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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 12/07/2004
APPENDIX I - MARKET TOWN HEALTHCHECKS AND PARISH PLANS



Summary & Purpose
The report describes the Market Towns Healthcheck approach, sets out the results emerging in Cranleigh and Haslemere to date, sets out details of changes to the Parish Plan approach and describes links to the Community Strategy and the emerging Local Development Frameworks. The report also advises the Council of two Market Town Awards that have been won by Cranleigh and Haslemere for projects undertaken by the Town Initiatives linked to the healthcheck.

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
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX I

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE - 12TH JULY 2004




Title:
MARKET TOWN HEALTHCHECKS AND PARISH PLANS
[Wards Affected: All]


Summary and Purpose

The report describes the Market Towns Healthcheck approach, sets out the results emerging in Cranleigh and Haslemere to date, sets out details of changes to the Parish Plan approach and describes links to the Community Strategy and the emerging Local Development Frameworks. The report also advises the Council of two Market Town Awards that have been won by Cranleigh and Haslemere for projects undertaken by the Town Initiatives linked to the healthcheck.

Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development)

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive

E-Government implications:

This report has no direct implications for e-government, although aspects of the consultation processes for the healthchecks used webcast technology to develop community involvement. This technology helps extend citizen participation and awareness in ways which are beneficial for e-government

Resource and legal implications:

There are no direct financial implications resulting from this report. There is a recommendation which proposes prioritising support for Parish Plans through the matched funding process. This will also have time-implications for staff who provide support for the Parish Plans process.



Introduction and background

What is the "Healthcheck"?

1. The Healthcheck is a key part of the Countryside Agency’s Market Towns Initiative. It is designed to help local communities find ways to assess and improve the vitality of their town and surrounding countryside. The purpose of the Healthcheck is to help sustain rural towns as viable service centres, serving residents and businesses in the towns and the surrounding area. The Healthcheck does this by:-

Looking at what services and amenities are currently available for businesses and the wider community

Creating a shared vision for the future

Drawing up an action plan of key priorities that need to be addressed in the short, medium and long term.

2. The healthcheck focuses on four key themes, which reflect the different things a market town provides, and the way people get to, from and around a town. The themes are; Social and Community Access and Transport, Environment, and the Economy.

3. Over 300 communities in England, twenty-one of which are in the South East, are currently undertaking the Healthcheck process. The Healthcheck methodology and guidance is available on the Countryside Agency’s website, at: www.countryside.gov.uk/market-towns. Cranleigh and Haslemere were successful in a funding application to the second round of Countryside Agency Healthcheck funding in Spring 2002. They are the only two communities in Surrey currently undertaking the Healthcheck with Countryside Agency support. Farnham has also recently begun its Healthcheck, and initial consideration has been given to undertaking a similar project in Godalming.

Outcomes

4. The outcomes of the Healthcheck are in two areas. First, the communities of Haslemere and Cranleigh, will each have a shared vision for the future of their communities, and an action plan to guide them towards achieving that vision. In Cranleigh approximately 2,000 people have contributed ideas to the process to date, and over 3,000 people have contributed in Haslemere. This represents a significant level of community involvement and ownership.

5. Secondly, the capacity of the community to take forward the implementation of this action plan is significantly increased. The organisational structures established to undertake the Healthcheck have built on the existing partnership arrangements of the Town Initiatives and Local Councils. Funding has been allocated for the employment of a part time Project Co-ordinator for each community until March 2006, to assist the partnerships in implementing the action plans. The Co-ordinators are employed by Waverley Borough Council on behalf of the two Town Initiatives, with funding provided by the Countryside Agency, Cranleigh Parish Council and Haslemere Town Council. Waverley is also contributing £15,000 in total over three years from its Community Partnership Fund (matched funding) programme.


The Healthcheck Process in Cranleigh and Haslemere


Timescale

6. There are two distinct phases to the Healthcheck Process: 1) preparing a snapshot of current conditions and community opinions, and 2) implementing the resulting action plan. Both Cranleigh and Haslemere have produced detailed reports of their research following completion of phase 1 and have moved into the implementation phase. Funding is currently available to assist with the implementation of the action plan until March 2006. However, the action plans have a longer time frame, and will require monitoring and review to ensure that they remain relevant over the next ten to twenty years.

7. Due to the requirements of the funding, Cranleigh and Haslemere sought to undertake the first phase of the Healthcheck in six months with the support of a full time co-ordinator for that period. There was too narrow a time frame with one co-ordinator supporting two different communities. One of the learning points from the exercise was that the time needed for the level of community consultation – particularly with harder-to-reach groups – meant that it is more appropriate to have a part time co-ordinator over 9/12 months. Farnham have followed this advice for their own co-ordinator.

Funding

8. The Countryside Agency funding, matched by local funding, has been allocated as follows:-

Year 1Years 2-4 (per year)
£17,000Countryside Agency£15,000Countryside Agency
£3,000Surrey County Council£5,000Waverley Borough Council
-£5,000Haslemere Town Council
-£5,000Cranleigh Parish Council
PurposeTo enable local partnerships to undertake the Healthcheck research, including recruitment of Healthcheck Co-ordinator.PurposeTo facilitate the implementation of the action plans through the recruitment of a Project Co-ordinator.

9. This funding is intended to cover the core costs of undertaking the Healthcheck. Additionally, funding will be sought to implement specific projects. The Cranleigh and Haslemere Initiatives have earmarked a small sum for this purpose from the funding they receive from Waverley Borough Council. In addition, project funding has been allocated by the local county councillors for specific projects and successful funding applications have been submitted and will continue to be submitted over the lifetime of the projects.


Issues arising in Cranleigh and Haslemere

(a) Cranleigh

10. The Healthcheck has brought out issues under each of the four key Healthcheck themes. The issues are reported here under those headings, but it is recognised that there are links between themes and some projects may address issues which affect more than one theme. The Steering Groups in each community have been developing these issues into a prioritised and timetabled action plan which will evolve as new issues emerge.

11. The Cranleigh Steering Group and Task Groups have devised a list of over 70 project ideas to meet the needs and opportunities identified in their Healthcheck research. The community have been given an opportunity to comment on these project ideas, which in the main met with firm support.

      Cranleigh Healthcheck Issues
      (a) Social and Community
· The limited availability of social housing is affecting the age and social mix of the community, making it unbalanced.
· There is extensive support for local health care services, and a need to ensure people can continue to access the support they need, including further services at Cranleigh Village Hospital, community and home-based support, and transport to Royal Surrey County Hospital.
· There is a significant fear of crime in spite of low crime rate.
· Lack of activities and places to gather informally is perceived as a problem by young people, and may reflect a feeling of threat to other sectors of the community from young people.
· There is demand for a Cinema appropriate to young people.
· Need for improved information provision on leisure and recreational activities has been identified, linked to visitor information provision, and transport information.
· Engagement in the community through volunteering should be facilitated and encouraged, particularly amongst young people.
      (b) Transport and Access
· There are opportunities to increase rates of walking and cycling, and to link this to health benefits.
· Improvements to public transport coverage are required, particularly to surrounding villages at evenings and weekends, and to make it more attractive through physical improvements and better information provision.
· There is concern about peak-time traffic congestion and about the high minor casualty rate.
· Illegal and inconsiderate parking should be tackled.
      (c) Environment
· A comprehensive Design Statement for the whole village is needed, to ensure that new development contributes to the character of the village, and is not detrimental to the built and natural environment.
· Development on the boundaries of the village should respect the manner in which the village blends into the countryside.

· There are opportunities to encourage the enjoyment of the natural and built environments of the area.
· The maintenance of those aspects of the environment which are distinctive to Cranleigh, such as the Maple trees edging the common, should be planned for.
· There are concerns about the deterioration of the general environment, including pavement conditions, vandalism and litter.
      (d) Economy
· A significant "leakage" of retail spend to neighbouring larger town centres has been identified, and a co-ordinated campaign is required to attract customers to their local centre.
· Support is high amongst the existing customer base for Cranleigh’s retail character of quality, independent shops; however, young people do not find that the retail mix meets their needs.
· There is potential to develop Cranleigh’s visitor economy, focused on walking and cycling. Significant improvements to visitor facilities and information will be required.
· Threats to some local shops in the surrounding area have been identified.
· The redevelopment of Dunsfold Aerodrome is expected to be the largest single influence on the local economy in the next 5-10 years.
· Business support and adult education needs are not fully met at present.

