Action plan for village seeks to save countryside

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STOPPING urban sprawl and getting more community facilities are two of the main issues in a new action plan for Horndean.

The parish plan is the result of nine years of work by more than 60 volunteers.

It outlines what the people of Horndean want for the future and gives a detailed profile of the village for the 21st century.

The project started in 2004 when a new group – Horndean Into the Next Decade (Hind) – was set up to devise a community-led plan.

After years of research and surveys, the plan is now ready and is due to be submitted to Horndean Parish Council for approval.

It will then be given to East Hampshire District Council for the authority to endorse.

The document will help to steer development in the future and outline where public funding and developer contributions should be spent.

One of the key points is to retain the semi-rural character and to maintain settlement gaps within the parish between places like Catherington, Blendworth and Lovedean.

Guy Shepherd, the district councillor for Downs ward, has helped to draw up the plan.

He said: ‘It’s important that Horndean remains a semi-rural area.

‘The feedback from everyone is that development has to happen, but it has to happen in the right place.

‘People move to Horndean because there’s good walks, there’s open farmland.

‘A key part of the identity of the parish is the semi-rural aspect.’

The plan calls on East Hampshire District Council to develop a policy for back garden development.

The report shows that people want more community facilities, with 56 per cent of people wishing to have a swimming pool and 70 per cent wanting a dedicated youth centre.

Sixty five per cent of people questioned in surveys wanted a day centre for the elderly.

People asked for better public transport connections, improvement of cycleways and footpaths and to continue revitalising the village centre.

One aspiration is to reduce speeding in the village, with 20mph speed limits on the estates.

Villagers also want double yellow lines to be considered on some pavements that are frequently blocked by parked cars.

The parish plan also includes some interesting statistics on the village.

The population appears to have marginally reduced, with 12,639 people in 2001 and 12,311 in 2011.

The average income is £39,845 and the average life expectancy is 81.

Around 20 per cent of villagers are retired and in 2011 there were around 100 people claiming jobseeker’s allowance.

Cllr Shepherd added: ‘Horndean is actually a pretty good place to live.

‘A lot of people are happy to be there. Businesses and people move into Horndean and stay there for long periods.’

The Hind group needs more people to help in their efforts to improve Horndean.