Council concedes that we could build at higher density on brownfield land

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

In a piece of good news on Thursday night, Hart District Council conceded that it would be possible to build at higher density than they previously planned on brownfield sites in the district.  The detailed questions and answers can be found here.

Hart District Council uses a rule of thumb of 30 dwellings per hectare (dph) for most sites in its database.  We Heart Hart put to them that it might be possible to plan for up to 250dph in urban areas and still create vibrant communities.  Hart rejected such high densities, but did concede that densities of 80-160dph might be possible.

Hart District Council answer to brownfield question March 2015

Hart District Council answer to brownfield question

This is a very significant move.  Currently Hart District Council have said the capacity of brownfield is around 700 dwellings, based on 30dph.  However, if the capacity was scaled up to an average of say 120dph, the capacity increases to 2,800 dwellings.  Moreover, there are a number of brownfield sites such as at Ancell’s Farm in Fleet and Bartley Wood in Hook that are not in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), and so there is even more capacity available.

This could take us within spitting distance of meeting the remaining 4,000 houses that have yet to be granted planning permission for the Local Plan, without concreting over our green fields.  This would mean we would not need a new town in Winchfield nor do we need more strategic urban extensions in Fleet, Church Crookham or Hook.  A further advantage would be that the centre of Fleet could be rejuvenated and could sustain more shops and amenities.

This is clearly good news, but it remains to be seen whether Hart District Council will take this opportunity seriously as there answer to the supplementary questions were not particularly encouraging.

Questions for Hart District Council from We Heart Hart

There’s another Hart District Council meeting next week on 26 March at 7pm.  We Heart Hart has tabled some questions about the planned housing density, planning for an ageing population and infrastructure costs.

Deadline for submission of your own questions is tomorrow at noon.

Please feel free to use the download below as inspiration for your own questions.

Questions for Hart District Council Meeting Mar 26 2015

Answers to our previous questions have now been published on here and here on Hart District Council’s website.

Answers to the questions we put have now been published in draft minutes on the Hart Council website.

Impact of Housing Density on Hart Local Plan

Impact of Housing Density on Hart District Local Plan

Impact of Housing Density on Land Required for Hart Local Plan

This diagram shows the impact of the area of land required to meet the housing need of 7,534 houses in the Hart Local Plan.  Hart District Council use a rule of thumb of approximately 30 dwellings per hectare (dph) for new housing density.  However, the study by Gareth Price showed that in urban areas it is quite possible to create vibrant communities with housing densities of 250 dph.

Using Hart’s metric of 30dph would mean we would have to find around 251 hectares (621 acres) of land to meet the housing need.  Whereas if we were to build at a higher density of 250 dph on brownfield sites we would only need to find around 30 hectares of land (around 75 acres).  These approximate areas are shown in the red squares on the map above.

Interestingly, Hartland Park (aka Pyestock), near Fleet is a brownfield site of 119 acres which is larger than we need to meet our total housing requirement.

We have already posted lots of other brownfield sites such as Sun Park near the M3, Ancell’s Farm and the derelict buildings at the end of Fleet Road in Fleet and Bartley Wood in Hook, Hampshire.

This shows that with vision, creativity, energy and political will, we can meet our housing needs for decades to come by properly utilising brownfield land and have no need to concrete over our beautiful green fields by building a new town.

If you would like to join the campaign to ask Hart District Council to think again, please sign our petition:

 

Go to Petition

 

 

NE Hants Greens find more potential brownfield sites in Hart

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hampshire

 

The Greens from North East Hampshire have been busy today taking pictures of a number of sites across the district. Like We Heart Hart, they think it is madness to be focusing the Hart Local Plan on building a new town on our beautiful green fields in Winchfield when there is so much under-utilised brownfield land.

However, some of the sites identified are quite probably not suitable as for example, Tweseldown and Hawley Lake are in or near the Thames Valley Basin SPA and the site near Basingstoke Canal is an SSSI.

If you would like to ask Hart District Council to think again, please sign our petition:

 

Go to Petition

 

Nevertheless it is important we stretch every sinew to find brownfield sites and make the most of them.  Hart assume a meagre 30 dwelling per hectare on brownfield land, when studies have shown that it is possible to create thriving communities with densities nearly 10x that level.

Thank you to Andrew Johnston from the North East Hampshire Green Party for the images.  He has posted them on his Twitter feed.

Rushmoor could take all of Hart’s allocation and more

Example High Density Brownfield Development - Arundel Square, London

Example High Density Brownfield Development – Arundel Square, London

 

If we used our brownfield land better we could meet our existing housing needs and more without concreting over our green fields.  A study by trainee architect, Gareth Price shows that Rushmoor Borough Council is not making the most of its brownfield sites, and if it showed more vision, it could meet its own housing needs and those of Hart District using brownfield sites only.

