Multi-storey car park (MSCP), Haslemere Train Station
Met with WBC Cllr Stephen Mulliner to discuss the possibility of a MSCP at the train station. It is a complicated situation involving a number of parties with South West Trains renting the land from Network Rail which holds the site as part of its regulated estate. At present no party is interested in funding the project as it is not considered economically viable due to a number of factors including an unfavourable revenue support agreement between SWT and the DoT, and a lack of willingness to invest by SWT as its franchise is up for renewal in 2017. We discussed the need to find a way forward, particularly if the planned housing developments at King Edward VII in Easebourne, the Syngenta site in Fernhurst and the Bordon/Whitehills town all go ahead putting further pressure on parking at the station.
Also discussed the 20 is Plenty conference attended by Cllr Mulliner. A number of towns across England have introduced 20 mph speed limits, examples local to Haslemere include Liphook, Portsmouth and most recently large areas of Brighton. Cllr Mulliner shared that the short message of the conference is easy to state – the public safety and public health benefits of a 20 mph limit are clear and a counter-argument based on increased emissions is weak. Local ’20 mph is plenty’ groups in Surrey, for example in Godalming, have been established calling for speed limit reductions to improve safety and the quality of life for residents. At present SCC does not support 20mph speed limits in towns in Surrey.
Footpath from Grayshott/Hindhead to Woolmer Hill School
Met with residents of Upper Hammer Lane to discuss the routing of the footpath. Siting the path on the ‘north’ side of the lane will require extensive removal of residents trees and vegetation that have been allowed to grow onto the highway verge. There is a strong possibility that the Ministry of Defence will give permission for the path to run on the ‘south’ side which would avoid the need for this clearance. I hope SCC and East Hampshire District Council will continue to liaise to move this project forward to provide a much needed safe path way for children walking to Woolmer Hill school.
Haslemere business vitality
Invited representatives from Waverley Borough Council, Haslemere Town Council, Chamber of Trade and other businesses in Haslemere, including Waitrose to meet to discuss possible initiatives to boost trade.
Footfall in many businesses in Haslemere has fallen significantly over the past year, there is a growing number of empty shop units. All high streets are under competition from internet sales, and general economic recession, but businesses in Haslemere suffered exceptional pressure during the 3 month gas works disruption when the High Street was effectively ‘closed’. This was followed by two increases in parking charges in the Waitrose car park and one in the Chestnut Avenue car parks, as well as the extension of charging until 7pm.
(Waverley Borough Council is responsible for off street car parks, SCC is responsible for on street parking).
High parking charges were identified by the representative from Waitrose as a barrier to shoppers extending their stay to shop in Haslemere beyond the free hour (60p of the 80p charge) currently refunded by Waitrose. The inconvenience of searching for change to feed the meter was also identified as a reason for deterring shoppers.
A productive discussion looked at possible incentive schemes to attract shoppers, that may have changed their shopping behaviour, back to Haslemere, as well as encouraging people living in the villages and countryside to shop locally. The Waverley Borough Council representatives supported the idea of a limited period parking charge refund scheme and agreed to take it further with WBC leadership.
In an innovative scheme to support local businesses, thought to be first of its kind in the country, Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council are planning to introduce a High Street store dedicated to selling local produce (www.chichester.gov.uk/localproduceshop). It would be great to see Waverley and Surrey working together to support a scheme like this. We are very privileged to enjoy a range of independent shops which give Haslemere its unique character, make it a great place to live and provide local employment. I trust all elected representatives will join me in doing all we can to rebuild economic vitality and prevent our town becoming another ‘clone’ town dominated by national chains.
Visit to Woolmer Hill School
Visit to Woolmer Hill Secondary School, guided by headmaster Mr Armstrong-Harris. I was very impressed by the atmosphere, the focus and enthusiasm of the pupils, the site and the excellent sports facilities including the Edge sports centre. The school has a strong academic record, last year achieving outstanding GCSE English results.
Mr Armstrong-Harris shared his vision, that Woolmer Hill school should sit at the heart of the community of Haslemere, providing local children with a local school where they receive an excellent academic education within a nurturing environment. I look forward to supporting Mr Armstrong Harris where I can.
Haslemere and Sustainable Transport
Met with members of SCC’s sustainable transport strategy team in Haslemere to discuss the next Local Transport Plan (LTP 3) which is currently in draft form. I am encouraged to learn the current draft of LTP 3 includes strategies to encourage more cycling and walking. A cross sector approach is envisaged. A modal shift from car use to walking and cycling for daily use and for leisure will bring a range of benefits: environmental ~ reduced pollution and congestion; improved health and wellbeing; economic development ~ via tourism and high street regeneration.
We discussed the need for safer roads to encourage this shift in behaviour away from car use, and the funding sources to make this a reality. The Local Sustainable Transport Fund, a Dept of Transport fund is one pot available. SCC have successfully obtained funding for the recently launched Travel Smart online journey planner project at http://travelsmart.surreycc.gov.uk.
