There is a brownfield solution to Hart’s housing needs

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

Vacant Office at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

We have done some further analysis on Hart’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) and come to the conclusion that Hart’s housing needs can be met from brownfield sites alone.  We believe this is a potentially viable solution that should form part of the forthcoming Housing Options consultation as part of the Local Plan.  Instead Hart Council have ignored the wishes of 2,130 people who signed the WeHeartHart petition and only put forward solutions that involve concreting over vast swathes of our countryside.

Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/donation-thermometer/.2,350Hart District Brownfield Development Target3,993Hart District Brownfield Development Target170%

[Updated 2 March 2016 to add in the new brownfield SHLAA sites as described here]

[Updated 31 March 2016 to include Pyestock (aka Hartland Park)]

[Updated 30 August 2016 to re-set target to 2,350 now that Moulsham Lane, Yateley has been given the go ahead]

So, how have we arrived at our conclusion?

Brownfield sites in the SHLAA

We have been through the SHLAA and identified those sites that are mostly or wholly brownfield in nature, and added up total capacity as recorded in the SHLAA.  Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), is now also an official SHLAA site.  In total, these sites amount to between 3,208 and 3,250 homes at an average density of a relatively modest 28 dwellings per hectare (dph). The detail is shown in the table below:

ParishRef.NameBrownfield Capacity in Table 1 in DLPSite Assessment Capacity (Low)Site Assessment Capacity (High)Size (Ha.)Low Density (dpa)
Total3,2083,25011727.9
Blackwater and HawleySHL21Linkwater Cottages, Blackwater12120.6418.75
Blackwater and HawleySHL100Sun Park, Guillemont Park North3003203201226.66
BramshillSHL106Bramshill (Police Training Centre)2502501025
Church CrookhamSHL2826/32 Bowenhurst Road8660.4214.28
Crookham VillageSHL158Crondall House, Fleet27271.1323.89
DogmersfieldSHL39Fermoy, Farnham Road5102.232.24
DogmersfieldSHL55Land at Church Lane, Dogmersfield20200.8224.39
Elvetham HeathSHL104Land at Elvetham Heath4545452.2520
EversleySHL127Land at Paul’s Field, Eversley70702.825
EversleySHL140Land off Warbrook Lane53531.7630.11
EwshotSHL36Dachs Lodge, Redfields, Church Crookham29291.224.16
EwshotSHL80Tanglewood, Ewshot770.3122.58
EwshotSHL174Peacocks Nursery Garden Centre1051053.530
EwshotSHL235Land at Willow Croft, Church Crookham50502.7518.18
FleetSHL41Imac Systems, Fleet6660.05120
FleetSHL42Camden Walk, Fleet9880.2433.33
FleetSHL50Waterfront Business Park, Fleet60601.4641.09
FleetSHL6918 Church Road, Fleet10100.07142.85
FleetSHL102Land at Bramshot Lane45451.825
FleetSHL113Thurlston House1712120.6817.64
FleetSHL245Land at 154-158 Albert Street & Fleet Road14880.1844.44
FleetSHL275Land at Little Mead, Fleet12171.0611.32
FleetSHL320Fleet Town Centre Zone 2201501501.883.33
FleetSHL322Fleet Town Centre Police Station1737370.6160.65
FleetSHL357Land at Sankey Lane, Fleet20200.6431.25
FleetTBAPyestock (aka Hartland Park)1,5001,50048.238.1
Hartley WintneySHL95Nero Brewery, Hartley Wintney660.1540
Hartley WintneySHL216Land adj. to James Farm Cottages, Hartley
Wintney
660.2920.68
HookSHL111Hook Garden Centre, Reading Road, Nr. Hook57574.4712.75
Long SuttonSHL296Old Dairy, Long Sutton550.225
OdihamSHL29Land at Butts End660.415
OdihamSHL66Rear garden of 4 Western Lane, Odiham16160.6425
OdihamSHL119Land at the rear of Longwood, Odiham990.3129.03
South WarnboroughSHL70Stables at Lees Cottage, South
Warnborough
550.2520
South WarnboroughSHL172Granary Court, South Warnborough16160.6923.18
WinchfieldSHL34Land adjoining Winchfield Court18251.0616.98
WinchfieldSHL84Land at Winchfield Lodge60603.815.78
WinchfieldSHL114Trimmers Cottage, Winchfield Hurst12120.4924.48
Church CrookhamSHL81Vertu, Beacon Hill Road, Church Crookham65701.7636.93
Blackwater and HawleySHL176Hawley House, Hawley8100.326.66
CrondallSHL178Broden Stables & Stable Yard, Crondall14271.410
CrondallSHL179Bowenhurst Lane, Crondall30351.520
Hartley WintneySHL189Land at James Farm, Hartley Wintney880.3125.8

