The Council has launched a Hart Local Plan Modifications consultation to gain agreement to the modifications it proposes. The Inspector requested that Policy SS3, the Winchfield new town (or Shapley Heath as it is now known), be removed because it was unsound. The consultation opened on 5 July and will be open until 19 August 2019.
The main modifications can be found here.
The full consultation page can be found here.
Impact of Hart Local Plan Modifications
On the face of it, this is good news as it appears that all mention of Policy SS3 has been expunged from the document.
There are many consequential changes to the document to reflect that the new town has been removed from the document.
In addition, other changes relate to:
- Altering the policy relating to gaps between settlements (MM82 & 83)
- A new objective to encourage the use of previously developed (brownfield) land (MM16)
- More encouragement for residential development within our town centres (MM 71 & 72)
These are all welcome developments.
Impact on Garden Communities Funding
It gets interesting when you start to consider the impact on the recently announced Garden Communities funding. We reported earlier that Hart had won £150K of funding from the Government to further develop its new town plans. Indeed, their bid document set the expectation that they would be consulting on a draft development in December 2019.
However, the new Sustainability Appraisal Addendum says that a new development plan document (DPD) cannot simply start once the Local Plan is adopted. Indeed it suggests that any new process to develop the new town would effectively be an entirely new Local Plan. This new Local Plan must consider all reasonable alternatives, such as urban regeneration.
So, on the one hand, they have committed to the Government they will produce a DPD by December 2019, and on the other, they are saying they can only produce a new DPD as part of a new Local Plan. This of course raises the question of whether the Council have inadvertently obtained the £150K Government grant under false pretences. We think that Hart should be re-directing the £786K it budgeted towards the new town to properly evaluating regenerating our urban centres.
We will have to see how this plays out.