2013 - April - Letter to customers

Would you like to continue shopping at & enjoying Hare Hatch Sheeplands?

- Could you WRITE to Wokingham Borough Council, your MP, your councillor, the paper?  

or

- Could you ATTEND our appeal at Shute End, Tue 14 May 10am??

Can you take action to help us in this last stage of our planning problems in advance of our Enforcement Notice Appeal by Public Inquiry which starts on Tue 14 May 2013, 10am for 4 - 6 days.  

Everyone is welcome.

Here is what has recently been issued to visiting customers:

* * * 

Dear Sir or Madam,

I promised to keep all customers up to date with the progress of our attempt to gain planning approval for developments here at Hare Hatch Sheeplands, so here is the latest news with “how you can help” overleaf.  Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.

Sadly I have to inform you that Wokingham Borough Council has told us they intend to suspend negotiations on the issues in order to concentrate resources on our appeal against their enforcement notices in May.

Our appeal against the enforcement notice is by public inquiry & takes place at the council offices in Shute End, Wokingham starting on Tuesday, May 14 at 10am. It may take up to six days. 

The enforcement notice was issued in Oct 2012 while we were preparing a planning appeal case for our ‘masterplan’ for the site which we have been working on since 2008. It was a complete surprise to us and gives 16 activities here at HHS that the council wish us to stop doing amongst other things these include:

the retailing of goods such as gifts, garden furniture, Christmas goods, clothing, toys, cards,
all events such as craft market, Koi Show, Orchid shows, jewellery fairs etc
the play area (indoor & outdoor & coffee bar),
the coffee shop lounge & garden,
other businesses here Ma Humbugs, Amazon windows & conservatories, Floor Store, Pet Stop, the baguette bar
the overflow car park

ALSO:  Improvements to facilities such as upgrading the car park & disabled car parking, toilets inside the building & play area were applied for as part of the ‘masterplan’ and refused.

The full enforcement notice is available on our website if you would like to read it.

We have been trying since 2003 to achieve planning approval for Pet Stop and other activities which will allow us to maintain a viable business. We have wasted vast amounts of money we cannot afford in carrying out surveys and producing the reports required by the council.   An example is the retail impact survey we had to pay for, only to be told by the council that it is no longer required.

We have always been very hopeful of reaching a solution in negotiation and discussion with Wokingham Borough Council. 

We have worked hard to reach agreement since enforcement notices were served against us. We have told the council that we are willing to withdraw the ‘masterplan’ planning application they themselves asked us to put forward. This we have now done.  We also offered to demolish some existing buildings on site.

We also suggested that a postponement of our appeal against the enforcement notices would help everyone continue negotiations, but this offer has been rejected by the council.

Since my last communication we have been angered by a councillor’s comment which led some customers to believe that certain issues only came to the council’s attention following a tip off.

At all times council officials and councillors have had free access to the site and seen the gradual development of the business. We have been completely open and honest about our intentions.

We believe that the council should be proud to support a local community based business which is currently the holder of Twyford Village Partnership’s Business of the Year award.

We still believe that mutually constructive negotiations are the best way forward to protect the livelihoods of the hundred and two predominantly local people who work for us & with us and the countless local suppliers, sole traders and charities that benefit from our existence.

How Can You Help?

This is an appeal by public inquiry which everyone is permitted to attend. It takes place at the council offices in Shute End, Wokingham starting on Tuesday, May 14 at 10am. It may take up to six days.  You are free to come and go at any time during the appeal.

WRITE
We would urge you to write to Clare Lawrence, the new Head of Development  Management  (address supplied below) expressing your views and asking her why her department has chosen to suspend negotiations and why they have chosen not to seek a postponement.  Why are they putting the jobs of 102 people, and an independent local business at risk?  We would be grateful if you could copy your letter to your MP & ward councillor – details available on our website or just give our office a call 0118 9704690

ATTEND
Whether you wish to speak or not, we would like to encourage our supporters to attend the public inquiry.  If you intend to come, thank you! If you could let us know the days that you will attend we can endeavour to encourage others to attend more sparse days.  The enquiry will take place Tuesday to Friday in week one and may run to the following Tues and Wed.   Please check the Save Our Business section of the web site regularly for all new information. 

We will continue to keep you informed of developments.