Rushmoor protecting acres of vacant offices and asking Hart to build 1,600 houses for them

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Rushmoor Borough Council is seeking to protect acres of empty, brownfield office sites, but at the same time it is asking Hart to build 1,600 houses for them because Rushmoor says it can’t meet its own need.  If Hart is forced to take all these houses it makes it more likely we will have to build a new town and concrete over our beautiful green fields and countryside.

Bravehart has been out and about again and taken photos of 15 vacant employment sites across Rushmoor.  This is far from a comprehensive assessment of all of the vacant sites in Rushmoor, but it does illustrate the scale of the opportunity available. It has subsequently emerged that Rushmoor want to protect 96 Ha of brownfield land even though their own Employment Land Review predicted a massive surplus at the end of the plan period.

  • We Heart Hart's Mascot - Bravehart
    We Heart Hart's Mascot - Bravehart

Rushmoor has recently published its draft Local Plan and has asked for comments from the public.  If you are a Hart District resident and you would like them to re-visit their plan and build all of their own need on their own patch, then you can use the pre-prepared from on the link below.  All you need to do is:

  1. Download the Local Plan response form from the link below.
  2. On page 3, fill in your name and contact details and type your name and date in the boxes at the bottom of the page.
  3. Review the comments made and feel free to add, amend or delete as you see fit.
  4. Save the document, attach it to an email and send to plan@rushmoor.gov.uk
  5. Share a link to this page to all your friends and family as well as any sports clubs or community groups you belong to via word of mouth, email, Facebook and Twitter and ask them to put in a response and share this page again.
  6. If you have not already done so, please sign and share our petition too.
Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

 

More detail here.

 

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Vacant Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Cody Technology Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Cody Technology Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Vacant Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at near Aldershot, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at near Aldershot, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

 

Please help Hart fend off an extra 1,600 houses from Rushmoor

Is this what we want Hart to turn into?

Is this what we want Hart to turn into?

Rushmoor Borough Council has published a draft Local Plan where it proposes to build only 8,200 of its assessed need of 9,822 houses over the plan period.  It is clear that Rushmoor is seeking to offload the remaining 1,622 houses on to Hart District.

We need to oppose this move and We Heart Heart have produced some materials to help you do this easily.  Our voice will have greater weight if we can get more Hart residents to comment on Rushmoor’s plan than Rushmoor residents. Please follow the simple process below:

  1. Download the Local Plan response form from the link below.
  2. On page 3, fill in your name and contact details and type your name and date in the boxes at the bottom of the page.
  3. Review the comments made and feel free to add, amend or delete as you see fit.
  4. Save the document, attach it to an email and send to plan@rushmoor.gov.uk
  5. Share a link to this page to all your friends and family as well as any sports clubs or community groups you belong to via word of mouth, email, Facebook and Twitter and ask them to put in a response and share this page again.
  6. If you have not already done so, please sign and share our petition too.
Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

A summary of the arguments we are putting forwards is outlined below.

Slippery slope to taking more housing than the other districts

The proposal to take an additional 1,622 houses from Rushmoor puts us on the slippery slope to accepting a further 1,400 houses from Surrey Heath such that Hart District ends up having to build the most houses in the Housing Market Area.

 

 Hart DistrictSurrey Heath BoroughRushmoor BoroughTotal Housing Market Area
Original SHMA7,5347,0579,82224,413
Proposed Transfers3,022(1,400)(1,622)0
New Total10,5565,6578,20024,413

 

This will impact all of our districts including Blackwater and Hawley; Bramshill;  Church Crookham; Crondall; Crookham Village; Dogmersfield; Elvetham Heath; Eversley; Ewshot; Fleet; Greywell; Hartley Wintney; Heckfield; Hook; Mattingley; North Warnborough; Odiham; Rotherwick; South Warnborough; Winchfield; and Yateley adding additional pressure to an already difficult situation and make it more likely we have to accept both a new town and urban extensions on our beautiful green fields and countryside.

