Your Chance to Influence Haslemere’s Future – The Local Economy

This is the second of six articles exploring some of the important issues and strategic choices facing our community over the next 15-20 years. Today’s article focuses on the local economy.

Historically, Haslemere had a dynamic local economy. Recently many businesses have been closed and the sites redeveloped for housing, reducing the number of local jobs. This affects the whole community but is particularly serious for younger people looking to work locally. Without a vibrant, sustainable economy, the town will become a dormitory satellite of Godalming, Farnham, Guildford, and London. Are we content to allow this trend to continue, to leave things to market forces, or should our Neighbourhood Plan include policies designed to attract new and diverse businesses to the town? Policies could:

• protect the current retail base by discouraging change of use
• promote development of modern office space to attract skilled/high tech employment
• foster development of small workshops for craft and manufacturing businesses
• encourage a wider range of shops and ‘high street’ businesses that better meet the needs of the local community and attract more visitors and non-residents.

Should we actively promote the development of local visitor and tourism orientated businesses, capitalising on assets like the Devil’s Punchbowl, Haslemere Museum, Swan Barn, Haslemere events and its status as a public transport Gateway to the South Downs National Park?

Haslemere currently has four separate commercial centres: Old Haslemere, Wey Hill, Hindhead (Crossroads), and Beacon Hill. In recent years, investment has tended to favour Old Haslemere, arguably at the expense of the development of other centres. As shops and other ‘bricks and mortar’ services like banks face growing competition from the internet, will all Haslemere’s centres remain viable? Should we concentrate on the development of one centre that could attract a greater and more diverse range of shops? Can we find a way to create closer integration between Old Haslemere and Wey Hill? What is the future for retail in Hindhead and Beacon Hill?

Tell us what you think about these issues and options by taking part in the community consultations planned for June and September 2014. Meanwhile, look out for our third article in next week’s Herald on here on our website!

Community wide consultations planned for June and September 2014

Your Chance of to Influence Haslemere’s Future
Community wide consultations planned for June and September 2014

During the last year Haslemere Vision has been developing ideas for a Neighbourhood Plan which will influence how our town develops. We have consulted local residents on which issues they consider to be the most important facing our community over the next 15 – 20 years. Many of the issues that have been raised can be grouped into three broad areas of concern:
• the future mix and location of housing and other developments in the area
• the future of our roads and streets
• the future of our local economy

Haslemere Vision will shortly be seeking your views on important and difficult choices that face us as we address these concerns. For example:

• would we prefer future developments to be built within the existing settlement (meaning more intensive development, maybe more 3 or 4 storey buildings) or prefer new developments in areas of greenbelt or AONB such as is proposed for Sturt Farm?
• do we accept that growth in motorised traffic is inevitable and plan to accommodate it or should we seek to slow the growth and promote other alternative transport options?
• Haslemere has lost a lot of businesses in recent years. Is this a problem? Should we prioritise the development of new employment units (modern office/light industrial space) or are we happy to see all available land developed for more housing?

Community wide consultation on the transport and economic issues will start in June 2014. In early September 2014, after Waverley Borough Council has published revised housing allocations for inclusion in its new local plan, a second consultation will present the choices that we face over housing and development.

Your responses to these consultations will directly influence how we draft the Neighbourhood Plan policies, so look out for the first questionnaire that will be launched in Mid June and make your voice heard.

This is the first of a series of six weekly articles in which we will explore some of the choices that face our community in more detail, so look out for this space in next week’s Herald!

For more information keep a look out on our website and see us at the Charter Fair on May 5th 2014