Planning seminars held by Farnborough, Fleet and Yateley civic groups

A presentation by Civic Voice to the Farnborough Society in April was the catalyst for three local civic societies to join forces to hold a series of three seminars for members of the public interested in knowing more about the planning process and how to best engage in the public participation increasingly encouraged by legislation.

The seminars were the brainchild of the Yateley Society due to concerns over the need to engage more people in planning policy and development control issues. It was felt that there were citizens who were reluctant to become involved in planning issues because they lacked experience and/or knowledge. The idea became a reality when informal discussions took place with Farnborough and Fleet & Church Crookham societies at the Civic Voice event. Planning throughout the summer months culminated in the staging of three seminars. Roger Durdle, Secretary of the Yateley Society, said “We could not have put these events on without the invaluable input from our neighbouring societies and this coming together to share ideas and resources was really beneficial and laid the foundations for future co-operations.”
These seminars, held in November, covered the fundamentals of planning, heritage & conservation, and practical advice on challenging planning proposals.

On the first evening Jane Terry and Nicolette Pike from the respected local planning consultancy Bell Cornwell explained the fundamentals of the planning system.

On the second evening David Brock from English Heritage in Guildford explained how ‘heritage assets’ are protected and how local people can participate. He was followed by Dr Graham Rood, the Secretary of Farnborough Air Sciences Trust, who explained how this has achieved the preservation of Farnborough’s unique aeronautical heritage.

On the third evening Phill Gower, Co-chairman of Fleet & Church Crookham Society and local County Councillor David Simpson talked about how local groups like civic societies, can participate effectively, and how best to communicate with elected representatives and council officers about planning issues.

Co-chairman of the Fleet & Church Crookham Society Gillian Wain, said, “The decisions made about planning & development affect communities for decades if not centuries. There are so many changes afoot, with the new Localism Act and the Government’s draft National Planning Policy Framework. This was an opportunity for people to find out more about the planning process and how they can influence the decisions made.”

The seminars were well attended by over 40 people. Chairman of the Yateley Society, Roger Coombes, said, “The seminars have been a great success and we have received many comments of appreciation and requests to follow up with further seminars next year”. Secretary of the Farnborough Society, Barbara Hurst, added, “Attendees filled in feedback forms and we received many comments saying that the seminars had ‘demystified’ the topic and given them a good understanding of planning policy & legislation and the changes taking place.”