#StormKatie floods Winchfield for fourth time in 3 months

Flood Taplins Farm Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016 #StormKatie Storm Katie.

Flood Taplins Farm Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016

Storm Katie has wreaked havoc across southern England today, and several roads and fields in Winchfield, Hampshire have flooded again, for the fourth time in three months. Floods also occurred on the 4th of January, 7th January and 9th March 2016.

The map of the floods we found is shown below, together with a carousel of images:

Floods in Winchfield and Hook 28 March 2016 #StormKatie

Floods in Winchfield and Hook 28 March 2016 #StormKatie

 

Given this level and frequency of flooding, we really to have to call into question the suitability of Winchfield as a location for a new town in the Local Plan.

Flood Taplins Farm Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016 #StormKatie Storm Katie.

Flood Taplins Farm Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016

Flood Taplins Farm Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016 #StormKatie Storm Katie.

Flood Taplins Farm Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016

Flood Taplins Farm Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016 #StormKatie Storm Katie.

Flood Taplins Farm Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016

Flood Field Station Road Winchfield 28 March 2016 #StormKatie Storm Katie.

Flood Field Station Road Winchfield 28 March 2016

Flood Field near Pale Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016 #StormKatie Storm Katie.

Flood Field near Pale Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016

Flood Field near Pale Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016 #StormKatie Storm Katie

Flood Field near Pale Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016

Flood Field near Pale Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016 #StormKatie Storm Katie.

Flood Field near Pale Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016

Flood Totters Lane Hook 28 March 2016 #StormKatie Storm Katie

Flood Totters Lane Hook 28 March 2016

Flood Totters Lane Hook 28 March 2016 #StormKatie

Flood Totters Lane Hook 28 March 2016

Flood Totters Lane Hook 28 March 2016 #StormKatie

Flood Totters Lane Hook 28 March 2016

Winchfield Parish Council demolishes the new town idea in their response to the Local Plan Consultation

Hart in Heart of Hart, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

Winchfield Parish Council (WPC) have submitted their response and covering letter (see downloads below) to Hart Council’s Local Plan consultation and effectively demolished all of the arguments supporting Hart’s new town idea.  The response was pulled together with the help of professional planners at John Boyd Planning Associates.

There are four main planks to WPC’s argument:

  1. Lack of evidence to justify the need for a new settlement
  2. Winchfield is not a suitable location for a new settlement
  3. A new settlement is not a viable approach
  4. There should be more of a focus on alternatives such as brownfield development and dispersal

The lack of evidence is demonstrated by the fact that Hart has not yet consulted upon the issues recommended by Peter Village QC namely, employment, retail, transport, and infrastructure. Moreover, it is premature and illogical to be conducting the consultation now when the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) is being revised and we don’t know what the Objectively Assessed Need is going to be. They also note the work done by Alan Wenban-Smith that seriously challenged the numbers in the existing SHMA.

The challenge to the suitability of Winchfield as a location is demonstrated by the significant barriers to delivery outlined by Hart themselves such as education, transport and foul water drainage. They also point out that the main argument used in favour of a settlement at Winchfield, the presence of a railway station, is undermined by the suggestion that the station would have to be relocated to support the new town. There are also significant doubts about the capacity of the available sites to accommodate a new settlement of sufficient size to be viable, especially when one considers the environmental constraints such as SSSIs and SINCs as well as the space that will have to be found for SANGs, shops, car-parks, schools and recreational facilities. Not only that, but the disparate nature of the sites will make it very difficult to plan a coherent and compact nuclear settlement.

WPC also challenge the viability of a new settlement by pointing out the massive costs of infrastructure with no evidence being presented to indicate how these costs would be met.  The NPPF (para 47 & 173) calls for housing and infrastructure to be planned together, so if it cannot be demonstrated that the right infrastructure can be funded and built, then the whole new town idea could be rejected by an inspector and the Local Plan found unsound.

WPC’s submission welcomes Hart’s belated focus on brownfield development, but criticises them for ignoring an important study by Stonegate Homes, the further opportunities presented by the changes to permitted development rights and the results of Hart’s own findings of new “Zones of Brownfield Opportunity”.  They also point out that Hart’s ‘Economic Development Strategy’ (2015) identifies that the District Council must direct its resources to urban regeneration, and that focusing growth in and adjacent to Hart’s main settlements would
boost investment in infrastructure and regeneration in the locations where it is needed most and help close the £78m funding gap.

