Graham Cockarill Pants On Fire

Graham Cockarill Pants On Fire

Graham Cockarill Pants On Fire

The latest electoral material from Lib Dem Graham Cockarill reveals that at the very best he has his pants on fire. This comes hot on the heels of the previous fake news. It is quite astonishing that he claims that he is “the man with a plan to save our green fields”.

Graham Cockarill Pants On Fire.

NE Hants Lib Dems: Pants On Fire

This is the same man who is sponsoring the entirely unnecessary new Shapley Heath Garden Village. The developers expect this to deliver up to 10,000 houses. So, that’s 10,000 unnecessary houses on our green fields. Entirely the opposite of his claim to save them.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses

This new town was thrown out of the Local Plan because it was unnecessary. In fact the Local Plan itself said it was unnecessary. The Inspector agreed and even the bid for Government money said so.

Shapley Heath Garden Village not required

Shapley Heath Garden Village not required

Despite four years of effort, no evidence could be produced to demonstrate viability or deliverability.

Shapley Heath not viable or deliverable

Shapley Heath not viable or deliverable

NE Hants Lib Dems play down brownfield capacity

Perhaps the most egregious claim in the leaflet is he says “only an idiot or a liar would pretend all our housing needs could be met by brownfield land”. We have long campaigned for brownfield development in place of needlessly concreting over our green fields. We remind Mr Cockarill that back in 2015, Hart Council claimed there was capacity for only 450 homes on brownfield land. Since then around 1,500 have been granted permission at Hartland Park plus over 500 at Sun Park and many more on smaller sites across the district. As a result, we have over 2,500 dwellings on brownfield sites. Or more than 5 times the claimed capacity. And we haven’t even started on revitalising our urban areas yet.

We will leave it up to readers to decide who is the idiot and who is lying.

Shapley Heath Controversy Erupts at Hustings

Shapley Heath controversy: where each NE Hampshire candidate stands.

Shapley Heath controversy: where each NE Hampshire candidate stands.

The Shapley Heath controversy erupted at the recent North East Hampshire hustings. The Basingstoke Gazette covered the story here. In summary, Conservative candidate Ranil Jayawardena opposes the Shapley Heath proposal. He believes that our future housing needs can be met by redeveloping brownfield land and revitalising our urban centres. Liberal Democrat candidate, Graham Cockarill supports the proposal. Indeed in his role as Cabinet member for Place on Hart Council he is the sponsor of the programme. Labour’s Barry Jones admitted he knew little about the proposals but would reluctantly support the plan.

Three candidates were not invited to the hustings. The local Green party confirmed on Twitter that their candidate Culann Walsh opposes the scheme. Independent candidate Tony Durrant also opposes the plan. Monster Raving Loony, Screaming Laud Hope has not yet responded to our question. We have summarised the positions of the candidates in the graphic above.

[Update]: Screaming Laud Hope was interviewed by For Fleet’s Sake and came out against Shapley Heath, so the graphic has been updated. [/Update]

Shapley Heath Controversy – Details of the hustings

Apparently, candidate Cockarill challenged the notion of Shapley Heath being up to 10,000 houses. We were told that Mr Jayawardena brandished the vision document clearly showing the 10,000 ambition in the Vision Document.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses.

Shapley Heath Controversy: Vision Document 10,000 houses

We understand from others at the hustings that candidate Cockarill stated brownfield development was desirable. However, he thought landowners in Fleet aren’t interesting in selling. We know from the work carried out by the Rural Hart Association that the owners of the Hart Shopping Centre are interested in redevelopment. Indeed, they supported the Future High Streets bid (see final letter in the appendices) to regenerate Fleet. Moreover, some of the other prime regeneration sites are owned by either Hart District Council or Hampshire County Council. For instance, much of the Civic Quarter, including the Harlington Centre, plus Victoria Road car park and Church Road car park are in public ownership.

Creative thinking in three dimensions could preserve parking space; deliver better leisure and cultural facilities; housing that people can afford and infrastructure spending. It does seem odd that our local councils prefer to concrete over our green fields, rather than provide better facilities for their residents.