A number of these sites are “not currently developable” according to Hart.  But most of the green field sites they have put forward are also not currently developable.  We believe that the issues surrounding brownfield sites should capable of being resolved more easily than those for green field sites.

Sites not in the SHLAA

There are a number of sites not in the SHLAA that nevertheless should be considered that amount to around 785 additional homes.  These include the parts of Ancells Farm, Bartley Wood and Fleet High Street that have not already been permitted or counted elsewhere. We have also counted the complex of under-utilised offices that include Admiral House, Flagship House, Hart Offices and Harlington centre in Fleet.  Much of this site was recommended by Fleet Future, but for some reason Hart Council have ignored it.  But we can think of no reason why a council that was truly committed to a brownfield first strategy would not offer up its own under-utilised offices to be part of new, mixed use development and move to one of the other vacant office blocks in the district.  These sites, with an allowance for parts of sites that have already been permitted, are shown in the table below.

ParishSite DescriptionEstimated capacityNote
Total785
FleetAdmiral House, Flagship House, Hart Offices and Harlington centre350Paper by Gareth Price identified 775 units on a larger site incorporating much of this area
FleetAncells Farm370From Stonegate report
FleetFleet vacant offices220From Stonegate report
HookBartley Wood200From Stonegate report
Less units already granted permission or already counted-355Part of Ancells Farm and Barley Wood already granted. SHL 320 already counted

Conclusions

Drawing this together, there’s capacity for between 3,993 and 4,035 units on brownfield sites, without increasing the density on any of the SHLAA sites.

Now, according to Hart, we have to find space for a further 2,350 homes (now that 150 houses have been approved at Moulsham Lane, Yateley), according to the current Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).  This shows that we have now more than met our remaining needs from brownfield sites alone. We certainly do not need a new town at Winchfield or any new urban extensions in Hook, Fleet or Elvetham Heath.

However, we also know that Alan Wenban-Smith has challenged the SHMA and said that we need around 2,000 fewer houses.  If this were accepted by the inspector, we would have an even bigger surplus of brownfield capacity to take into the next planning period.

We also know that the SHMA is being revised, and the Government has published revised population and household forecasts earlier this year and these showed much lower figures for Hart.  Again, this should result in a lower housing allocation, and we would end up with a surplus of brownfield sites until the next planning period.

This begs the question why Hart Council is not including a formal brownfield option in its forthcoming consultation, when that was the clear view of the 2,130 people who signed the WeHeartHart petition.  Persisting with new town and urban extension solutions is untenable.  Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

What’s changed since 2012?

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

Hart in the Heart of Hart, Winchfield

Back in 2012, Hart Council issues a press release explaining why it was not going to pursue a new town at Winchfield. Here’s what they said:

A whole set of fresh new studies would need to be commissioned, more land would need to be found,  infrastructure needs would have to be assessed, the viability of delivering a new settlement would need to be tested, and above all, the public would have to change its previous views. A new settlement option would need to be supported by a significant groundswell of opinion…. the council believes that residents’ interests are best served by continuing with its current strategy of spreading growth across the district coupled with new and improved infrastructure targeted to serve local communities.

We have to ask what has changed since then?

We have not been told the results of the testing so far, except that infrastructure is going to cost a lot of money (our estimate ~£300m), much of the planned area is covered by SSSIs, SINCs and TPOs, quite a lot of the area is subject to ground water flooding and is close to the M3, which could be damaging to the health of any children living in the new settlement.  We also know, a new town would open us up to 3,000 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.

