Hartley Wintney councillors furious over Hart Council news ‘propaganda’

Fury over council news propaganda Fleet News and Mail

Fury over council news propaganda

Councillors for Hartley Wintney ward, Anne Crampton, Andrew Renshaw and Tim Southern have expressed their fury to the Fleet News and Mail about the way Hart  District Council expressed a preference for a new town in Winchfield in the latest edition of Hart News, even though the testing process is not yet complete.

Hart Council said in their article about the Local Plan:

[Winchfield] has an existing station, and it is relatively free of environmental contraints. It is also close to the motorway which could also possibly allow for a new junction onto the M3.

Clearly major infrastructure improvements would be needed and it would be a large scale project that would fundamentally change that part of Hart

The councillors think that edition of Hart News should be pulped because they think it inappropriate for the council to be putting out only one side of the story when they are preparing to engage the public in another round of consultation about housing options.

Not only that, Hart have done very little work to quantify the infrastructure costs of such a development, but our estimate of £300m, taken together with the existing funding deficit of £78m would mean a new town is simply undeliverable.

This comes hot on the heels of the article by Hampshire County Councillor David Simpson in the local Liberal Democrat newsletter where he says “Winchfield is the wrong place for major development”

Hart Council cabinet is due to debate their response to the We Heart Hart petition tomorrow night at Hart Offices at 7pm.  Please do come along and support us.  Facebook invitation here.

Large image of the article here.

UPDATE: Same story now covered in GetHampshire

Hart District Council Local Plan slips a further 3 months in 3 days

Dad! I got it wrong again

Hart Council gets it wrong again

In a quite astonishing development, Hart Council has announced a further slippage of at least 3 months in the Local Plan project just three days after publishing a revised schedule in Hart News, which itself pushed the schedule back a year.

The further revised schedule is published in papers due to be discussed at Cabinet next week.

This now sets out the following timetable (timetable and slippage compared to that announced in Hart News in brackets).

Refined Housing Options Paper* – Winter 2015 (Winter 2015, no change)

Full Draft Local Plan* – Summer 2016 (Spring 2016, 3 months slippage)

Resubmission Plan* – Autumn 2016 (late Summer 2016, 3 months slippage)

Submit to Secretary of State – Winter 2016 (Autumn 2016, 3 months slippage)

Examination – Spring 2017 (Winter 2016, 3 months slippage)

Adoption – Summer 2017 (Spring 2017, 3 months slippage)

There is a saying that keeping doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.  Surely, some councillors can see that this project is off the rails and the management needs to change.

The image of the timetable announced in Hart News is shown below:

Housing pressure from neighbours may affect Hart. Hart Local Plan timetable. Hart slips Local Plan timetable

Hart slips Local Plan timetable again

[Update] Plan slips further in March 2016

 

Hart Council Local Plan timetable slips two years within two years

Hart Council refuse to acknowledge failings in the Local Plan

Hart Council refuse to acknowledge failings in the Local Plan

Hart Council has announced in Hart News that it has slipped the Local Plan timetable yet again.  Given the number of times this timetable has been amended we have to question the credibility of their project management.  Hart Council is running the risk of the Government stepping in and writing the plan for them.

Housing pressure from neighbours may affect Hart. Hart Local Plan timetable. Hart slips Local Plan timetable

Hart slips Local Plan timetable again in Hart News (Hampshire)

The revised timetable, shown in the image above is:

Refined Housing Options Paper* – Winter 2015

Full Draft Local Plan* – Spring 2016

Resubmission Plan* – late Summer 2016

Submit to Secretary of State – Autumn 2016

Examination – Winter 2016

Adoption – Spring 2017

* = documents subject to public consultation.

This is the latest in a long line of delays:

In October, 2013, when the earlier version of the plan was rejected by the planning inspector, the council said:

“Cllr Parker said that while the council operates under the interim strategy, it is working on an updated Local Plan.

“We expect to put this out for consultation early next year, and would look to submit it to an inspector next autumn [2014],” he added.”

