Hart District Council has made changes to the way it is preparing the Local Plan and dropped one of the consultations it said it was going to carry out. This leads to the suspicion that it is trying to force through a new settlement (Option 4), without adequately consulting the public or gaining proper support for its proposals.
If you would like to add your voice to those opposing the Council’s approach, please sign and share our petition:
Back in April 2014, Hart published its Local Development Scheme (LDS), that set out the timetable for producing the local plan. This clearly shows that there would be two “Regulation 18” consultations with the general public. The first was to be the consultation on the housing development options paper and the second was to be a consultation on a draft plan, due to take place in March 2015.
However, in a revised Local Development Scheme (LDS), published in February 2015, this second Regulation 18 consultation has been dropped. The next time the public is going to be consulted is in Autumn 2015 when the Local Plan is complete and there is only six weeks before it is submitted for inspection.
This means that Hart District Council is proposing to move from a very general consultation on where to put 7,500 houses to a complete document ready for submission without any further consultation with the public. They barely raised the risk of Hart becoming a sink for 3,100 extra houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.
As we have already documented, Hart has admitted it has no vision for the district, so it certainly has not consulted us on what we would like Hart to look like in 20 years time. Moreover, Hart is continuing to test a new settlement at Winchfield without consulting the public on whether they want the northern part of Hart to descend into a single urban sprawl. In addition, more people have signed our petition opposing its approach than responded to its own, inadequate consultation.
It is difficult to come to a conclusion other than Hart District Council is trying to force through a new town without proper consultation.
We would like to humbly suggest that Hart District Council thinks again and alters its approach to better engage the public in these very important decisions.