Government Housing Officials Visit Hambledon Affordable Homes Site

Hambledon Parish Council hosted a visit by 20 civil servants from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government who arrived in the village to look at the Orchard Farm affordable homes project.

The officials are part of the government’s housing team with responsibility for affordable housing strategy. They left their offices in Whitehall to see three schemes being run by English Rural Housing in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in Hambledon, Dunsfold and Chiddingfold.

These picturesque villages, in beautiful countryside and with good schools and transport links, are highly desirable and, consequently, house prices are high – on average 34 per cent more expensive than in surrounding areas and almost 23 times the average household income, according to recent figures published by English Rural.

This means that many local people struggle to afford to get onto the housing ladder. English Rural, a housing association whose patron is The Princess Royal, works with local councils and communities to provide homes at lower than market rent or part-ownership in rural areas.

In Hambledon it built Duncombs Cottages on Hambledon Road, Hydestile, which were opened by HRH Princess Anne in 2003. Now it is working with Waverley Borough Council and Hambledon Parish Council to build seven affordable homes and two open market bungalows at Orchard Farm, a disused livery yard between Wormley Lane and Petworth Road.

The civil servants were escorted by officials of English Rural and, in Hambledon, were met by parish council chairman John Anderson and vice chairman Stewart Payne, who explained the background to the scheme, the pitfalls along the way, and the overall support of the village for a small development of affordable homes for local people.

Work has yet to start on the site, so the civil servants were shown the empty farmhouse, which is to be renovated and sold on the open market, and the abandoned buildings that will make way for the new homes.

Nick Hughes, who is leading the scheme on behalf of English Rural, showed plans and drawings and explained the various issues that the scheme encountered before finally being approved by Waverley Council in November last year.

The visit, which took place on January 29th, was welcomed by John Anderson as an opportunity to explain the many difficulties that the parish council faced in helping to deliver a scheme that most villagers had welcomed, but some had opposed vociferously. Legitimate concerns by some residents had to be balanced against the benefits the scheme delivered.

Commenting on the visit, English Rural’s Chief Executive, Martin Collett, said he was pleased “to welcome representatives from the Ministry of Housing to show the affordable homes we have built and are developing in the villages of Hambledon, Dunsfold and Chiddingfold.

He said the visit focused on how parish councils and local; authorities can work effectively with rural housing associations to form strong partnerships that ultimately benefit local residents. “This has a positive impact on their own circumstances and the wider community”, he said. More information can be found here: https://englishrural.org.uk/ministry-of-housing-team-view-affordable-rural-homes-in-surrey/

 

Hambledon Parish Plan

Following a good debate at the Parish Assembly on 14 April, the Parish Council agreed at its meeting on 17 May that, as was the case with the 2003 Plan, its preparation should be overseen by a steering committee. Robin Knibb has kindly agreed to lead this, but he will need a handful of dedicated villagers to help with a wide variety of tasks.

The Parish Council has decided that, if the new Plan is to have official credence, it should be based on responses to a questionnaire. The one that was delivered to all households as a prelude to producing the 2003 Plan remains a useful model but it will need to be re-visited and up-dated so as to elicit details of Hambledon’s current demography, developments affecting the village that have occurred over the past 13 years and ideas that have so far emerged as to topics which the new Plan might cover.

The original questionnaire was hand-delivered to and collected from individual households in the village but this time it should be possible to offer everyone the option of receiving and returning a paper copy or completing it on-line via the village web site. Jon Petersen has very kindly agreed to produce the new questionnaire and to input and analyse data provided by the responses.

What does our community want for its future? Long-established residents, new arrivals, different household types and different age groups will all have their particular wish lists. It is really important that all of these are reflected in the make-up of the steering committee. So, even if you haven’t so far thought of getting involved in village activities, do stop for a moment and consider whether you could contribute to an exercise whose aim is to ensure that Hambledon remains the kind of village that persuaded you to move here in the first place.

You can contact Robin direct by e-mail, robin@hickoryconstruction.co.uk, or telephone 01428 683800/07836 228671; but if you would first like a bit more background to help you make up your mind please contact Parish Clerk Jane Woolley (j.woolley881@btinternet.com; 01428 684213).

Planning for Hambledon’s future – Latest

In 2003 Hambledon produced a Parish Plan to help shape its future.  Since then the Parish Council has examined various other formal frameworks to ensure the village’s ambitions for the years ahead are taken into account by Waverley Borough Council and other authorities.

These have included producing a Village Design Statement and Neighbourhood Plan, a route which some villagers had asked the council to consider.

After seeking professional advice – and taking into account the cost and resources necessary for such measures – it was decided that there were insufficient benefits to justify the time and money involved.

Instead it considered producing a Community Plan, which is smaller in scope that a Neighbourhood Plan and arguably more relevant to a little rural village.

Whichever method the parish council adopted for drawing up a blueprint for the future, it would require financial assistance and community volunteers. In the event neither was forthcoming.

It was hoped that funding for a Community Plan would be awarded by the Big Lottery Fund and that sufficient villagers would volunteer to participate in its preparation.

However, The Big Lottery, which distributes National Lottery money for community causes, turned down the request. The application had been carefully prepared with professional help. But Big Lottery experts could not see why a Community Plan was required to address the needs and issues set out in the application.  (This point had also been raised in previous advice given to the Parish Council, including from Waverley Borough Council.)

The second set back was that one month after an appeal for volunteers appeared in the Parish Magazine and on the village website only six responses had been received.

So it’s back to the drawing board.

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Although there have been changes since Hambledon produced its Parish Plan in 2003, it would be difficult to improve on its objectives.  The Parish Council has therefore decided to continue using it as a base document but to up-date it and re-issue it, either in its existing form or in a new format and perhaps with a more appropriate title.

Village organisations and individuals are therefore being asked what would make Hambledon a better place for them and their activities.

The responses will be incorporated in a discussion paper which will be made widely available early in April.  The paper will then be discussed and questions arising from it addressed at the Parish Assembly on 16 April.  Funds for printing the completed plan have been included in the 2016-17 budget. It will also be available on the village web site.

So, in thanking those who did volunteer to help with a Community Plan, the Parish Council  now asks them and as many other villagers as possible to give some thought as to what they think would make Hambledon an even better place in which to live.

Examining the 2003 Parish Plan and its most recent up-date might be a good point from which to start. This can be found on this web site here: Parish Plan documents . Or you can ask the Clerk ( via email, or telephone 01428 684213) for a hard copy

Please make sure that comments are either posted by leaving a comment on this article, or sent to the Clerk by 15 March so that they can be included in the discussion document.