It has emerged from answers to Winchfield Action Group’s questions at last week’s Hart District Council meeting that the Hart Local Plan Steering Group (LPSG) is made up largely of urban councillors and all of them voted in favour of keeping Winchfield as the only new settlement option for testing back in November 2014. The full Q&A can be found here. The question and answer about the composition of the LPSG is shown below:
Could the Council confirm who are the members of the core strategy team in HDC, both elected and officers, who are formulating the Local Plan and their respective responsibilities?
Local Plan Steering Group comprises:
Cabinet Member for Planning (Chairman) Stephen Parker (Con) The Leader of Council As above Cabinet Member for Housing Stephen Gorys (Con) Chairman of Planning Committee Simon Ambler (CCH) Political Group Leaders David Neighbour (Lib Dem)
James Radley (CCH)
- Joint Chief Executive – Daryl Phillips – Project Sponsor
- Planning Policy Manager – Daniel Hawes, (supported by a Principal Planning Policy Officer and a Planning Technician) – responsible for delivery of [the] local plan
All of the councillors above, except for Stephen Gorys (Odiham, Hampshire ward), represent urban areas in the district. It is also worth noting that Stephen Parker is council leader, the cabinet member for planning and leader of the Conservative group and so takes 3 of the 7 available positions on the LPSG as just one person.
This looks to us like an unhealthy concentration of power in too few hands and the members of the LPSG cannot be said to be representative of the whole of Hart. Moreover, the Local Plan project is massively behind schedule with more delays announced only last week.
Surely, it is time for the composition of the group to change to bring in more fresh ideas, project management experience and achieve a better balance between urban and rural councillors.