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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 18/09/2001
Blackwater Valley Network: Study to Assist in Optimising Future Economic Growth




[Wards Affected: All Farnham Wards]

Summary and Purpose

Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) published in March 2001, identified the Blackwater Valley as a specific area requiring a regeneration strategy and identified the need for a study to be carried out to “assist in optimising the future economic growth in the area”.

The Blackwater Valley Network has drawn up a Protocol for carrying out this study together with Terms of Reference. This report seeks this Council’s support for the study and seeks views on the management arrangements set out in the Protocol.

There are no Human Rights, Community Safety, Crime and Disorder or “Opportunities for all” implications. The environmental and resource implications are set out in the report.

Introduction and Background

1. The Blackwater Valley covers parts of Hampshire and Surrey, Bracknell Forest and Wokingham, and all or parts of Hart, Rushmoor, Guildford, Surrey Heath and Waverley. The sub-region covers Farnham, Aldershot, Farnborough, Camberley and several smaller settlements including Ash, Frimley, Blackwater and Sandhurst.

2. Waverley has been an active member of the Blackwater Valley Network since its inception. Its current representatives on the Member Steering Group (which meets next on the 18th September) are Capt Burden, Mr Foulkes and Dr Thomas.

3. The Blackwater Valley has suffered in the past from fragmented approaches not only at the local level, but also at the strategic level. It faces a number of environmental, land-use and transportation problems, none of which respect the administrative boundaries of local authorities, and its sub-regional role and potential have not been fully recognised.

4. The Blackwater Valley Network was set up in 1997 to overcome these issues and to enable local authorities in the Blackwater Valley area to develop joint working and a co-ordinated approach to land-use, transportation and associated issues.

5. Regional Planning Guidance, published in March 2001, recognised that if future economic growth were to take place in the area, “further collaboration will be required to ensure a co-ordinated approach to land-use and transport planning, making best use of the existing urban areas and infrastructure”.

6. The RPG states that:-

“Joint working will be required to:

(a) undertake a study to assist in optimising the future economic growth in the area. Such a study could 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. It should help identify the 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; and

(b) reflect any agreed strategy for the area in development plans, local transport plans and other relevant strategies.

Management arrangements and Terms of Reference

7. The study itself is being undertaken by the Development Plans Officer Group on which Waverley is represented. It will, however, be necessary for a steering group to be set up to manage and direct the study.

8. In view of the fact that the Blackwater Valley straddles the administrative boundaries of two County Councils, two Unitary Authorities and five District/Borough Councils, it has been necessary to draw up a Protocol setting out how these management arrangements are to be set up. This Protocol is attached at Annexe 1.

9. The Protocol envisages the establishment of a small group of Members to steer the study. Such a group can be easily convened at short notice. The Protocol envisages that this sub-group of Members would comprise one representative from each of the County and Unitary Authorities, one representative from the Hampshire districts and one representative from the Surrey districts. This sub-group would be supported by a similar group of Officers and would manage and co-ordinate the Study. However, overall responsibility will remain with the Member Steering Group. The Council would, therefore, not be disadvantaged by not being represented on the sub-group.

10. The Network considers that the study should be carried out in two phases. Details are set out in Annexe 2. This document makes it clear that the Study will provide the policy context within which decisions will be made, but it will be up to the individual authorities themselves to set out in their Structure, Unitary and Local Plans how these policies are to be delivered.

11. Terms of Reference of the Study are set out in Annexe 3. This document sets out the aims, objectives, scope and timetable for the study. The timetable is necessarily tight not only to ensure that the outcomes can be used to inform the next review of Structure and Local Plans, but also to inform the next review of Regional Planning Guidance and work being undertaken by the South East Economic Development Agency (SEEDA).

12. Officers representing the Network Authorities are meeting with officers of the Government Office for the South East (GOSE), the South East Regional Assembly (SEERA) and the South East Economic Development Agency (SEEDA) to explain how the study will be undertaken and to seek their involvement and support.

Progress on the Study to date

13. Much of the environmental/ecological/archaeological/transport/floodplain data relevant to the Blackwater Valley area has already been collated. Work on the identification of employment sites and their potential is currently under way and the potential of extending Hampshire County Council current County-wide Business survey to cover the whole of the Blackwater Valley area is currently being investigated.

Resource Implications

14. No specific staff or financial resources have been allocated to this work. All work to date has been absorbed within existing resources. It is anticipated that this arrangement will continue. Should additional resources be required, a further report will be made.


15. Members’ views are sought as to the question of representation on the Study Steering Group.


It is recommended that:-

1. the work of the Blackwater Valley Network continue to be supported;

2. the Protocol for the management arrangements of the Blackwater Valley Study as set out in Annexe 1 to this report be endorsed; and

3. the Context and Terms of Reference for the Study as set out in Annexe 2

Background Papers (DPD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.


Name: Mr P Hartley Telephone: 01483 869297
E-mail: phartley@waverley.gov.uk