Hart District Council have submitted a bid for an extra £406K to fund the unnecessary Shapley Heath Garden Village project. This comes hot on the heels of the £150K they won from the Government last year.
They want to spend the £406K as follows:
- £151K on new staff that haven’t been recruited yet. These new members will be a Project Support Officer, a Community Engagement Officer and a Land Manager
- £180K on “bespoke strategy reports”
- £60K on Engagement and Communication
- £15K on a high-level viability assessment
The bid document can be found here and ore details on their plans can be found here. They have decided not to publish the appendices to describe the upcoming milestones, housing trajectory and project plan. This means that we cannot see the timeline for what they are supposed to be delivering and therefore cannot hold them to account.
However, we can see that they haven’t achieved anything with the money they have received so far. Of the £150K they received, they have spent £46,637 on consultation and engagement. This appears to have been spent on a survey on the impact of Covid-19, branding advice and a presentation from Lord Taylor of Goss Moor. The rest of the money remains unspent. We know that Covid has been highly disruptive, but that only covers half the time since the money was awarded. The baseline studies that are being funded by the developers haven’t been delivered either.
In short, as Churchill might have said, never in the field of planning history has so little been achieved by so many with so much.
We can only hope that the Government sees through the track record of failure and decides to stop throwing good money after bad.
Shapley Heath Schedule
As a reminder, Hart received £150K of funding for Shapley Heath Garden Village back in July 2019. According to the schedule they submitted as part of their bid, by now they should have produced a development plan document for the new town by now and be preparing to adopt it: