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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 07/07/2003
Appendix B



Summary & Purpose
The report by the Consultants Atkins/Ancer Spa commissioned by the Blackwater Network of Authorities (Hants and Surrey County Councils, Bracknell Forest and Wokingham Unitary Authorities and Guildford Borough, Hart District, Rushmoor Borough, Surrey Heath Borough and Waverley Borough) has now been received. This report summarises the main findings of the Study, assesses the three scenarios for future policy direction, suggests ways of developing the wider vision for and role of the Blackwater Valley (especially having regard to the recent Planning Bill which stresses the need to develop and foster joint working), and identifies additional information and resources which will be needed to take the work forward and develop the wider vision for and role of the Blackwater Valley.

A copy of the Executive summary has already been circulated to all Members.

The study has been widely publicised. Parish and Town Councils, interested organisations and other bodies have received copies of the study and have been invited to contribute to the debate. Copies of the Summary document have been made available free at the main Waverley Offices in Godalming and at the Farnham Locality Office.

Comments are sought by 18th July.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive



E-Government implications:

This report has no E-Government implications

Resource and legal implications:

There are no legal implications. The resource implications are set out in the report.

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Background

1. The Blackwater Valley Study area straddles the boundaries of Bracknell Forest, Surrey Heath, Guildford, Waverley, Hart and Wokingham. The only Borough that is completely encompassed by the study area is Rushmoor. The Blackwater Valley has a population of over 300,000. It contains five towns: Aldershot, Camberley, Farnborough, Farnham and Fleet, and a number of smaller settlements including Ash, Blackwater, Crowthorne, Frimley, Mytchett, Sandhurst and Yateley.

2. The study was commissioned from the consultants Atkins/Ancer Spa in response to the requirement in the Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (RPG9) published in March 2001 which required the Blackwater Valley authorities to continue to work together to "ensure a co-ordinated approach to land-use and transport planning" and to "undertake a study to assist in optimising the future economic growth in the area.....to clarify the extent of the Blackwater Valley sub-region and identify the best locations for economic growth on the basis of taking advantage of local potential". The study "should help to identify areas where labour supply is constraining growth and take positive measures to relieve this problem, either by the provision of more housing or by the improvement of public transport".

3. The purpose of the study is to inform and influence future regional planning policy and future development plans and strategies, including Local Transport Plans and the proposed Local Development Frameworks.

Main Conclusions of the Report

4. The Atkins/Ancer SPA study indicates that:

whilst the Blackwater Valley has a population of over 300,000, this population is contained within five towns (Aldershot, Camberley, Farnborough, Farnham and Fleet), each having populations between 30,000 and 52,000, together with a number of smaller settlements. The study notes that no single centre dominates the area;

although each of the towns and smaller settlements within the Blackwater Valley area has its own unique identity, strong and complex economic and functional relationships have developed between them due to their close proximity;

the environmental quality of the rural area is high and much is designated of national and international significance;

the Blackwater Valley is characterised by a buoyant local economy where high-tech and knowledge-based industries (particularly aerospace, defence and telecommunications) are strongly represented;

whilst there is a large supply of large expensive homes in the area, there is a significant demand for smaller and more affordable homes;

commercial property is characterised by an over supply of offices and a strong demand for light industrial space;

transport issues are dominated by a highly complex pattern of travel movements both within the area and to surrounding areas

levels of commuting are high as are car ownership and usage. Public transport usage (apart from those commuting to London to work) is, however, low;

whilst the area is strategically well-placed and has strong functional links with London, the Thames Valley, Surrey and Hampshire, it is subject to increasing levels of congestion;

the future role of the town centres is fundamental.

the main threats to the Blackwater Valley are the dangers posed by an overheating economy, unbalanced housing and continued car dependency. The report points out that amongst the development issues which need to be addressed are questions of -
Possible Ways Forward

5. The Study identifies three "scenarios" for future policy direction:

Limited Intervention: this scenario assumes that there would be no major change of policy direction and that development would be market-led, regulated only through the development control process; Active discouragement of growth: with this scenario, growth pressures would remain, but would not be fulfilled. There would be a marginal level of investment in transport infrastructure, confined to incremental improvements only; and Active adaptation to growth and change: this scenario seeks to address the needs of the area comprehensively and in a sustainable manner. It would involve initiating a number of measures and initiatives to tackle the whole range of issues, including significant investment in transport infrastructure, more intensive use of land and new public/private partnerships.

6. Each of the scenarios has positive and negative aspects. The scenarios are not mutually exclusive and different scenarios could be applied in different degrees to different parts of the area.

7. A number of spatial options have been identified including:

concentrating development around key town centres, chiefly Aldershot and Farnborough;
spreading development within existing urban areas, including town centres and smaller local centres;
limited opportunities for rural housing in villages;
urban extensions.

8. There are unlikely to be any opportunities for new settlements in the Study area in the foreseeable future because of the significant environmental constraints.

The Next Steps

9. Each of the nine Blackwater Valley Authorities, Town and Parish Councils, organisations, bodies and interested individuals have been asked to address the following questions:

(i) Does the study satisfactorily address the issues in RPG9?

(ii) What are this Council’s views on the various scenarios?

(iii) How can the scenarios assist in "optimising the future economic growth of the area"?

(iv) How can the Blackwater Valley Network use the conclusions of the study to develop the wider vision for and role of the Blackwater Valley, especially having regard to the recent Planning Bill and the need to develop and foster joint working?

(v) What additional information and resources will be needed to take the work forward and develop the wider vision for and role of the Blackwater Valley?

Officer Comment

(i) Whether the study satisfactorily addresses the issues in RPG9

(ii/iii) Comment on the various Scenarios and how the scenarios could be used

(iv) Development of the wider vision for and role of the Blackwater Valley, especially having regard to the recent Planning Bill and the need to develop and foster joint working

(v) Additional Information and Resources needed to take the work forward

Recommendation:

It is recommended that the Council

1. is of the view that the study has satisfactorily addressed the issues identified in RPG9; ________________________________________________________________________
Background Papers (DPD)

Blackwater Valley Sub Regional Study: Final Report April 2003
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Peter Hartley Telephone: 01483 523297

E-mail: phartley@waverley.gov.uk


Comms/O&S3/2003-04/008