Welcome to my latest newsletter issued on 11th March. First of all, as we have elections on the 7th May can I urge everyone to please vote. This web link to the EHDC website tells you everything you need to know;
It’s easy to vote. If you can’t reach the polling station, just ask the Council for a postal or proxy vote; it couldn’t be simpler. You can apply for a postal vote up to the 21st April and a proxy vote up to the 28th April, so there is plenty of time. The reasons for voting are well rehearsed and I’m sure you all know them so let’s aim for a record turnout in Grayshott this year!
Now I’m going to run through the current topics of interest for the village that affect me as your County and District Councillor.
This work has been suspended as planned, to complete wayleave procedures so that some BT lines can be negotiated. It should resume shortly and I hope, be complete by May.
Junction Headley Road and Hammer Lane
I’ve received a few complaints that it is hard to turn left out of Hammer Lane due to the shape of the kerbing there. I tested it myself and I agree that a longer wheelbase vehicle does have to cross the centre white line in Headley Road, to turn left and this is a real nuisance, even a danger, in busy times. I’ve agreed with Hampshire County Council highways, (the Operation Resilience team who are building the footpath), that when the footpath work resumes, the crew will adjust the curvature of that junction.
Golf Driving Range
There are no new Planning developments. The tree removal and associated activity in Hammer Lane was carried by Scottish and Southern Electricity to try and find out why residents of Hammer Lane suffered frequent power cuts. I received several complaints about the power cuts, as did Damian Hinds, but this is an area where only SSE could resolve the problem. I hope the works have led to an improvement in power supply.
By way of “gossip”, I bumped into Iain Looms the other day at Blacknest Golf and Country Club where he is the General Manager.
In my previous newsletter I analysed this in great depth, offering you advice on the key planning considerations. Since then the business proposal has also been submitted and there has been a great deal of dialogue between residents and the EHDC case officers on both applications.
The main issues for housing are as I described before and I know a lot of work is going on to finalise the plans before they are the subject of an officer report and quite probably, a meeting of the Planning Committee. I believe that the main issues with the housing application, that are consuming a lot of time, are highways, trees and ecology. The business proposals were front page news of the Bordon Post last week and seem to be heavily supported.
At this stage the officer report is not available and I can’t tell you when it will be. However when the report is issued and, (I assume), a meeting of the Planning Committee is set, then it will be widely publicised and I will ensure I mention it here.
I am aware that some villagers have received a flyer promoting the development of a Care Home between Kiln Way and the woodland burial site. As usual, I thought the facts might help!
There is no Planning Application for this proposal.
The applicant has held a pre-application meeting with District Council planning officers and I have seen a resume of the meeting.
From what I know of the general proposal, it would seem to fail several EHDC Planning Policies. Many of you know that I am extremely cautious, even over-cautious, about commenting on developments in advance in case I am called upon to be a member of the Planning Committee that determines the application. Despite this cautious approach I have to tell you that based on what I know of the proposal to date, it is inconceivable that this could receive planning consent in its present form.
It is also true that because there is no planning application, the applicant could make significant changes that bring their proposal into line with EHDC policies. The problem with the way the idea seems to be being promoted at the moment is that the development is outside the EHDC Settlement Policy Boundary and inside the Local Gap. Now that the Council has secured its 5 year housing land supply, these policies have much more strength than previously
For those not up to date on this planning nuance, the Government prevented local planning authorities from using the protection of a Settlement Policy Boundary all the time the bank of approved and unbuilt dwellings was less than five year’s worth of the Council’s 15 year target. It was a device to get local planning authorities to hurry up and grant consent to new developments. EHDC secured 5.09 years at the beginning of 2015.
Although HCC’s Traffic Management team are struggling with low resources just now, reducing the speed limit there from 50 mph to 40 mph at this junction remains a strong possibility for implementation later this calendar year.
Footpath at Grayshott Primary School
I expect this project will commence next month. I can hardly believe it!!!! Those that know tell me this has been a problem for over 25 years! The project will give the Grayshott Primary School children who are dropped off in the Pottery Car Park a safe walk into school, instead of having walk in the road close to busy traffic, around the outside of the school.