We discussed the Haslemere and Villages Neighbourhood Plan which is currently being developed by volunteers in the community. Feedback from over 350 participants during the initial workshops in September 2012, and the launch in April 2013 have identified reducing traffic speeds and improving conditions for cyclists and pedestrians as priority issues. Haslemere Vision volunteers are planning to take workshops to a wide range of community groups over the next few months to ensure an inclusive consultation process has been carried out. Officers will be invited to a workshop to observe how community engagement and feedback may support their current policy priorities.
Some support to encourage leisure cycling and walking from Haslemere as a ‘gateway’ to the countryside is already underway as part of the Two Parks Project (LAC Sept 21, 2012 minutes). The majority of the £3.81mn budget is being spent within the two national parks (South Downs and New Forest). As Haslemere sits just outside the South Downs Park, it will receive a small proportion of the the total budget. Just under £150,000 is being spent over the next 2 years. New signage for cyclists from Haslemere train station to the South Downs National Park has already been installed. Other elements of the project include a Sunday bus service from Haslemere to Midhurst, real time passenger information at bus stops, bridleway improvement, Serpent Trail signing and rail to bus stop improvement.
Planning to meet with Paul Fishwick, project manager in the Transport Policy Team to see how the Two Parks Project can tie in with a wider sustainable transport and tourism strategy for Haslemere. I would like to understand how the project can link with the Walkers Are Welcome initiative, a national scheme of which Haslemere is now a member, thanks to the work of the Haslemere Visitor Information Centre.
Waverley Local Area Committee
Attended ‘private’ informal meeting preparation for Local Area Committee meeting that will be held on July 5th in Farnham. Expressed my support for inclusion of sustainability objectives within draft LTP3, requested that LAC meetings, normally scheduled for 2pm on Friday afternoons, could be brought forward to finish earlier so that committee members could pick up their primary school age children from school, continued to assert that a presumption of openness and transparency should be adopted in LAC task group, and committee meeting terms of reference.
Derby Road- St Bartholomew’s School
Continuing to work with SCC Highways and SCC Estates department to find a way for the short section of Derby Road to be properly resurfaced to make it safe for nearly 400 children currently attending St Bart’s Primary School and the Tennyson’s Sure Start Children’s Centre which shares the same site. An urgent solution is needed.
I also want to ensure that SCC Highways will start to provide a winter gritting service for the school, which I understand it currently provides as priority to all other schools in the town, both state and private. Last winter, Derby Road in front of the school was treacherous as the very large water filled potholes froze over presenting a health and safety hazard for pupils and parents.
St Bartholmew’s Primary and Graywood Infant School expansion plans
Due to a shortage of primary school places in the county (SCC needs to provide more school places following a 20% rise in birth rates over the past decade), SCC is asking St Bart’s to expand to take an additional 15 children into reception (PAN, pupil admission number of 60) on a permanent basis. The school will have 2 forms, 60 pupils, for every year group. As part of its planning application consultation process St Bart’s must develop a travel strategy/plan to demonstrate how any extra traffic will be managed.
SCC also has plans to expand Grayswood Infant school into a full one form entry primary. Historically St Bart’s has taken 45 children into reception and held 15 spaces for Grayswood children into year 3. The expansion of St Bart’s will mean this is not possible resulting in a further shortage of Key Stage 2 places. As part of the planning application, a public consultation is currently taking place.
A number of residents have contacted me with concerns about the impact of the schools’ expansion on traffic levels in their neighbourhoods. While I support the enlargement of both schools to provide children in Haslemere to provide the needed local school places, the travel plans that will be developed for both sites should address and improve the traffic and parking situation going forward.
Early morning interview earlier this week on BBC Surrey with John Furey, SCC Cabinet Member for Transport, I raised the issue of Derby Road and the safety of pupils. I also expressed my concerns that the Hindhead Road/Weyhill, the main access into Haslemere from Hindhead and the A3 does not appear on the list of Project Horizon roads for resurfacing over the next 3 years. (SCC Project Horizon). Project Horizon is a new SCC Highways initiative, aiming to spend £100 million over the next 5 years to resurface 10% of the worst roads in the county. In awarding a large, long term contract economies of scale have achieved savings of an estimated £20 million. I understand the Project Horizon list of roads was drawn up following local consultation, apparently a road show bus came to Haslemere last autumn. This is a BBC article about Project Horizon.
The road surface in Weyhill is in very bad condition, I have been in contact with SCC Highways and agreed an engineer will visit to assess the situation. If it is agreed the base layer of the road needs replacing, a revision of the Project Horizon list will be needed for Haslemere, with a final decision made at a full Local Committee meeting. If the surface only requires a resurfacing, funds may be found from a source outside the Project Horizon budget. I feel strongly that an upgrade of the road surface through Weyhill should be a priority, particularly in the light of the recent resurfacing of Haslemere High Street. A survey report should be sent within the next 3 weeks.
Requested the date for the resurfacing of Shepherds Hill, which will be refurbished under Project Horizon. The surface continues to deteriorate and I am concerned that if the date for the work is as late as March 2014 after another winter, a more substantial repair will be needed in the interim to improve driving and cycling conditions.