Bookham Vanguard to present planning vision for the future of village

Dorking-and-Leatherhead-Ad

A TASKFORCE charged with completing a review of Bookham’s green belt is preparing to publish a document setting out a vision for the village spanning the next decade

By Alexander Robertson alexander.robertson@essnmedia.com

9906076-large

Bookham Vanguard, a volunteer forum made up of 40 villagers, has spent more than two years drawing up a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), the first draft of which is imminent.

Once finalised, the document will set out policies agreed upon by the community that developers will have to follow when making planning applications in Bookham.

The group will reveal its policies for the impending draft NDP at a public event on May 9, and Vanguard member Cathryn Hossack called on villagers to make their voices heard.

She told the Advertiser: “It’s been two-and-a-half years in the making and finally the draft NDP for Bookham is in the final preparation stages.

“This is the first opportunity for the public to see the NDP policies for themselves and discuss them with forum members. The comments and questions received will be welcomed and majority community views will contribute toward the content of the finished plan.”

Among the topics set to be covered by the policies are housing, infrastructure, open spaces and the safeguarding of retail and other businesses in the village.

Bookham Vanguard was formed in 2012 and became one of the first groups to undertake the process of developing an NDP, an initiative introduced by the Localism Act 2011.

However, it was forced to stop in late 2013 after government ministers said it could not be carried out in isolation to Mole Valley District Council’s Housing and Traveller Sites Plan.

When the council terminated work on its own plan in December due to changes in guidance over the green belt, the Vanguard returned to work.

Ms Hossack said: “The policies will be focused on trying to find a balance between enabling new homes in the current built-up area while keeping Bookham open and green and helping improve local infrastructure wherever possible. It’s a tricky balance to achieve, but we believe the policies in the plan will do just that.

“The opinions of the rest of the Bookham people will hopefully let us know. It is vital they agree with the policies as, ultimately, they will be voting on them in a referendum to adopt the NDP.”

The engagement event will take place at The Barn Hall in Church Road on May 9 from 9.30am to 12.30pm.