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February 2012

Bookham Vanguard Forum Inaugural Meeting

Once again Bookham residents prove their commitment to the community

An amazing 56 volunteers gathered together on Saturday 4th February at Bookham’s  Old Barn Hall to start the process of producing a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) for Bookham. This is part of the Government’s Localism initiative to give local people more control over development in their neighbourhoods and Bookham is one of the first in the UK to get under way.  

Following 6 months of publicity and promotion by a 13-strong Start-up Group,  a further 43 local residents and workers have come forward to create the Bookham Neighbourhood Forum. They are a representative cross-section of Bookham’s population  and they will consider the development needs of their village over the next 15-20 years.

Bookham has been well known in recent years through the Bookham Vision project for its strength of community engagement.  This has been borne out once again by the willingness of busy local people from a wide variety of backgrounds who care enough about the future of their village to dedicate valuable spare time to this project. 

The role of the Bookham Neighbourhood Forum is to examine and discuss research and proposals covering housing, business and infrastructure development and then to reach a set of conclusions to be published as a draft Neighbourhood Development Plan.   The research and proposals will be prepared over the next 12-18 months by a Task Force consisting of the members of the former start-up group.

The plan is to have a draft NDP in place by mid-2014, ready for external inspection by a qualified Planning Inspector.  This draft Plan will then be distributed to everyone in Bookham and voted on in a referendum, so that ultimately everyone in Bookham will be involved in its future.  The next Forum meeting will be on Saturday 12 May 2012.

The meeting was designed to inform the new Forum about the scope of the project and what producing an NDP involves.  There was plenty of information on show about Bookham's history and development over the years, which provides a backdrop against which ideas for future development could be made.

During his presentation Trevor Sokell, leader of the Start-up Group, stressed the important role the Forum will take in Bookham's future, its legal standing (which will be formalised through MVDC in the next 3 months), and presented a draft Constitution for the forum which will be agreed and formally adopted at the next Forum meeting.  Trevor went on to explain the role of the Forum and the Task Force), and asked for volunteers for become Chairman of the Forum to be elected at the next meeting.