Hart and the rest of Housing Market Area are being asked to build too many houses

The whole Housing Market Area (HMA) should reduce the assessed need by 7,800 units which would reduce the pressure on Hart directly and remove the need for Surrey Heath and Rushmoor to ask us to build >3,000 houses for them. This is discussed in more detail here.

Rushmoor isn’t making best use of its brownfield sites

This is discussed in more detail here and here. As can be seen, if Rushmoor gets more creative with Wellesley and plans to build on the sites it has already identified, there is potential capacity for over 30,000 dwellings, more than three times its (overblown) assessed need.   It surely cannot be too much to expect them to find the 1,600 houses they say they can’t build out of this wealth of opportunity.  Rushmoor Borough Council should re-visit its planned densities and seek to meet all of its assessed need within in its own boundaries.  It could then make some sites available for neighbouring rural districts in line with a recent survey of Hampshire residents seeking to protect rural areas.  Neighbouring districts could be approached to provide SANG capacity if required.  Rushmoor should also take a closer look at all the vacant sites in the district and seek to convert them to residential use.

Rushmoor’s Employment Land Review is overblown and seeks to protect more employment land than is necessary.

This is discussed here.  It is also clear that past forecasts got it wrong as evidenced by the large number of vacant office blocks and empty shops across Hart District.  If the ELR was reduced to more sensible levels they could free up more land for housing.

Indeed, even if you accept the overblown employment forecasts, there will be a surplus of nearly 600K sq m of employment space at the end of the plan period, covering around 195 Ha.  Yet Rushmoor seeking to protect 96 Ha of land whilst asking Hart to build 1,600 houses on green fields.

Rushmoor’s infrastructure plans are not credible

We posted here that Hampshire as a whole has a £1.9bn infrastructure funding deficit, with Rushmoor’s share of that being £80m.  Rushmoor makes no mention of this deficit in its draft Local Plan.  Hart’s own numbers show an infrastructure deficit of £78m.  All of these numbers are probably an under-statement given they were all produced before the scale of development now proposed was known.  This is in contravention of NPPF para 177 that says there must be a “reasonable prospect” of delivering the required infrastructure alongside housing:

“It is equally important to ensure that there is a reasonable prospect that planned infrastructure is deliverable in a timely fashion. To facilitate this, it is important that local planning authorities understand district-wide development costs at the time Local Plans are drawn up. For this reason, infrastructure and development policies should be planned at the same time, in the Local Plan”

Finally, they don’t even attempt to quantify the extra infrastructure Hart would need to build the extra 1,600 houses nor do they make any offer to fund any of that extra cost.

Rushmoor not planning to meet the needs of the ageing population

Figure 10.15 of the SHMA sets out the need for specialist housing and registered care places for the HMA and Rushmoor.  This states Rushmoor must build 710 sheltered and extra care units as well as provide an extra 600 registered care places. Their draft Local Plan makes no mention of the extra registered care places and sets no target for the sheltered and extra care units.  This is in contravention of NPPF para 50 which states:

“local planning authorities should…plan for a mix of housing based on current and future demographic trends, market trends and the needs of different groups in the community (such as, but not limited to, families with children, older people, people with disabilities, service families and people wishing to build their own homes)”

Therefore the Rushmoor draft Local Plan runs the risk of being found unsound and should be revised.

 

In conclusion, the Rushmoor draft Local Plan contains many serious flaws and needs to be revised.

Link

 

Rushmoor has potential capacity for over 30,000 homes

Rushmoor Borough Council SHLAA Analysis

Rushmoor Borough Council SHLAA Analysis

In an earlier post, we highlighted how Rushmoor is not making the best use of the land set aside for the Wellesley (aka Aldershot Urban Extension) development.  Modern planning techniques could increase the yield of that site to over 21,500 dwellings.