There is certainly no groundswell of opinion in favour of a new town, other than a cabal of councillors intent on concreting over our green spaces.

So, why is this option even being presented in the forthcoming consultation? Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

Hart Council’s new consultation still likely to leave it in a hopeless position

Scales of Justice weigh against Hart District Council

Scales of Justice weigh against Hart District Council

It seems likely that Hart Council is about to launch a new consultation on housing options for the district as part of the Local Plan.  We are following this closely, and will publish some additional materials to help residents make up their mind once the full consultation has been made public.

But having reviewed the materials already on Hart’s website (cabinet meeting materials for 18 November 2015), it seems clear that the council have taken no notice of the legal opinion they received from top QC Peter Village, that described their position as “hopeless”.

That opinion said:

…there is no evidence that to date there has been any consideration by the Council of the “reasonable alternative[s]” of providing less than the OAN, on environmental grounds…

There has been no regulation 18 consultation at all on issues such as employment, retail, transport, infrastructure (or, indeed, anything other than housing distribution). It is inconceivable that a coherent and sound local plan could emerge without addressing most (at least) of these issues. Thus, the Council presently appears to be in a hopeless position if it maintains its current course. Either it will proceed with a plan that does not address fundamental matters (thereby exposing itself on the “soundness” issue), or it will incorporate matters which have indisputably not been the topic of any regulation 18 consultation.

We have been through the consultation materials in some detail, and we can find no reference to the council considering providing fewer houses on environmental grounds, and no sign of consulting us residents on employment, retail, transport or infrastructure.

Coupled with the issues we raised to the council on Friday, it is looking like this consultation is going to be an expensive waste of time and taxpayers’ money because we are still not being offered a proper consultation on all the issues that matter. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

Lock, stock and two smoking barrels

lock stock and two smoking barrels

Lock, stock and two smoking barrels

I present without further comment the contents of a letter I sent to Hart District Council yesterday (Friday 20 November 2015). Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

Errors, omissions and anomalies in the (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment) SHLAA and consultation materials

Dear Messrs Daryl Phillips and Stephen Parker,

It is clear that Hart Council has been very busy, publishing a vast array of new material about the SHLAA and the materials to be used in the forthcoming consultation about Housing Options.  I have burned a considerable amount of midnight oil going through those materials in some detail, and I have identified material errors, omissions and anomalies that give me serious cause for concern that I would like to share with you.  The Excel workbook containing the amalgamation of the SHLAA Master List, the NHB data and the SHLAA detail is attached for reference. These fall into several broad categories:

  • Assessment of brownfield site capacity and delivery
  • Deliverable and developable sites not included in the Developing a Local Plan for Hart paper (DLP) nor the New Homes Sites Booklet (NHB)
  • Sites missing from NHB but in the SHLAA
  • Discrepancies between capacity shown in NHB compared to SHLAA detail
  • Sites shown in detailed assessment but not in master list
  • Sites assessed as “not currently developable”, but have been granted planning permission
  • Range of meanings of “not currently developable”
  • Lack of consideration of the economic aspects of housing options 
  1. Assessment of brownfield site capacity and delivery.

There are a number of components to this:

In Hart News in September, and again at cabinet on 1 October, it was said that brownfield capacity had increased to 1,800 units. Now, this has miraculously fallen by 75% to 450 units on some dubious grounds. First, para 41 of the DLP states correctly that years 6-10 need only “developable” sites to be included, beyond that you can be more vague about sites.  We are already 4 years into the plan period and, according to the land supply calculation based on the current inflated SHMA, we have 5.7 years of land supply.  Yet, you are only selecting sites to be included in your calculations that meet the most onerous criterion of being “deliverable”.  As you know I have two FOI requests outstanding with you, the first is inquiring about the disposition of the 750 brownfield units that we were told were achievable back on November 2014, and the second asking for the analysis to support the 1,800 figure.  It seems to me you have inappropriately applied criteria that are too onerous in order to artificially reduce the potential brownfield capacity.  An example of this would be excluding Bramshill, when everyone knows it will be preferable for this site to undergo some sort of redevelopment to stop the Grade 1 listed building decaying and of course the hideous 1970’s accommodation blocks need replacing too.