Finally, they say that it would be inappropriate to try and meet the housing needs of our ageing population through a new town option.

All in all, this is an eloquent and devastating attack on the whole idea of a new town and is very much in-line with what We Heart Hart has been saying for months.  We can only hope that the councillors will take heed of such an important report from professional planning consultants and get the Local Plan back on track to being found sound at inspection.

 

Cover letter:

Winchfield Parish Council Cover Letter

Full response:

Winchfield Parish Council Local Plan Consultation response

response  covering letter

Hart Council calls for Pyestock to be released for housing

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

Brownfield site: Hartland Park (Pyestock) near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire could be released for housing.

Joint-CEO of Hart District Council, Daryl Phillips has called for Hartland Park (Pyestock) to be released for housing in an article in Fleet News and Mail. The article claims the site is on the market, and this appears to be confirmed by its presence on the Jones Lang Lasalle website here and here.

Hart Council believes that the 119-acre (48 Hectare) site could yield over 1,000 dwellings.  That would equate to an undemanding density of around 20 dwellings per hectare.  We think that opportunities for increasing density should be explored, taking account of the environmental sensitivity.  Who knows, there might even be sufficient space for new schools if it were shown that a new secondary school was required.  The old Bramshott Farm site across the road may well be earmarked as SANG.

The advantage of Pyestock as a site is that it is close to Fleet railway station and could be reached by bicycle or on foot and it is close to existing employment sites in Fleet and around Farnborough airport.  The site is very close to the M3 and the road system has already been improved in anticipation of thousands of lorry movements.

If the owners could be persuaded to release this site for housing, then it is certain that we would have sufficient brownfield capacity to meet or housing needs up to 2031 and beyond, as it would take our capacity up to over 3,500, when our remaining need to be permitted is 2,500. We definitely would not need a new town, nor would we need an urban extension.

If you would like to give Hart Council more encouragement to persist in getting Pyestock released and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page, updated our two guides to responding to the consultation and they are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

 

 

Ideas to oppose the Watery Lane Development in Church Crookham

Some of the opponents of the proposed Watery Lane development in Church Crookham have criticised We Heart Hart for not joining them in opposing building a housing estate there.  We cannot get involved in each and every planning application, but the material below outlines what we believe would be useful material for Face IT and other groups to use as they see fit to add to their case.

1. We don’t need this development

Hart is being asked to build too many houses, because the SHMA is flawed.  It starts with the 2011-based population projections, whereas the 2012-based projections would reduce the starting point by 1,800 dwellings (SHMA appendices p75).  The jobs forecasts are too optimistic, calling for a near doubling of the job creation rate over the plan period.  See the links below for more detail:

http://wehearthart.co.uk/2015/06/hart-is-being-asked-to-build-too-many-houses/

http://wehearthart.co.uk/2015/11/independent-expert-says-we-are-being-asked-to-build-too-many-houses/

http://wehearthart.co.uk/2015/05/revised-submission-to-owens-farm-hop-garden-road-appeal/

As a result of the over-stated need in the SHMA, the current land supply statement understates the land-supply position, therefore the Watery Lane development is not needed now.

2. Brownfield Solution

There is an alternative brownfield solution to meet the housing needs of the district. Our local MP also supports a brownfield solution:

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

http://wehearthart.co.uk/2015/10/ranil-says-no-to-winchfield-new-town-and-yes-to-brownfield/

3. Wrong type of Housing in the Wrong Place

A development such as Watery Lane would build the wrong type of housing in the wrong place to meet the needs of the district. Hart’s policy is to build 40% affordable and 60% market housing, or a split of about 3,014 affordable and 4,520 market to meet our overall need of 7,534. The SHMA (Figure 9.8) calls for 40.8% 1-bed and 33.2% 2-bed properties from our affordable housing target and 6.7% 1-bed and 28% 2-bed properties from our market housing target. This gives a total target of 1,532 1-bed and 2,266 2-bed properties.  No data has yet been forthcoming on how well or badly we are doing against these targets, but perhaps Face IT could join We Heart Hart in asking Hart to produce the information to allow us to know one way or the other.  More traditional housing estates in the countryside are likely to under-deliver on both affordable and smaller properties.

