Hungerford Vision

J A Giggins made this Freedom of Information request to West Berkshire Council

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The request was partially successful.

Dear West Berkshire Council,

Under the Freedom of Information Act I would like to request more detail of the Hungerford Vision, as referred to in the Newbury Today article on the recent Executive reshuffle.

http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/2013/new-f...

In particular I would like to know when the Hungerford Vision Project was launched, who has had input to it, what it is, why it has been put under the portfolio of a Councillor from the Eastern area of West Berkshire, what connections Mr Pask has with Hungerford, and whether Hungerford's elected District Councillors have made any representations regarding the appointment of Mr Pask.

Please supply any relevant documentation that you hold, including both cuncillor representations and officer advice.

Many thanks.

Yours faithfully,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

FoI/2013/453

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Request for information: Hungerford Vision

Thank you for your request. I will discuss what additional information
about the Hungerford Vision (the Town Plan) is held by the authority, as
you have already been sent what I believe to be the substantial
information held by this authority in response to your request reference
FoI/2013/223. You will find the Hungerford Town Plan (including the
earlier 2010+ Town Plan) here:
http://www.hungerford.uk.net/councilmain...
You may wish to ask for more information about its creation from
Hungerford Town Council.

The changes made to the Conservative Executive are political decisions
by the party concerned (the Executive and Portfolio appointments
normally change every year in May), and outside the authority's remit. I
will pass this section of your request to the Leader of Council for his
information, and any response he may wish to supply.

Publicly available information on Councillor Pask can be found here:
http://decisionmaking.westberks.gov.uk/m...

We will seek to respond within twenty working days.

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

* Strategic Support West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market
Street, Newbury RG14 5LD

Email: [West Berkshire Council request email]

' 01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

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Dear Sue Broughton,

Many thanks for this prompt response. I do not of course require any information already provided with regard to the Hungerford Town Plan, but if that really is West Berkshire Council's 'Vision' for Hungerford I am curious to know when it was rebranded and why. I would also appreciate all correspondence regarding the Hungerford Town Plan/vision since my last request.

I take your point about political decisions being outside the scope of FOI and thank you for undertaking to forward the question to Gordon Lundie. However there may still be officer advice on the subject that falls within the FOI regulations.

Finally, thank you for the link to Councillor Pask's page on the West Berkshire Council web site. It doesn't however answer my questions and I would be grateful if you could confirm that you are intending to provide a substantive response or alternatively a valid FOI refusal.

Yours sincerely,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

FoI/2013/453

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Request for information: Hungerford Vision

Thank you for your email. I think we may be at cross-purposes here. West
Berkshire Council has no 'Vision' for Hungerford. Our only Vision
document is the Newbury Vision, currently being revised.

However Parishes and Town Councils have Parish Plans and Town Plans, and
the Hungerford Town Plan falls into this criteria, and is (as described
on the Town Council's website) Hungerford Town Council's 'vision for
Hungerford'. Portfolio Members represent a broader remit than West
Berkshire Council's work alone - so Cllr Boeck, for example, includes
the Thatcham Vision (the Town Plan for Thatcham) in his Portfolio
although this is the responsibility of Thatcham Town Council, not West
Berkshire Council.

In respect of your questions about Cllr Pask, this will of course be for
Cllr Lundie to respond to, since he has appointed Cllr Pask to this role
in the Executive.

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

* Strategic Support West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market
Street, Newbury RG14 5LD

Email: [West Berkshire Council request email]

' 01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

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Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

10 Attachments

FoI/2013/453

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Request for information: Hungerford Vision

We have now obtained the information to respond to your request. Some
information is not held by this authority. You have asked:

1. When the Hungerford Vision Project was launched, who has had input to
it, what it is.

Answered in earlier emails - this is the Hungerford Town Plan.

2. I would also appreciate all correspondence regarding the Hungerford
Town Plan/vision since my last request.

See attached. I have included a copy of the emails exchanged with Jo
Naylor, and the documents sent by Chris Scorey in respect of his emails
on 2nd April and 8th April

3. Why it has been put under the portfolio of a Councillor from the
Eastern area of West Berkshire

As explained, this is a political decision by the Leader of Council and
documentation on this decision is not therefore subject to the Freedom
of Information Act 2000. However, I have spoken to Councillor Lundie,
and he has confirmed that appointments to the Executive are given to the
Members who, in the view of the Leader, are best placed, by knowledge
and experience, to deliver the business objectives in each Portfolio.

