Heston Residents Association was founded in 1928 by a group of local residents to ensure that the needs of a fast growing residential community were provided for. The opening of the Great West Road in the 1920’s had made Heston an attractive area to live which is why many of today’s estates were built in the 1930’s.
Heston is 4 miles from one of the world’s biggest airports and just 1 mile from the A4 “Golden Mile” – home to several of the largest businesses in the UK. The rapid increase in population, demand for cheap housing and the move to a heterogeneous and multi-cultural society naturally create pressure on the existing infrastructure and the amenity of residents. Since 1928 HRA has successfully pursued its mission of preserving the heritage and maintaining an acceptable environment for all residents of Heston.
While the main focus of the Association is to serve the local community in Heston and Cranford, by protecting the heritage and quality of life through scrutiny, challenge and representation, much of this work sets benchmarks for delivery of council services which benefit all 250,000 residents of the London Borough of Hounslow. The Council itself benefits from HRA’s insistence that issues are fully researched and put forward in a clear and concise manner.
The Association is non-political and is managed by a dedicated committee of 9 members. The Committee reviews progress on current “hot” issues such as planning applications, waste and recycling, Rogue Landlords, HMO proliferation, policing matters and the impact of Heathrow Airport (4 miles away). The committee has gender and ethnic balance.
Through its monthly magazine (“RAM”) provided to some 580 households, the Association provides the local community with a focal point for information about its local authority. Individual HRA members benefit from advice on developments in their immediate locality and support in making appropriate representations. This work is equally helpful to the Local Authority as it “professionalizes” the public voice
HRA provides the focal point for the “eyes and ears” of its members. Through its monthly public meeting, the Association provides a forum for the local community to share issues of concern with others, and to have their concerns represented with a strong voice to the Local Authority, Ward Councillors, other Members of the Council, our local MPs and Select Committees of the House of Commons as appropriate. The Association recognised that the democratic deficit in local government is an issue of concern to all amenity groups in the borough and was the driving force behind establishing a borough-wide group of some 25 Residents Associations (“G15 Plus”) to provide a borough-wide public voice. This group now has formal meetings with the Council every two months. HRA’s Chair is also Chair of G15 Plus. The Council benefits from a borough-wide unified public voice on significant issues as well as providing a simple and effective public communication channel for the voice of the Council.
In 2018 HRA celebrated 90 years of service to the community. Since 1928 HRA has remained relevant through its ability to identify and adapt to change such as the demand for cheap housing, new social and economic infrastructure and a heterogeneous and multi-cultural society which often challenges the existing local and national planning priorities. HRA has developed a sophisticated procedure for monitoring all planning applications. Detailed knowledge of Council Planning Policy and National Planning Law enables the Association to provide appropriate advice to those directly affected by planning applications. This expertise is admired and respected by those receiving support and by Hounslow Council who recognise that “scrutiny ensures efficiency”. Several major developers have been grateful for the opportunity to present their proposals directly to HRA to gauge public acceptability, and have appreciated the opportunity to advise the
Council that HRA is supportive of their proposals. Because Heathrow Airport is just 4 miles from Heston, HRA fully participates in Heathrow Airport’s Local Focus Forum thus ensuring that expansion and operational changes have regard to the impact on the local community. HRA participates in the Police Consultative Board and the Neighbourhood Watch Association, and maintains a good relationship with the Greater London Authority.
HRA activity is often hindered by lack of transparency and lack of consistency in official processes and procedures. The Association has developed expertise in use of the Freedom of Information Act to overcome lack of transparency. HRA has addressed the problem of lack of consistency in decisions by developing its own knowledge base of relevant decisions. This information is shared with Council Officers so that less experienced officers have the benefit of seeing how their more experienced predecessors and current colleagues have dealt with similar issues.
The Association responds positively to Local Authority and DCLG consultations, public inquiries, and requests for submissions from Parliamentary Select Committees. By developing the G15 Plus group of 25 amenity groups HRA has established an effective response to the widespread use by Local Authorities of an “isolate and ignore” strategy whenever individuals have sought to hold the Authority to Account. The meetings of G15 Plus members ensure that issues raised by the group strike an appropriate balance between parochial issues of each amenity group and more general concerns arising from public policy or inappropriate procedures used by the Authority. The nature of the delegates attending G15 Plus meetings ensures a highly professional consideration of issues and clarity of objectives and how to achieve them. The Council has come to recognise that the collective wisdom of G15 Plus often matches or exceeds the collective wisdom of Councillors and Council Officers. This style of interaction between residents and their local authority is a natural progression of concepts of localism such as neighbourhood plans. The old relationship between the local authority and the individual has become inappropriate because of increased public access to information and knowledge. The G15-Plus model developed by HRA fills the vacuum created.
The Heston Residents Association has a membership of some 590 households and meets on the first Wednesday of the month at the Heston Community Centre throughout the year (except August). The meetings usually include a guest speaker from organisations such as the police, our local councillors, Heathrow Airport and companies planning significant developments in the Heston and Cranford Area.
The Association continues to impress on the local authority the need for change to be properly considered and to ensure that the views of local residents are carefully considered before changes are implemented.
Membership of the Association is open to all who are interested in the welfare and development of the Heston and Cranford area. Membership is based on a minimum donation of £6. All members receive a complimentary copy of The Ram every month except August.
For further information on membership of the Association, or to express your views on issues of concern to Heston residents please see contact us page