking provision”
  • “Some change of character is inevitable…. if the site is to be put to optimum use for housing purposes…..Bearing in mind the screening effect of the existing trees and the scope to reinforce this with additional planting I consider the effect on the character of the area as experienced from adjoining properties would not be so harmful as to justify withholding planning permission.”
  • “As regards The Grange …. the effect of the proposals on the listed building would be acceptable”

As a Parish we will now look to work with the developer to ensure that work proceeds with proper regard to the concerns of residents during construction.

Antony Hunter – Parish Councillor