In February 2014 Waverley Borough Council, having listened to representations from Haslemere Town Council, Haslemere Vision and others, withdrew its application to re-surface the Wey Hill Fairground and install the infrastructure for pay-and-display parking at a cost of £342,000. The community now has the chance to state its preference for the future of this important community space. Local residents and organisations are invited to weigh the merits of the alternatives at a public workshop, organised by Haslemere Vision, at the Wey Centre on Saturday June 21st 2014.
The Wey Hill Fairground is registered, under the Commons Registration Act of 1965, as one of only two tracts of common land in the town centre. From the early 20th century it was a green space used for informal recreation until the late 1950s. It was then paved with crushed stone and rough macadam, as it is today. From 1906 an annual fair was held there for over 100 years until the operators declared the site too expensive.
In 1968 ownership of the site transferred from Haslemere Urban District Council to Waverley Borough Council at no cost. Under WBC management, it has, for some years, been used as a free car park divided between commuter and local parking. On Saturdays WBC provides green and household waste collection on the site.
Some question the legality of the present use of the site and argue for it to be returned to its former use as a town green. Others argue that, as the town is so short of off-road parking, the site must continue to be used primarily as a car park, though other compatible uses of the space could be explored. Other proposals, including that recently proposed by the Haslemere Chamber of Trade, envisage creation of a public space or town square combined with a mix of commercial, residential and community premises, with or without the provision of underground parking.
None of these choices are simple. What do you think? If no alternative vision is realised for the space, or no value put on it as a community asset, then WBC will reapply for the designation of the site as a car park and deregister the Fairground from the Commons Register. Come to the Wey Centre from 2-5.30pm on June 21st and help to determine the future.
Look out for next week’s article in which we will discuss our townscape – The look and feel of Haslemere