We, the undersigned are sending the attached open letter to Farnham Town Council, Waverley Borough Council and the Farnham Herald. We are collectively committed to trying to address the needs of Farnham’s growing population to play rugby, football and hockey for their health and wellbeing and are seeking your support to drive for this as part of the update of Waverley’s Local Plan and Farnham’s Neighbourhood Plan.
The Farnham Neighbourhood Plan allocated sites for more than 3,000 new homes but sites outside that plan have also been approved on appeal, so the number is rising. In addition, more housing sites have also been approved around Farnham, resulting in more than 8,000 new homes either being built or planned within 3km of Farnham.
There are clearly pressures to supply more homes, both nationally, in Surrey and in Waverley, but houses without appropriate accompanying infrastructure do not result in homes where residents can lead healthy, happy lives.
Obviously, school and health care capacity are important factors, as are roads, however we believe there also needs to be consideration for sport and leisure facilities for the existing and new residents.
The increase in population, coupled with the recent significant increase in interest of girls and women’s sport means more sport pitches for football, rugby and hockey are urgently required.
The local clubs are already at full capacity and their existing pitches are being overused which will reduce the life of the playing surfaces – Farnham Town Football Club has a significant waiting list.
The need for more sports and leisure facilities needs to be considered as part of the update of the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan and Waverley’s Local Plan, along with other infrastructure requirements and strategies to build in climate change resilience.
The Farnham Landscape Character Assessment completed in August 2018 was a key document that fed into the current approved Farnham Neighbourhood Plan which allocates housing sites up to 2032. The area around Monkton Lane, which we think of as the Monkton Lane Sports Hub, was recognised as being important for sports and allotments as well as being part of the green wedge.
The Monkon Lane Sports Hub and the surrounding fields have been under huge pressure from developers for additional housing with limited consideration for the provision of additional sporting or leisure facilities, although this has been raised by local residents.
Monkton Lane is the main hub for sports clubs in Farnham and is home to Farnham Football Club, Farnham Rugby Club and Aldershot & Farnham Hockey Club. Between them these clubs have a combined playing membership (ie, “active boots on”) of more than 2,200 players and each club is looking to expand its facilities to support our growing population.
Farnham Football Club need sites for additional grass pitches and a 3G pitch. Farnham Rugby Club also need more pitches and a 3G pitch and Aldershot & Farnham Hockey Club continue to be in desperate need of a two pitch Astro turf site with a clubhouse.
The Monkton Lane Sports Hub is not a great area for housing development as most of it has been identified by the Environment Agency as an area with surface water flood risks.
Many of the existing grass sports pitches fulfil multiple functions – providing a green corridor for wildlife, surface water flood plains to protect the town as well as being sports pitches.
Please work with us to create additional grass pitches and playing surfaces to address current waiting lists and to ensure that there are sufficient facilities for the increasing population in and around our town, for their health and wellbeing.
Cllr Catherine Powell, Surrey county councillor for Farnham North
David Gill, Farnham Sports Council
Julian Frost, Farnham Rugby Football Club
Jean-Claude Vacassin, Farnham Town Football Club
Chris Edwards, Aldershot & Farnham Hockey Club