You have under-stated the brownfield capacity in the DLP, compared to the assessed capacity in the SHLAA documents. This is shown in the table below:

Parish/Ref Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (High) Sum of Brownfield Capacity in Table 1 in DLP doc
Blackwater and Hawley 320 320 300
SHL100 320 320 300
Church Crookham 6 6 8
SHL28 6 6 8
Elvetham Heath 45 45 45
SHL104 45 45 45
Fleet 221 221 83
SHL113 12 12 17
SHL245 8 8 14
SHL320 150 150 20
SHL322 37 37 17
SHL41 6 6 6
SHL42 8 8 9
Grand Total 592 592 436

 

This shows that the capacity shown in the DLP (excluding the 20 units from the sites with planning permission) is some 156 units lower than your own assessments in the SHLAA documents with most of the discrepancy arising from sites SHL320 & 322.  Correcting this would reduce the net requirement by 156 units.

In Figure 2 of the DLP, you assert that 52% of the development completed or where permission has been granted since 2011 is on brownfield sites. Yet at September Council, a question was asked along similar lines and the response was “these figures exclude brownfield sites that require planning permission, because those are not currently split between greenfield and brownfield developments”.  This leads one to conclude either that you have simply made up the figures in the DLP, or you knowingly misled the Council and the public in September.  Which is it?

  1. Deliverable and developable sites not included

[updated with this note]

There’s a large number of deliverable and developable sites that are in the SHLAA but not apparently referred to in the DLP or the NHB.  A list if these is shown in the table below (some of which are in the NHB):

Parish/Ref Sum of NHB Capacity Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (High)
Blackwater and Hawley 320 320
SHL100 320 320
Church Crookham 6 6
SHL28 6 6
Elvetham Heath 45 45
SHL104 45 45
Fleet 25 243 248
SHL113 12 12
SHL245 8 8
SHL275 25 12 17
SHL320 150 150
SHL322 37 37
SHL41 6 6
SHL42 8 8
SHL69 10 10
Hartley Wintney 6 6
SHL95 6 6
Hook 550 550
SHL1&2 550 550
South Warnborough 16 16 16
SHL172 16 16 16
Grand Total 41 1,186 1,191

The land supply document shows a total of 3,878 units built, permitted or deliverable up until 1 April 2015, some 722 below the 4,600 figure you assert in the DLP.  I accept that 340 units from SHL1 & 2 and 10 from SHL69 are included in the land supply.  But the land supply does not include 300 units from Watery Lane.  Netting all of this off, then there are around 5,000 units already accounted for by being completed, permitted or deliverable, which would reduce the current net requirement by ~400 units compared to what you assert in the DLP.

  1. Sites missing from NHB but in the SHLAA

There are 76 units on sites in the SHLAA that are not already on the brownfield list and not strategic sites that do not appear in the NHB.  These are shown in the table below:

Parish/Ref Sum of NHB Capacity Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (High)
Fleet 10 10
SHL69 10 10
Hartley Wintney 6 6
SHL95 6 6
Heckfield 5 5
SHL157 5 5
Mattingley 48 48
SHL160 48 48
Yateley 7 7
SHL18 7 7
Grand Total 76 76

 

This raises the question as to why these sites have not been included in the NHB process either as selected or rejected sites.

 

  1. Discrepancies between capacity in NHB and SHLAA

There are material discrepancies between the site capacities shown in the NHB and those in the SHLAA.  Sometimes the NHB can be above the SHLAA figures and sometimes below.  But overall, adding up all of the sites where the NHB capacity is outside the range of SHLAA lower and upper limits, the NHB shows a lower capacity of some 1,500 units.  This demonstrates that the potential capacity of dispersal sites is being materially under-stated.  These sites are shown in the table in Appendix 1.

 

  1. Sites present in the detail of the SHLAA but not on the master list, and hence not in the NHB, nor mentioned in the DLP.

There are three sites, SHL167, 168 and 169 appear in the detailed assessments of sites, but not on the master list.