We Heart Hart has now been given access to Rushmoor’s full SHLAA.  This shows that outside Wellesley, Rushmoor have identified 60.51Ha with a planned density of 51dph yielding 3,083 units. In addition, 128.74Ha are shown where they are not currently planning to build any houses (zero yield sites).  If these sites were planned to deliver at the same 51dph, they would yield an additional 6,560 units.  Without changing Wellesley, this would bring the available total capacity up to 13,493 units (or density could be increased on the 60.51Ha), far in excess of the assessed need of 9,822.

As can be seen, if Rushmoor gets more creative with Wellesley, and plans to build on the sites it has already identified, there is potential capacity for over 30,000 dwellings, more than three times its (overblown) assessed need.   It surely cannot be too much to expect them to find the 1,600 houses they say they can’t build and what to foist on to Hart District.  Rushmoor Borough Council should re-visit its planned densities and seek to meet all of its assessed need within in its own boundaries.  It could then make some sites available for neighbouring rural districts in line with a recent survey of Hampshire residents seeking to protect rural areas.  Neighbouring districts could be approached to provide SANG capacity if required.

This analysis will form part of our response to Rushmoor’s draft Local Plan.

 

Rushmoor can meet all of its housing needs (and more) from Wellesley alone

Wellesley - Aldershot Urban Extension - Planning Densities

Wellesley – Aldershot Urban Extension – Planning Densities

The centrepiece of Rushmoor’s development strategy in the draft Local Plan is the Wellesley development (formerly known as the Aldershot Urban Extension).

This is a 143 hectare development where they are planning to build 3,850 new houses.  This amounts to a pitiful density of only 26.9 dwellings per hectare (dph) across the whole area, even lower than Hart’s planning assumption of 30dph.  Across the plots digitised by Gareth Price, the density rises to 35.5dph whcih is still very low for an urban area.

If Rushmoor were to alter the plans for Wellesley to an easily achievable 68.7dph, they could meet the entire assessed housing need  of 9,822 up to 2032 without even touching the other sites in their SHLAA leaving additional capacity for future years or for neighbouring districts.

Modern planning techniques as outlined by Gareth Price, suggests that thriving, sustainable communities can be created in urban areas with planning densities in the range of 150-250dph.  Moving to around 152dph would give them capacity at Wellesley for over 21,500 units, giving sufficient capacity for Rushmoor for decades to come.

This analysis will form part of our response to Rushmoor’s draft Local Plan.

 

Hart District and Rushmoor can meet their housing needs from brownfield sites for 50 years or more

Hartland Park (Pyestock) near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire, warehouse development not started

Brownfield site: Hartland Park (Pyestock) near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

A new paper by young architecture graduate, Gareth Price shows that Hart District and Rushmoor Borough could build 49,000 homes on brownfield sites by shedding the old models of the past and adopting a more modern approach of building higher density developments in existing urban areas.  This would avoid urban sprawl and protect our green fields to act as amenity space for the enjoyment of all.

Gareth’s document goes through many of the brownfield sites in both Hart and Rushmoor and applies modern techniques to demonstrate how more can be made of existing land to build more affordable homes on brownfield sites in urban areas to meet the needs of younger people who are struggling to get on the housing ladder and the elderly who will more, smaller more manageable homes closer existing amenities and infrastructure.

The paper illustrates also illustrates where these techniques have been applied in London and on the continent to create vibrant, cohesive communities.

This paper is exactly the sort of thing that We Heart Hart had in mind when we put forward our 5-point plan for improving Hart’s approach to the Local Plan where we called for a competition to be held amongst architects to illustrate the art of the possible on our brownfield sites and provide a vision to guide the regeneration of our urban town centres as an alternative to endless urban sprawl across our green fields.

No doubt there will be some who will disagree with the level of development intensity Gareth proposes for some areas in Hart, where he concludes we could build 25,000 homes on them.  However, it is clear that the capacity of the brownfield sites he has studied is very much greater than the 700 dwellings Hart has said we could deliver over the period up to 2032.  Indeed, according to our brownfield monitor the capacity is already up to 2,360 units in just 6 months.  We must challenge Rushmoor to make more of their brownfield sites.