Of course, planning is a local rather than a national matter. However, our MP can ‘set the tone’ for the area; lobby Government to cut off further funding to Shapley Heath; call on Government to provide regeneration investment and vote more generally for brownfield first policies. Many people will of course be more concerned about national matters. Please bear Shapley Heath in mind when casting your vote on December 12th.

Beware Lib Dem Fake News (Again)

#LibDem #FakeNews Leaflet North East Hampshire #GE2019

Lib Dem Fake News Leaflet North East Hampshire GE 2019

[Update]: They have now doubled down with  a claim that despite promoting the unnecessary new town, they are really protecting green fields. [/Update]

A local person has been in touch highlighting more Lib Dem Fake News. There are a number of issues with their latest General Election Leaflet:

  • Now supporting the Shapley Heath Garden Village, when they claimed credit for it being struck out of the Local Plan
  • Denying that there’s capacity for 10,000 houses at Shapley Heath
  • Getting Hart’s housing requirement, supply and timing of planning decisions wrong
  • Another Lib Dem fake bar chart

The full leaflet can be found here. Details of their fake news claims are shown below. If anybody finds fake news from other candidates please do get in touch.

Lib Dem Fake News: Shapley Heath

Regular readers will remember back in March, the Lib Dem district council candidates were claiming credit for saving Winchfield from the unnecessary new town.

Lib Dem Fake News claims to have saved Winchfield

Lib Dem Fake News claims to have saved Winchfield

Their latest leaflet for their candidate standing in the general election is trying to justify why we need the very same development.

Cockarill Lib Dem Fake News Leaflet North East Hampshire GE 2019. Fake Garden Village Claim.

Lib Dem Graham Cockarill justifying Shapley Heath Garden Village

This is quite a turnaround in just a few months. They don’t seem to be able to make their minds up.

Lib Dem Fake News: 10,000 houses

They are also claiming it is ridiculous to say Shapley Heath is going to be up to 10,000 houses.

#LibDem #FakeNews #GE2019 Fake 10,000 house claim

Lib Dem Fake News: Fake 10,000 houses claim

The leaflet doesn’t mention that Graham Cockarill is in fact the Hart Cabinet member for Place (aka Planning). He oversaw the Council’s bid for Garden Community funding.  The Vision Document that was part of the bid, clearly states the developers are looking to put 10,000 houses on the site.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10,000 houses

And the bid itself talked of a development up to 10,000 houses.

Nightmare in Winchfield - capacity for 10,000 houses

If a candidate denies what is in their own documents, we can’t see how they can be fit for office.

Hart Housing Requirement, Supply and Planning decisions

The leaflet claims Hart’s housing requirement up to 2032 is 388 dwellings per annum. In fact, after review by the Inspector, the requirement form 2014 to 2032 is 423 dpa. This is because Hart has agreed to take some of Surrey Heath’s requirement.

Cockarill Lib Dem Fake News Leaflet North East Hampshire GE 2019

Lib Dem Fake News: Fake housing numbers claim

As part of their justification for continuing with Shapley Heath, the say Hart needs a 5 year land supply. It is true that local authorities need to maintain a 5-year land supply. But Hart currently has around 9 years supply. They also imply that Grove Farm was granted planning permission during the Conservative administration. In fact, the appeal was granted in October 2017, when the Lib Dem/CCH coalition were in power and Mr Cockarill was Cabinet member for Planning.

Lib Dem Fake News Bar Chart

Of course no Lib Dem leaflet would be complete without a misleading bar chart. This one is no exception. The leaflet says that NE Hampshire is a two-horse race and the Lib Dems are snapping at the heels of the Tories to win the seat.

#LibDem #FakeNews #FakeBarChart #GE2019

Graham Cockarill Lib Dem Fake Bar Chart

They don’t mention their council coalition partners Community Campaign Hart in the bar chart.  If they did, it would show that the Lib Dems are in fact in third place in terms of seats on Hart District Council. They also came a distant third, behind Labour, in the 2017 General Election with only 12.3% of the vote. Here is what their bar chart should have looked like.

