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Looking forward to 2020

Black circular sign post with Farnham painted in white letters around top of circle

Farnham Voice by Councillor John Neale. Published in the Farnham Herald on 2 January 2020.

So, we come to the end of 2019. The new Town Council has been in office for 8 months – a time for reflection and for looking forward to 2020. For all us councillors it has been a very busy period, a time to get to know each other, to establish new relationships with the community and with our partner councils at Waverley and Surrey. We have made progress on many subjects, especially those where the town council has full responsibility, but some subjects take longer since we are working with our partners.

The big difference between the new council and that of recent years is that your Farnham councillors have a greater influence in Waverley. We are fortunate in that 5 of the 9 Executive councillors in Waverley are also Farnham town councillors: John Ward is the Waverley Leader, Andy MacLeod is responsible for planning policy, David Beaman for health, wellbeing and culture, Mark Merryweather for finance and commercial, and myself for placemaking, economic development and business transformation. That puts a huge workload on us but does give us a greater opportunity to make sure that we can look after Farnham’s interests at the same time as serving Waverley. Andy is also a Surrey councillor with committee responsibilities there.

A major project for 2019 has been our update to the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan. The revision to the recent 2017 plan has been driven by government instruction to provide more housing across the country, so we have had to take our share. A lot of work has gone into allocating extra housing sites in such a way as to avoid compromising the green spaces around the town. The process has been checked by an independent examiner who has ratified our proposals. There will be a local referendum in 2020 to check for local support, so please remember to use your vote to make sure that the plan gets official approval and development goes where you, rather than a remote planning inspector, have decided.

Another major area of our attention has been housing design and building standards. We want to make sure that future housing in the town not only supports the character of the existing neighbourhoods, but also incorporates advanced technical features for energy use and other sustainable measures. Most of this work is led by Waverley but you will also see an update in 2020 to the Farnham Design Statement that safeguards architectural standards in the town.

The third big project is the Farnham Strategic Plan. This is led from Waverley; however, it involves all three councils, which adds to its complexity. You will hear more about this in 2020 when we will be directly involving the local community in Farnham. This is all about the development of your town for the future, so we want wide community involvement. It will cover the town centre, air quality improvements, highways issues and a host of other topics that relate to the wellbeing and prosperity of our town for the future.

These are the big projects. But we don’t forget the smaller challenges around the town that concern us all – such as the problems caused by heavy vehicles in the town centre. We try to address all these issues and we welcome your comments any time. In 2020 you will see changes in Gostrey Meadow and other places where your council will be taking responsibility, I will tell you more about that in future editions.

Thank you for your support and patience in 2019, we look forward to working with you all in 2020 and we wish everyone in Farnham a prosperous New Year.

By Councillor John Neale, Leader, Farnham Town Council Published in the Farnham Herald on 2 January 2020

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