  1. Sites shown as “not currently developable” but have in fact been granted planning permission

Sites SHL68 and SHL117 are listed in the detail SHLAA documents as “not currently developable”, but according to the master list of sites have been granted planning permission.

  1. Range of meanings of “not currently developable”

It is clear from the above that the term “not currently developable” is a somewhat elastic phrase that can include sites that are just an administrative stroke of the pen away from deliverability as well as sites that face very significant challenges.  Many sites in the NHB and of course many of the strategic sites face very significant challenges that it is difficult to see how they can be remedied, such as proximity to flood zones, SSSI’s, SINCs, TPOs and the SPA and lack of proximity to existing settlements whereas others are much closer to deliverability.

However, the main materials being circulated for the consultation do not make this distinction clear.

  1. Lack of discussion about economics

The discussion about infrastructure costs in the DLP, with the only mention of costs being the woefully [inadequate] £30m for a new motorway junction – I would think there is little chance of change out of £100m.  But even so this misses out other important infrastructure items like the local road system, new or upgraded railway station, widening of the railway bridges over the local roads, new sewage farm, burying overhead power lines, new schools and new healthcare facilities to name but a few.  Hart currently has a £78m infrastructure funding deficit, Hampshire as a whole £1.9bn and the local NHS is predicted to have a large annual funding deficit.

These issues associated with a new town should be spelled out in detail, and I would think many of the same issues will arise with urban extensions.

It is certainly true that these issues will need to be resolved before the Local Plan can be found sound at examination.

So, what are we to conclude from the above?  First, the discrepancies outlined above, once corrected will make a very material difference to the calculation of how many more houses we need to build on green field sites (if any) and the capacity of each parish to deliver them.  I do not wish to subscribe to conspiracy theories.  However, the sum-total of the above, coupled with the obvious single-minded desire on the part of some members to push through a new town at all costs, leads me to conclude that either the people who created these consultation documents were incompetent or they are by their omission or intent about to mislead the public.   It is also clear that whatever systems and processes you are using to plan, manage, monitor and control the SHLAA are completely inadequate with such large discrepancies between different views of the same data.

It is clear to me that the forthcoming consultation should be postponed until these discrepancies are ironed out.

I would like you to treat this letter as a formal complaint and respond according to LGO guidelines.  I might also add that I will copy this letter to the chairman of the Standards Committee to ask him to set up an investigation and to our Local MP.  You might expect this letter and your response to be presented as evidence in any examination of the Local Plan.

Yours sincerely,

 

cc:           Peter Kern, Chairman of Hart DC Standards Committee

Ranil Jayawardena, MP

 

Appendix 1:

Parish/Ref Sum of NHB Capacity Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (High)
Blackwater and Hawley 15 12 12
SHL21 15 12 12
Bramshill 300 250 250
SHL106 300 250 250
Crondall 112 130 130
SHL159 65 100 100
SHL72 16 18 18
SHL76 31 12 12
Crookham Village 70 100 100
SHL53 70 100 100
Dogmersfield 40 5 10
SHL39 40 5 10
Eversley 91 123 123
SHL127 50 70 70
SHL140 41 53 53
Ewshot 120 187 187
SHL174 63 105 105
SHL355 48 75 75
SHL80 9 7 7
Fleet 706 881 886
SHL102 43 45 45
SHL275 25 12 17
SHL333 500 750 750
SHL50 46 60 60
SHL51 92 14 14
Hartley Wintney 208 287 301
SHL155 117 194 194
SHL216 8 6 6
SHL35 34 3 17
SHL45 25 51 51
SHL91 10 11 11
SHL97 12 10 10
SHL99 2 12 12
Heckfield 169 45 65
SHL109 44 5 5
SHL257 62 20 30
SHL259 63 20 30
Hook 2,090 3,849 3,849
SHL123 13 20 20
SHL3 543 1,000 1,000
SHL4 458 1,800 1,800
SHL5 1,065 1,000 1,000
SHL6 11 29 29
Long Sutton 63 65 65
SHL296 6 5 5
SHL335 34 35 35
SHL336 23 25 25
Mattingley 130 40 60
SHL239 55 20 30
SHL240 75 20 30
Odiham 3,308 2,894 2,904
SHL108 387 160 160
SHL110 2,160 1,900 1,900
SHL138 204 261 261
SHL228 48 75 75
SHL29 10 6 6
SHL328 25 30 30
SHL329 44 30 30
SHL57 47 75 75
SHL59 115 175 175
SHL60 11 12 12
SHL65 36 50 50
SHL67 53 80 80
SHL78 168 40 50
Rotherwick 130 200 200
SHL86 130 200 200
South Warnborough 36 20 25
SHL70 7 5 5
SHL75 29 15 20
Winchfield 119 32 42
SHL114 11 12 12
SHL262 108 20 30
Yateley 9 60 60
SHL13 0 8 8
SHL149 0 10 10
SHL17 0 30 30
SHL303 9 12 12
Grand Total 7,716 9,180 9,269