12. Through the healthcheck, a vision for Cranleigh was agreed as part of the consultation process. It is “A vibrant village in an attractive rural setting, serving its community and neighbouring villages with a wide range of shops and accessible and relevant services providing a safe and secure environment for people of all ages”.

13. One example of a project which has started as a result of the issues raised in the healthcheck, the FLY (For Local Youth) project has commenced in Cranleigh. This is led by the Cranleigh Arts Centre and Cranleigh Youth Club with support from the Lions Club and provides a range of activities for young people and has linked transport using the Hoppa service for young people in neighbouring villages.

(b) Haslemere

14. The Haslemere Steering Group and Task Groups have completed their report of their main findings. The following issues are drawn from the draft report:

      Haslemere Healthcheck Issues
      (a) Social and Community
· The Healthcheck has provided an opportunity to assess social inclusion issues in Haslemere and identify pockets of disadvantage.
· Youth facilities are not sufficient, and a lack of provision has been linked to anti-social behaviour problems.
· The population is ageing, and the needs of the older members of the community must be catered for.
· There is insufficient social and affordable housing to meet the needs of key workers, young people and families.

· A potential redevelopment site in the town centre has the potential to provide community facilities and smaller housing units to help meet needs identified by the Healthcheck.
· The opening of the A3 tunnel will offer a significant opportunity to develop leisure facilities on the site of the existing road.
      (b) Transport and Access
· Some bus routes are under threat from low demand, and there may be potential to establish new community services.
· There is concern about the generation of additional traffic on local roads as a result of the A3 improvements at Hindhead.
· Pavement improvement works are needed in some parts of the town centre.
· A comprehensive parking policy is needed to address issues including commuter parking at the station, and parking enforcement.
· Provision for cyclists needs improvement.
      (c) Environment
· The split nature of the town (High Street and Wey Hill) causes some difficulties in managing the town.
· There is concern about deterioration of the High Street environment, due to signage and street furniture having a cluttering affect in the High Street, and to the condition of various Gibbs Trust properties.
· There is concern that the proposed National Park to the south of the Surrey Border may lead to increased development pressure in the area.
· There is potential to engage more local people in the management of various local countryside areas.
      (d) Economy
· Business support services should be improved, including Customer Service training.
· A promotional campaign to visitors and local people would benefit the town.
· Improvements to the town centre street environment could make the town more attractive.
· Parking and congestion problems need to be resolved.
· Walking and cycling facilities need improvement.
· New businesses needed to support the town’s economy include Bed and Breakfast accommodation and quality independent retailers.

15. Through the Haslemere healthcheck a vision for Haslemere was agreed “Haslemere – a distinctive country town:-

Valuing the past.

Shaping the future by promoting the social economic and environmental well-being of the community.”

16. The vision is supported by a series of aims which will be addressed over the next seven years. These are to:-

Develop a comprehensive range of businesses that reflect the needs of the community and support employment

Increase the provision of affordable housing to rent and to buy

Increase community involvement and improve social inclusion

Improve derelict and unattractive sites

Develop an effective transport infrastructure

Improve the visitor economy

The Future of the Healthcheck Approach

17. The healthchecks have been significant and comprehensive projects that have involved officers from the Parishes, Waverley, and Surrey and other partners. They could not have taken place without enormous community involvement nor without the work of volunteers leading the individual task groups. Volunteers are now leading on the implementation of many individual projects with the support of the Project Co-ordinators.

18. Both the healthchecks in Cranleigh and Haslemere have resulted in contact with members of the community that would not normally be involved in giving their views on matters affecting them. The work with younger people using the webcast technology has been particularly welcomed in each community and further follow up activities are planned to extend their involvement in shaping issues that affect them.

19. Farnham has started and Godalming is considering making use of the Healthcheck approach. The Healthcheck would provide these communities with a vision and action plan that demonstrate both ownership and recognition by the wider community of the issues which need addressing. As such, it would provide a firm basis for subsequent project funding applications.

