Time to work together to head off new Hart housing threat

Hart Housing threat: sites under consideration

Hart Housing threat: sites under consideration

Overshadowed by our earlier  story of CCH further delaying the Hart Local Plan was the news of the new Hart housing threat of our target being raised from 7,500 to over 10,000 new houses up to 2032. This comes on top of the potential financial costs of delay.

Details of how this has come about are sketchy. It is related to how Hart should respond to Government rules about how to deal with affordable housing. We understand Hart Council is working on a ‘topic paper’ to give a further explanation.

We have analysed the impact of this new target below. Sadly, most of the large, sensitive green field sites are potentially under threat once again.  In addition, it is likely that Hart would no longer have more than five years of land supply. This exposes us to the threat of speculative planning applications. If most of these additional houses end up being ‘affordable’, they won’t attract contributions from developers to fund vital infrastructure.

So, we have come to the conclusion that it is time for all the politicians and pressure groups to work together to fight off this new threat rather than spend their time arguing over where the new houses should go. This level of development will mean that substantially all of the district will be under threat for some time. Moreover, this increased rate of building will be carried forward into the new planning period making things even worse for decades to come. We need to demand three key actions:

  1. The councillors need to stop squabbling and get a Local Plan in place ASAP
  2. Challenge robustly this new housing target and get the ridiculous new Government rules changed
  3. Pressure the council to properly examine the brownfield options for the district, complete their brownfield study and bring these sites forward instead of the precious green field sites.

Impact of the Hart housing threat on sensitive sites

First we take a look at where we would need to build to meet this new target and compare it to last year’s consultation; the most recent land supply position and our estimate of a ‘fair’ housing target.

Impact of new Hart housing threat on Hart District sites

Impact of new Hart housing threat on sensitive sites

As can be seen above, if the housing target remains around current levels, our remaining housing needs can easily be met from brownfield sites such as Hartland Village (Pyestock), the sites Hart Council identified in the consultation, Bramshill House and some further redevelopment of Ancells Farm and Bartley Wood. Moulsham Lane, Yateley was given the go ahead at appeal over the summer.

For some reason related to the Hop Garden Road appeal, Hart decided to increase our housing requirement up to 8,022 houses.  This is achievable from the 4,000 units we have identified on brownfield sites. But the planners would need to be persuaded to:

  • Redevelop the area around the Harlington and Hart’s offices in Fleet for mixed use.
  • Bring the many other smaller borwnfield sites across the district into the equation.

Failing that, it is inevitable that one of the green field sites is chosen.  For the purposes of this analysis we have used Grove Farm/ Netherhouse Copse as that is up for determination at the moment and the officers have recommended it.

Our estimate of a ‘fair’ housing target is based on the work of Alan Wenban-Smith. This starts with the population projections which on their own would generate a housing need of 5,040 houses over the planning period. A generous allowance is then added for additional economic growth to arrive at a need of 7,140 houses. This is easily achievable on brownfield sites, with some left over for future periods. Note that the new housing target is twice the level of housing required to meet the projected population forecasts.

The new target of 10,177 houses makes it much more difficult to achieve on brownfield. Again, the brownfield capacity could be larger than indicated above if the councillors and planners were to finally deliver on their brownfield study. If they don’t, it is inevitable that most of the sensitive green field sites including Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase), the land west of Hook and one or more of Murrell Green, Winchfield, Lodge Farm or Rye Common come into the equation. As you can see this new housing target will impact everyone.

Impact of Hart housing threat on the land supply

In the absence of the Hart Local Plan and up to date policies, the only defence we have against voracious developers is the five year land supply. This gives some limited control over speculative planning applications. So, we have taken a look at what the new target will mean for our five year land supply.

Impact of new Hart housing threat on 5 year land supply

Impact of new housing target on Hart District 5 year land supply

The left hand columns show the current 5-year land supply that Hart Council use. This shows we are in the relatively comfortable position with over 6 years land supply. If We Heart Hart’s fair housing target was adopted this would rise to 8 years supply.

However, the new housing target would reduce our land supply to below the crucial 5-year threshold leaving Hart very exposed. We would need another 525 additional houses to be granted permission ASAP to bring us back over the threshold.

Conclusion

We are in a very serious position with many of our cherished green fields under grave threat from speculative planning applications. There is no Local Plan and our policies are out of date. Hart is running an infrastructure funding deficit of £78m. The new housing target is double what we need to meet the official Government population forecasts. If the new housing target is adopted, Hart will no longer have a five year land supply. Unless we change tack, all our green fields will be concreted over and lost forever.

To preserve all that makes Hart such a great place to live we need to take serious action:

  1. The councillors need to stop squabbling and get a Local Plan in place ASAP
  2. We need to challenge robustly this new housing target and get the ridiculous new Government rules changed
  3. We need to pressure the council to properly examine the brownfield options for the district, complete their brownfield study and bring these sites forward instead of the precious green field sites.

This can only be done by everyone with a stake in Hart housing development working together to get the best outcome for Hart.

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

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Open letter to Ranil Jayawardena, Sajid Javid and Gavin Barwell | We Heart Hart

  2. In terms of a purely greenfield argument for Pyestock, I’d suggest losing some farm land to preserve a nature reserve and SSI would make a good argument. So even if the whole of Pyestock couldn’t be incorporated into the nature reserve, then scaling back the development to hug the southern boundary road and having the north as a buffer to the nature reserve would perhaps be a good compromise. Then take some farm land to compensate. As for suggesting the consultation is “irrelevant” (which is a strong term) just opens you up to people saying it is just sour grapes. There are some general principles, like the urban extension votes that aren’t site specific, and anyway, by saying the views of the people who voted against your arguments are “irrelevant” you are harming your chances of bringing people across Hart together – which I agree with you, is what we need.

  3. And brownfield development was given in the consultation as an option that should be pursued in preference to any other option. But we weren’t given a vote on it.

  4. Pyestock wasn’t on the table at the time of the consultation. And Winchfield has failed testing. So the consultation is irrelevant.

    I do agree that brownfield and green field should each be evaluated on their merits. But I will take a great deal of convincing that there’s any green field site in Hart that should be developed in preference to Pyestock.

  5. Your article quoted the consultantion, but your spreadsheet failed to mentioned the people of Hart’s favoured development which was Winchfield. The votes were: most favoured: 2625, 2nd favourite: 274; 3rd favourite: 1582. You also refer to Pyestock. The results for this type of development (urban extension) were 564, 2107 and 1810, so mid to least favoured. I agree that all interested parties should work together, but trying to do it from the point of view of promoting brownfield (which predominantly means east Hart) is not a way to gain consensus. I would suggest that if you accepted some greenfield development in west Hart and stopped the simplistic/misleading statements that brownfield is always the answer (as I’ve pointed out elsewhere it is a simplistic/misleading argument as all places needed to be considered on a case-by-case basis), then people in east Hart may be more inclined to support your cause. I Heart Hart as much as you do, but the only way we are going to continue loving what we all have is by showing some consideration for all the district’s views, especially when, if the consultations was anything to go by, targeting the people of east Hart was the least favoured approach.

  6. CCH must be rubbing their hands with glee more concrete than even they could dream of. How and when could you anticipate the council confiming some real numbers to work with bad or good. This has become the constantly moving goal post.

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