Similarly, the SHMA (Figure 10.15) calls for around 2,500 specialist units for the elderly, split into various categories to be built in Hart under the Local Plan.  We do not know how many have been built or permitted to date, but again it is self-evident that a housing estate in the country would not deliver specialist units for the elderly. Again, perhaps Face IT can join We Heart Hart in requesting that this information is released.

We do hope that the team opposing Watery Lane find this information helpful.

Response to Hook Action Against Over Development

Which would you rather preserve - derelict eyesore or our wildlife?

Which would you rather preserve – derelict eyesore or our countryside and wildlife?

Hook Action Against Over Development have written an article on their website which has been shared on Facebook, criticising both our support of a brownfield solution to our housing needs and the statement from the CPRE saying that the Winchfield New Town proposal was the worst site and the worst option for development.

We re-produce their article below, together with our responses in blue:

There has been a lot of talk about brownfield development and some claims that a new settlement is not necessary because brownfield housing development can provide for all of Hart’s housing needs. Brownfield housing development is the reuse of property or land for residential use where it was previously used for something else, for example office space, industrial land, military use or farm buildings.

Yes, we do believe that all of Hart’s remaining housing need can be met from brownfield sites, and we have set out the case and our plan here and here.  This draws on sites in the SHLAA at only ~26 dwellings per hectare (dph) and the work of the Stonegate Report, plus we have added the civic area that Fleet Future recommended for redevelopment and Fleet Town Council have raised their council tax to fund the costs of preparing a redevelopment plan.

One group in particular from outside of Hook is putting forward the suggestion that the Hart consultation is a simple choice between brownfield and greenfield development. But no matter how much they repeat it does not make it any more true. The CPRE, an organisation with laudable aims, appears to have now fallen for this fiction and hijacking of the term “sustainable development”.

We believe they are referring to We Heart Hart.  We believe the CPRE have not put forward an actual plan, but have clearly stated that they think that a new town at Winchfield is the worst site and worst option for development in Hart.  Sustainable development was defined by the Sustainable Development Commission as:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The concept of sustainable development can be interpreted in many different ways, but at its core is an approach to development that looks to balance different, and often competing, needs against an awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations we face as a society.

We believe that sustainable development does not include concreting over the equivalent of 25 football pitches per year of green fields and leaving untouched, vacant, decaying office blocks. A new settlement would compromise future generations by needlessly concreting over hundreds of hectares of green fields, depriving future generations of the health benefits of the countryside. The economics of the proposals don’t stack up, requiring ~£350m of infrastructure spending, money that neither Hart nor Hampshire County Council have, especially now that HCC is facing an £81m per annum funding deficit. 

Hart’s housing strategy is brownfield first, but Hart cannot propose development on sites that are in commercial use or that have not been put forward for housing. If they were to do so then the Local Plan would fail inspection again at the first hurdle and this would be a disaster. Even hypothetically utilising these unavailable brownfield sites would demand construction at inner city density in order to meet Hart’s objectively assessed housing need. We cannot believe that CPRE are promoting building at such a density in Hart. That would not be sustainable.

We agree that sites need to be developable and eventually deliverable and nobody wants to see the Local Plan fail. Back in September, Hart Council said that they thought the brownfield capacity was 1,800 units.  Miraculously, this has fallen by 75% to only 450 units in the consultation. However, as described above, most of the sites we have put forward are in the SHLAA and in no worse state of deliverability than those put forward for consultation. The other sites are in the Stonegate report and we understand Stonegate are working hard to secure these sites.  The average density for the SHLAA sites is less than Hart’s planning rule of thumb at 26dph, and the Stonegate sites are at no higher density than developments that Hart has granted permission for such as the McCarthy & Stone’s recent development on Fleet Road which many people think is an attractive building.