See more at our consultation page:

link

Winchfield Action Group and We Heart Hart submit objections to Hart’s consultation process

Designated area of outstanding natural profitability

Designated area of outstanding natural profitability

As you may know, Hart Council is about to embark upon a new consultation about our housing options as part of the Local Plan process.  We Heart Heart and Winchfield Action Group (WAG) have significant concerns about the way this consultation has been constructed and submitted a number of detailed points to the council.  In addition, WAG will be making a statement at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

The main thrust of the objections is as follows:

  • Overall the consultation is too complicated and the instructions are not clear.  Given that a large number of submissions to the last consultation were invalid, this is a serious concern that needs to be addressed.
  • The Council have not explained why they have reduced the brownfield capacity of the district to 400 units when they said there was 1,800 as recently as October. The consultation also makes no reference to the fact that the Council is currently seeking more brownfield sites across the district.
  • The consultation unfairly biases its whole analysis towards the conclusion that we must build a new town in Winchfield.

There are also a number of other points made in the detail.

The statement and the detailed point can be found on the downloads below.

Statement to Hart Cabinet
 
Detailed feedback on Housing Options Consultation

Is housing capacity in Fleet really only 30 dwellings?

Housing Capacity of 30 units in Fleet Hampshire

Housing Capacity of 30 units in Fleet Hampshire

Hart Council has published a booklet as part of its forthcoming consultation setting out its estimate of housing capacity for each parish in the district.  There are a number of strange anomalies in that booklet, including stating the capacity of Bramshill to be zero, when there is the old Police College ripe for redevelopment and Elvetham Heath, again set to zero when Hart even identify a capacity of 45 homes in their main consultation document.

But the most egregious anomaly is the estimate of only 30 units in Fleet itself.  This misses out many brownfield sites that are ripe for redevelopment such as:

  1. The complex of offices that includes Admiral House, Flagship House, Hart Council Offices and the Harlington Centre that were identified and promoted by Fleet Future:
Vacant Office Admiral House, Harlington Way, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Admiral House, Harlington Way, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Harlington Centre, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Harlington Centre, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Office Flagship House, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Office Flagship House, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Hart District Council Offices

Hart District Council Offices

2. The derelict offices on Fleet Road, again identified by Fleet Future:

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices on Fleet Road in Fleet, Hampshire

3. Fleet Police Station:

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hampshire

4. The still vacant units on Ancells Farm that have not yet been taken up by Stonegate:

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

Vacant Office at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

5. The 119-acre Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), which has capacity for thousands of homes and where development of a new warehouse has stalled:

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

 

It is ridiculous, and some might say negligent, that Hart Council should be promoting a new town at Winchfield and/or urban extensions in Fleet or Hook for the Local Plan when there is plenty of vacant and derelict land that could form a more sustainable solution. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

Independent Expert says we are being asked to build too many houses

Time to celebrate we don't need so many houses

Time to celebrate: Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath don’t need so many houses

An independent expert, Alan Wenban-Smith has taken a look at our housing needs assessment and concluded that Hart District is being asked to build too many houses.  He says that the overall house-building rate for the combined area of Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor should more than halve from 1,180 dwellings per annum (dpa) to 558 dpa, and that for Hart should fall from 370 to 268dpa.  This would reduce the overall housing need for the housing market area from 23,600 to 11,160 and that for Hart from 7,500 to around 5,500.  This calls into question the validity of carrying out a new “Housing Options” consultation now when there is serious doubt about the accuracy of the housing numbers we need to deliver. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

