Belated Happy New Year and welcome to our Hart planning update. We haven’t published much recently, because there hasn’t been much to say. However, a few people have been in touch to ask how things are going. So, welcome to the New Year and to our update on the major planning issues affecting Hart.
Hart Planning Update: Local Plan
First up is the Hart Local Plan. The examination took place in November and December last year. We Heart Hart participated in the discussion about Infrastructure on 5 December. We understand that the Inspector is due to deliver his opinion in early to mid-February. Until then, we can only speculate on the outcome.
The Inspector can decide one of three outcomes:
- the submitted Plan is found sound
- Local Plan is not sound but could be made sound by making modifications
- the Local Plan is not sound and could not be made sound
The second outcome is the one we hope for. It is to be hoped Policy SS3 related to the Winchfield new town is removed as the main modification.
We understand that during the examination the Inspector asked for changes to the policies related to Local Gaps and SANG. However, he remained inscrutable on the other key issues which we believe are the:
- Housing numbers
- New settlement
- Sustainability Appraisal (SA)
Given the reports we have received about some of the key discussions, we believe Hart is vulnerable on the new settlement and the sustainability appraisal. Hart attempted to present evidence about the new settlement that had been submitted after the deadline. This evidence was rejected. Strong arguments were presented on both sides of the argument. However, we believe a key exchange was when the Inspector got Hart (and we believe the developers) to agree that he could not approve the new settlement unless he found that it was deliverable.
We also understand the SA came in for sustained criticism.
We have to await the Inspector’s judgement. If major changes are required, then there may well be political implications at the council.
Hart Planning Update: Elvetham Chase/Pale Lane Appeal
The Elvetham Chase (aka Pale Lane) appeal took place earlier this month. We understand one of the council’s arguments was that the extra 700 houses were not required were not needed to meet the housing targets in the Local Plan. This is somewhat ironic as the Winchfield New Town is also not required to meet the targets. The proposed site for the new town is only a couple of hundred metres from the Pale Lane site. Yet the council is supporting the new town and opposing Pale Lane.
Of course, we hope the Pale Lane appeal fails.
We understand that the appeal hearing was adjourned, pending the results of the Local Plan examination. Apparently, both Wates and Hart Council will then be given a short period to respond to the Pale Lane Planning Inspector. The inspector will then make his recommendation to the Secretary of State who will decide whether to uphold or dismiss the appeal.
Quite a lot will rest on how much weight is given to the Local Plan by the Pale Lane inspector. We understand uncontentious elements will carry significant weight. Contested elements will carry no weight. So, we have to hope that the Local Plan inspector accepts the housing targets presented in the Local Plan (or lower). If he does, we can see no reason why Pale Lane should go ahead. However, if the Inspector accepts Hart’s own argument in the Local Plan that they need to plan for more houses than required, the appeal may succeed.
Hart Planning Update: Bramshill Appeal
We haven’t heard much about this, but believe some appeal hearings have been held. We have no further information on the timing of any decision.
Hart Planning Update: West of Hook Appeal
We understand the appeal will start on 19 March 2019 and will sit for up to 8 days. More details can be found here.
Again, we hope this appeal fails. However, quite a lot depends upon the results of the Local Plan examination and the weight placed upon it at that time.
We will keep you up to date as more information emerges.