FTC Postal Consultation
SAY NO by October 5th.
It's not over yet, please make sure you say NO in the upcoming FTC postal consultation.
It is vital you SAY NO AGAIN for a second time.
Need More Information?
Many residents are still confused about this development and unaware of the facts. Please read our list of FAQ's below for more information.
Your Town, Your Vote.
Fleet residents will be footing the bill for this development alone, for many years to come. Decide where your money goes.
fleet-parish-poll-save-gurkha-square
On Thursday 13th September 2018, Fleet Residents had the chance to have their say on the future development of Gurkha Square.
The results speak for themselves. With 952 votes cast, 199 voted in favour of the development and an outstanding 753 VOTED AGAINST it.
This vote is clear proof by a margin of more than 3 to 1 that the people of Fleet want Gurkha Square preserved for the community.
Gurkha Square is a valuable utility, and should not be destroyed by an ugly monstrosity.
This is real democracy at work. Fleet’s taxpayers have had the chance to vote, and the outcome is a straightforward NO
to the white elephant proposed by Fleet Town Council. It cannot be ignored.

TIME TO SAY NO AGAIN!

The next stage is to make sure you also say NO to the Fleet Town Council consultation leaflet that will be dropping through your doors soon.
Your responses must be received by October 5th.
IT IS IMPORTANT YOU SAY NO AGAIN, NO MATTER HOW POINTLESS IT MAY SEEM!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Answering your questions on the proposed development of Gurkha Square.

What’s it all about?…

Back in 2015, architects working for Fleet Town Council, submitted a feasibility study on a proposed new Harlington building for Gurkha Square. The development would replace the original Harlington Centre, building over a greater section of the land surrounding it and reducing its use for future community events. This comes at a great cost to Fleet residents, who will be bearing the brunt of the financial impact alone, as no other areas in Hart agreed to increase their taxes to pay the extortionate costs involved.
Since then, local residents have struggled to have their voices heard, with a council that is seemingly set on pursuing these unpopular plans at any cost. However, as part of the fight to save Gurkha Square, a group of residents have managed to secure a Fleet Parish Poll…a local vote, giving people the chance to have their say at last.
As Fleet residents, we have tried to find a compromise with Fleet Town Council but to no avail. We are convinced that a better solution can be found. Fleet needs a new community facility but not at the stated financial costs, or at the cost of losing Gurkha Square, the events held there and the businesses surrounding it.

So what’s next?…

The next step is to make sure you say NO to the postal consultation from Fleet Town Council…
You will be receiving an 8-page, full colour leaflet through your doors soon (that you have paid for), which will have a ‘voting card’ on the back of it (although this is a consultation, not a vote). This card has to be returned in person, or posted back, to be received by October 5th. Many households don’t appear to have received their leaflet yet…so keep an eye out and make sure you get the chance to say NO again!
There will be a public meeting on Monday 17th September starting at 7pm in The Harlington, which you can attend.
This will include an update from Fleet Town Council regarding the development, speakers in opposition and support of the plans and a question and answer session for local residents.

You just want to stop all progress in Fleet!…

Some people are trying to infer, that by voting no to this development, you will be stopping all and any progress in Fleet, consigning it to forever be a dying town. This is simply untrue. The question you are being asked to reply to is, if you are for or against a new development **ON GURKHA SQUARE**.
Gurkha Square is an important community area for all the reasons you will have heard stated many times over by now. By not putting an eyesore, monster of a building there, that will ruin the appearance of the local area and comes with many planning issues (that are still trying to be resolved)…does not mean we are against progress. Quite the opposite in fact. Fleet needs regeneration, there is no doubt of that…but there are different ways of going about it.
We encourage open discussion on future builds and updates to Fleet but do not agree that it should come at the expense of losing Gurkha Square, or that it should be a financial burden, borne only by a limited number of residents in Fleet.

I heard something about a petition?…

Back at the beginning of our campaign, a petition was started to show the growing lack of support for the Gurkha Square proposed development. Once it reached 1000 signatures, it was presented to HDC for consideration. Since then, people have continued to sign it and many newcomers to the campaign have asked for a link to it. So as requested, please find a link below:
Please note, if you sign this, it will be in addition to voting, so please make sure you still vote NO to the postal consultation vote by October 5th too!

I already voted in the poll, do I have to vote again?…

The Parish Poll vote has already taken place and  showed clear opposition to the new build plans on Gurkha Square. Now, Fleet Town Council are running a postal consultation via a market research group to ask you the same question.
It is a consultation…not a vote…but if you want your views to be heard,  you must also show your opposition, by filling out the leaflet on the back of the 8-page leaflet that you will receive through your door and returning it by October 5th.
Please don’t think that, as you have already voted in the Parish Poll, you don’t have to fill out the leaflet card. The Parish Poll was a separate entity, requested by local residents and run by Hart District Council. The consultation is run by Fleet Town Council, so please make sure you say NO to that too.

Who owns Gurkha Square?…

Hart District Council owns Gurkha Square.

Why does Fleet Town Council want to build on Gurkha Square?…

The Harlington building either needs money spent on it, or it needs to be replaced. Fleet Town Council and Hart District Council cannot reach agreement on this. Therefore Fleet Town Council have decided, on your behalf, that you want a new building on Gurkha Square, losing most of the parking space, amenities and trees, in the process.
The Harlington working group, under Fleet Town Council, considered a number of prospective sites for the development, including Victoria Road car park and Gurkha Square. In September 2015 the working group recommended to Full Council, the development of the Gurkha Square site.
Further Information : Fleet Town Council Meeting 2/9/15

Do Fleet Town Council have an agreement with Hart District Council to build on Gurkha Square?…

In July 2016 Hart District Council identified principles for any discussion with Fleet Town Council. The recommendations are captured in paper G in the meeting records and it was agreed:
  • There should be no adverse financial (capital and revenue) cost to the District Council or result in any new burden on the District Council’s revenue account.
  • The return of the existing Harlington site with vacant and unencumbered possession to the District Council on first occupation/use or practical completion of the new Harlington (whichever is the earlier). This should include making arrangements for the relocation of other occupiers of the Harlington.
  • Adequate replacement public parking is secured at no cost to the District Council to replace any loss of public parking that may arise from development.
Other than the above principles there has been no formal agreement, nor has any replacement parking been identified.

Fleet Town Council sublet parts of the Harlington to other organisations, will they move too?…

The original consultation document made it clear that the youth services and RVS will not be accommodated in the new Harlington. In July 2016, Hart District Council stated that Fleet Town Council, should make arrangements for the relocation of other occupiers of the Harlington.

If these plans go ahead, can public events continue to be held on Gurkha Square?…

The Square will be reduced by over 50%, so whilst events could be held there, they would be to a smaller scale. In response to the planning application Hart District Council’s landscape architect stated the following:
  • Although biased towards the southern end, Gurkha Square on the other hand is the only dedicated open space along the length of the Town Centre. Whilst for most of its time it is used as a car park, it is also the only true civic space.
  • The current area of Gurkha Square will be reduced by what appears to be just over 50%.
  • The remaining open space will be about 30m wide (instead of 64m), 6m of which will be the access road next to The Prince Arthur Public House.
  • The square, more comfortable proportions of the open space will be reduced to a narrower oblong [area].
  • As an open space, the narrower oblong will have a significantly reduced influence on the very linear character of the Town Centre.
  • The proposals require the removal of what is likely to be the most visually significant tree in the Town Centre (Sweet Chestnut).
  • The proposals will obscure two thirds of the library’s glass frontage, resulting in a visually awkward relationship.

Different figures have been quoted for building the new Harlington, which are correct?

The consultation document from 2017 quoted a figure of figure of £9.9m . Since that date the plans have changed noticeably, additional requirements have been identified and the interest rate has gone up, along with the cost of labour/materials. In March 2018, a revised figure of £11,024,200 was presented, an increase of over £1m in under a year.
Further Information: TownTalk, March 2018 Edition.

Will the new Harlington take customers from nearby businesses?…

According to the business plan for the new Harlington, its cafe should attract customers from local competition. To quote the relevant section:
“To attract new users away from the local competition by giving it greater prominence on the high street and offering ‘added value’, such as a more comfortable environment than mainstream café’s, a baby and child friendly service, free newspapers, children’s soft play area (a temporary, mobile feature; not permanent) and toys (buggy park and high chairs), a better choice of top quality cakes with a ‘home made’ look.”

Will the new Harlington require less funding than the current one?…

According to appendix 1 in the Harlington business plan option 3, (building a new Harlington) will require a subsidy of £120,360 compared with the current subsidy of £181,980. However that is based on the following assumptions:
  • Ticket sales will increase from £104,500 to £292,000. The new building will have a similar number of seats to the existing building so this increase could only occur if they more than double the number of shows and/or increase the ticket price. Looking at the Harlington website it appears there are events most weekends, midweek, the Fleet Film society use it every other week and it’s booked for over 2 weeks for the panto. So it would seem highly unlikely, that they could drastically increase the number of shows to that extent.
  • There is an assumption that the new Harlington centre will attract grants of £30,000, however it has not been made clear why the existing Harlington cannot attract similar grants.
  • There is an assumption that income from bar/cafe/catering sales will increase from £134,000 to £267,000, this could only occur if the number of events was to increase drastically, people bought more or the Harlington charged more.

