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 first suggestions relate to challenging the overall housing numbers Hart have to build.
First, challenge the SHMA to reduce the overall housing allocation for the whole HMA. There is a strong risk that Hart will be asked to build the highest number of houses in the Housing Market Area if we don’t challenge the numbers.
|Hart District||Surrey Heath Borough||Rushmoor Borough||Total Housing Market Area|
If this is successful, then it will have a two-fold effect of reducing Hart’s own need and also reduce the risk of overflow from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor. We believe the key arguments are around inward migration assumptions; average household size and in particular jobs growth assumptions which are at a rate nearly double what was achieved over the economic cycle from 1998-2012 and will result in unprecedented levels of participation in the labour market (rising from around 70% to around 86%) for those of employment age.
|Data Point||2011 (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%|
We gave more detail on these arguments at both the Hop Garden Road appeal and in my response to the Rushmoor Local Plan. More detail can be found here. However, we do recognise it is difficult for the council to challenge its own document and await Rushmoor’s response to my strong challenge, but we do understand that the SHMA may be re-visited and it would be helpful if the council would commit to challenging the assumptions set out above as part of that process.
Second, in conversation with a number of professionals in the planning sector, we have been told a number of times, that it is uncommon for councils to explore fully their “policy on” options with regard to environmental and other constraints. One of the main attractions of Hart as a district is its rural environment with associated SPA, SSSI’s, SINCs, green space and wildlife. May we suggest that a proper environmental study is carried out to set out the value of Hart’s environment and ecology to build an argument for not meeting the full requirement of the SHMA? We know that WAG is working on some proposals in this area with some of the rural parishes and would be keen to discuss the matter with you and offer to share the costs of preparation.