Footpath in Upper Hammer Lane Bramshott
This is relevant to local parents whose children go to Woolmer Hill School. The walk along Upper Hammer Lane, after you pass under the A3, is dangerous with the narrow road shared with passing commuter traffic and several blind corners. I am assured by the relevant Cabinet Member at Hampshire County Council that the agreement with the Ministry of Defence that the footpath can be built on MoD land is now in place. As HCC have agreed funding and have agreed to build the footpath, all I need now is a start date and I have requested that from the officers.
Strategic Highway Planning in East Hampshire
Several communities in East Hampshire need some local medium term highway planning to deal with difficult traffic issues that the usual short term solutions do not really solve. Typically, these issues need a 5 year view and much larger budget than is the case for the usual round of highway improvements.
This affects rural areas like East Hampshire a great deal because so many of our roads have been built in times of much lower traffic volumes, or even, (as in Grayshott), in the days of sheep droving, due to our rural heritage. Modern levels of vehicle ownership mean that there are now so many cars using the roads that major changes are needed to keep traffic moving. However, in the meantime, housing and infrastructure has been built that makes if costly or even impossible, to re-route and rebuild roads.
Communities in East Hampshire in particular need of strategic review include, (but are not limited to), Bramshott and Liphook, Alton, Grayshott and Selborne.
The growing need for strategic planning has unfortunately coincided with reduced government spending on local councils and the relevant resources at Hampshire County Council have been reduced. As a result the County has been unable to offer support to these communities.
As Leader of East Hampshire District Council, after two years of trying, I took the view that in view of the criticality of this need in the worst affected communities, I would offer a deal to the County Council. This deal takes the form of a commitment by HCC of 1.5 staff, to be funded about 50:50 between HCC and the District Council. The 1.5 staff will be completely dedicated to the strategic transport planning needs of the communities within East Hampshire District Council.
I’m very pleased to say that Grayshott’s needs will be included in the very first phase of strategic planning projects that this team undertakes. Recruitment is under way and I am hopeful that staff will be in place by April/May.
I have been very well supported in airing this issue and in trying to come to terms with medium term traffic management issues in Grayshott, by Grayshott Parish Council and also The Grayshott Society. As soon as the staff are in position, I will open up a strategic transport planning project for the village to deal with traffic volume and circulation issues over the medium term. I’m sure there will be plenty of community engagement and I will be keeping you up to date on this website.
Grayshott Community Led Plan
I must offer huge congratulations to this team for their immense hard work in pulling together this plan. It’s a fine document and will be essential to the future planning of all aspects of our village community.
Excellent progress is being made with the eventual improvement to the surface. Following the progress I have reported here previously with the management of the traffic, I arranged for HCC technical experts to visit and discuss resurfacing options with the Boundary Road Residents Association. Several suggestions have been put forward to offer a lasting solution and the next stage is for the residents to agree what they want to do and then I will help them to assemble a funding package.
Car Parking in Grayshott
Things are moving at last. I have explained in last year’s newsletters that in 2014, EHDC undertook two surveys of car parking capacity in Grayshott. The analysis concluded that the reason it was so hard to park in the village was the volume of all day parking. The study showed that if all of the parking was casual parking for shoppers, deliveries and the like, there would be enough spaces almost all of the time.
We know that practically all of the all day parking is for people who work in the village. If a solution could be found for all day business parking then the existing car parks would be enough for the casual 2-3 hour parking for everyone else.
As a result I asked Buy in Grayshott to survey the village businesses to find out the minimum number of spaces they needed on a daily basis and also to find out how much business parking was available. Two things amazed me. First the sheer quantity of business spaces needed each day; well over 100!!! Secondly the almost complete absence of any business parking off street as part of the business premises in the village. This latter piece of information will be checked by council officers against the planning permissions for all of the business in the village just in case of any misunderstandings.
I’d like to note here my grateful thanks to BiG and to Dick Smith in particular, who conducted this survey.
Assuming the facts stay as they are, the plan to relieve the parking problem in Grayshott is likely to form two main components;
The creation of a business users’ only car park in the village. There are several suggestions being looked at by EHDC officers as to how to do this and obviously land purchase is one of them. This business car park would have to be capable of being limited to business users to make it effective, but without taking capacity from the casual use car parks. It’s almost certain that the all day business car parking would be strictly off street.
