Community Campaign Hart have not learned lessons

Completely Concrete Hart (CCH) Community Campaign Hart have learned no lessons

Community Campaign Hart (CCH) have learned no lessons

Community Campaign (Hart) – CCH hint at keeping a new town in the Local Plan in an opinion piece in this week’s Fleet News and Mail. The full article can be found here. The summary is:

  • Building more houses won’t lead to a reduction in prices.
  • We need to build more Affordable homes, but set policies that will achieve precisely the opposite outcome.
  • The Grove Farm decision is everybody else’s fault. Yet CCH chaired the meeting that failed to make a decision on time.
  • There’s a conspiracy to derail and delay the Local Plan, yet CCH have frustrated the process.
  • Hint that they must press on with the ridiculous housing target and an unnecessary new town
  • Hart must deliver an Infrastructure led Local Plan (whatever that means). Yet they have no idea how to close the £1.2bn funding deficit across Hampshire and £72m in Hart.

In short, CCH have learned no lessons and are pressing on with their failed policies. No wonder they are becoming known as Completely Concrete Hart.

Let’s deconstruct what James Radley has to say.

Building more houses won’t lead to a reduction in prices

First, let’s start on points of agreement. We do agree that within sensible limits, building more houses will not bring down house prices. This is backed up by research by Ian Mulheirn of Oxford Economics, which we reported on here. We also agree the decision to go ahead and develop Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse), is a bad decision.

Community Campaign Hart policies will achieve the opposite of their objectives

However, we start to part company with Community Campaign Hart when they say we need to build more ‘Affordable’ homes. Yes, we do need more homes that people can afford to buy. But that isn’t the same as building Affordable homes. Take a recent development at Hartley Wintney where the cheapest 3-bed was over 11 times median household income in the district and the cheapest 2-bed was more than 9 times income. Even with a 20% ‘affordable’ discount, these houses are out of reach of most first time buyers in the district.

CCH’s argument is being used to justify Hart’s ridiculous decision to plan to uplift the housing target from the 8,022 in the SHMA to 10,185 units. This is justified on the grounds it will deliver ~800 extra ‘affordable’ homes. As Mr Radley states in his preamble, these extra homes won’t actually reduce prices. All they will do is attract more buyers from London, rather than meet the needs of ordinary people already here. They are doing their best to avoid and ignore the new Government consultation that set Hart’s housing target at 6,132 units, and that includes an affordable housing uplift on the base demographic requirement.

A glut of these ‘affordable’ homes won’t help those who can’t rent or buy, like Mr. Radley’s son. What these young people need is more social housing with cheaper rents. These ‘affordable’ houses won’t help those who can rent, but can’t buy either. These people can probably afford to service a mortgage if they can afford rent, but don’t have enough money for a deposit. Building extra houses won’t help these people either.

We understand that the new Lib Dem/CCH administration has shelved plans for Hart to create its own housing development corporation, which would have provided a significant number of social rented homes. Plans for this company have disappeared from the Corporate Plan consultation, thus reducing supply of social housing.

Moreover, the new Lib Dem/CCH cabinet have recently approved plans to obstruct brownfield development by restricting the supply of council owned SANG. These types of development tend to deliver smaller, cheaper properties. This type of property is more likely to be bought by young people trying to get on the housing ladder.

So, CCH’s actual policies are precisely the opposite of what is required to meet the objectives they have set.

Community Campaign Hart take no responsibility for the Grove Farm decision

Mr Radley blames the inspector for ‘setting aside the democratic expression of will’ in the Grove Farm decision. However, he fails to mention that the council officers recommended that permission be granted. However, we do think Community Campaign Hart is partly culpable because CCH was chair of the planning committee when they failed to determine the planning decision on time. Moreover, CCH caused a delay in the Local Plan last December, when they insisted Winchfield (which had failed testing), be included as an option.

The main reason why the inspector granted permission is that Hart don’t have a Local Plan, and the policies are out of date. The other reason of course is that our housing target is far too high. We have yet to see any public statement from CCH calling for:

  • A reduction in the ridiculous housing target.
  • More brownfield development.

Indeed, we hear on the grapevine that CCH argued in private for fewer houses to be built at Hartland Park (Pyestock). This puts extra pressure on green field development.

It is simply ridiculous to mourn the loss of Grove Farm, but strongly support concreting over green fields elsewhere.

Community Campaign Hart take no responsibility for Local Plan delays

The article says:

I fear there are some who may have deliberately attempted to derail the Local Plan process in order to achieve planning by appeal and so impose all the housing growth on those areas which already have over stretched schools and congested roads

In other words, he is right, everybody else is wrong, and anybody who disagrees with him is conspiring against him. On the one hand, he claims there’s majority support for his view, whilst arguing there’s a conspiracy against him. This is clearly ridiculous.