This is very good news in that if this analysis is upheld at inspection it should lead to the following conclusions:

  • We can meet all of our remaining housing need from brownfield sites alone.
  • We definitely would not need a new town in Winchfield or anywhere in Hart, nor would we need any urban extensions.
  • The risk of needing to build 3,000 houses to cater for the unmet needs of Surrey Heath and Rushmoor should fall away.
  • There may be an opportunity to ask Surrey Heath and Rushmoor to build more houses for Hart, so we could keep our beautiful countryside.

Mr Wenban-Smith’s full report was commissioned by We Heart Hart and Winchfield Action Group can be downloaded here:

Critique of Hart SHMA

Critique of the Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA by Alan Wenban-Smith

The summary of his argument, together with the implications is discussed below:

The starting point for assessing housing need in Hart used the 2011-based population projections from the Government and then made a series of changes to extend those projections out to 2031; adjust for higher inward migration estimates and for smaller average household size.  These 2011-based projections have been superseded by more recent 2012-based figures that already make projections to 2031 and already include the adjustments made above.  The effect of this is to reduce the start-point considerably.

Hart has already commissioned a review of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) to take account of these latest Government figures and so should include this reduction.  We should know the results of this work early in 2016.  However, this does call into question the validity of conducting a new consultation now when the numbers are subject to such a large degree of change.

Then Mr Wenban-Smith challenges the jobs forecasts in the SHMA, concluding that the level of jobs growth we achieved in the period 1998-2008 would be a “good result” and the increases in jobs and houses needed to support economic growth should be reduced.

Finally, he then goes on to say that the level of house need shown in the SHMA cannot be delivered by the market.  If the amount of land required to meet the need is allocated by the council, then this will lead to housebuilders cherry picking the best sites and building at a rate that gives them most profit,  not at the rate required to meet the needs. So, he concludes that the level of housing proposed is unsustainable, and therefore contrary to the NPPF and should be reduced.  This is in-line with current guidance about SHMAs from the Planning Advisory service that says:

Based on these reasons, we conclude that the OAN should be principally understood as a measure of future demand rather than aspiration. Accordingly we propose a working definition as follows:

‘The housing that households are willing and able to buy or rent, either from their own resources or with assistance from the State’.

Hart Council missing out key information about housing options

Hart District Council Offices

Hart District Council issuing misleading information about housing options

Hart Council has just published its new Housing Options paper in relation to the Local Plan, in preparation for running a consultation from November 23 2015 to January 15 2016. We believe the information contained in that paper is misleading for a number of reasons and have some suggestions on how you might respond to the consultation.  In summary the issues are:

  1. The SHMA is currently being revised and likely to reduce the housing need, so why are we being consulted on a housing requirement that is no longer valid?
  2. The SHMA has been challenged by an independent expert who says we don’t need so many houses.
  3. Hart’s estimate of brownfield capacity is way too low, and far lower than they said as recently as October 1 2015.
  4. Government rules have been changed to encourage more brownfield development and this paper makes no mention of this.
  5. The infrastructure costs of a new town are enormous, but the paper doesn’t clearly set out the economic consequences of the choices we make on housing options.

Housing allocation out of date

The housing need assessment is based on the current version of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), and they do not mention in the paper that the SHMA is currently being revised to take account of new Government population and household projections.  These new projections show a big reduction in forecast population from 322K used in the SHMA to 289K for the whole housing market area and a reduction of 1,602 in Hart household projections.  It seems reasonable to assume that Hart’s housing allocation will therefore fall, but this is not mentioned at all in the consultation paper.

SHMA is invalid

The Housing Options paper does not take account of the opinion of independent expert, Alan Wenban-Smith that the SHMA says we are being asked to build too many houses.  This means that the paper is asking us to consider how we might build houses that aren’t needed and is therefore invalid.