Hart and NE Hampshire Election Results

Hart and NE Hampshire Election Results

 

 

 

 

Community Campaign Hart takes aim at the Heart of Hart

Hart District Council takes aim at the Heart of Hart

Community Campaign Hart takes aim at the Heart of Hart

Community Campaign Hart (CCH) have published a new newsletter on their website that calls for a new settlement to destroy the Heart of Hart in Winchfield.

In their article they make criticism of We Heart Hart and the good residents of Winchfield, and come to the conclusion that the only viable option for delivering the housing we need is a new settlement of 3,000-5,000 houses in Winchfield.  In their article they make a number of assertions that we believe are false, and will now seek to correct them, point by point.  But first, it is important that we start with the areas where we agree with CCH.

Points of Agreement

CCH say:

Until Hart have an LDP which meets the approval of a Government-appointed inspector, developers are in effect able to build on almost any greenfield site they choose

We broadly agree with this, although as in the case of Hop Garden Road in Hook, sometimes common sense can prevail especially now that Hart has more than 5 years of land supply.  However, if CCH are so concerned about the lack of a Local Plan, they should work more closely with We Heart Hart and others to ensure that Hart Council takes proper steps to improve the management of the Local Plan project that has slipped its timescale by two years within two years.  They would do better to use their time at council meetings to ask questions about the local plan rather than seek to stifle difficult questions.

Points of Difference

1. CCH say:

There just isn’t enough brownfield land available to accommodate that number of new homes, unless we are going to build high-rise tenement blocks along the length of Fleet Road.

This is simply not true on a number of levels.  First, the council hasn’t even created a proper register of brownfield sites so it hasn’t properly assessed capacity.  Second, our own work has shown there’s capacity for between 2,438 and 3,688 units, compared to the remaining unsatisfied “need” of 2,900 given at the last cabinet.

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices on Fleet Road in Fleet, Hampshire

Third, parts of Fleet Road are a disgrace to the district and should be redeveloped, not with tenements, but with mid-rise (say 3-4 storey) high quality apartments to help young people get on the housing ladder.  Finally, there is brownfield capacity all over the district including Ancell’s Farm, Bartley Wood, Pyestock, Bramshill and Guillemont Park.  They really should get out more and see all of the vacant offices around the district.

2. CCH say:

With a mainline railway station far closer to it than to any other new development in Fleet; with the option to integrate new roads onto the A30 and through to the M3; together with sufficient scale to fund three new primary schools and a new secondary school, Winchfield strikes many as being the best compromise

This is economic incompetence of the highest order.  The council’s own assessment of infrastructure needs points to costs of over £300m for a new town including the schools, but not including improvements to healthcare.  The ballpark estimate for developer contributions made by a senior Hart Councillor is around £40m.  There’s already a £78m infrastructure funding deficit in the district and £1.9bn across Hampshire.  Not only would a new town at Winchfield destroy green fields, it would destroy ancient hedgerows and put at risk SSSI’s and SINCs, but it would no doubt further increase congestion in Fleet and Church Crookham.

3, CCH say:

Consequently they have resorted to social media and other marketing techniques to promote the ‘wehearthart’ message.

However, their messaging is incomplete. They point to the council wishing to build a new town at Winchfield and seek to demonize anyone who may have reached the conclusion, however reluctantly, that a new town at Winchfield is the least worst solution out of an abhorrent set of options. They do not explain what the alternatives are, as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) mandates that this level of housing must go somewhere within Hart’s borders

We do not see what is wrong with communicating with the public using social media on the serious issue of the Local Plan, particularly when the council gets its own facts wrong.  However, We Heart Hart has explained what the alternatives are at some length, and the CCH Chairman of the council sought to have questions that we raised to indicate a different path censored at council meetings.  The alternatives are:

a) Reduce the alleged housing need by challenging the SHMA, particularly taking into account the latest DCLG population forecasts that indicate a lower population in 2031 than assumed in the SHMA and the reducing ridiculous jobs forecasts.  CCH would do well to engage with this debate instead of seeking to censor it.

b) Explore the options for reducing the assessed housing need by exploring so called “policy on” options to protect the environment and ecology.  Note that Winchfield is beautiful countryside in its own right, but is also within the 5km zone of influence of the Thames Valley Heath SPA.

c) Properly get to grips with brownfield options by establishing a brownfield register, actively encouraging landlords to redevelop their derelict sites and exploring the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders on sites that have sat vacant for years with no apparent signs of progress (e.g. Hartland Park aka Pyestock).