What Mr Radley overlooks since the last attempt at a Local Plan was thrown out:

  • He has been a councillor for all of that time.
  • Mr Radley himself has been a Cabinet member in 2014/15 and again now, in 2017
  • CCH delayed the Local Plan consultation last December, by insisting a new town at Winchfield be included, even though it was clear that the proposals had not passed testing
  • The previous administration promised a Regulation 19 consultation on the next version of the Local Plan in ‘Winter 2017’. This has now been pushed back until at least January 2018.
  • Despite promising in June this year that the responses to the latest consultation would be published ‘in a couple of months’, there is still no sign of them

It is to be hoped he wasn’t referring to us as part of the conspiracy to “derail” the Local Plan. We Heart Hart first highlighted the project management and governance problems back in April 2015 and again in January 2016 after the consultation omnishambles.

We have never seen a CCH member ask a question at council challenging the persistent missing of deadlines. We have never seen a CCH member challenge the ridiculous housing target. We have never seen Community Campaign Hart support brownfield development.

What is an Infrastructure led Local Plan?

This is the $64,000 question, to which we don’t have a proper answer. We think they mean to continue with a Local Plan that includes an unnecessary new settlement at Murrell Green or Winchfield. However, the justification for this falls away, if they adopt the new Government approach to calculating the housing target. If they do accept this, then the remaining housing needs can be met from Sun Park and Hartland Park.

Meanwhile, SWR are proposing to cut services at Winchfield and Hook train stations. This blows a hole in main main argument for siting a new town near Winchfield station.

Even their arguments for a new school are falling away, with latest Hampshire County Council projections showing a new secondary school is not needed.

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s even worse. The latest infrastructure plan from Hampshire County Council shows a £1.2bn funding deficit across the county. £72m of this shortfall is attributed to Hart.

These figures don’t include healthcare or provision of extra care places for the elderly. The overall numbers should be regarded as a minimum figure.

Hampshire £1.2bn infrastructure funding gap regarded as minimum

Hampshire £1.2bn infrastructure funding gap regarded as minimum

CCH would be much better off working out how to close the existing funding gap. Their policies will result in building more unnecessary housing that will make the problem worse.

It’s time for CCH to realise their mistakes, learn form them and change strategy. They should focus on a realistic housing target and support for brownfield development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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57 Comments

  1. Pingback: Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap as wide as ever | We Heart Hart

  2. Indeed Steve Forster. Pale Lane is a big worry. Determination must be made soon. Given the policies have been ruled out of date twice now, and the 5 year land supply ruled essentially irrelevant at Grove Farm, the LP needs to be in place prior to the inevitable appeal against a council decision to reject Pale Lane. They could make a start by initially adopting the 8,000 in the SHMA. Then dropping down to the 6132 in the Government consultation. But Radley and Cockarill seem to be intent on sticking to the unnecessary 10,185 target.

    • Honestly I can’t see how people vote for Completely Concrete Hart. They’ve no idea what they’re doing and they are IMO are self serving. I can’t understand why the Lib Dem’s went in with them.

    • James Renwick they seem more interested in avoiding development in Church Crookham (which they failed at Crookham Park, Zebon, Water Lane) preferring it anywhere (and everywhere) else. Now they’re also trying to get fewer homes (and much lower density) built on Brownfield. That means less affordable homes and more pressure on all other sites.

    • Steve Forster yes but why are they sticking to the 10,185 target. The government consultation is such an expected opportunity for Hart that we should all be taking advantage.

    • James Renwick we are asking them to utilise the lesser numbers if it means the plan will likely pass inspection, and timing will be critical as we need the protection of a sound LP. We think they can be used.

      It’s fortunate timing that the proposed lower numbers for Hart have been released by government.

    • Of course they have! If they drop the numbers down to what the government suggests there’ll be no need for the creation of HartleyWinchHook. That won’t suit CCH who now seem to be pursuing that figure purely out of spite.

    • Steve Forster Would it be possible for Hart to seek guidance from the Secretary of State on how to deal with the consultation at this stage? In any event, a useful start could be made by reverting to the SHMA figure of 8,022, instead of the ridiculous 10,185 figure. That would relieve a lot of pressure, and perhaps offer some defence for Pale Lane too.

    • David Turver now that the government has made its consultation announcement the former may be sensible and our opposition group is calling on the LibDem-CCH cabinet to use reduced numbers, which previously was not practical.

    • David, Hart should formally respond to the consultation, as the Conservative Group already has.

      We have supported the proposed methodology. However the rules do not change until Government changes the rules and the consultation only proposes changing the rules next April; if Hart submit before then it is under the old rules.