Hart are actually consulting on which of Hart’s green fields should be selected for housing in the event that there is insufficient brownfield land to meet the housing need. Given the vast expansion of the existing towns and villages in Hart already, with Hook alone having a 25% expansion approved for this Local Plan period, the only suitable and truly sustainable option is a new settlement to allow for a planned increase in infrastructure. Just expanding existing towns and villages either piecemeal or with “urban extensions” is still building on green fields, but in a way that will not provide the opportunity to build extra schools, roads and health facilities that the thousands of new Hart residents will require. That would not be sustainable.

The proposed new town will in fact deliver over 1,800 houses in Hook Parish, which is more than the proposed urban extension and more than the undeveloped brownfield sites.  To be clear, we do not support urban extensions either because we believe all of the remaining need can be met on brownfield sites. The infrastructure costs for a new town do not stack up and a new town will do nothing to close the large £12.2m existing infrastructure funding gap in Hook, and £20.7m gap in Fleet and Church Crookham. No evidence has been presented that we need a new secondary school and the funding for a new town will not address existing road bottlenecks, nor will there be sufficient funding to address the roads requirements of a new town. We repeat, we do not believe concreting over 25 football pitches each year is at all sustainable.

Elimination of all potential commercial property space in Hart is in fact extremely short-sighted. Even the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership which is urging more housing would not want to see commercial space becoming rare and expensive. There is already an acknowledged shortage within Hart of small business units and light industrial space. Larger available office space provides options for small local businesses to grow without leaving the area. A thriving local economy needs a balance of housing and business to provide employment opportunities locally and avoid all of these new residents having to take to the roads and railways to commute out of the area for work on already busy transport links. That would not be sustainable.

Nobody is saying that all of the vacant commercial space be handed over to housing.  But even the Employment Land Review, based as it is on the inflated Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and the inflated jobs forecasts, suggests that there will be around 600,000 sq m of vacant employment space across the Housing Market Area at the end of the plan period and Rushmoor was planning to “protect” 96 Ha of vacant brownfield sites that simply are not needed. If there was such a shortage of offices or of light industrial space, places like the Murrell Green Estate would not have the big vacancies they currently have. Of course it would be more sustainable to free up some of these spaces and redevelop them for residential use rather than leave them to rot and decay.

There is very little brownfield land in Hart but there is an amusing “brownfield site slideshow”, made available by campaigners whose aim is to push development away from their village, to supposedly “demonstrate” how much brownfield land is available for housing. If you happen to see it, do bear in mind that:

  • Several of the sites are already being developed for housing (and therefore counted in existing housing build numbers!) such as Landata House and Greenwell in Hook, Sun Park and others.
  • Several of the sites are being converted to other commercial uses, e.g. Warehousing at Pyestock and retail development on Fleet Road where M&S are looking to move to an expanded new store.
  • Several of the sites are in fact just one vacant floor(or even a partial floor) in an otherwise occupied office building!

Now perhaps the future really is an office building with some adjacent floorspace being residential, but can anyone imagine this being attractive to either residential or commercial tenants?!

The fact that some of the sites have already been taken up for redevelopment simply proves our case and shows it can be done.  Our brownfield solution has taken account of the sites that are already underway. Work at Hartland Park (aka Pyestock) stopped years ago, and there is no sign of it re-starting.  The owners will not wish to keep an expensive site forever generating no returns. Of course if M&S moves into another Fleet Road site, then they will leave behind a different vacant block to go with the many other vacant units in the Hart Centre.

There are plenty of examples of mixed residential and commercial use, both in this country and on the continent.  Nobody is suggesting this should happen without comprehensive redevelopment.

This current consultation is clearly not about a choice between brownfield and greenfield development, it is about the best way to provide Hart’s required housing with essential supporting infrastructure and only a new settlement can achieve that. For more, please refer to our previous article hookdevaction.org.uk/hart-housing-consultation-restarted-your-action-needed.

The Hartley Winchook new town is not required, it not viable because of the flood risks and the massive, unfunded infrastructure costs, and will not be sustainable in any sense of the word. There is a brownfield alternative, and we should seize that opportunity.

 

 

Here are the slideshows of vacant brownfield sites we have found in Hart and Rushmoor:

 

  • We Heart Hart's Mascot - Bravehart
    We Heart Hart's Mascot - Bravehart

 

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page, updated our two guides to responding to the consultation and they are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

Urban Areas not taking their fair share of homes part 2

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town

Further to our post of yesterday, that showed the impact by parish of following a dispersal strategy, we have now created graphs to show the impact by parish of urban extensions and a new town.  In each case, it shows that the urban areas of the district are not taking their fair share of housing.