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

Brownfield site: Hartland Park (Pyestock) near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire, warehouse development not started

CCH need to wake up, smell the coffee, listen to Ranil Jaywardena and use their talents to establish a different vision to protect the countryside they profess to love rather than coming out with incomplete, inaccurate nonsense.  Be careful who you vote for in next year’s local elections.

This story now covered in the local press, see here.

Leaflet campaign doubles size of We Heart Hart petition

A big thank you to all the volunteers who have helped with the We Heart Hart leafleting campaign.  Just before we started leafleting we had 923 signatories.  Today, the number is 1,846; meaning the petition has doubled in size in just three weeks.  This is more than three times the number of people who responded to Hart District Council’s consultation and more than 8 times the number of people who expressed a preference for a new town.

Support for our cause has increased after we published the legal opinion from Peter Village QC that said that Hart was in a “hopeless position” with the Local Plan.  Surely it is time for Hart to think again and adopt our 5-point plan to bring the Local Plan back on track which is summarised below:

  • Create a medium growth scenario with a lower housing requirement than the current high growth scenario to give an option to reduce the environmental impact of development.
  • Create a formal brownfield option and invite a competition to design the best way of using our brownfield land.
  • Do the work and consult upon the additional elements of a proper Local Plan such as employment, education, transport, retail and other infrastructure.
  • Consider the Environment and Landscape by carrying out proper habitat studies and landscape character assessments.
  • Fix the management and governance problems within Hart Council that have resulted in the past failure and current hopeless position.

If you would like to support our position, then please sign and share our petition.

 

Go to Petition

Top QC says Hart Council’s position on the Local Plan is “hopeless”

Scales of Justice weigh against Hart District Council

Scales of Justice weigh against Hart District Council

 

Top planning QC, Peter Village has produced a devastating legal opinion on Hart District Council’s Local Plan process and pronounced that they are in a “hopeless position“.  Hart Council have received this opinion, but have refused a meeting to discuss ways of improving the plan.  In fact, at last night’s council meeting, council leader Stephen Parker dismissed the report as “just one opinion among many”.

It is imperative that Hart gets a high quality local plan in place quickly and fends off the demands from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Borough Councils to build an extra 3,100 houses in Hart.  The council’s attitude displays a staggering level of arrogance and complacency that can only lead to more delays and extra costs to get the plan right.  We urge all voters to press their council candidates to push to get the Local Plan process back on track by adopting our 5-point plan and dropping all ideas of a new town in Hart District.

The essence of the opinion is:

  • The Regulation 18 public consultation in the autumn of 2014 addressed housing options and did not consider other vital issues such as employment, retail, transport and infrastructure.
  • Hart District Council said in April 2014 that they would conduct a second Reg 18 consultation in March 2015, which they have since dropped and now intend to proceed directly to a Regulation 19 consultation on the Draft Plan for Final Inspection.  This plan is likely to fail because either the Local Plan will not contain all the elements it should, or they will not have consulted on all of the things they should consult upon.
  • Hart have not consulted upon the demands from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor that Hart build 3,100 houses for them.
  • Hart have not considered a medium growth “policy on” scenario of not meeting the full housing need on environmental grounds.
  • Hart have not properly considered the brownfield capacity of the district, highlighting that the capacity could be up to 3,500 dwellings, far more than the 750 dwellings Hart is still insisting upon.