    • Given the recent history of failed deadlines, I would be extremely surprised to see Hart submitting a Local Plan before 31st March 2018. They aren’t due to discuss it until early Jan. At best consultation starting mid-Jan running to end Feb. That only leaves a month to process and respond to feedback. It’s going to be April at best anyway. And Hart have never hit a deadline yet.

      But critical they get a LP published before the inevitable Pale Lane appeal. What counts as published? Reg 19 consultation or submission?

  3. History is past. It’s what is currently happening that is key. We have an opportunity to see the new housing numbers that the government is currently consulting on, and Harts are hugely lower than previously required. That would be a huge benefit.

    All Conservatives are calling for the lower numbers to be used but the CCH/Liberals are now resisting this.

    Katie, as for Grove Farm the only possible valid reason for rejecting it was traffic, as coalescence had already been rejected on a previous appeal in Hart. Regrettably the Inspector also discounted that reasoning.

    A real concern now is Pale Lane/Elvetham Chase which no one wants, and other greenfield sites. We need to use the lower numbers and get the LP through -with the lower numbers -and should all be working together to achieve this.

  4. The last local plan failed in 2013. Both Lib Dem councillors were in Cabinet in 2014/15. Yes, the Tories were also useless when in sole charge.

    I have heard contrary views from someone who was there at the mammoth planning meeting last December. However, I think it’s clear from the appeal decision that even if that meeting had rejected the application, it would have been granted at appeal anyway.

    The outcome of the consultation in 2014 wasn’t buried. It led to the daft decision to test Winchfield and the resignation of the then Tory leader at the council meeting in November 2014. There were only 550 respondents to that consultation.

  5. Let’s be clear Ms Davies, the Conservatives on the night of the Grove Farm application were concerned about the traffic implications of the development. The CCH/Liberals were ready to refuse the application on the night. Please ask them how they would have voted on the night.

    • If they were concerned then they should have moved to reject it – rather than asking for an unnecessary traffic survey that they knew would delay it. I say ‘unnecessary’ because frankly, anyone with an iota of sense wouldn’t need a traffic survey to tell them we have a traffic problem. I understand CCH libdems would have voted to reject it.

    • Let’s be clear Ms Davies, on the night of the Grove Farm application the conservatives proposed and seconded the motion to defer the application. CCH voted against deferral. It would have been perfectly reasonable to reject and ask the officers to relook at transport. I was sitting giving the 3 minutes FACE-IT statement and answering question on transport for nearly 20 minutes. Deferring opened the door to an appeal for non-determination. A firm rejection might have stopped the appeal as it did in 2014

    • To be honest, these are moot points now. A straight refusal will probably have led to an appeal anyway. And the traffic arguments didn’t win the day at appeal.

    • The Grove Farm applicant was going to appeal if the application was not granted – full stop. They told the Council they would do so. @Mr Jones, Please do not think that having CCH refuse it on the night was going to stop the applicant from appealing.

  6. I have some observations to make:

    “The Grove Farm decision is everybody else’s fault. Yet CCH chaired the meeting that failed to make a decision on time”

    Let us be clear.. Who voted to delay the decision while a traffic survey was conducted? The Conservatives or CCH? I believe at the original planning meeting for Grove Farm the inspector was minded to reject it on CCH’s recommendation that we needed to retain a strategic gap but Councillor Wheale, a Conservative – supported by other conservative councillors, asked for a delay while a traffic assessment was conducted. This was a deliberate and underhand tactic to delay a decision long enough to enable the developers to appeal – while superficially appearing like you’re against urban expansion.

    “There’s a conspiracy to derail and delay the Local Plan, yet CCH have frustrated the process”

    The Conservative led council has had years to get a local plan in place!
    I believe they started the process in 2011? The CCH and Libdem administration took over in May 2017. So let’s be clear:
    The Conservative took 6 years to fail to deliver a local plan while CCH and Libdems are being criticised after 6 months? The Conservatives have effectively and deliberately rolled out the red carpet for developments like Pale Lane and Grove Farm. The local plan, as I understand it, is progressing through but it takes time and quite frankly, if the entire thing had been started earlier (under theConservative administration) we’d not even need to have this discussion now. As ever,still waiting to hear what happened to the original local plan consultation that took place in 2014. The outcome from that was buried. Anti democratic!

    • Just because the result was that by some 3:1 the people of Hart wanted a new devlopemtn at Winchfield ? CCh seem to eb says what the majority of people in hart said in the 2014 consultation that has been ignored by the conservatives

    • I would maintain that in a well worded consultation the question that needed to be asked was ‘Do you support a new town being built in the Hart District? This could be anywhere in Fleet, Yateley, Church Crookham Dogmersfield, Winchfield or similar’

      A badly worded question would be ‘Should we build in Winchfield?’