4. What connections Mr Pask has with Hungerford

Councillor Pask has made no stated Declarations of Interest in respect
of Hungerford. These would be available on his website page, to which
you have already been directed. The authority would not be required to
obtain, and does not therefore hold, any information other than
Declarations of Interest on any Member's connections with parishes,
towns or villages in West Berkshire.

5. Whether Hungerford's elected District Councillors have made any
representations regarding the appointment of Mr Pask.

Councillor Lundie advises me that they have not.

6. Please supply any relevant documentation that you hold, including
both councillor representations and officer advice.

Councillor Lundie has advised me that he engaged in extensive face to
face discussions with officers of the Council about the strategic
disposition of his Executive. These discussions were along broad lines
and not about specific Members, and are not documented.

If you are dissatisfied with our response, you may ask for an internal
review. Please explain fully your reasons for requesting a review. You
should contact David Lowe, Scrutiny & Partnerships Manager, Strategic
Support, Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury RG14 5LD, email
[email address] if you wish to request a review. If you are not
content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to
apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The
Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.gov.uk


Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

* Strategic Support West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market
Street, Newbury RG14 5LD

Email: [email address]

' 01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

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Dear Sue Broughton,

Many thanks for your latest response to this request. However this is not the information that I requested, so we are indeed at cross purposes. I apologise for not clarifying the situation earlier.

It is West Berkshire Council's vision for Hungerford that I am seeking to establish, as fed in to West Berkshire Council's Core Strategy, Housing Strategy, Medium Term Financial Strategy/Plan, Education Strategy, Transport Strategy and the Berkshire Local Investment Plan. Clearly if there is no such document then you cannot supply it, but to say that the Town Plan is the 'vision' that West Berkshire Council is working to is extremely misleading.

You have also said that the only 'vision' that West Berkshire Council has is the Newbury Vision, but you have published on your web site the 'Eastern Area' vision that also falls under the same portfolio holder's new responsibilities, albeit under the name of the Kennet & Thames Vision. The preamble to this Vision makes it very clear that it is a West Berkshire Council document informed by parish plans and other sources. Do you have a similar document for Hungerford and the wider area ( Western AONB area of West Berkshire) or a relevant extract from West Berkshire Council's vision/strategy/plan that might give an overview of what facilities, services and infrastructure projects West Berkshire Council considers priorities to maintain, improve or close/shelve in the Hungerford Area, given the funding constraints that the Council is working under?

Many thanks.

Yours sincerely,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

FoI/2013/453

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Request for information: Hungerford Vision

Thank you for your email. As far as I am aware, and from my conversation
with Councillor Lundie, there is no 'Hungerford Vision' document
produced by West Berkshire Council. My apologies for not pointing you to
the Kennet and Thames Vision - I was thinking in terms of a Town Vision
rather than one for a region when I mentioned the Thatcham Vision and
Newbury Vision.

I will confirm that no such document exists with the Planning Service.
Certainly there is no such document on the Council's website, as you are
no doubt aware. There are of course other documents which express a
'vision' for a specific service provisions and include Hungerford - for
example the section of the Local Transport plan covering the North
Wessex Downs AONB area
http://www.westberks.gov.uk/CHttpHandler... - but as these
are published to the Council's website they fall within the exemptions
at S21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Reg 4 of the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (the provisions which exempt
information from supply under the Act and the Regulations when this
information is already pro-actively published).

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

* Strategic Support West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market
Street, Newbury RG14 5LD

Email: [email address]

' 01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

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Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Further to your enquiry, I have confirmed that there is no Planning
'Vision' document for Hungerford. In terms of a corporate 'Vision'
document, my colleague Liz Alexander felt that this extract from the
Core Strategy would be relevant. This covers the period from 2006-2026
and sets out a housing figure for the District, together with
information and details about how this housing will be distributed, and
how it will be delivered. In terms of Hungerford, this lies within the
North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural beauty. I attach extracts
from the Core Strategy (below) Policy Area Delivery Plan Policy 5
showing the overall Vision for the AONB, with some specific information
for Hungerford. There isn't a specific housing number for Hungerford -
but there is a housing number for the overall AONB. The housing numbers
for Hungerford will be allocated through the next stage of the
development plan for the District - The Site Allocations and Delivery
Development Plan Document, when published. I hope that the information
below is useful and answers your questions. It can be accessed from the
website link given, and of course other information on Hungerford is
also included within the Core Strategy.

http://www.westberks.gov.uk/CHttpHandler...