In April 2014, the plan was to have a resubmission plan ready for consultation in October 2015.

In February 2015, the plan was to have a resubmission plan ready for Autumn 2015.

As late as April this year, the council was insisting that they were still on track to deliver a Resubmission Plan by Autumn 2015, despite our warnings that the project was slipping.

We are now in a position where the Local Plan has slipped two years within two years.  It is difficult to come to a conclusion other than the project management is woeful and we run the risk of the Local Plan being taken out of local hands and handed to Government Inspectors.  One has to ask why more councillors are not holding the Executive and the Officers to account and demanding a change of approach, such as our suggested 5-point plan.

Housing targets fantasy worthy of Lewis Carroll

Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast

Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast

This week marks the start of the examination of the Vale of the White Horse District Council Local Plan, as reported in the Oxford Mail, and the housing targets have been branded “worthy of Lewis Carroll”.  It seems Hart District residents are also being asked to believe six impossible things before breakfast.

One of the key issues at White Horse is the credibility of the housing target because it is derived from some very questionable jobs forecasts.  Here is a quote from their article:

“The logic is very simple. The number of jobs which theoretically could be created between now and 2031 was calculated. They then used these figures to estimate how many houses would be needed if these jobs materialised. The problem is that if the jobs projection is fantasy, as many people think it is, then the “objectively assessed” housing number is also fantasy.

A company called GL Hearn was then commissioned by our district councils to estimate housing need, assuming that all of these forecast jobs will actually exist. This is the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment, or SHMA.

There are many who believe that this is a story worthy of Lewis Carroll himself.”

Comparison of Jobs Growth Rates for Housing Market Area

Comparison of Jobs Growth Rates for Housing Market Area

Of course this is a very similar situation to that in which we find our selves in Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath, where the jobs forecasts in the SHMA assume a growth in jobs almost twice that we achieved in the period 1998-2012 and will lead to a massive increase in the proportion of working age people in employment.

Data Point2011 (Census)2011 (BRES)2031 (PROJ 2)2031 (PROJ 5)
SHMA Population (a) 272,394 272,394 307,578 322,278
People in employment (b) 122,300 125,000 162,233 170,223
Overall % in employment (b/a)44.9%45.9%52.7%52.8%
People over 70 (c) 28,559 28,559 51,164 51,164
People 5-19 (d) 67,375 67,375 73,206 73,206
People of working age (a-c-d)=e 176,460 176,460 183,208 197,908
% working age in employment (b/e)69.3%70.8%88.6%86.0%

The impact of this is that across the whole Housing Market Area, we are forced to build 5,100 extra houses and of course protect even more vacant employment land that could be allocated to housing.

It seems we are being asked to believe in six impossible things before breakfast, just like the Vale of White Horse.  It remains to be seen how the inspector will view the White Horse Housing Market Assessment.

 

Hartley Wintney and Eversley Lib Dems oppose Winchfield New Town

Hart in Heart of Hart, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

Hart in the Heart of Hart, Winchfield

In a very welcome move, the latest edition of the Liberal Democrats’ Focus newsletter for Hartley Wintney and Eversley includes an article strongly opposing a new town in Winchfield.

The article is authored by David Simpson, the Hampshire County Councillor for the area.  In it he says:

I have said, right from the start, that Winchfield is the wrong place for a major development as it is in the middle of the country lanes.  To work it would need massive spending on new roads and infrastructure that will devastate the rural heart of Hart”…

“What is needed is proper planning of where new houses should go and how infrastructure is provided to ensure a good quality of life for local residents.

That means ensuring we can get to where we need to go without traffic jams; it means making sure we have all the services we need, and it means accommodating development without ruining our beautiful district.

Make sure you stand up to be counted be letting Hart know your views.  We are at crisis point. If we don’t make sure they get it right, our children and grandchildren could regret these decisions for generations to come.”

