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.