Extract from the Core Strategy

North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - Extract from The
Vision
4.37 The North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
will be a place where the landscape is managed to conserve and enhance
its natural beauty in accordance with its national designation. With its
legacy of historical associations and richness in historic sites and
features the area will be a focus for conservation with low impact
leisure and green tourism activities which help to sustain vibrant and
balanced rural communities. As a primarily agricultural landscape the
traditional land based and rural economy of the area, such as
agriculture and the racehorse industry, will continue to thrive and
support the social and economic needs of the communities of which they
are a part.

4.38 The North Wessex Downs AONB covers 74% of West Berkshire and makes
a significant contribution to the uniqueness of the District. The
settlement pattern will be maintained as both distinctive and ancient
with a small and dispersed population within villages and small towns
that have a strong sense of identity. The AONB will have appropriate
sustainable growth throughout the plan period to support the local
communities and rural economy.

4.39 As a rural service centre Hungerford will prosper as a
self-sufficient, historic medieval market town, serving the needs of its
residents and the surrounding rural areas. The town will have an
enhanced role as a tourist destination within the AONB based on its
wealth of independent stores, local produce and stronger retail offer,
markets and festivals/events and also as a base to explore the
surrounding countryside. Some housing and employment development will
take place and this will respect the historic form of the built
environment within the AONB. The Commons, River Kennet and the Kennet
and Avon Canal will be protected and enhanced as important areas of
recreation and nature conservation recognising their contributions to
the economy and environment.

North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - Extract from
Area Delivery Plan Policy 5 Housing The North Wessex Downs AONB will
have appropriate and sustainable growth that conserves and enhances its
special landscape qualities. During the Core Strategy period provision
will be made for the delivery of up to 2,000 dwellings, of which over
half have already been built or have planning permission. Provision of
this scale of housing is subject to the overarching objective for the
AONB set out at the beginning of this policy. If preparation of the Site
Allocations and Delivery DPD indicates that there are insufficient
developable sites to provide the balance of the 2,000 dwellings whilst
adhering to the landscape priority of the policy, any shortfall will be
provided on sites allocated outside the AONB.

There will be further opportunities for infill development and for
development on previously developed land. New housing allocations will
be focused on the rural service centres and service villages within the
North Wessex Downs, with the emphasis on meeting identified local needs.
The development will be allocated through the Site Allocations and
Delivery DPD or a subsequent planning document, and will depend on the
role and function that the settlement performs, supported by suitable
development opportunities, identified through the SHLAA. The
conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the landscape will
be the paramount consideration in assessing these sites.

Within the North Wessex Downs AONB there are three rural service
centres; Hungerford and Lambourn in the west of the District and
Pangbourne in the east. In the western part of the AONB, development
will be focused in Hungerford as the more sustainable rural service
centre. Hungerford is considerably larger than Lambourn and performs a
more significant function for a large catchment area. Hungerford town
centre is defined as one of only two town centres in the District,
reflecting the range of goods and services which it provides for the
surrounding area. More information is set out below which describes
Hungerford's role, and these factors will be used to inform decisions
about the level of growth to be allocated to the town. The capacity for
growth on the edge of Hungerford has been assessed.

Environment
Recognising the area as a national landscape designation, development
will conserve and enhance the local distinctiveness, sense of place and
setting of the AONB whilst preserving the strong sense of remoteness,
tranquillity and dark night skies, particularly on the open downland.
Development will respond positively to the local context, and respect
identified landscape features and components of natural beauty.

Development will respect and respond to the historic environment of the
AONB. In Hungerford the historic features, character and identity of the
burgage plots extending either side of the High Street, and its highly
distinctive medieval market town character will be respected.
Conservation Area Appraisals will be undertaken for the Hungerford,
Lambourn and Pangbourne Conservation Areas in accordance with the
Council's programme.