The paper can be downloaded below:

 

A sustainable approach to building on brownfield sites in Hart District and Rushmoor

 

Link

Hampshire has £1.9 billion infrastructure funding gap and Rushmoor faces £80m funding shortfall

£1.9 billion infrastructure funding deficit in Hampshire

£1.9 billion infrastructure funding deficit in Hampshire

A series of interesting revelations have resulted from the recent publication of Rushmoor Borough Council’s Draft Local Plan.  The bottom line is that back in 2013, Hampshire County Council identified an infrastructure funding deficit of £1.91bn out of a total requirement of £2.16bn, or to put it another way more than 88% of the requirement is not funded.

Hampshire Infrastructure Funding deficit of £1.9bn

Hampshire Infrastructure Funding deficit of £1.9bn

Of this gap, £80m was attributed to Rushmoor:

“For the infrastructure defined, a total estimated funding shortfall of approx. £80 million has been identified for Rushmoor Borough over the next 15 years.” 

All of these figures were compiled before the latest housing requirement was calculated so the up to date figures are likely to be much higher.

In its draft Infrastructure Plan, Rushmoor makes no mention of the costs of the infrastructure needs it has identified nor has it explained where it will get the funding from to meet those needs.

Perhaps this explains why Rushmoor is so keen to offload 1,600 houses on to Hart.  Remember Hart already has a £78m funding deficit of its own, and this is probably an under-statement because it doesn’t include any allowance for additional schools, improved railways or better GP surgeries.

The National Planning Policy Framework para 177 says:

“It is equally important to ensure that there is a reasonable prospect that planned infrastructure is deliverable in a timely fashion. To facilitate this, it is important that local planning authorities understand district-wide development costs at the time Local Plans are drawn up. For this reason, infrastructure and development policies should be planned at the same time, in the Local Plan.”

It is simply inconceivable that both Rushmoor could have got so far with its Local Plan without addressing how its infrastructure is going to be funded.  Surely this must be enough to find its plan unsound.  We Heart Hart will work to help Hart residents object to Rushmoor’s draft Local Plan.

Hart Council rolls over and starts to plan for an extra 1,600 houses from Rushmoor

Is this what we want Hart to turn into?

Do we want Hart District to turn into an urban sprawl?

We Heart Hart understands that at the Local Plan Steering Group last week councillors were told that they will have to start planning for an extra 1,600 houses from Rushmoor.  We have previously warned that by planning for a new town, Hart was creating capacity that would force it to take the unmet needs of Surrey Heath and Rushmoor. Indeed the advice from Peter Village QC was that Hart should pursue the duty to cooperate discussions in a “robust and inquisitive manner”.

This would take Hart’s target to 2032 up to 9,134, up from the current (in our view overblown) target of 7,534.  This is simply wasting the good work that has identified additional brownfield capacity in the district.

However, Hart Council’s actions are going much further than the advice they received from the Planning Inspector as recently as March 2015:

“Tactically, Hart should show to an inspector that it acknowledges the housing problem, and accept that it is likely to have to take an element of unmet need now. This would show an inspector that Hart is being reasonable in the circumstances. In practice this could mean taking an element of Rushmoor’s need now, but dealing with further shortfalls in Rushmoor and Surrey Heath through an early review once there is more certainty over what those authorities can deliver. Hart would need to quantify the amount of unmet need it is agreeing to take in its plan. It would also need to justify why it’s not taking all the unmet need.”

So, far from taking “an element” of Rushmoor’s need now, they are proposing to plan to take the whole lot.  Of course there are no reports yet of how they are going to close the existing £78m funding gap, let alone how to fund the extra infrastructure required to support the extra 1,600 houses we have to build for Rushmoor.

