Through the infrastructure looking glass

Comparison of infrastructure costs and contributions of different development scenarios

Comparison of infrastructure costs and contributions of different development scenarios

We had a surreal moment today debating with one of our district councillors revealed that she was strongly in favour of a new town because it would deliver some infrastructure funding, and other development approaches would deliver no funding.  Here is the Facebook post in question:

Wendy Makepeace-Brown No infrastructure from infill

There are a number of issues with this.

First, it is factually incorrect to state that either urban extensions or brownfield development will deliver no funding, as is described here.

Second, it seems very odd to us that councillors are ignoring basic economics and clearly are not looking at the big picture.  Surely the best way to look at this is to compare the incremental infrastructure costs of any particular development approach and the expected incremental developer contributions and, given we have an existing £78m infrastructure funding deficit, seek to minimise the gap.

In questions to the council last March we asked about the level of funding that might be attached to each development option and what the expected level of spending might be. There were no answers of substance.

It is very troubling that a councillor should seek to promote the idea of a new town because of the alleged funding contributions it might deliver, but ignore the overall costs that would be involved.

In the image above, we have shown our estimates of the impact of a new town on the infrastructure funding gap – the £78m deficit increases to £378m.  The costs are so high because the road network in Winchfield was designed for a small settlement, currently only 250 houses, which is clearly very different to that required for a settlement of 5,000 houses, plus there is no mains sewage or mains gas, overhead power lines will need to be moved or buried and a new sewage works will be needed. There is no reliable data on dispersal, brownfield or urban extensions, but we have created two hypothetical scenarios.

Scenario A looks at what the overall gap might be if, for sake of argument, £250m of funding was required to create infrastructure on brownfield sites that were converted, rather than properly redeveloped, so no S106/CIL funding was forthcoming from developers.  We would still be better off than with a new town. And remember it is self evident that the infrastructure requirement for a brownfield solution will be very much lower than for a brand new settlement.

Scenario B looks at what the overall gap might be if, for sake of argument, there was mixed brownfield development, with a more realistic infrastructure estimate of £150m and developer contributions of £40m.  The overall funding gap would be £188m.

Of course, a £188m funding gap would be bad news, but it would be much better news than the new town idea, especially as most of the existing gap is in Fleet, Church Crookham and Hook.

Estimated Infrastructure costs by area March 2013

Hart District Estimated Infrastructure costs by area March 2013

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page, updated our two guides to responding to the consultation and they are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

Posted in Brownfield Sites, Hart District Council, Hart Housing Options Consultation, Hart Local Plan, Infrastructure Costs, We Heart Hart Campaign, We Love Hart Campaign and tagged , , , , , .

11 Comments

  1. This Councillor appears to have a/be part of a company called Alchemy Property Solutions; is that to do with property development, or do they build property portfolios for people as investments?

  2. This begs the question, is this councillor, and indeed several other cllrs at Hart, fit to make decisions on planning in the district, in particular in respect of the LP?

  3. The councillor in question needs to reflect on the perception her actions and statements give to others. Even if she is not, the perception is that she is benefiting in some way by supporting the developer led push for a new town that only benefits the developer in the end. This is not an accusation only a piece of advice – perception is reality…

  4. “I want a pie, but am £78m overdrawn and the cashpoint won’t give me pie money. I have an option to increase my debt to £378m though, and if I do that I can have a pie.”
    Rest of world: “Hmm, no pie for me then, I would have to be clinically insane.”
    HDC: “PIE!”

  5. “I want a pie, but am £78m overdrawn and the cashpoint won’t give me pie money. I have an option to increase my debt to £378m though, and if I do that I can have a pie.”
    Rest of world: “Hmm, no pie for me then, I would have to be clinically insane.”
    HDC: “PIE!”

  6. So if I’m reading this correctly, the thinking in the council seems to be ‘We need to build the new town because that will give us the most infrastructure funding even though the reason we need the most infrastructure funding is because we’re building a new town’.

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