Off street and on street parking for casual users would need to be time limited to ensure the spaces can be reused about three times per day, in other words a maximum wait time of two or three hours. There would be no parking meters in Grayshott, but the waiting duration would be enforced by wardens.
The data gathered last year proves, when modelled, that this solution would ensure that there would almost always be a space for everyone. I have no idea if people shop elsewhere because it’s hard to park here and when we implement the solution we may get the “M25 Effect” and draw more people into the village. Of course that would be great for the local economy and if it happens we may need to develop additional solutions.
Officers at EHDC need time to work through these ideas. They need to assess the off street parking spaces that have planning consent, find out where they are and compare that to the returns from BiG. In parallel, they need to be searching for suitable land to build, or adapt, an off street business car park for 100 vehicles.
As soon as there are first cut ideas to discuss, they will be exposed to public consultation. If anyone has a solution they would like to put forward, I would love to hear from them. Do please get in touch with me as soon as possible.
Layby in Headley Road
In my previous newsletter I explained that there were concerns about an unlit lay by in Headley Road, on the north side on the way out towards Headley. Following a site meeting and a discussion with one of the complainants I’m pleased to say that the layby will receive a new streetlight.
I’m very pleased that Tim Tinsley-Wickes has organised a Shoppa ‘Bus to Grayshott Market from Liphook. I’m a big supporter of public transport and I’m very pleased to have been able to make a grant of £1,000 towards that service from my EHDC Devolved Grant Budget. I know Tim has been in touch with relevant organisations in Liphook and I hope that will bring even more customers in to the market, (without adding to the car parking problems!!!).
Devolved Grant Budget
As you know, County and also District Councillors are allowed a devolved grant budget which they can deploy locally with minimum bureaucracy. In 2014-15 it was £8,000 for the County Council and £3,000 for the District Council. (By the way, very few Councils offer this so if you are reading this and do not live in Hampshire, it may not apply to you).
I’m pleased to say that yet again, all £8,000 of my County grant has been applied for and granted. The new County grant year begins on 1st June and will be £8,000 again.
I still have some District grant funds remaining; about £1,250. This budget expires this month so if you have an application in mind, please contact me asap. Somewhat embarrassingly, I’m one of the few District Councillors with so much unspent!!! Next year the budget is being increased to £4,500.
Like many villagers, I was very upset to hear of James Stephenson’s death in a tragic road accident. He was a familiar face as Head Chef at Applegarth Farm and I attended several of his amazing cookery demos. His barbequing skills were just astonishing. He was a lovely man with a larger than life personality.
A few weeks ago I was appointed to the main board of the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. That arcane name conceals the identity of the key government body which directs inward investment to our area. It has an annual investment budget of around £140m. Once upon a time we had Regional Development Agencies, (RDAs), but these Local Enterprise partnership bodies have replaced them. It’s a genuine honour to receive this appointment but more importantly it gives me a chance to raise the profile of the District Council I lead and also to promote the case for the businesses in our area to benefit from future investment.
On the social front, I’m really pleased to bring my excellent band back to Grayshott after quite a long absence. I’ve never played here with our new ex-pro vocalist Bill O and I’m looking forward to showing him off to you. He is a very experienced professional singer including extensive west end recording experience with stars like Mick Jagger and Van Morrison. He makes it a really professional line up. Except for the drummer of course 😉 So I hope to see you in the Fox and Pelican on Friday, 27th. March. Visit the band on www.goodtimesrollband.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/goodtimesrollband
Don’t forget the Grayshott Annual Parish Assembly on Friday 20th March in the Village Hall.
If I can assist you in my Councillor capacity, please contact me by email as follows
County Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
District Council, email@example.com
These really are different addresses on different computers with different contact databases and history!! The old AOL address shouldn’t be used any more please.
Or by ‘phone on 01428-609858
Cllr. Ferris Cowper
District and County Councillor for Grayshott and Leader of East Hampshire District Council.
Published by Ferris Cowper, 79 Kingswood Firs, GU26 6EX.