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Paper 11 - 30 January 1998 Meeting 

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

30 January 1998

COMMITTEE FOR RURAL HAMPSHIRE: COMMUNICATIONS

INTRODUCTION

1. The Association has appointed Mrs Haselden (Test Valley) and Mrs Scriven (Winchester) as its Member representatives on the Committee for Rural Hampshire. They are supported by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Planning Officers’ Group (HIPOG) member Stephen Olivant (East Hampshire).

2. The Committee for Rural Hampshire wishes to establish better communications with elected Members and executive officers of the County, Unitaries and District Councils concerning emerging issues in farming and rural communities.

CHANGES IN THE RURAL AREAS AND THE FARMING INDUSTRY

3. There is no doubt that the "rural voice" needs to be heard when all local authorities are preparing plans and strategies because most planning documents will have some impact upon the rural community.

4. The Hampshire Farming Study 1997, showed that the farming industry is changing rapidly and is set to change even more over the next decade. These changes will affect rural life, employment and settlements. Ultimately rural changes will affect urban life, particularly patterns of expansion, commuting and recreation.

IMPROVING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE FARMING INDUSTRY AND RURAL LIFE

5. It is suggested that Mrs Haselden and Mrs Scriven should, once a year, make a short presentation to the Association of a "Rural Issues Report" which would summarise the Committee’s work and highlight important factors for consideration by the Association. A short questions and answers session would follow the presentation to allow two-way communications between representatives of the Committee and the Association.

6. In addition, it has been suggested that the Committee could organise visits for Association members to working farms so that they could see and hear first-hand the issues affecting farming and rural life. The afternoon farm visit could be preceded by a morning seminar giving a "farming update" and current issues such as tourism and affordable housing.

HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT CHIEF PLANNING OFFICERS’ GROUP

7. HIPOG receives an annual report from its representative on the Committee giving feedback to the Chief Planning Officers on rural matters. In future, this annual report will be enhanced by a presentation on important rural trends from other members of the Committee for Rural Hampshire. It is envisaged that HIPOG may wish to devote at least an hour to this subject and other rural planning topics when it appears on the agenda.

CURRENT WORK BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES

8. Local authorities are currently working on rural issues in a variety of ways. Their Local Agenda 21 studies will, no doubt, raise important questions about rural life, employment, leisure, settlement patterns etc. A "snapshot" of two District Councils gives an example of their current activity:-

9. Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council - A database of rural information, including the Hampshire Farming Study, is currently being analysed in preparation for a draft Rural Strategy to be published in Spring 1998. The Strategy will look at a wider canvas than farming and is expected to concentrate upon ten or so main issues, such as quality of life, affecting rural areas.

10. East Hampshire District Council - After completing their own Farming Study in 1995, they have taken up some of the recommendations, such as secondary processing, in their Economic Development Strategy. A draft advice note on Whole Farm Plans has been prepared and work on reviewing the Local Plan will examine issues such as diversification and non-farming employment in the countryside. The East Hampshire AONB Joint Advisory Committee has examined rural issues. Interestingly, its agricultural panel worked with MAFF and schools on environmental education projects to encourage more knowledge of farming among schoolchildren. The Council’s work on Local Agenda 21 will, no doubt, raise important questions about rural life, employment, leisure, settlement patterns etc.

CONCLUSION

11. The Committee for Rural Hampshire is a source of very useful advice for the Association and HIPOG. It is suggested that effective two-way communications would be best achieved through annual presentations to HIOW and HIPOG. In addition, farming seminars and farm visits could be arranged for HIOW members and officers.

Stephen Olivant December 1997

Last update: 06/09/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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