20. Funding from the Countryside Agency is no longer available for the Healthcheck. From the experience in Cranleigh and Haslemere it is clear that, due to the scale of the work required, undertaking a Healthcheck cannot be absorbed into the work-programme of existing staff. When such a comprehensive approach is adopted, a dedicated resource is required to undertake the Healthcheck successfully.

Market Town Awards

21. In April this year, Cranleigh and Haslemere won two of the four prestigious new Market Town Awards given by SEEDA and Action for Market Towns. The Haslemere Initiative won the Business Category for its Christmas Market developed by the Haslemere Chamber of Commerce and Waverley, whilst Cranleigh won the Youth Category for the development of the Fly Project following the issues raised in the Healthcheck. There were two other categories: Tourism - won by Dorking, and Transport - won by Billingshurst. Each project received a certificate and £250 to reinvest in their winning project. These awards underline both the quality and success of the work being undertaken in Waverley, bringing together the wider community and a range of organisations working in partnership to address specific community needs.


New SEEDA funding for market towns

22. SEEDA (the South East England Development Agency) have announced a new funding programme for market towns recognising that small rural towns play an integral role across the region in arenas such as tourism, promoting and marketing local produce and fostering the quality of rural life. The funding is worth £7 million over seven years. The new SEEDA programme which will be targeted at towns that have completed a Market Town Healthcheck or similar exercise, aims to provide direct benefits for a number of small rural towns with funding in two formats:-

(a) Large project grants offering financial assistance of £240,000 per town. A maximum of 12 towns will be able to make a demonstrable impact on their activities under this measure.

(b) Grants to a single major project which will make a significant, dramatic and visible difference to a renaissance of a town. The minimum contribution from SEEDA will be £40,000 per project and it is hoped that around 60 towns could benefit.

23. All the successful SEEDA grants in this programme will need to be matched by funding from the applicants.

24. SEEDA recognises that towns need time to develop credible, comprehensive and professional ideas through community engagement, consultation and research. So, the SEEDA programme will stretch over a seven-year period from 2004 to 2011 with expenditure spread evenly throughout the entire period. Both Cranleigh and Haslemere are eligible for this fund. Godalming could also apply if it has gone through the healthcheck process. In Surrey, twelve communities are eligible for this fund.

Parish Plans

25. A recent seminar was held to encourage Parishes in Waverley to undertake Parish Plans. The seminar was addressed by Surrey Community Action, the Surrey County Association of Parish and Town Councils and Waverley officers. The meeting heard of the benefits that had emerged from Parish Plans undertaken to date and noted that the funding that had previously been available from the Countryside Agency for such Plans was no longer available. However, it was noted that a Parish Plans project was one that would be eligible for support through Waverley’s Community Partnership Fund.

Conclusion

26. The work of the Healthchecks and Parish Plans form a good basis for reviewing Waverley’s Community Strategy and provide an excellent benchmark for the communities where they have taken place. Both the Healthchecks and Parish Plans provide an excellent level of community involvement in drawing up actions to meet their needs. There has been some useful learning from the healthchecks that will link into work needed for community involvement in the emerging Local Development Frameworks. Officers are currently reviewing how the findings can best be incorporated into these and the work of the Local Strategic Partnership.

27. Cranleigh and Haslemere are now well-placed to implement the actions arising from the Healthchecks and have robust evidence to support subsequent funding applications.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:-

1. the work undertaken by the Cranleigh Initiative, the Haslemere Initiative, volunteers and the wider community in completing the first phase of the Market Town Healthchecks in Cranleigh and Haslemere be welcomed and endorsed and the Steering groups be congratulated on what they have achieved;

2. issues emerging from the Healthchecks and Parish Plans be used to help inform the development of Waverley’s Community Strategy and the work of the Local Strategic Partnership;

3. Parish and community Plans be listed as one of the funding priorities in Waverley’s Community Partnership Fund criteria;

4. the receipt of the two Market Town Awards for Cranleigh and Haslemere be welcomed; and

5. the Executive's thanks be conveyed to the Town Initiatives and volunteers in each community who have done so much to complete the initial phase of the Healthchecks.



Background Papers (CEx)

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



CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Iain Lynch Telephone: 01483 523203
Email: ilynch@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/2004-05/093