On 18th May, the Parish Council Annual meeting was again held in the Church and was well attended by members of the public. The minutes of the meeting of 12th May 2005 were approved and the Chairman, Miss Frances Russell, reported on the activities of the previous year. In particular she explained the progress made on the Project to replace the pavilion on the Sports Field with a Village Hall or Community Centre.
Village Hall Project
Miss Russell's report was accompanied by an address from the Council's architect, Caroline Mercer. Ms Mercer outlined a vision for the 'centre' based on a development of the Manor Barn, its two wings of attached buildings, the quadrangle enclosed by these buildings and some adjacent car parking. She said that it might be possible to develop a visitor centre for local downland natural history incorporating the nearby defunct lime workings.
In answer to questions, both Architect and Chairman explained that matters were still at too early a stage to comment in detail on the cost of building the scheme or running it, but that any final scheme would be based on a sound business case to ensure viability.
Housing Needs Survey
Mr Austin Wade, Chichester District Council's Rural Housing Enabling Officer, presented the outcome of the recent Housing Needs Survey and explained in detail the various issues affecting the provision of affordable housing. He also outlined the Council's sensitive policy on affordable housing. He said that this resulted in the allocation of a high proportion of rented and shared equity housing in rural settlements to local residents or people with strong local connections. Mr Wade stressed that at this early stage it was difficult to predict what future affordable dwellings Cocking might expect to add to its housing stock, but he speculated that five or six units would be a valuable development. He said that he would be meeting with local landowners, but cautioned the audience not to expect rapid progress as projects could take between five to fifteen years to come to fruition.
The business of the meeting continued with short reports from District Councillor, Mr John Cherry and County Councillor for the Fernhurst Division, Lt Col Tex Pemberton. There was some discussion regarding the speed of traffic through Cocking and Mr Pemberton commented that he hoped Cocking never had a traffic camera as that would probably only follow fatal accidents in the village. He did add that a further survey of traffic speed would be undertaken.
Brief reports were delivered on the Sports Field (Mr Brian Kemp), Children's Playground (Mrs Betty Birch) and the Annual Accounts (Mrs Gwen Miles, Clerk to Cocking Parish Council).
After the meeting closed, refreshments were served and a majority of the attendees stayed for a while to continue the discussion of local issues.