Please oppose the consultation about the Rye Common new village development

Rye Common new village proposal, Odiham, Hart District, Hampshire

Rye Common new village proposal near Odiham and Crondall in Hart District Hampshire

Bell Cornwell have launched a consultation on proposals to build a 1,600-1,900 new houses on around 140 hectares to form the so-called Rye Common New Village to the south of the A287 between Odiham and Crondall. We urge all We Heart Hart supporters to oppose the proposals by responding to the consultation that can be found here, on the grounds that it is not needed as there are plenty of brownfield sites available and Hart’s declared strategy is to prioritise brownfield development ahead of green field development.

More details about the plans can be found in Bell Cornwell’s consultation microsite,  leaflet and vision document.

We suggest you utilise some of the following arguments in your answer to the first question:

This development is not required as there are plenty of brownfield sites available, as can be seen here:

http://wehearthart.co.uk/2015/11/there-is-a-brownfield-solution-to-harts-housing-needs/

There are at most 2,350 more homes to be granted permission in the plan period (and according to a recent press release from Hart DC this may be further reduced by 1,500), and close to 4,000 dwellings that could be built on brownfield sites.

Hart’s declared strategy is to prioritise brownfield development before green field development as can be seen on page 2 of the recent Refined Housing Options paper.

Thank you for your help.

 

Breaking News: Hart needs to build 1,500 fewer houses as timeline slips again

Breaking News: Hart needs to build 1,500 fewer houses for the Local Plan

Hart Council has published a press release that suggests Hart will have to build 1,500 fewer houses than was previously thought. This should bring the overall requirement that was stated in the last SHMA down from 7,534 to 6,034. If this is confirmed it is brilliant news and vindicates the independent expert findings and what the We Heart Hart campaign has been saying for months – indeed our target was around 6,100 dwellings.

[Update: The Hart press release may not be all that it appears to be]

However, in other news, the council has also stated that the draft Local Plan will not now be ready for consultation until the New Year. Until today, it was expected that the draft plan would be approved by a special Cabinet on 19 October and endorsed by a special meeting of the Council the following day. This latest delay is just the latest slippage in a long list of missed deadlines. However, the delay in the publication of the draft Local Plan puts the Council at odds with the Government who have threatened to step in and produce Local Plans for Councils who do not have them in place by ‘early 2017’.

Andrew Renshaw, chairman of Winchfield Parish Council, and Hart Councillor for Hartley Wintney ward is delighted at the reduction in overall housing requirement. But he is angry that the draft Local Plan and associated papers have not been made available as promised today. He has been led to believe that the plans for a new town at Winchfield have failed testing, largely due to the significant risk of groundwater flooding amongst other issues. He believes the dark cloud of planning blight that has been hanging over Winchfield residents for over two years should now be lifted by Hart Council without delay.

The consequences of the reduction in housing need are many, including:

  1. We can now build our remaining housing need (less than 1,000 up to 2032) on brownfield sites – all that is required is for a planning application to be made and granted for at least 1,500 dwellings at Hartland Village (Pyestock), which will more than cover our remaining requirement.
  2. Further efforts should be made to identify further brownfield sites in the brownfield register to build up a backlog of unbuilt sites ready for future decades.
  3. The Council should make clear that it will turn down the existing and forthcoming planning permissions at Netherhouse (Nether House) Copse (Grove Farm), Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase), Rye Common and Murrell Green on the grounds that they are not required to meet our housing need.
  4. The 5-year land supply calculation should be revised without delay, because the reduction in overall housing requirement means we have over-built for the past few years and need to build fewer houses into the future, so the number of years of land supply will increase dramatically.

The full press release can be downloaded below:

Hart needs to build 1,500 fewer houses

Rushmoor says it won’t ask Hart to build extra houses

Time to celebrate we don't need so many houses

Time to celebrate we don’t need so many houses

We Heart Hart asked a number of questions at Hart Council’s 29 September meeting. We will come to those in a moment, but the most significant news came from the Leader’s announcement that he had received a letter from Rushmoor Borough Council stating that they would no longer be asking Hart to build extra houses for them.