We Heart Hart completely endorses this view.  It is to be hoped that these views are shared by the Lib Dem councillors on Hart District Council and they now vote against the proposals for a new town and exert pressure to improve the Hart Local Plan.

Images of the newsletter are shown below:

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 1 of 2

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 1 of 2

 

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 2 of 2

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 2 of 2

Full size images here and here.

Update: One Lib Dem councillor we spoke to last night at council denies having seen the article.  So, this page has been sent to a number of Lib Dem councillors and we have asked them what their current position is on the Winchfield New Town.

Hart Council persists with Winchfield New Town idea despite petition from 2,130 people

Example of Urban Sprawl

Example of Urban Sprawl

Hart District Council’s Planning Department are persisting with plans for a new town in Winchfield, despite receiving a petition from 2,130 people asking that it does not include a new town in its new Local Plan. In its latest edition of Hart News, it has included a number of articles about the Local Plan which contain many controversial statements as outlined below.

Why we need 3,500 new homes in Hart

Why we need 3,500 new homes in Hart

In its first article, Hart Council say the “Council is reluctant to see ever more growth in existing towns and villages so the preference is to explore a new settlement at Winchfield”.  This is in direct contradiction to the 5th objective of the petition which says:

To demand the council and government do not plan for any new settlement in Hart that will act as a sink for the unmet housing need in neighbouring areas.

Moreover, they say that brownfield capacity is only 1,800 units when we have already demonstrated that since last October, their original estimate of only 750 units is now in the range of 2,438-3,688, demonstrating that the remaining allocation of 3,500 is within reach with a bit of extra effort.

Hart Council also conveniently gloss over the fact that there is already a £78m infrastructure funding gap that can only get worse if they go for a new town, because the £300m infrastructure costs will far outweigh any developer contributions (c. £40m).

Communities have a say on shaping area's future. Council wins Hop Garden appeal to halt urban sprawl

Communities have a say on shaping area’s future. Council wins Hop Garden appeal to halt urban sprawl

In their second and third articles, they emphasise that they turned down the proposed development at Hop Garden Road, Hook to stop unwanted sprawl and to protect the environment, local residents and protected species.  The very same arguments could be advanced to protect Winchfield, which unlike Hop Garden Road is inside the zone of influence of the Thames Valley Heath SPA and contains 3 SSSI’s and many SINCs.

Hart Council laud Neighbourhood Plans as a chance for residents to play a much stronger role in shaping the areas in which they live and work whilst at the same time rather ominously suggesting that Neighbourhood Plans must conform to Hart Council’s assessment of their housing needs.  It remains to be seen how Winchfield’s Neighbourhood Plan, which WeHeartHart understands will propose significant development, will be treated by Hart Council when it is submitted.

Hart is going to give its formal response to the petition at the Cabinet meeting on 1 October.  After seeing today’s articles, that debate is going to be interesting…..

Remaining Hart District housing target can be met from brownfield sites alone

Vacant block at Bartley Wood in Hook, Hampshire

Bartley Wood Estate in Hook

New facts have come to light since Hart Council planning department put together their estimate of brownfield capacity which show that Hart’s remaining housing target can be met from brownfield development alone. Please support us in getting a brownfield only option included in the forthcoming consultation by attending the Hart Cabinet on 1 October where Hart’s response to the We Heart Hart petition will be agreed.

Last November, the council’s estimate of brownfield capacity over the entire plan period was around 750 units (taken from parts 1 and 3 of the SHLAA as per the FOI request we made) out of the then remaining 4,000 units to build (or grant permission for) up to 2032.