This demonstrates to us the need to step up efforts to follow a brownfield strategy and re-find the 1,400 units on brownfield sites that Hart lost after saying that 1,800 units on brownfield land could be readily quantified back in September 2015.

First, let’s take at the new town strategy.  The chart showing the %-age increase in dwellings by parish from 2011 to 2032 if we followed a new town strategy to meet the remaining need from now on is shown above.  The table showing how this has been calculated is shown below:

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town Table

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town Table

Of course, only 2,000 of the full 5,000 will be delivered before 2032.  We have distributed these across Winchfield (in others) and Hook parish in the same ratio of the overall delivery shown in the SHLAA.  However, the secret plan from the Winchfield Consortium showed the Murrell Green sites would be developed first, so this may understate the impact on Hook.

Now, let’s take a look at the Urban Extension option.  he chart showing the %-age increase in dwellings by parish from 2011 to 2032 if we followed an urban extension strategy to meet the remaining need from now, together with the table showing how this has been calculated are shown below:

[Update: The West of Fleet urban extension is actually in Crookham Village Parish so chart and table updated to show that]

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions 201-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions 201-2032

 

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions Table 2001-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions Table 2001-2032

The urban extensions are at Pale Lane which is split across Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney parishes, west of Hook which is in Hook parish and west of Fleet (in Crookham Village Parish].

Finally, let’s re-look at the dispersal strategy, we covered in yesterday’s post:

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District - dispersal strategy

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District – dispersal strategy

Parish  2011 Census Dwellings 2011-2015 % of total  2011-2015 Number 2011-2015 % increase  Dispersal Proposal 2011-2032 % Increase
Crookham Village 1,630 7% 322 19.8% 177 31%
Elvetham Heath, Fleet, Church Crookham, Ewshot 14,879 45% 2,070 13.9% 466 17%
Hartley Wintney 2,222 10% 460 20.7% 290 34%
Hook 3,111 19% 874 28.1% 204 35%
Odiham/Long Sutton/ South Warnborough 3,142 5% 230 7.3% 583 26%
Yateley/ Blackwater 9,826 11% 506 5.1% 480 10%
Others 2,526 3% 138 5.5% 1,027 46%
Total 37,336 100% 4,600 12.3% 3,227 21%

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and updated our two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

Fleet, Elvetham Heath, Crookham Village, Yateley, Blackwater and Ewshot not taking their fair share of housing

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District.

Hart Council has published a lot of data related to the new consultation.  We have taken a look at it, come to the conclusion that the combination of the houses built or permitted since 2011, plus the proposals for dispersal show that our urban areas are not taking their fair share of housing. We think that Hart District should be trying harder to find brownfield sites in Fleet, Yateley and Blackwater to redress the balance and save our countryside (see slider of sites below).

Which would you rather preserve - derelict eyesore or our wildlife?

Which would you rather preserve – derelict eyesore or our wildlife?

The chart above shows the %-age increase in dwellings by parish by combining the data shown in the table in para 30 of the main consultation document. This gives the distribution of dwellings built or permitted since 2011:

Split of dwellings built or permitted since 2011 by Parish

Split of dwellings built or permitted since 2011 by Parish

It did look odd to us that the parishes of Elvetham Heath, Fleet, Church Crookham and Ewshot should be grouped together like they were to give the impression that these parishes had already taken a lot of housing.  Of course if you combine a number of parishes together, then it is obvious that their combined contribution is going to be larger than the individual parishes to which they are compared.