If you would like to add to the pressure to Hart to change tack and take brownfield more seriously, then please sign our petition.

Typically, suburban developers and councils use a metric of around 30 dwelling per hectare (dph) as a rule of thumb for how many houses can be fit on to  any particular space. However, a study of London has shown that in central areas, densities of between 160-405 dph can be achieved and deliver viable, vibrant social communities with amenity space incorporated into the design.

This study has been used by Gareth Price, a final year architecture student, to propose an alternative set of schemes for Rushmoor (see download below).  His work shows that it is entirely possible for Rushmoor to not only build their own housing need, but could also take all of Hart’s requirement and more.

Of course, these concepts could equally be applied to Hart.  Bravehart has already found loads of brownfield sites that don’t even appear on the land database of Hart council. These include derelict buildings in the heart of Fleet and Hook.

Derelict Offices in Fleet

Derelict Offices in Fleet

Not only that, we know that Fleet town centre is dying with many vacant shops in the shopping centre and on the High Street. Surely the best way to rejuvenate our town centres is to build vibrant communities at their heart, rather than concreting over the countryside on their outskirts.  Using the same metrics, it is probable, that all of Hart’s housing need could be met by using brownfield sites.

Empty Shop in Hart Shopping Centre, Fleet

Empty Shop in Hart Shopping Centre, Fleet

Another advantage of the types of schemes that Gareth proposes is that on average, the dwellings are likely to be smaller and so more affordable for our young people.  We could also build mixed use developments with some schemes dedicated to specialist homes for older people.

Surely it is time we ask our councillors in Rushmoor Borough Council, Surrey Heath Borough Council and Hart District to break from the past, think out of the box, get more creative and take brownfield much more seriously instead of proposing endless urban sprawl across our countryside.

A Sustainable Approach to Housing on Brownfield

We Heart Hart Questions for Hart Council

There is a Hart District Council meeting on 26 February at the Hart Council Offices in Fleet at 7pm.  There is an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions about any subject including the emerging Local Plan.  Great questions would be:

  1. If Hart keeps the new town in its plan, what is the risk it will have to build the new town and strategic urban extensions in Fleet and Church Crookham to accommodate the extra 3,100 houses that Surrey Heath Borough Council and Rushmoor Borough Council are trying to force on to Hart?
  2. What will be the additional traffic and congestion impact of the proposed new town on surrounding settlements of Church Crookham, Crookham Village, Fleet, Hook, Hartley Wintney and Odiham?
  3. What are the criteria, marking scheme and weighting factors Hart are using to evaluate the alternative housing development options?
  4. What is Hart’s vision for the future of the district?
  5. How will Hart evaluate the risk of coalescence of the existing settlements that will effectively happen if a new town is built?
  6. What is Hart DC’s strategy for identifying and analysing and maximising the development of brownfield sites to avoid concreting over our valuable green spaces?
  7. What will be the environmental impact of a new sewage works discharging into the River Hart?
  8. What will be the environmental impact of 5,000 new houses in the SPA zone of influence?
  9. What will be the environmental impact of 5,000 new houses on the SSSI’s at Odiham Common and Basingstoke Canal?
  10. What will be the environmental impact of concreting over the green gaps between the SSSI’s and SINCs in Winchfield?

We Heart Hart has asked a number of these questions already as shown in the download and is aware of others asking questions too.

Please take some time to ask your own questions of the council.  You can use the download below that already has the e-mail addresses in it you need.  Questions need to be submitted by noon on Friday 20 February.

We Love Hart Questions for Hart Council

And if you have not done so, please sign the petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-hart

Hart has no Brownfield Strategy

We Heart Hart asked Hart District Council for an analysis of the brownfield sites that are available under FOI.  The results from this request are quite shocking and reveal a startling lack of focus on brownfield development.  Hart’s assertion was that there was space for only around 700 houses on brownfield sites.  According to their data, at first glance this appears to be true.  However, it appears as though a large number of the vacant brownfield sites identified by Bravehart on his tour do not even appear in the Hart District Council analysis. There must be space for thousands more dwellings on these sites such as the vacant office buildings at Ancells Farm and in Hook and Hartland Park (Pyestock).  Sun Park is on their map, but not in the analysis. Given undoubted difficulties facing all of us in Hart in building the >7,500 houses being forced upon us by the central Government mandated NPPF, it is shocking that Hart doesn’t seem to have a discernible brownfield strategy.

If you would like to join us to ask Hart to think again try harder to find brownfield development land and build on that in preference to concreting over our green spaces, please sign the We Love Hart petition.

