FARNHAM Town Council leaves 2021 on an optimistic note.
It was also a year in which we achieved numerous awards: Council of the Year, World Craft Town, Green Flag for Gostrey Meadow, and yet more In Bloom accolades.
In our events programme, we managed to carry on with many of the usual favourites, adding in new street markets that have proved very popular to all the visitors and stallholders.
On the business front, we have worked closer than ever with local businesses, supporting them in a difficult year and bringing more people to town through initiatives such as the shop window decorations over Christmas.
As we ended 2021, Tice’s Meadow in Badshot Lea was purchased by a consortium of local councils - including Farnham Town Council - from Hanson, whose work on gravel extraction was finished, leaving Farnham with a wonderful lake and nature reserve on our doorstep.
This transformation has been in progress for a number of years, and we must thank the community effort of the Tice’s Meadow Bird Group for making it happen.
We must also thank Surrey County Council for securing the funding and bringing the area into public ownership. Our council will be working with partners to manage and further develop the area.
If you have never been there, do take the time to seek it out and take a walk around.
Waverley Local Plan
In December, the Waverley Local Plan was finally completed and submitted to the government inspector for ratification.
This is important for the safeguarding of local green space from unplanned development in the future. The plan also covers many other aspects that relate to how the borough will evolve in future years.
As you will know, Farnham has had its own Neighbourhood Plan since 2017, which controls land usage in Farnham.
Our council has always been at the forefront in this policy area. However, we also depend on there being a robust Local Plan at the borough level.
Farnham Infrastructure Programme
The programme made good progress in 2021 with the introduction of HGV restrictions and progress on 20mph zones, as well as developing the wider schemes and consulting with the community.
This is a huge programme where highway and place improvements for the town centre, the surrounding neighbourhoods and the major highways all have to be progressed together, since any changes interact with each other.
Such major transformations take a long time in the planning, so we need to be patient while the work progresses, and the public consultations continue into 2022.
Expect more revelations during 2022 together with the emerging changes on the ground.
Next year the town council will be joining in the national celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. This will include a special Music in the Meadow event, tree planting for the Queen’s Green Canopy and support for local community celebrations.
Other 2022 events include Farnham’s first literary festival and further markets in West Street and elsewhere.
We will also be consolidating our World Craft Town status by developing new activities to showcase the town’s craft expertise and industry.
The October craft month, which attracts many visitors to the town and helps boost the town economy, will also be extended.
The council is evolving all the time. In 2021 we were working more closely with Surrey and Waverley councils, and we expect this trend to continue.
This might include our council taking more responsibility for local services where it is considered appropriate, depending to an extent on government plans.
The town council will continue to work closely with local organisations so that, together, we can make Farnham a great place to live, work and visit.
We will also be working closely with Farnham’s Chamber of Commerce and the retailers to focus on keeping Farnham as a thriving business and retail centre. This will be happening alongside the opening of Brightwells Yard.
In 2022 you will see an upgrade to the Central car park toilets, improvements in Borelli Walk - including the provision of a youth shelter - and a new initiative to replace the Hoppa buses in Farnham with electric buses. Hopefully this will be the start of Farnham becoming an electric-bus town.
Our 2022-23 budget is being set to underpin all our work, bearing in mind what we believe the community supports and the continuing need to limit any council tax increases.
This is just a snapshot of things to come; we will keep you in touch as the year progresses.
Don’t forget to shop local and keep in touch with www.farnham.gov.uk for further information.
So, a big thank you to everyone who has worked with us in 2021. We look forward to seeing you all in 2022, whether it is in the park on a Sunday or in a business meeting in the town hall.
A happy, healthy and prosperous new year to you all.