This is good news in that it either shows that the overall housing numbers for the combined area has been reduced or Rushmoor have found extra capacity, or a combination of the two.

The significance for Hart is that there was a threat that Rushmoor may ask us to build an extra 1,800 houses, on top of our already large allocation of 7,534 houses.  We now know that our remaining requirement will not exceed the current number of around 2,350, and this number may in fact go down if the overall housing target in the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) reduces as we believe it should.

The other significant news from the meeting was that the council believes it will have a SANG capacity of 1,500 homes, over and above the SANG required to deliver Hartland Village (Pyestock). This means that there is now sufficient SANG capacity to bring forward more brownfield sites (of which there are plenty), so we shouldn’t need to grant permission to build on any more of our green fields before 2032 at least.

We also learned that Hart Council has no plans to introduce policy measures to restrict the redevelopment of brownfield sites in the district.

However, we share the council’s concern that if the brownfield sites are delivered as office conversions (as opposed to redevelopments), then there may be a shortage of infrastructure funding.

We await the publication of the revised SHMA, the new policies and the draft Local Plan with interest.

Rail capacity is significant barrier to Winchfield new town and Hart development

Rail capacity is significant barrier to Winchfield new town and Hart development

A concerned resident has written to South West Trains asking a series of questions about the capacity of the mainline railway that travels through Hart District and the alternative strategies for increasing capacity. The answers are a significant cause for concern and call into question not only the viability of the proposed Winchfield new town, but also further large scale development across Hart District.

In summary the mainline up to London already is 20% over-crowded at peak times and is forecast to have a 60% capacity shortfall by 2043.  There are no plans to have more trains stopping at Winchfield (and by implication no plans for more trains at Hook or Fleet). There are no plans to extend the station at Winchfield (and by implication Hook too) properly to accommodate 12-car trains. There are no plans to increase car-parking capacity at Winchfield. The mooted solution of double-decker trains is a non-starter because of the infrastructure requirements and increased dwell times. Network Rail would not be responsible for the costs of widening the three tunnels under the railway in Winchfield, nobody has estimated the cost, but it is known to be considerable.

All this leaves the proposal for a new town in Winchfield in tatters, but it also calls into question the viability of so many more houses across Hart as there simply is not the rail capacity to accommodate the increased population.

The answers to the questions were produced under the supervision of a senior executive in South West Trains and in consultation with Network Rail’s Wessex Route Strategy team and are reproduced below:

Q1: Is my assertion that the planning authorities should be considering the capacity of the whole Southampton to Waterloo line rather than the capacity of individual stations is correct?

A1: Network Rail would always look at the capacity of the whole line, particularly in relation to additional services. This is because the impact of increasing capacity through additional services does not just affect an individual station. Additional stops for existing services will have an impact on journey times owing to the time taken to accelerate/ decelerate and dwell time at the platform all adding in time. Those existing services may also be close to capacity and adding extra stops would impact upon the ability for passengers further down the line to get on to the train. Network Rail would encourage a joined up approach between local authorities to ensure that capacity is looked at across the whole line.

Q2: If I am correct, is the line under, at or over capacity? If it is over capacity by how much and when you plan to bring it down to safe levels?

A2: The Wessex Route Study, published in August 2015 (http://www.networkrail.co.uk/long-term-planning-process/wessex-route-study/), states that there is currently 20% overcrowding on Main Line services and that growth to 2043 will see an additional 40% capacity being required. Therefore in the period to 2043 we expect to be required to accommodate 60% extra capacity. The Wessex Route Study sets out the strategy for meeting this growth and mitigating overcrowding. Unfortunately there is no quick fix for what is needed and therefore there are a number of incremental steps that will be taken, including a flyover at Woking, track reconfiguration works between Clapham Junction and London Waterloo, and a major infrastructure such as Crossrail 2. The summary Chapter 6 sets out what is required and Chapter 5 has a bit more of the detail.