Reader may recall that set out a 5-point plan to address these issues and this is summarised below:

  • Create a medium growth scenario with a lower housing requirement than the current high growth scenario to give an option to reduce the environmental impact of development.
  • Create a formal brownfield option and invite a competition to design the best way of using our brownfield land.
  • Do the work and consult upon the additional elements of a proper Local Plan such as employment, education, transport, retail and other infrastructure.
  • Consider the Environment and Landscape by carrying out proper habitat studies and landscape character assessments.
  • Fix the management and governance problems within Hart Council that have resulted in the past failure and current hopeless position.

If you want to press for change, please sign our petition:

 

Go to Petition

 

The full Legal Opinion and our latest Press Release can be found below:

Peter Village QC Legal Opinion
We Heart Hart Press Release 1 May 2015

This has been covered in the Basingstoke Gazette.

 

QC Opinion

Press Release

 

Beware the ‘garden village’: it’s not green and it’s not a village

Protect our green fields

Protect our green fields

In a sign that much of the South East of England is starting to revolt against the Government’s plans to concrete over our green fields, the Sunday Times has published an important article attacking “meaningless” garden villages and urban sprawl.  This echoes the recent survey of Hampshire residents that put protecting our towns and villages as a key election issue.  Just to be clear, We Heart Hart does not support the Rudlin proposal outlined in the article below of taking bites out of our green belt.  We believe that Hart District’s housing need can be met from brownfield development.

It remains to be seen if our Parliamentary and District Council candidates will take heed.  If you want to join 1,600 other people who want to oppose Hart District Council’s plans for a new town in Hart, please sign and share our petition.

 

Go to Petition

 

The article can be found here and is reproduced below.

Beware the ‘garden village’: it’s not green and it’s not a village

by Charles Clover, Sunday Times

OUR nearby town has just leapt towards us. It vaulted the trunk road, previously a barrier to development, with a huge park-and-ride for 1,000 cars. The lights of that were turned on this month, just after a proposal for a new “garden village” of 4,000 homes emerged from the imagination of local speculators. Were this approved, it would push far north into green countryside and towards Constable country.

Our nearby town is Colchester but it might be anywhere in the southeast. The quandary is the same: how to provide enough land to build about 1,000 homes a year for the next 15 years to address the desperate need to house the young and to tackle rising house prices.

The town is under pressure to find the right number of homes to put in its local plan or it will lose control and be forced to approve every speculative proposal, as has happened in another local town, Braintree, when an inspector found its numbers too low. So a rather chilling thing has happened. Colchester issued a “call for sites”. This flushed out not only every farmer with a few acres he wouldn’t mind selling — the little red patches on the map of offered land in every village are a tale of rampant opportunism. The call has also galvanised some large landowners to band together and propose “garden villages” in green countryside.

Some are considered wildly speculative. But the largest of these proposals, up to 15,000 homes on the A12/A120 corridor known as West Tey, is being taken seriously. The landowners in question could then fly off to the Channel Islands with £1m an acre, leaving the rest of us to fund the roads, hospitals, railways and schools these homes will need.

This “landowner-led” process is a consequence of the government’s simplification of the planning system. It has taken out the layer of bureaucracy known as regional planning and pushed responsibility down to the boroughs. In a few years the effect of this may reduce the upward pressure on house prices. But it has left local authorities struggling to find sufficient land. Our own has done a good job, until now, of building on brownfield sites. Now the numbers are too great. It must consider green fields because it has no more brown ones. There are plenty of brownfield sites to the south, along the Thames, but there is no mechanism for pushing the development there because under the new system each borough must provide for its own population.

Sensibly, our borough has decided not to make every chancer’s day. It favours the idea of a few new settlements, still euphemistically described as “garden villages”. The thing is that 15,000 homes is not a village. It is a town. Without inspired planning, it is Los Angeles-style sprawl. Any resemblance to century-old garden cities, such as Letchworth, is purely coincidental. Developments such as West Tey are speculative and there is, as yet, no certain way of tapping into the windfall profits, known as “uplift”, to upgrade stretched infrastructure: our hospital has been under emergency measures, the roads are clogged and you may have to stand on the train to London.

