Hart District Council has published its Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) and shows it is failing in a wide range of areas:
- The Local Development Scheme (LDS) is out of date. This is the document that sets out the plan for creating the Local Plan.
- They have not implemented the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), They have no plans to do so until after the Local Plan is adopted. Delays to the Local Plan mean even more delays to the CIL scheme.
- Hart’s policies are out of date with three not complying with the NPPF in a major way
- Outstanding planning permissions show a decline in the proportion allocated to brownfield sites
- Hart District Council has missed its Affordable Housing target for each of the past four years. The outstanding planning permissions show it will continue to miss the target
- The report shows we are running out of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) capacity
- There have been secret meetings about the proposed Winchfield new town
LDS out of date
The AMR is for the financial year up to 31 March 2016. At that time the LDS was out of date and has not since been updated. Hart District Council claim they will publish a new LDS when they publish the draft Local Plan. However, the Local Plan has also suffered a long series of delays. The current LDS, published on 2 October 2015, said there would be a consultation on a draft Local Plan in Summer 2016. At this rate we will be lucky to see it before Summer 2017.
CIL not adopted
The CIL is the new way that councils should be collecting infrastructure contributions from developers. The system is much more flexible than S106 contributions, allows pooling of money between schemes for larger pieces of infrastructure and allows for some money to be distributed to parish and town councils to meet local needs.
Hart District Council is obliged to report how much CIL money it has received. But Hart has not yet implemented a CIL scheme and won’t until after the Local Plan is adopted. So, this is another item that is delayed because of the Local Plan shenanigans.
Hart District Council policies out of date
The AMR states that all of the policies are out of date. Three of the policies contravene the NPPF. Two of those ae related to conversion of employment sites to housing – or delivery of brownfield sites.
Decline in future brownfield delivery
The report does show a welcome increase in the proportion of homes delivered on brownfield sites. in the year 2015-16, 72% of homes delivered were on previously developed land.
However, it also shows that only 1,009 or 42% of the 2,377 outstanding planning permissions (as of 31 March 2016) are on brownfield land.
Under-delivering on Affordable Housing
Hart District Council has a target that 40% of new homes should be ‘Affordable’. The report shows that in each of the past four years actual delivery has been in the range 11-22%. Only 653 (or 27%) of the outstanding planning permissions are for affordable homes.
Running out of SANG
SANG capacity is required to build new homes within the 5km zone of influence of the Thames Valley Heath SPA. The report shows that as of 31 March 2016, there was only capacity for 1,162 new homes. Although the report does say that the council is in the process of acquiring new strategic SANG sites.
Winchfield Secret Meetings
The appendix of the report shows that there were at least two secret meetings with the promoters of the proposed Winchfield New Town. The first in October 2015 was to discuss school provision and the second in March 2016 to discuss transport issues.
This report, taken together with the interminable delays in the Local Plan are damning evidence that the members and officers at Hart District Council simply do not have a clue how to run planning in general and the Local Plan in particular.
Surely, it is time for root and branch change of personnel.