Since then, a number of interesting things have happened:

  • An important study by Stonegate Homes has shown that brownfield capacity is much larger
  • Planning permission has been applied for or granted on other sites that were either not in the SHLAA or were not counted as brownfield sites.
  • New potential sites have come to light that were not included in the SHLAA
LocationNumber of Dwellings
Guillemont Park Phase 1 (not included as brownfield site in SHLAA) 150
Guillemont Park Phase 2320
Ancells Farm, Fleet370
Bartley Wood, Hook200
Fleet Road, Fleet220
Bramshill House350
Fleet Police Station50
Extra dwellings at Landata House28
Total1,688

All of the dwellings above were not included as brownfield sites in the SHLAA.  Guillemont Park (Sun Park) was in the SHLAA but for a smaller number of units, and was shown in Part 2, which was not considered to include brownfield locations.  Since last November revised permission has been granted at Landata House, Hook for 28 more dwellings than were included in the 5 year land supply calculation.

The Bramshill House and Fleet Police station sites were not included in the SHLAA.

The Stonegate report identified 370 units at Ancell’s Farm in Fleet, 200 units at Bartley Wood in Hook and a further 220 units on Fleet Road in Fleet.

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

However, the proposals for Ancells Farm cover only 7 of the 23 office buildings in the business park which shows that there is additional capacity there.  Moreover, there are even more vacant office blocks in Hook so there is more capacity there too.  Of course, across Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor, there is currently 500,000 sq m of vacant office space, and forecasts for even more vacancies, so there is no danger of restricting jobs growth by redeveloping offices.

If the original 750 units were to be added to the 1,688 units identified above, then that amounts to a total of 2,438 potential units on brownfield.  If it were possible to increase the density (from 30dph to a still reasonable 80dph in urban areas) on the original 750 units, the total identified capacity would rise to some 3,688 units.

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

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

Moreover, these figures do not include the massive potential of the 119 acre Hartland Park (or Pyestock) site where planning permission for a big warehouse was given years ago, but no activity is visible.  Surely, the developers of this site want to earn some return on their investment and would change to residential.

The remaining requirement of 4,000 has of course been reduced by the unfortunate decisions to allow development at Watery Lane (300 units) and Hawley Park Farm (126 units) leaving the remaining allocation of at most 3,574.

It is clear that it is easily possible to meet the entire remaining of 3,574 from brownfield alone.  It will take some creativity and energy, but a combination of increasing density and allocating more vacant offices is easily within reach, so we don’t need a new town and can protect our countryside.

We have put proposals to Hart Council to include a formal brownfield option in their forthcoming consultation on the Hart Local Plan.  Please support us by coming along to the Hart Cabinet on 1 October where Hart’s response to the We Heart Hart petition will be agreed.

Petition Response: We don’t need a new town

Cows in Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

Do we want to lose our cows to concrete?

As we posted earlier, we have submitted the We  Hart petition with 2,130 responses to Hart District Council and the council have set out the process by which they will consider the petition.

We have drafted some suggestions as to how the council should respond  and sent them to Council leader, Stephen Parker.  We have a chance to put these ideas to Cabinet on 1 October at 7pm.  Please tell us if you are coming along to give us your support and please e-mail your councillors to ask them to support these proposals and incorporate them into the forthcoming consultation about the Local Plan.

The full set of suggestions can be found here.

If the council implements all of the ideas we have put forward, there will simply be no need for a new town, in Winchfield or anywhere else. Especially if you consider the following:

 

Petition Response: Cater for the ageing population

We Heart Hart - Older People

Hart District Council fails to consider the needs of the ageing population

As we posted earlier, we have submitted the We  Hart petition with 2,130 responses to Hart District Council and the council have set out the process by which they will consider the petition.

We have drafted some suggestions as to how the council should respond  and sent them to Council leader, Stephen Parker.  We have a chance to put these ideas to Cabinet on 1 October at 7pm.  Please tell us if you are coming along to give us your support and please e-mail your councillors to ask them to support these proposals and incorporate them into the forthcoming consultation about the Local Plan.

The full set of suggestions can be found here.

This suggestion relates to properly considering the needs of the ageing population.

 

We set out in a question to council earlier this year that Hart will need to deliver around 2,500 housing units to meet the needs of the ageing population.