Is the new Harlington larger than the existing one?…

The consultation compared the facilities for option 1 (repair the existing Harlington) and option 3 (build a new Harlington). The existing building can seat 300 people whilst, according to the consultation, the new one seats 347. However the plans have changed since the consultation, so the number of seats may be lower. The standing capacity for the existing Harlington is shown as higher than that for the new Harlington.
It should be noted that the consultation document did not include other facilities within the existing Harlington such as the function room (capacity of 70) and the dance studio (capacity of 100).
Further Information: Harlington Development Consultation.

What about all the trees?…

Twenty of the thirty trees in Gurkha Square will be felled … all are in good health.  On the square there is a wide range of species including London Plane, a Sweet Chestnut, Whitebeam, Holly, Sycamore, Maples, Tree of Heaven, False Acacia and a group of Chanticleer Pear.   The tree clearance plan will axe:
  • The Sweet Chestnut, described as ‘mature, in good, vigorous condition’ with life expectancy of over 20 years – CHOPPED
  • The four London Plane trees, all described as ‘mature, in good, vigorous condition’ with life expectancy of over 40 years – CHOPPED
None of the trees were covered by a Tree Preservation Order, ironically because, as Hart DC’s own Tree Officer said “… they are assumed to be under good management.” You couldn’t make it up.
The Tree Officer’s report – objecting to the Sweet Chestnut felling – is reproduced below.  Sadly, at planning application stage, Hart DC brushed their own Tree Officer’s report aside and approved the axing of these beautiful, mature trees.
“Amongst others, the proposed development requires the removal of a significant sweet chestnut (T8).  This is a mature tree and one of the largest in the town centre.  It is seen by thousands of people every day. It provides very high value in terms of public amenity; it provides naturalness within a very urban environment, softening the appearance of the surrounding buildings. It also locks away, or sequesters carbon from the air, mitigating CO2 emissions from the Fleet Road.  The crown of the tree will also have a desirable cooling effect on the adjacent buildings on hot summer days and will provide wildlife habitat in an urban town centre.  Sweet chestnuts have the potential to be very long-lived trees; trees of this species can live for longer than 250 years. The tree may have slightly reduced vitality due to the amount of hard landscape around it but continued will allow it to continue to benefit the townscape environment for many, many years to come.  With the above in mind this tree provides high quality green infrastructure in the centre of Fleet.  Taking account of the many years that it takes for a tree to achieve this size and therefore it’s level of contribution to the character of the town, it is irreplaceable.  The proposals in this regard allow no suitable sufficient space to secure a large-species replacement tree.  Off-site replanting would not mitigate its loss as the proposed development would necessarily be pushed outside of the town centre where Fleet is not short on trees. In my opinion, we should be exploring ways to increase canopy cover within the town centre, rather than reducing it.  Aside from its benefits as a public amenity, the tree has value to HDC as an asset.  The CAVAT system is often used by arboriculturists to assess the value of trees in terms of their replacement value and visual amenity; large trees in full public view will typically attain high values.  Should permission be granted, HDC would need to consider possible financial compensation for the loss of such a valuable tree in under to fund tree planting elsewhere in the District.  It should be noted however that like for like compensation would not be possible as the site and the proposals do not allow for it.  Please note that the off-site replacement of this tree will not provide full compensation for all the benefits that the tree provides.  Taking account of the above, the loss of the sweet chestnut is not acceptable.  The proposed mitigation measures do not adequately compensate for loss of this high value tree.”
Sources:
Arboricultural Impact Assessment Report, Sharon Hosegood Associates – 8 January 2018 (via Hart DC Planning Portal)
Consultee Comments for Planning Application 18/00147/OUT, Hart DC Tree Officer Report (via Hart DC Planning Portal)

Want to find out more?…

If you’d like to ask questions about the development or find out more about the proposals, join our Facebook group Save Gurkha Square.

OUR LEAFLET…

As a group of Fleet residents who oppose the proposed plan and want to make some of the facts clear and available to you, we’ve personally paid for the leaflet below and have ensured it is delivered to all local addresses, so that you can make a more informed choice.
You will also be receiving an eight page brochure (which you’re paying for), from Fleet Town Council, to persuade you that this plan is a good one. This will have a ‘voting card’ attached to it, which you must fill in and return by October 5th.
The decision is yours.
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HAVE YOUR SAY…

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The people of Fleet spoke and voted overwhelmingly against the development in the recent Parish Poll vote. Now you need to do it again.
Although saying NO a second time appears to make very little sense,  please make sure you confirm your NO vote by filling in FTC’s postal consultation card and returning it by the deadline of October 5th. For more details, please read the Q&A’s above.
 – Fleet Residents Against the Gurkha Square Development

“As Fleet residents, we have tried to find a compromise with Fleet Town Council but to no avail. We are convinced that a better solution can be found. Fleet needs a new community facility but not at the stated financial costs, or at the cost of losing Gurkha Square, the events held there and the businesses surrounding it.”

Fleet Town Council Postal Consultation.

Say NO AGAIN by October 5th.