The whole reason why we are being put in this position is that the combined housing market area of Hart and Rushmoor and Surrey Heath Boroughs is being asked to build too many houses because the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) is based on some dodgy forecasts.  If the SHMA was brought down to more realistic levels, then neither Rushmoor nor Surrey Heath would have a shortfall.

We need to challenge Rushmoor’s plan now.  We have created a template letter, together with an up to date distribution list of all of the Hart District Councillors and it is available for download below.  Please download it, and all you need to do is cut and past the contents into an email; choose your local councillor email adresses;  add your name and address; alter the contents as you see fit and send it off.  We have also created a template document for challenging Rushmoor’s plan.

Letter to Hart Councillors rejecting proposal to take 1,600 houses from Rushmoor
Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

 

Please sign and share our petition and support our 5-point plan to change course:

 

Go to Petition

 

This story has been covered in Get Hampshire.

 

Link

Hart Council gives go ahead for two office conversions

Vacant brownfield Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Office at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Further to our posts about the additional brownfield capacity in Hart District, the council have given the go ahead for two office conversions.

The first is at Pioneer House on Ancells Farm, Fleet and the second is at Providence House, Bartley Wood, Hook.

The Ancell’s Farm, Fleet development is for 33 units and the Bartley Wood, Hook development is for 113 apartments.

Overall, this look to be a welcome development because it relieves pressure on green field development in the district.  However, we would prefer it, if these developments were carried out as part of a master plan to convert certain areas to residential use from office use as opposed to piecemeal development along with necessary infrastructure.

These developments were already counted in our brownfield tracker.

We need to find more of these developments so we can avoid building a new town in Hart and protect our valuable green fields.

Hart Council Local Plan behind Schedule

Hart District Local Plan Project Behind Schedule

Hart District Local Plan Project Behind Schedule

Hart Council is falling behind its own schedule for the delivery of the Local Plan.  This is exposing the district to increasing pressures from developers who have more latitude to push through inappropriate development when there is no Local Plan in place. This does not engender a great deal of confidence that the rest of the project will proceed to schedule.

According to their own schedule they are apparently slipping in these areas:

  • The Employment Land Review is not complete – they have consulted, but not published an updated document.  It is based on the same pie in the sky job forecasts as the SHMA.
  • The Retail and Main Town uses should have been finished in March. There is no document about this subject beyond 2012 on Hart’s website.
  • The landscape capacity assessment should have been completed in April, but again nothing published on their website.
  • Settlement hierarchy paper should have been completed in May.
  • A shortlist of strategic sites for Phase 2 testing should have been complete in April, but it is my understanding that this decision has yet to be taken.
  • The Vision should have been completed in May, again nothing published.

After receiving an unsatisfactory response to a question raised at Hart Council back in April, we raised a Freedom of Information request to receive a copy of the project they are following to deliver the Local Plan. The document we received can be found here. It is clear they are suffering from “unwarranted optimism”.

We Heart Hart Petition breaks 2,000 barrier

We Heart Hart Campaign Logo

We Heart Hart Campaign Logo

The We Heart Hart petition is now really taking off, breaking through the 2,000 barrier over the weekend. This is approaching four times the number of valid responses to Hart Council’s consultation that took place in Autumn 2014 and more than 9 times the number of people (220) of said they favoured a new settlement.

It seems that the people of Hart are backing our 5-point plan for change and waking up to the reality that the Council’s plans will:

Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/donation-thermometer/.2,350Raised 3,993 towards the 2,350 target.3,993Raised 3,993 towards the 2,350 target.170%
  • Turn the northern part of Hart will turn into a single urban sprawl when there is an alternative of building higher density in urban areas to help rejuvenate our high streets
  • Ignore many brownfield sites untouched all over the district where we could build housing
  • Destroy our environment and the very nature of Hart’s unique appeal – the reason we all love living here.

If you would like to join our campaign, please sign and share our petition:

 

Go to Petition

 

Surely it is now time for Hart Council to think again, act on the legal opinion describing their position as “hopeless”,  focus on brownfield first and listen to the people.