Estimate of brownfield capacity is too low

Back in November 2014, Hart Council said we had capacity for 750 dwellings on brownfield sites. Very few or none of those sites have been granted permission since then. At cabinet on October 1 2015, the joint-CEO of Hart Council said that he thought the brownfield capacity had increased to around 1,800 units. We said at the time we thought this was a low estimate and it could be in the range of 2,400-3,688. However, the new paper says that brownfield capacity is now only 400 units.  The paper pours cold water on the notion that the former police college at Bramshill can be re-developed, but who in their right mind would want to see a Grade 1 listed building start to decay, and who would want to preserve the hideous 1970’s accommodation blocks?  This is clearly a site ripe for redevelopment, and the environmental impacts should be low compared to the prior use of the site.  So, the question remains, what has happened to the other 1,400+ units and why aren’t Hart taking account of them?

Government has made brownfield development more attractive

The Government has also just relaxed the rules about building on brownfield sites to make it more attractive.  This makes it more likely that the brownfield capacity identified in the Stonegate report can be delivered.  The Hart paper fails to mention this. The paper also fails to mention that Hart has kicked off a process to identify even more brownfield sites across the district, but the results of that study won’t be known for some time.  It does seem odd to be so definitive about the so-called lack of brownfield capacity when there are so many positive developments underway.

Astronomical Infrastructure Costs

Hart have published some analysis to show the infrastructure requirements of a new settlement.  They haven’t been definitive about how much this would cost, but it would include a new motorway junction, significant changes to existing roads and bridges, a new sewage works, 4 new schools and a new railway station.  Our estimate of the cost of this infrastructure is £300m+.  A realistic expectation of the developer contribution for 4,000-5,000 houses would be £40-50m.  Hart already have an infrastructure funding deficit of £78m.  It is clear that we cannot afford the infrastructure costs of a new town, and that existing settlements would be starved of investment if it went ahead. The new housing options paper makes very little reference to the economics of development for any of the approaches it identifies.  Surely, we should know about the economic consequences of the housing options choices we make?

It is becoming increasingly clear that the housing options paper and the associated consultation is a pig-in-a-poke, but nevertheless as it is there we must respond to it.  It looks increasingly like a faction of the council is hellbent on concreting over large swathes of our countryside, despite all the evidence that we don’t need to.

We urge you to Vote against Approach 3 (a new settlement at Winchfield).  But when asked for any other comments, use this article to ask them to think again about brownfield. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

Hart Council planners “lose” 1,400 homes from brownfield sites

Let's just make up the brownfield numbers

Let’s just make up the brownfield numbers

Back in October 2014, Hart District Council said we had capacity for around 750 new dwellings on brownfield sites.  Since then, a number of new sites were identified through the Stonegate Report and other sites such as Bramshill and Fleet police station came up.  This led the Council to say as recently as October 1, that there was capacity for 1,800 homes on brownfield sites.

However, Hart Council have now published a draft housing options paper on their website that says brownfield capacity is now only 400 units [Update: a later version of the same document now states brownfield capacity as 450 units, although this is lower than the official SHLAA estimates for the same sites].  It seems that over the past six weeks, it seems the planners have “lost” 1,400 houses.

As far as we know very few, if any, of the initial 750 units have been given planning permission since October last year.  We have made a FOI request to get to the bottom of it.

It remains a mystery where they have gone to, but one can only assume that there is a cabal of concrete campaigners in Hart who are determined to build on our beautiful countryside at the same time as they protect vacant and derelict office blocks In Hook, Fleet and all across the district. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

 

CPRE condemns unrealistic housing targets

CPRE Housing Target Merry Go Round

CPRE Housing Target Merry Go Round

In its latest newsletter to members, the CPRE has strongly condemned the system of setting unattainable housing targets as a dangerous flaw in the current planning system which must be changed. It is opening the door to wave after wave of speculative planning applications for housing on greenfield sites across England.

They point out that setting ever higher housing targets only results in housebuilders banking land and cherry picking the most profitable sites to develop, usually on greenfield sites and restricting the build rate to maximise profits. Then local planning authorities get the blame for not building enough housing and have to allocate even more land.

We agree strongly with the CPRE’s stance, and ask you to consider if you would like to become a member of CPRE to help fund their efforts.