Another year has passed and I think it is still important to remind ourselves that Heston Residents’ Association founded in 1928 remains, nearly 90 years on, an extremely active organisation and one which has made an impression in our local area.
Safeguarding the environment and the quality of life for residents remains at the top of the Association’s agenda, with a significant emphasis on planning and the impact that it can have on our lives both now and into the future.
In the 1930’s the Great West Road had an enormous impact on our area and continues to do so, being a prominent item on the Council’s agenda for attracting inward investment and development.
Heathrow continues to play an important and to many a vital part in the local economy particularly for job seekers and local businesses and of course it attracts comment and speculation whilst waiting for the presentation of the Davies Airport Commission Report post General Election.
The outcome of the public inquiry to be held in June 2015 associated with the future of the Cranford Agreement is awaited. Successive governments have supported the abandonment of the Cranford Agreement to allow full runway alternation at Heathrow.
We have reported regularly on developments at Heathrow.
On more local matters, HRA has associated itself with a number of major developments such as the Heston Leisure Centre and associated residential developments, Heston Park regeneration and other projects like the Master Robert Hotel and more recently the future of Heston House, in Vicarage Farm Road.
Throughout the last year the Association has examined and considered planning applications on a week by week basis most of these involving residential developments and in many cases the inevitable outbuilding. In growing numbers recently, applications for ground floor extensions, taking advantage of the Government’s recent relaxation of planning development (3 to 6 feet & 4 to 8 feet) has also been the subject of some interest and concern.
The ground floor extension, together with an inconclusive policy by the local planning authority continue to provide opportunities and incentives for the activities of the now infamous Rogue Landlord whether he/she is a small time operator or the portfolio property magnate.
In addition to the significant economic changes, the local area has also since the latter part of the last century experienced a great deal of change associated with the demographic and cultural structure of our society.
HRA Officers and members regularly attend planning and planning enforcement meetings, the Area Forums and other meetings as the need requires. these have been reported at our general meetings and in RAM.
The Association has remained an active member of the G15+ umbrella group of residents and amenity associations.
Because of its persistent voice and not a little ability G15+ has been instrumental in the last year or so in the establishment of the Residents’ Forum, which meets every two months to discuss, debate and express concerns on a range of subject matters.
HRA was recently represented at the Public Hearing on Hounslow’s Local Plan, with a particular interest and involvement in Hounslow Council’s proposed policy on backland infill and garden development. The main interest and concern being the growth in the number of outbuildings in the borough overall and particularly in Heston, Cranford, Central Hounslow and the west of the borough generally. The overall argument being that the Council’s policy does not satisfy the fundamental test of soundness
The outcome of our concerns on garden land development was that a meeting was held on 2nd March, between G15+ representatives and the Leader of the Council Cllr Curran and Cllr Dennison, Lead Member for Finance and Citizen Engagement and three senior council officers.
Apart from all of the subject matter that HRA involves itself in during any twelve month period the strength of our organisation, as with any, lies with its membership and despite the ongoing and inevitable changes already mentioned, our membership remains healthy and despite the loss of some members we do continue to attract new members (3 in one recent week). But we need more!
We have a postal membership of nearly 60 which emphasises HRA’s other strength, the value of our house magazine, RAM, which continues to attract favourable comments.
Whilst on the subject of RAM, I must thank Lyn Streather, the Editor, for her sterling efforts, despite a busy lifestyle and also our printers, Mercolour Graphics Ltd, who regularly pull out all the stops to meet our distribution timetable, most recently with the March edition.
Financially, despite only achieving a small excess of income over expenditure in 2014 we had over previous years accumulated a healthy bank balance which at the end of the year stood at nearly £24,000.
In 2004 the Association’s funds stood at £10,000, they have therefore more than doubled over the last 10years.
Advertising has unfortunately become less lucrative recently and from a peak of £4000 in 2007, it had dropped to a little over £2,000 in 2014. On a slightly brighter note the March RAM featured two new advertisements which hopefully will bolster up the situation, at least to some extent.
Finally my thanks to those who have supported me as Chairman over the last 11 years, and to those who have regularly attended the monthly meetings.
I have again tried, in this report, to capture and provide a semblance of what the Association has immersed itself in over the last year or so. We will carry on making our voice heard on subjects which we consider to be important to local residents and which in some way or other affect the local environment and quality of life both now and into the future..
D R Blackett