New Place-Shaping approach adopted by Waverley

Published Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Waverley Borough Council is set to embark on a new place-shaping agenda.

Councillors at last night’s Full Council meeting unanimously approved a funding reserve for exciting community-led projects across the borough, such as producing a Farnham Masterplan.

A total of £250,000 has been earmarked to create the Place-Shaping Fund, which will come from the one-off financial gain from Waverley’s participation in the 2018/19 business rate pilot. The future work coming out of the fund will take into account various council and partner strategies and plans, including the Corporate Strategy 2018-2023, Local Plan, Economic Development Strategy, Housing Strategy and Neighbourhood Plans.

Councillor Julia Potts, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “I am absolutely thrilled this has been agreed. This new approach will transform how we work as a council and help us to build community cohesion and create a strong local identity. We want to put the borough on map, encourage economic prosperity and achieve the best results for our communities.

"The needs of our residents are at the heart of this - and a major part of the work will mean engaging with our local communities. We want to hear from both the active and articulate, as well as the vulnerable or rarely-heard. Getting everyone involved will help us to make sure we prioritise the needs which are unique to specific areas, recognising that not every town or village faces the same issues. That’s why we will make sure future place-shaping activity starts with and supports Neighbourhood Plans and involves partner agencies, to help identify solutions to economic and infrastructure challenges.”

The council has recently committed to working with Farnham Town Council and Surrey County Council to begin the masterplan process for the borough’s largest town, Farnham. All three councils have agreed to fund the masterplan, with Waverley contributing £44,000 out of the Place-Shaping Fund and Surrey County Council matching the same amount. Farnham Town Council will invest £10,000.

Councillor Potts added: “With so much going on in Farnham, including the Brightwells Yard development, the opening of the newly refurbished Memorial Hall and funding committed to improve Farnham Leisure Centre, now is the perfect time for us to draw everything together and take a holistic look at the town. Together, we will consider Farnham’s heritage and think about what additional considerations are needed to connect services, improve traffic links and infrastructure, and increase economic opportunities and job prospects for local people.”

Councillor Carole Cockburn, Leader of Farnham Town Council, said: “Farnham Town Council is fully supportive of this project and is committed to working in partnership with both Surrey and Waverley to make it a success. The council believes that this is an exciting opportunity, which will ensure a great future for the town.”

As the Farnham masterplan develops, the council will gather learning and experience from the project, which can then be applied to similar schemes in other areas of the borough.

Notes to Editors

In October 2017, Waverley Borough Council agreed to be part of a bid by all Surrey councils to participate in a business rates pilot in 2018/19. It was expected that this would generate a one-off financial gain for each council from the levy on business rate growth that would otherwise have been paid to the Government.

Recent monitoring of the pilot has identified that a gain of at least £100,000 is very likely and a higher amount is possible. It is proposed that the Council agree to earmark up to £250,000 of the business rates pilot one-off gain to the place-shaping initiative set out in its report. If the pilot gain is insufficient to meet this cost, the shortfall will be met from reprioritising existing budgets.

For further information contact:

Tel: 01483  523296

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