Hart District Council is due to consider a new paper designed to encourage development of brownfield land at the next meeting of the Cabinet on 3 September.
The paper contains some interesting proposals in preparation for the Local Plan including:
- The Portfolio Holder for Planning be delegated authority to identify suitable “zones of residential opportunity areas” on sites or areas where there are vacant offices, including areas where planning permission has been granted for employment use but the development is not proceeding. We presume this would include sites such as Bartley Wood, Sun Park, Ancells Farm and Pyestock.
- Suspending policy RUR5, essentially lifting restrictions on converting agricultural buildings to residential use because the policy contravenes the NPPF.
- Simplifying the administrative burden of converting offices to residential use.
- Being more flexible on developer contributions whilst continuing to insist upon infrastructure funding and mitigation measures such as Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANGs) when close to the Thames Valley Heath SPA.
We Heart Hart welcomes these proposals as a step in the right direction, however, when we submit our suggestions for appropriate responses to the petition, we will be suggesting some additional measures.
Of course, given Hart’s recent history of dismissing the brownfield development opportunities, we will have to satisfy ourselves that this paper is not simply paying lip-service to the Government agenda and ensure that real action follows.