Q3: Do you have plans to increase the frequency of trains stopping at Winchfield to soak up additional passengers? It has been suggested that some of the fast trains from Southampton might stop there. If this is not the case are there impediments to so doing?

A3: There are presently no plans to increase the frequency of stopping trains at Winchfield as there is insufficient route capacity and no physical capacity on trains which would take the additional calls. Furthermore to have the faster services calling at Winchfield would be detrimental to journey time from longer distance locations to London such as Salisbury, Winchester and Southampton.

Q4. Are any plans to extend the station at Winchfield? If this did occur would this be the responsibility of SW Trains, Network Rail or the Local Council? Have you any indicative costs for such an activity?

A4: Network Rail currently have no plans to lengthen the platforms at Winchfield. Automatic Selective Door Opening (ASDO) is employed at some stations where the platforms are not long enough to accommodate all carriages of a train; Winchfield is an example. ASDO allows for only some of the doors to open at stations with short platforms negating the need for expensive platform extensions. This is only employed where it is deemed safe to do so. Where platform pedestrian capacity is a problem then ASDO may not be the correct solution because it wouldn’t allow passengers to spread along the platform to spread a crowd waiting for a train.

Q5. Are there any plans to increase the car parking capacity at Winchfield? Again, if this were to occur where would the costs lie and how much would they be?

A5: There are no plans in the present franchise to increase car park capacity at Winchfield.

Q6: Are double-decker trains a serious option to overcome the overcrowding on this line? If they are not please can you tell me if there are any single major obstacles that will preclude their adoption on this line?

A6: Double Decker Trains were investigated as part of the Wessex Route Study. The study looked at Waterloo to Basingstoke as the scope area. This was decided upon as there are relatively few limited clearance structures on this stretch of line and therefore if it wasn’t feasible here, then it wouldn’t work on other parts of the network such as between Basingstoke on Southampton where there are a number of tunnels. In short, the Route Study concluded that the combination of needing to operate bespoke rolling stock (as no rolling stock operated elsewhere in the world would work on our infrastructure), the cost of modifying the infrastructure to accommodate the trains (track lowering, bridge rebuilding, platform adjustments and lineside infrastructure moves and adjustments), the impact on dwell times and the fact that double deck services would only be necessary in the peak mean that the business case was not strong enough to warrant such investment.

Q7: There is an embankment running east of Winchfield Station pierced by three road tunnels. Should road widening be deemed necessary for any or all of these tunnels, what would your reaction be? Who would pay for such works? What would be the indicative costs please?

A7: Network Rail would need to assess the impact of widening the tunnels on the embankment and if it was deemed safe. The Network Rail Asset Protection team would need to be satisfied that Network Rail’s assets were not damaged or compromised in anyway. We do not have foresight of costs for such a scheme and this would not be a cost that Network Rail would expect to be accountable for.

Hart Council fights for survival in Hampshire local government reorganisation

Hart District Council fights for survival in Hampshire local government reorganisation

Hart District Council is fighting for its very survival in the Hampshire Local Government reorganisation. Hart has sent a desperate letter and copy of a leaflet to the Hart District Town and Parish Councils setting out the case for its proposals for a ‘Heart of Hampshire’ Combined Authority. This is in stark contrast to the competing Unitary Authority proposal from Hampshire County Council. Both proposals have been put forward in the Hampshire County Council consultation which closes on 20 September 2016.

Hart’s proposal would lead to the introduction of an additional tier of local Government and a directly elected mayor along with a claimed extra £30m per year to be split amongst the participating authorities including Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Hart District Council, New Forest District Council, Rushmoor Borough Council, Test Valley Borough Council and Winchester City Council. Hampshire County Council and the M3 Enterprise LEP would also be involved. In return the COmbined Authority would gain extra powers although it isn’t clear just what these extra powers would be.

