News: February 2021

Happy New Year! Though perhaps not the one we were hoping for. As a result the East Woodhay and Highclere Neighbourcare Coronavirus Support Newsletter has resumed regular editions. Links to the latest issues are below:

Below are extracts from our most recent newsletter (January) which goes out via email to all our members.

Chairman’s Welcome to Highclere Society’s 25th Anniversary Year!

About 26 years ago, I attended my first annual Parish Assembly. There was great concern about various planning matters and the village environment in general. In conversation afterwards, the idea emerged of forming a group to support the Parish Council. Such a group would be ready to oppose any inappropriate developments. A year later eight of us launched the Highclere Society.

Little did I know that we would grow to our current 300 plus membership and I would still be the Chairman.

We will celebrate our 25th, but not before Late Summer.

Plans for 2021

Your committee has cancelled all social activity plans for the first half of the year. This assumes a slow but gradual return towards normality in the second half of the year. Sadly, that means no February Wine Tasting, March Golf or June BBQ.

However, all is not lost. If possible, late Summer could see the BBQ, an early Autumn Wine Tasting and Golf all re-emerge. We just cannot fix dates yet.

On the environmental front, as you will be aware, we are pulling out all the stops to fight a planning application for 26 houses on a greenfield site on the Andover Road. This is covered below and in separate emails.

Later in the Newsletter you will find an article by Brad Norton, Chairman of Highclere Parish Council (HPC). Brad explains their role in planning at a particularly apt time. The Society and HPC are aiming to work more closely together on planning. We have previously described our role but below is a brief reminder.

Highclere Society's role in Planning

Highclere Society (HS) is pleased to support its members by actively reviewing and assessing planning applications or apparent breaches of planning permissions. We have a seven strong Society sub-committee focusing solely on planning with significant experience of planning matters and a strong network to alert members to matters that we think may concern them and to receive members' input. Also, HS has an excellent, long-standing, relationship with our Borough Councillors.

We have increasingly strong links to Highclere Parish Council (HPC), acknowledging their official role on planning matters. Please see below a description of HPC role by the Chairman, Brad Norton. To be clear, whilst HS will co-operate with and usually agree with HPC on planning applications we will continue to make our own independent assessments and comments to Basingstoke planners.

Highclere Parish Council's role in Planning

Highclere Parish Council (HPC) is elected to represent the views of the local community. All planning applications made to Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council (BDBC) for sites within, or immediately adjacent to the Parish boundary, are referred to the Parish Council as a statutory consultee. BDBC is required to consider comments made by HPC and therefore it is important that the HPC has an approach to planning matters that is transparent, objective, accountable and fair. The Parish Council carefully considers applications for new buildings of any kind, major extensions, or change of use, particularly considering the local impact. While every case is dealt with on its merits, as a rule, the Parish Council raises no comment on a minor change to a dwelling or its setting (for example, work on protected trees).

Of course, as part of the planning process, HPC can be approached by any member of the Highclere community to discuss planning matters, and HPC actively encourages discussion – this could be either an applicant or those affected by potential planning applications. So, with this in mind, HPC encourages an open dialogue with the Highclere Society on substantial planning applications to ensure that the views of the Society's members are taken into account. This open channel of communication is already established including, most recently, communications regarding the outline planning application behind Rutherford Close and HPC is keen to continue this collaboration. Of course, if members of the Highclere community wish to do so, they can approach HPC directly as well as via the Society.

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