So, we started with the census data for the number of dwellings by parish, and combined them together in the same way Hart had, then added on the number of houses implied by the figure above, then added the number of houses proposed by the dispersal option and expressed the result as a %-age increase on the number of dwellings that were there in 2011:

Parish  2011 Census Dwellings 2011-2015 % of total  2011-2015 Number 2011-2015 % increase  Dispersal Proposal 2011-2032 % Increase
Crookham Village 1,630 7% 322 19.8% 177 31%
Elvetham Heath, Fleet, Church Crookham, Ewshot 14,879 45% 2,070 13.9% 466 17%
Hartley Wintney 2,222 10% 460 20.7% 290 34%
Hook 3,111 19% 874 28.1% 204 35%
Odiham/Long Sutton/ South Warnborough 3,142 5% 230 7.3% 583 26%
Yateley/ Blackwater 9,826 11% 506 5.1% 480 10%
Others 2,526 3% 138 5.5% 1,027 46%
Total 37,336 100% 4,600 12.3% 3,227 21%

This shows that the urban areas that include Fleet, Yateley and Blackwater will take the lowest %-age increase in housing. Whereas, places like Hook, Hartley Wintney and the other rural parishes  are going to take massive %-age increases in housing.

Of course, a new town would disproportionately impact Winchfield, but would also lead to 1,800 further houses in Hook and effectively join those parishes to Hartley Wintney, into a giant Hartley WInchook conurbation.  Even the proposed urban extensions will further increase the pressure on Hartley Wintney and Hook.

One of the proposed extensions, the so-called Pale Lane extension (SHL 52) is largely in Hartley Wintney Parish, and another of the extensions is to the west of Hook (SHL 173).

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and updated our two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

We Heart Hart responds to Overview and Scrutiny Committee investigation

Hart District Council (HDC) Overview and Scrutiny Committee to examine consultation errors

Overview and Scrutiny Committee to examine consultation errors.  

In response to Hart Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s request for contributions from local groups to their investigation into the Local Plan Consultation debacle, We Heart Hart have sent in their thoughts on the matter.

The full response is available form the download below:

We Heart Hart contribution to consultation investigation

link

Questions to Hart Council 28 January 2016

Hart District Council Offices, We Heart Hart. We Love Hart

Hart District Council Offices in Fleet, Hampshire.

After the Local Plan consultation debacle, we have put a series of questions to Hart Council that will be answered at their meeting on 28 January 2016.  Please do come along if you can.

The full questions can be found on the download below, and cover whether Hart Council has a project plan we can believe in; the progress (or otherwise) made in testing the Winchfield new town proposals; what happened to the 1,800 dwellings that Hart said in September could be built on brownfield sites; discrepancies between the consultation documents and the official SHLAA; how well we are meeting the needs of the young and elderly; the risks of re-running the consultation now, given the housing target (SHMA) is about to change and of course, seeking clarity on who instigated and authorised the fateful changes to the consultation materials part way through.

Questions for Council 28 Jan 16

link

We Heart Hart response to the decision to abandon the consultation

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the omnishambles Consultation.

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices.

After a period of reflection, we have now had time to compose a response to Hart’s astonishing decision to abandon the Local Plan consultation and set out what we think should happen to bring the Local Plan back on track. This has been sent to all councillors.

Readers may wish to copy a link to this page and send it to their ward councillor and add their own ideas on what should be done.  A list of councillor contact details can be found here.

What should we think about Hart Council’s decision to call off the Local Plan consultation with only a day to go before it was due to close?  Well, to misquote Churchill, this consultation has been a farce in a fiasco inside an omnishambles.  Never has so little been achieved by so many with so much of our money.

This is but the latest entry in a catalogue of mismanagement and misjudgement.

Back in April 2015, Peter Village QC described Hart’s position as “hopeless” and precious little has changed since then.  This abandoned consultation has not even covered the areas that he said should have been covered, namely, employment, retail, transport and infrastructure.

Now, let’s look at the timeline:

  • In October, 2013, when the earlier version of the plan was rejected by the Planning Inspector, the council said:

“that while the council operates under the interim strategy, it is working on an updated Local Plan…. We expect to put this out for consultation early next year, and would look to submit it to an inspector next autumn [2014],”

  • In April 2014, the plan was to have a resubmission plan ready for consultation in October 2015.
  • In February 2015, the plan was to have a resubmission plan ready for Autumn 2015.
  • As late as April last year, the council was insisting that they were still on track to deliver a Resubmission Plan by Autumn 2015, despite our warnings that the project was slipping.
  • We are now in a position, according to the latest schedule, where the Resubmission plan is due in Autumn 2016, but this has to be in serious doubt given the failure of this consultation and the fact that the evidence base won’t be revised until Spring 2016 and Hart have to hold a Regulation 18 consultation on the draft Local Plan, and heaven knows why it is planned for the Summer, when many people will be on holiday.

