The nightmare in Winchfield continues as Government funding is approved for more studies into the proposed new town.
Hart Council has announced that it has won £150,000 of Government funding to finance more studies into the Winchfield new town. This comes on top of the £786K Hart has already budgeted for more work on the new town. They have subtly changed the name to Shapley Heath Garden Community. However, this is pretty much the same proposal that the Inspector asked to be removed.
Nightmare in Winchfield – up to 10,000 unnecessary houses
The formal bid has been made for round 5,000 houses. However, Hart indicate that there is capacity for a development of around 10,000 houses.
It should be noted that none of these houses are required up to 2032, and probably longer. But, the housing trajectory shows that with this Government funding, new houses could be delivered as early as 2023.
Key flaw in Shapley Heath Proposals
The council’s bid is predicated on Policy SS3 remaining in the Local Plan.
It is difficult to understand why the Government has awarded the funding, despite Policy SS3 being removed. However, in their risk assessment, Hart Council seem to suggest that they will press ahead with the new town even though it has been found unsound.
Threadbare Shapley Heath Infrastructure plans
They emphasise the infrastructure to be provided by the new town, but do not provide the actual viability assessment. However, none of these plans were subject to detailed scrutiny at the Local Plan Examination. Indeed, the Inspector found that the infrastructure plans lacked substance.
We should also note that the Inspector said:
I am of the view that a significant level of further supporting work would be required for Policy SS3 to be found sound in its current form, which would need to include appropriate and proportionate area/site assessments, infrastructure considerations, viability testing, evidence in support of deliverability and further SA work, which would need to be done in an impartial manner with sufficient evidence to support its findings and comparisons with alternative options.
It is difficult to see how they can press ahead with this flawed plan without properly considering alternative options. Urban regeneration would be a much better way of delivering future housing needs without concreting over our precious green fields.