Hart’s Local Plan has been delayed again. Councillors who were due to go to a Local Plan Steering Group meeting on 30 August have been told that the meeting has been deferred. The reason given is that they cannot decide the ‘spatial strategy’ until the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) has been agreed.
Apparently, Rushmoor are still holding out for Hart to build 1,600 Rushmoor’s allocation. This could be changed by the new SHMA, but the SHMA remains incomplete because they are changing the methodology is being changed and a new piece of work has been commissioned from the consultants, Wessex Economics. Readers may remember we were first promised the new SHMA in February, then May, and subsequently, Rushmoor have indicated the SHMA would be ready in July 2016. But now we don’t have a date for completion.
This is the latest in a long line of delays:
In October, 2013, when the earlier version of the plan was rejected by the planning inspector, the council said:
“Cllr Parker said that while the council operates under the interim strategy, it is working on an updated Local Plan.
“We expect to put this out for consultation early next year, and would look to submit it to an inspector next autumn,” he added.”
In April 2014, the plan was to have a resubmission plan ready for consultation in October 2015.
In February 2015, the plan was to have a resubmission plan ready for Autumn 2015.
In April 2016, the plan was delayed yet again, with the timetable clearly stating that a draft version of the Local Plan would be published in September 2016. No revised date has yet been given for the draft to be published. The timetable they were working to was:
Full Draft Local Plan – September 2016 (Summer 2016, a couple of months slippage) [now slipped again]
Submission Plan – March 2017 (Autumn 2016, at least 3 months slippage)
Submit to Secretary of State – TBA (Winter 2016, unknown slippage)
Examination – TBA (Spring 2017, unknown slippage)
Adoption – TBA (Summer 2017, unknown slippage)
Of course, there is now a significant risk of the Government stepping in and doing the Local Plan for us.
In the light of the loss of the Moulsham Lane appeal, Hart are working hard on a revised set of policies. These will be discussed by councillors at a special meeting on 27 September, but in the meantime, developers will have a field day. because without a Local Plan and without up to date policies, Hart Council is essentially defenceless.
Don’t hold your breath.