Interestingly, the Government is planning to introduce legislation to penalise councils that under-perform on brownfield development. Under these plans, Councils would be required to publish data about available brownfield land on their websites in a standardised form, enabling individuals and groups to “assess and, if necessary, challenge the inclusion or exclusion of particular sites as brownfield land suitable for housing”.  Whilst of course, these rules have not come into force, it seems Hart does have a way to go to comply with the forthcoming rules.

Our analysis of the data supplied showed:

  • No systematic way if identifying brownfield sites: there is no tag on any of the data to separate brownfield sites from other sites.
  • Significant inconsistencies in their data such as sites being in their analysis spreadsheet that are not on the SHLAA map (e.g. Sites SHL319 and 321).
  • Sites recorded on the SHLAA map (e.g. SHL100) in one place (Sun Park) and recorded in their analysis as completely different places (Hartfordbridge).
  • Significant discrepancies between the detailed sheets and the summary of those detailed sheets.  For instance, Part 1, shows a total housing availability of between 612 and 701 houses, but on the summary sheet this shows as between 463 and 648.  Similar discrepancies exist throughout the spreadsheet.

It is time for Hart to focus more on identifying brownfield sites and applying pressure to get them made available. Surely, higher density development on these sites is far preferable to sacrificing our green spaces and putting at risk the very things that make Hart such a great place to live.

Images of brownfield sites in the district below:

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant office in Hook, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant office in Hook, Hampshire

Vacant office in Hook, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant office in Hook, Hampshire

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant block at Bartley Wood in Hook, Hampshire

Bartley Wood Estate in Hook

Vacant block at Bartley Wood in Hook, Hampshire

Bartley Wood Estate in Hook

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Office in Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Development Land in Fleet / Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Development Land in Fleet / Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Block in Fleet / Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Block in Fleet / Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant, derelict brownfield site in Hook, Hampshire

Vacant, derelict block in Hook, Hampshire

Vacant offices in Hook, Hampshire

Vacant offices in Hook, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant block at Ancells Farm, Fleet

Vacant Sun Park block near J4A of M3, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Sun Park block near J4A of M3, Hart District, Hampshire

Hartland Park near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire, warehouse development not started

Hartland Park near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire, warehouse development not started

 

Vacant brownfield Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Office at Ancells Farm, Fleet

Brownfield site near Crondall, Hart District, Hampshire

Brownfield site near Crondall, Hart District, Hampshire

Brownfield site at Hartland Park, Pyestock, Hart District, Hampshire

Brownfield site at Hartland Park, Pyestock, Hart District, Hampshire

Development site near Tweseldown, near Fleet/ Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Development site near Tweseldown, near Fleet/ Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Brownfield site at Hartland Park, Pyestock

Brownfield site at Pyestock, near, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

How do we regenerate our high streets?

Bravehart has been on tour again, looking at Fleet High Street.  He couldn’t believe how many empty shops there were and how many vacant and derelict offices.

The nature of shopping is changing as more and more of us shop on-line and from our mobile phones.  The nature of our high streets needs to change to become centres for social activity and nightlife.  Surely it would be better to re-generate a lot of these brownfield sites and replace them with affordable apartments to bring more young and old people to the town centre without the need for more traffic, rather than building a new town that will concrete over our green fields.

The We Heart Hart campaign says we need a new vision for Hart District and some joined up thinking.

Only 700 houses on Brownfield land?

Bravehart has been busy today touring Hart looking for brownfield sites in the district.  He found loads of sites and finds it difficult to believe that there is capacity for only 700 houses on sites like this.  Our brownfield tracker suggests otherwise

There’s vacant office buildings, sites earmarked for other development where building hasn’t started and derelict buildings on Fleet high street and in Hook.  The sites he found include sites like Sun Park near J4A of the M3; Hartland Park near Pyestock; much of Ancells Farm at Fleet; Bartley Wood and other areas in Hook.

If you know of sites you would like Bravehart to visit and photograph as examples of where we could be building instead of over our beautiful green fields, the please do get in touch with the We Heart Hart campaign through the website or this page.

Surely it is better to build on these brownfield sites before concreting over our green fields.

Photos of these sites are shown in the slider.

Please sign the petition

FOI Request made for Brownfield Site Capacity

Hart Council has made some assertions in meetings and in some documents that brownfield land in the district can only deliver around 700 houses.  This is contrary to the land being tacked on the brownfield tracker.

However, no analysis to support this assertion has been provided.  I did ask the council earlier this week for such an analysis, but no reply was forthcoming.

Accordingly, the We Heart Hart (aka We ♥ Hart and We Love Hart) campaign has made an Freedom of Information request asking them to set out the sites they have considered and the the amount and type of housing that can be built on each.  More here:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/housing_capacity_of_brownfield_s/new