This is an update about The Harlington redevelopment and the two separate consultation exercises being run by two different groups. The results of both will be considered by Hart District Council, the landowner of the Harlington site, and we are urging members who are Fleet residents to respond to both consultations, as frustrating as this might be to have to give your views two times. Note that one of the consultations is a poll that takes place this Thursday (13th September) (more details below).
In Spring 2017, Fleet Town Council conducted a consultation about proposals for the future of The Harlington. Three options were to be considered by Fleet residents: repair the existing building, refurbish the existing building or build a new Harlington. 53% of respondents favoured building a new Harlington, 27% favoured refurbishment, and 20% repairing it. FTC then went ahead to have architect-led plans drawn up for a new building and submitted an outline planning application to Hart District Council for a new building next to the current Harlington building (the old building will then be handed back to Hart DC which owns the freehold and will determine its future). Hart’s Planning Committee approved the application subject to some outstanding issues.
In a further development of the situation, as land owners of the site for the proposed new Harlington, Hart DC passed the following motion at its full Council meeting in June 2018:
“That due to the scale of Fleet Town Council’s proposals for a new Harlington on Gurkha Square it is the position of Hart District Council that in order to proceed to build on land or other capital assets in the use of the Council for the purpose of the project, the support of the population of the Fleet Town Council area must be evidenced by a public vote or similarly comprehensive expression of public support”.
Fleet Town Council has responded to Hart DC’s decision by undertaking a further consultation that runs between Friday 7th September and Friday 5th October. All Fleet households will receive a booklet inviting them to support the proposals for the new Harlington, with a reply-paid card containing the question, “Do you support the building of a new Harlington community complex on Gurkha Square?”. Fleet Town Council is also holding a public meeting on 17th September at 7pm in the Harlington, and there is a display about the consultation in the Harlington at the moment.
“Tim Smart & group of Fleet residents” Parish Poll
Meanwhile, a number of Fleet residents have raised concerns about the appearance and cost of the new Harlington, as well as the prospect of losing part of Gurkha Square. Using a procedure set out in a 1972 Local Government Act, the group held a public meeting of Fleet residents on 21st August. Under this legislation, 10 residents of a parish can require the voting authority to conduct a “Parish Poll” on any subject; at the meeting 10 people came forward to require Hart DC to hold a Parish Poll of Fleet residents on the question, decided by those present at the meeting, “Do you support Fleet Town Council’s proposal to build a new Harlington complex on Gurkha Square?”
This Poll will take place between the hours of 4pm and 9 pm this Thursday 13th September.
How the results will be used
The results from both the Fleet TC consultation and the residents’ group Parish Poll will be only advisory to Hart DC, but given that Hart DC has asked for a comprehensive expression of public support before supporting a new building, it is certain that they will pay close attention to the outcome of both exercises.
Feelings about the redevelopment of The Harlington are running high, and even within our own FCCS Committee we have different views about the proposals. Therefore, on this occasion we are not making a recommendation to our members as to the “right” consultation/poll response. However, what is important that both the FTC consultation and the residents’ group Parish Poll represent a true demographic of Fleet residents who want to have a say about the future of The Harlington.
How to respond to the FTC consultation
All Fleet households will receive a booklet about the FTC consultation which will contain a reply-paid card that must be returned by Friday 5th October. Every registered elector in Fleet Parish may respond.
How to vote in the Tim Smart & group of Fleet residents Parish Poll
Every registered elector in Fleet Parish may vote on the Parish Poll this Thursday (13 September) at 4pm–9pm. There will be no polling cards issued and no postal or proxy votes. You may vote at your usual polling station.
As frustrating as it is to have arrived at the situation where two groups are running advisory consultations with virtually the same question, we urge all concerned about the future of The Harlington, whether in favour or against the new Harlington proposal, to take part in both activities so that the same answer is returned from both. In addition, a high turnout for both should add weight to whatever outcomes emerge. Whilst not making a recommendation as to which way to respond, the FCCS position is that the very worst option would be for the community to lose The Harlington community facility completely if no way forward can be found.