Traditional and local rural skills, such as the skills of hedge laying,
woodland management and thatching will be supported so that they help to
deliver a wide range of public benefits which include the conservation
and enhancement of the area's special qualities and features and
sustaining the vibrancy of the rural economy.
In the Hungerford area, Portdown Common, Freeman's Marsh, the River
Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal will be protected and enhanced as
important areas of recreation and nature conservation. Improvements to
access to these areas and the surrounding countryside will be
implemented when opportunities arise.

Economy
With an accessible economic base with good access to the road and rail
network Hungerford will continue as a self-sufficient rural service
centre providing a focus for local employment and local businesses.
New small scale office developments in Hungerford, Lambourn and
Pangbourne will be directed towards the town centre. Changes of
use/redevelopment of existing offices will be guided by policy CS9.

The Protected Employment Areas within the AONB will continue to play a
vital role in supporting the local economy, especially those in edge of
centre locations. The role, function and boundaries of these Protected
Employment Areas will be reviewed through the Site Allocations and
Delivery DPD.
Small, local businesses will be supported, encouraged and protected
within the AONB providing local job opportunities and maintaining the
rural economy.

Positive management of the AONB will take place through partnership
working to ensure its continuation as a location for leisure and green
tourism. The AONB will continue to play an important role in attracting
visitors and investment. The landscape and recreational role of the
waterways, which make a positive contribution to the character and
cultural heritage of the AONB, will be strengthened as part of this.
Hungerford will have an enhanced role as a tourist destination within
the AONB (within and beyond the District boundary), promoting its
diverse retail offer, regular market and acting as a base to explore the
surrounding countryside.
Economic development will be supported through the North Wessex Downs
LEADER programme, and any similar subsequent schemes, which offers
grants for farmers, foresters, rural businesses and community
organisations within the AONB to enable them to strengthen their support
for the local economy. The funding is available for a wide range of
activities such as farm diversification, adding value to timber, tourism
activities and projects that will benefit local communities.
Opportunities for appropriate small scale renewable energy schemes,
which use local resources will be encouraged if they can be accommodated
within the landscapes of the North Wessex Downs.

Accessibility
Opportunities will be sought to improve the accessibility to and within
the AONB, bringing improved public transport links and the retention of
services and facilities as well as stronger signage to enhance the
identity of the North Wessex Downs.
Opportunities will be taken to manage congestion and improve
accessibility linkages within Hungerford, in particular the north/south
links within the community and encouraging the use of public transport.
Opportunities will be sought to provide improved and safe pedestrian and
cycling access within the town and to the surrounding countryside.

Community Infrastructure and Services
The retail offer in Hungerford town centre will be encouraged and
supported whilst preserving its unique character and local, independent
businesses. The town centre commercial boundary and primary shopping
frontage will be reviewed through the Site Allocations and Delivery DPD.
Fibre broadband will be installed in Hungerford enabling super-fast
broadband speeds for businesses, schools and homes in the area. This
will contribute towards reducing the need to travel as residents will
have better access to online services and will have benefits for
education and the economy.

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

* Strategic Support West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market
Street, Newbury RG14 5LD

Email: [email address]

' 01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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Dear Sue Broughton,

Many thanks to both you and Ms Alexander for supplying this information.

Yours sincerely,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Thank you - I have passed your thanks on to my colleague. It appears
there is no other 'Vision' document for Hungerford beyond the
information we have already supplied and of course, mention of
Hungerford in various proprietary documents published to the Council's
website.

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

* Strategic Support West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market
Street, Newbury RG14 5LD

Email: [email address]

' 01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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J A Giggins left an annotation ()

No mention here of the controversial Hungerford Education Plan presented to the West Berkshire Council Executive in October 2013 without any prior discussion with Hungerford residents or parents of children at the Hungerford Schools. See item 36:

http://decisionmaking.westberks.gov.uk/i...

It is becoming increasingly clear that West Berkshire Council does have a 'vision' for Hungerford that is very different to that expressed in the Town Plan and that input from residents of the Town is not desired.

J A Giggins left an annotation ()

Re-reading the information supplied above a particular sentence leaps out at me:

"The role, function and boundaries of these Protected
Employment Areas will be reviewed through the Site Allocations and Delivery DPD"

This review didn't take place through the aforementioned DPD and hence potential brown field development sites were ignored in favour of a major greenfield site outside the settlement boundary of Hungerford, potentially setting a precedent for further major development around Hungerford and in the wider NWD AONB.

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