      But guess which question was closest to the one Hart Council (presumably supported by CCH and the Liberals) chose?

      Then, surprise surprise, guess which option the majority of (non-Winchfield) residents selected?

      Hardly indicative of ‘The will of the people’, I suggest.

    • Gary Comerford And that is why I didn’t answer any of the questions, but wrote a two page reply stating my objections to any large scale development in Hart District … etc

    • As I said above, while it wasn’t my first choice, I accept the majority view was for building at winchfield. Sadly sometimes, our approach to democracy, nationally or locally, means we have to accept this, no matter how badly the questions are worded.

    • Tony Gower-Jones you seem to conveniently forgot the Conservatives were very pro but have since realised the issues made it non viable. Look back at the exchanges a few months ago. The questionnaire only offered a settlement in Winchfield, strangely people preferred that to their own patch. Pystock or Muriel Green weren’t in the offering nor were brownfield sites. So it’s obsolete now no longer relevant. It was flawed anyway so really using it for you’re argument is not logical anymore.

    • Conservative’s pro Winchfield? I certainly do not remember that!
      The viability of Winchfield is in the local plan evidence base. It did not fail tested, like all sites there are issues I respect the people of Hart who can make up their own mind after reading the evidence
      https://www.hart.gov.uk/sites/default/files/4_The_Council/Policies_and_published_documents/Planning_policy/Local_Plan/Interim%20Sustainability%20Appraisal%20Report%20Non%20Technical%20Summary.pdf

    • How can you not remember – Steve Foster and I had so many exchanges because he was very keen and he is Conservative as far as I’m aware. Check back on FB!!! There was a split with only a couple against but the majority were very pro.

    • I, too, seem to recall that with the exception of the local councillors for Winchfield and Hartley Wintney there was pretty much universal support from the Tories for Winchfield New Town.

    • Councillors Crampton, Southern, Kinnell and Crookes voted against testing Winchfield alone. Sara Kinnell is now CCH and Ken Crookes resigned over it. All other Tories voted for the new town plan in November 2014 plus all Lib Dems and CCH.

      Kinnell’s conversion is perhaps the most dramatic

    • Really Kinnell jumped ship. 😮 I though she got to stand in the ward she did because she was against the settlement. Wasn’t there a bit of swapping around who was standing where before the election on this issue? That’s truly awful. Was she voted in as a Tory and then swapped? I’d be mad if I’d voted for her. Let’s hope the voters remember this next time round and she loses.

    • Yes, Kinnell is now 100% for building a new settlement in Winchfield. The reason she switch from representing HW to Fleet West is so she could support a new settlement in Winchfield as she lives in Elvetham Heath.

  7. This is the same CCH/Liberal Radley who wants to leave his legacy for Church Crookham and put all the development in Winchfield. This is the puppet master of the CCH/Liberal administration who has shelved Hart’s ambition to start its own housing company because of the lack of ambition and capabilities of the puppets that make up his administration.

    • While we’re on the subject of lack of ambition and capability Can you tell me why Hart under the Conservative administration FAILED to deliver a local plan after 6 years of attempts? That failure has cost Fleet West dearly but I note that Winchfield has been left completely protected from any sort of development. So it looks like their underhand methods (dressed up convincingly as incompetence) has got them the desired result of urban expansion. If Pale Lane goes through they’ll effectively score a hat trick with no need for a new settlement as Hart will achieve their numbers.. at the cost of lack of school places, lack of surgery places and a huge burden on infrastructure but hey! At least Winchfield will remain a green and pleasant place to live while the rest of us sink under all the concrete..

    • I would point towards the plans for Winchfield (again) and would politely suggest that the proposed new town is, in fact, an urban extension, as it reaches Pale Lane by the railway bridge and HW to the north. Likewise, Murrell Green ensures that HW and Hook coalesce into one large, linear town.

    • Katie Davies you sure the developers didn’t just give up because it is to costly to develop but cheaper to build where there are exsisting amenities. Of course brownfield is the answer why not put your energies into that instead.

    • In respect of winchfield, one reason is that the democratically expressed wishes of people right across Hart (in the previous consultation) was a preference for development at winchfield. Personally, my preference was for shared responsibility, but as with other democratic votes, regardless of how damaging they are, if we live in a democracy, we should respect the votes.

    • The previous consultation was about identifying Winchfield as an area of search for testing. Other than Murrell Green, the area failed testing due to flood risk and lack of infrastructure. Then they found the gas main under Murrell Green.

      People can vote all they like for a perpetual motion machine. It doesn’t mean it will ever happen.

  8. You couldn’t make this up. Is it not possible to get the Ombudsman to investigate Hart. It’s beyond ridiculous. These councillors are not fit to govern.

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