Shapley Heath is not required to meet our housing targets to 2032. Indeed we believe that our housing needs up to at least 2041 can be met without any new settlement or urban extension anywhere in Hart. Here is our evidence to support our claims.
The Local Plan submitted for examination said it wasn’t required (footnote 7 on page 29).
As part of this we have identified a new settlement within the Local Plan. However, we did not need to do this as delivery from the new settlement is not required to meet the identified Local Plan housing target of 6,208 homes but is provided ‘in addition’ to this.
No evidence Shapley Heath Garden Village is deliverable or viable
In addition, the Inspector raised grave concerns about the soundness, viability and deliverability of the plan.
At para 18 he said:
I have a number of fundamental concerns with regard to the soundness of Policy SS3.
Despite over 4 years of effort, the Inspector also found:
In addition, to my above concerns, there is little evidence to demonstrate that a site can actually be delivered in terms of infrastructure, viability and landownership within the identified AoS…
There is consequently some doubt, at this time, whether a comprehensive and inclusive new community can be delivered as required by Policy SS3 and its supporting text. Given all of this, I am not sufficiently content based on the evidence available to the examination that Policy SS3 is deliverable and is therefore not effective.
The Inspector did leave open the door to a new settlement in the future. However, this would need to be backed with proper evidence and:
I am also mindful that following further work, there can be no guarantee that the evidence would support it as the most appropriate long-term growth strategy or that Policy SS3 would be found sound.
Even the viability assessment submitted as part of the bid for Garden Communities funding had serious flaws.
Work programme not addressing the key issues
Hart Council’s new work programme is not even trying to address the key issues. It is focusing on “visioning” to start with. Then using consultants to create a project plan and land equalisation issues. Finally, it is hiring some admin support.
There are natural constraints in the shape of SSSIs, ancient woodland SINCs and TPOs.
There are also physical constraints including conservation areas, pylons, high pressure gas main, former landfill, flood risks and of course a big land ownership gap.
In summary, Shapley Heath is not required and there’s no evidence that it will ever be deliverable. None of the money the council is spending will even attempt to address these issues. Why is this project happening at all when the council’s finances are constrained?
Remember what the councillors said when discussing this at Cabinet:
If the houses aren’t needed, it won’t get done.
If Shapley Heath doesn’t work, it won’t get done.
This is another of our posts showing:
- What is Shapley Heath, explaining its location and scale?
- All the reasons why Shapley Heath Garden Village is a bad idea
- An outline of an alternative approach to long term planning in Hart
The master page containing all of these posts can be found here. A link is also provided in the navigation at the top of the page. Please do keep an eye out for further updates and share them with your friends.