Hampshire County are proposing a Unitary Authority approach which would mean the abolition of district councils like Hart and Hampshire County Council and their replacement by new Unitary Councils who would provide all services. These proposals would lead to savings of up to £40m in senior management and councillor costs, optimising services and reduced property costs.

More detail on the pros and cons can be found here and here.

Hart’s letter to the town and parish councils and a copy of the leaflet to be sent to all households can be found on the downloads below.

Hart leaflet to residents
Hart letter to parishes

Hart have set our their own devolution web page here and Hampshire County Council have set up a local government reorganisation web page here.

 

Hampshire launches consultation on local government reorganisation

Hampshire County Council Consultation Option G Five unitary Councils

Hampshire County Council (HCC) has launched a consultation on reorganising local Government in the county. This has arisen out central Government’s desire to reduce local Government budgets and devolve more powers to local areas. This has resulted in a bunfight between Hampshire County Council and the District Councils that we reported on here.

This consultation asks us to make a broad choice between supporting the “Combined Authority” option most favoured by the District Councils and the “Unitary Authority” option favoured by Hampshire County Council. Each broad choice has a number of sub-options. The Combined Authority approach would include establishing an extra tier of Local Government and led by one or more directly elected mayors. The Unitary Authority approach would involve the dissolution of the existing Hampshire County and District Councils, being replaced by one or more new Councils responsible for all services. It appears as though this latter approach will save more money, but unless the unitary authorities cover smaller areas, potentially at the risk of remoteness and reduced accountability.

The documents are quite large and complex.  The impact on local planning and potential housing allocations is not covered in any detail in any of the documents as far as we can see. Consequently, We Heart Hart doesn’t have very strong views on the “Combined Authority” or the “Unitary Authority” approaches. However, we have an instinctive dislike of complexity and more tiers of Government and therefore would slightly favour a unitary authority approach, but using “Option G” in the Deloitte Report commissioned by HCC, shown in the image above.

This subject was covered at the recent Hart District Council meeting, with leader, Stephen Parker, making clear that there was still conflict on this issues between the County and the Districts:

Yesterday Hampshire County Council launched a consultation, based on a desktop report commissioned from Deloitte covering the financial effects of unitary status, covering both unitarisation and devolution, as well as a metro mayor. Sadly the Deloitte report only covered unitary councils, and paid little attention to other issues such as service quality and democratic accountability. The failure of Hampshire County Council to pause the consultation to take advantage of a report commissioned by the other Hampshire councils from Price Waterhouse Coopers to consider the issues not addressed in the Deloitte report will compromise the outputs from the consultation. This has caused some problems in the relationship with the districts, and I with colleagues from the Heart of Hampshire group of district councils will be meeting tomorrow with the Leader and Deputy Leader of HCC to seek to normalise the relationship, whilst recognising the issues around the deficient consultation.

The consultation is open until 20 September 2016.

The dedicated web page for the consultation can be found here.

The executive summary of the proposals can be found here.

The more detailed consultation information pack can be found here.

The consultation response form can be found here.

We would urge everyone to engage with this issue and respond to the consultation.

Hart’s Brownfield Register fails to meet expectations

 

Brownfield site: vacant offices at Ancells Farm Business Park, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire.

Brownfield site: vacant offices at Ancells Farm Business Park, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire.

Hart District Council has at last published its register of brownfield sites in the district. Sadly, the register has failed to live up to expectations. The full register can be downloaded on the link below.

The purpose of the brownfield register is to provide house builders with up-to-date and publicly available information on all brownfield sites available for housing locally. The register is supposed to help housebuilders identify suitable sites quickly, speeding up the construction of new homes. Hart Council was one of the pilot local authorities participating in the national brownfield register scheme as announced back in March 2016.