Hart District Requirements for the Ageing Population

Hart District Requirements for the Ageing Population

We contend that a new town will simply build the wrong type of accommodation in the wrong place to meet those needs.  It would be far better if these were built on brownfield sites in more urban areas, close to amenities such as doctors, post offices, shops and so on.  When the elderly move into these types of development, their well-being improves and of course, they free up conventional housing stock for families.  Could we therefore ask that the forthcoming consultation paper contains specific proposals on how the needs of the ageing population will be met?

Petition Response: Make the most of brownfield land

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hampshire

As we posted earlier, we have submitted the We  Hart petition with 2,130 responses to Hart District Council and the council have set out the process by which they will consider the petition.

We have drafted some suggestions as to how the council should respond  and sent them to Council leader, Stephen Parker.  We have a chance to put these ideas to Cabinet on 1 October at 7pm.  Please tell us if you are coming along to give us your support and please e-mail your councillors to ask them to support these proposals and incorporate them into the forthcoming consultation about the Local Plan.

The full set of suggestions can be found here.

The suggestions in this post relate to making the most of the brownfield opportunity.

Last November, the council’s estimate of brownfield capacity over the entire plan period was around 750 units (taken from parts 1 and 3 of the SHLAA as per the FOI request we made) out of the then remaining 4,000 units to build (or grant permission for) up to 2032.  Since then considerable progress has been made in identifying and in some cases granting permission on additional brownfield sites:

LocationNumber of Dwellings
Guillemont Park Phase 1 (not included as brownfield site in SHLAA) 150
Guillemont Park Phase 2320
Ancells Farm, Fleet370
Bartley Wood, Hook200
Fleet Road, Fleet220
Bramshill House350
Fleet Police Station50
Extra dwellings at Landata House28
Total1,688

All of the dwellings above were not included as brownfield sites in the SHLAA.  Guillemont Park (Sun Park) was in the SHLAA but for a lower number of units, and in Part 2, which was not considered to include brownfield locations.  Since last November revised permission has been granted at Landata House for 28 more dwellings than were included in the 5 year land supply calculation.

If the original 750 units were to be added to the 1,688 units identified above, then that amounts to a total of 2,438 potential units on brownfield.  If it were possible to increase the density (from 30dph to a still reasonable 80dph in urban areas) on the original 750 units, the total identified capacity would rise to some 3,688 units.

The remaining requirement of 4,000 has of course been reduced by the unfortunate decisions to allow development at Watery Lane (300 units) and Hawley Park Farm (126 units) leaving the remaining allocation at 3,574.

It is clear that with some creativity and energy, the gap between the remaining allocation of 3,574 and the currently identified brownfield capacity can be closed by working on a combination of reducing the overall allocation by reducing the SHMA or applying environmental “policy on” considerations, increasing density and finding more brownfield sites.

In the light of this, we welcome the paper that has been put before Cabinet, signalling the more positive approach that the council proposes towards building housing on previously developed land.

We would ask though, that you consider some further steps from our 5-point plan:

  • Creating a new, formal “reasonable suitable alternative” option of meeting the remaining housing allocation solely through brownfield development.  This option should appear in the consultation paper.
  • Creating a complete database of all of the potential brownfield sites in the district, including those not in the October 2014 SHLAA and those not yet formally promoted to the council, including sites such as Bramshill House, Pyestock, Sun Park, Ancells Farm, Bartley Wood, Fleet High St, Fleet Police Station and all of the run down town centres (e.g. Fleet, Yateley, Blackwater and Hook).
  • Inviting leading architects to compete to produce some visionary outline schemes of what a “brownfield solution” might look like for the district, taking into account changing demographics, changing shopping habits driven by the internet and achievable housing densities.
  • Organising a conference with the architects, land owners, developers and local community representatives with the objective of identifying the art of the possible for brownfield development amongst the competing solutions from the architects.

 

 Employment Space (sq m)
Overall Requirement to 2032 (a)266,368
Current vacant space (b)527,840
Sites with planning permission (c)338,187
Surplus in 2032 (b+c-a)599,659