The problem with the process here is that it has brought forward land along a main road that is already outdated, in green countryside that is not close enough to the local town for walking or cycling and on grade 2 agricultural land that is meant to be protected. Contrast what is going on in Ebbsfleet, Kent, where the same number of homes are planned: the government is pouring £200m into infrastructure and the settlement sits on the underused Channel Tunnel rail line. The windfall profits will be diverted into an urban development corporation — like the ones used to develop postwar new towns such as Harlow. This option does at least mean the public get the kind of town they need.

Thoughtful locals are pressing Colchester to think again about a town extension instead of meaningless “garden villages”. That debate is opening up across the country. The advocates of expanding existing towns cite the arguments made by David Rudlin, an urban planner who won last year’s £250,000 Wolfson economics prize: that postwar new towns lacked sufficient scale to be successful and stagnated economically when large employers closed. Rudlin favours instead taking “confident and well-planned” bites out of the green belt and developing them like new towns.

It is not too late for those arguments to prevail here — indeed, one of the options being considered in Colchester is an extension of 5,000 homes near the university. But it will take a jolt from local MPs after the election to get sensible options fully considered. That is nothing to the jolt there will be in the form of opposition, across the country, if wildly speculative developments like those I’ve seen find their way into local plans.

North East Hampshire Candidates declare their positions on Winchfield New Town

The issue of a new town in Winchfield is a local issue and will not be decided by MP’s in Parliament.  However, many people want to know where their local parliamentary candidates for NE Hampshire stand on the issue.  MP’s do have the ability to influence Government policy on the National Planning Policy Framework, and on the incentives given to develop brownfield land.  Winchfield Action Group have posted on Facebook their report of the recent hustings in Odiham.  This has given an interesting view of all of the candidates standing for election in the North East Hampshire constituency at the 2015 General Election #GE2015:

Conservatives (Ranil Jayawardena): Against. Brownfield development is the way forward.

Monster Raving Loony Party (Mad Max Bobetsky): Totally against building in Winchfield. It’s beautiful.

Labour (Amran Hussain): Support locally led development. Majority are against the new town in Winchfield.  Endorses our suggested new approach to the Local Plan.

Greens (Andrew Johnston): Against a new town. Brownfield redevelopment should be a priority.

Libdems (Graham Cockarill): There are not enough brownfield sites in Hook and Winchfield. A new town is long term the way to go, although not necessarily in Winchfield.  Note that as a councillor, Mr. Cockarill was head of planning at the time of the vote for the new town on November 27 2014 and voted in favour of it.

If you would like to know more about each candidate’s position, their contact details can be found on our contacts page.

Our understanding of the positions of the district council candidates can be found here.

As I understand it, all of the major parties have recently expressed strong support for brownfield development; but that does not necessarily translate into local policy that is adopted by local councillors.

We Heart Hart Presentation to Crondall Parish Council

We Heart Hart were delighted to be invited to speak at tonight’s parish council meeting at Crondall.

 

The presentation went well with lots of interest in the Hart Local Plan and how we might persuade Hart Council to think again, particularly to focus on brownfield development and fight off the demand for us to build 3,100 extra houses for Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Borough Councils.  Lots of interest in our leaflet too.

 

A copy of the presentation and leaflet are available for download below.

 

We Heart Hart Presentation to Crondall Parish Council

 

We Heart Hart Campaign Flyer

 

Presentation

We Heart Hart petition is now twice as big as Hart District Council consultation

The We Heart Hart petition is now really taking off, now exceeding 1,200, adding more than 280 since Friday night. This is more than twice the number of valid responses (550) to the Hart District Council consultation that took place in Autumn 2014 and more than 5 times the number of people (220) of said they favoured a new settlement.

It seems that the people of Hart are waking up to the reality that the Council’s plans will:

  • Turn the northern part of Hart District will turn into a single urban sprawl when there is an alternative of building higher density in urban areas to help rejuvenate our high streets
  • Ignore many brownfield sites untouched all over the district where we could build housing
  • Destroy our environment and the very nature of Hart’s unique appeal – the reason we all love living here.

 

If you would like to join our campaign, please sign and share our petition:

 

Go to Petition

 

Surely it is now time for Hart Council to think again and listen to the people.