At first glance, the register identifies 3,542 potential units on brownfield sites, which might be considered good news.  However, closer inspection of the register reveals:

  • All but two of the sites already have planning permission, indeed a number of them have already been built (e.g. Queen Elizabeth Barracks at Church Crookham, Landata House in Hook, and Monachus House in Hartley Wintney).
  • Some of the sites are not even brownfield sites, for example Rifle Range Farm in Hartley Wintney.
  • None of the sites that Hart Council itself identified as brownfield sites in the recent consultation are recorded in the register.
  • None of the other potential sites that have not yet been permitted on Ancells Farm or along Fleet Road have made it on to the register.
  • Very few, if any, of the brownfield sites in the SHLAA that we identified in our brownfield solution, most particularly sites like the former police college at Bramshill have made it into the register.
  • Over 2,000 of the units in the register have already been granted planning permission, with 1,500 units at Hartland Village (aka Pyestock) and 16 at another site yet to be granted permission.

We have contacted the council to find out the reasons why this important opportunity has been botched. We have been told this is a temporary blip due to lack of SANG capacity.  We are far from convinced of this reason as the register itself has a column for constraints.  The purpose of the register should be to identify all of the sites and not miss some out because SANG capacity is not yet available.

We do hope that Hart Council gets to grips with this, because a robust brownfield register will be a significant piece of evidence, as part of the Local Plan, to help fend off the proposals to build at Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase) and Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse). The register of brownfield sites  becomes a statutory obligation next year.

Hart Council Brownfield Register

Winchfield publishes Neighbourhood Plan

Cows in Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

Winchfield Parish Council have published their Neighbourhood Plan and Hart District Council have invited comments.  The deadline for comments is 4 September 2016, and can be made by following the instructions here.

For those interested, a full copy of the Neighbourhood plan can be found on the download below.

Winchfield Neighbourhood Plan

 

Berkeley Homes propose development to start at Hartland Village in late 2017

Berkeley Homes (St Edward) launches consultation site for new development at Hartland Village, aka Pyestock and Hartland Park

Berkeley Homes (St Edward) launches consultation site for new development at Hartland Village, aka Pyestock and Hartland Park

Berkeley Homes (St Edward) have begun their consultation on the proposed Hartland Village at the brownfield Pyestock site, near Fleet in Hampshire. They held meetings on 14th and 16th July. The papers they discussed at those meetings can be found here.

They propose submitting a planning application in Spring 2017, and assuming permission is granted relatively speedily, construction could begin in late 2017 or early 2018. This shows how important this brownfield development can be in delivering significant contribution to Hart District’s housing needs up to 2032as part of the Local Plan.

We Heart Hart broadly supports this development, provided proper infrastructure is developed along side the housing especially schools, community facilities, cycle paths and roads.

If you would like to make a comment on this application, then Berkeley Homes have set a deadline of 5 August 2016. Please send your comments to hartlandvillage@glhearn.com or see the main consultation page here.

Hartland Village SANG provided by MoD

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

Brownfield site: Hartland Park (Pyestock) near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

It was announced at Hart Council that some Army training land adjacent to Pyestock is to be released to provide SANG for the proposed 1,500 home Hartland Village development.  This is a big step forward in securing this important new development for the Hart Local Plan.

Stephen Parker was quoted as saying:

Finally, after my meetings in the Spring with the Secretary of State for Defence and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and following correspondence, yesterday I met along with officers the Commander of the Army training organisation in the South East.  The objective was to seek the release of some of the Army training estate to facilitate development at Pyestock and elsewhere.  I am pleased to announce that they have indicated an area adjacent to the Pyestock site, next to other Army training land which in turn adjoins Fleet Pond, which a preliminary estimates will be sufficient for the Pyestock site.  It still needs senior approvals, but as the training organisation has made it clear that they can spare this from their operational requirements, I do not anticipate a problem.

We now have a better understanding of the military utilisation of these areas, and there may be scope for future conversations

This is excellent news.