It is difficult to come to a conclusion other than the project management is woeful.

We need also to look at the governance of the project.  Power on the Local Plan Steering Group (LPSG) is concentrated in the hands of urban councillors who have presided over this mess.

Role Member
Cabinet Member for Planning (Chairman) Stephen Parker (Con Fleet East)
The Leader of Council Stephen Parker (Con Fleet East)
Cabinet Member for Housing Stephen Gorys (Con – Odiham)
Chairman of Planning Committee Simon Ambler (CCH – Crookham West and Ewshot)
Political Group Leaders David Neighbour (Lib Dem – Yateley East)

James Radley (CCH – Crookham East)

Stephen Parker (Con – Fleet East)

 

Not only that, the quality of the deliverables to date is poor.  By way of example, in January last year Hart commissioned a piece of work to test the new settlement and urban extension options.  The published results of this work have not met the objectives set at the outset.

I have had many people send me Facebook messages, tweets and emails saying what a farce the process has been a shambles and a waste of time and money.  One correspondent has even been moved to write a poem, saying they thought our leader has led us up the garden path and couldn’t even run a bath. In short the council is a laughing stock. Many people have also come to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that the reason the consultation has been called off is that the people were giving the ‘wrong answer’. There is no confidence in the council, the credibility of the whole Local Plan process is subterranean, with some complaining of “consultation fatigue”.

If the consultation is re-run at the end of January, it is extremely likely that parts of the new evidence base will be released during the consultation, thus meaning that the consultation will be run on the wrong evidence base, invalidating the results.

The Local Plan process is so far behind schedule that we are running the risk of Central Government stepping in and doing the Local Plan for us.  Moreover, the Government is currently consulting on plans to remove the New Homes Bonus from councils that do not have a Local Plan, so this further failure may result in a hit to services or increases in council tax. So, it is clear we need a good Local Plan and quickly.

But before we can move forwards it is imperative that we fix the management and governance failings that have led us to this unhappy place. It is simply untenable for the current incumbents to carry on as if nothing has happened.

The changes we need are:

  • Resignation of the entire LPSG from their positions to be replaced by a new group of senior councillors from a balance of rural and urban wards.
  • I’m sorry to say it, but the cabinet member for planning and leader’s position is untenable after presiding over such a comedy of errors.
  • Whoever authorised the change to the questions mid-way through the consultation within the “officer” side must at least be severely reprimanded.
  • Hart need to appoint an experienced project manager to run the Local Plan project who should immediately review it and put together a realistic scope, objectives, deliverables, resource requirements, costs and timelines, publish it, and offer it for scrutiny by a recognised project assurance organisation
  • Only when the revised evidence base (SHMA and Employment Land Review) has been published, should Hart run a new Regulation 18 consultation covering employment, retail, transport, infrastructure as well as housing distribution as per the advice from Peter Village QC. The consultation should be put together and run by a competent third party organisation.
  • A standalone brownfield approach, covering all current brownfield sites in the SHLAA, the Stonegate Report and any new zones of opportunity identified in the call for sites should be added to the consultation as per the request of the 2,130 signatories of the WHH petition. It is simply not credible to set a “deliverable” criterion for brownfield sites when almost all of the green field sites subject to consultation were “not currently developable”.  The council can’t have it one way for brownfield and another for greenfield sites. Many brownfield sites in the SHLAA/New Homes Booklet were “rejected” for apparently arbitrary reasons, they certainly did not appear to have more onerous constraints on them compared to those selected for consultation in Q6.
  • The differences between the site capacities shown in the New Homes Booklet compared to those in the official evidence base in the SHLAA (see point 4 in this letter to councillors, dated 20 November 2015 and Appendix) need to be rectified.
  • The process of the consultation needs to be simplified and improved, with the weighting system being resolved and published before the consultation starts.
  • The risks of a new town and urban extensions should be properly laid out (including creating capacity to take 3,000 houses from Rushmoor and Surrey Heath and the infrastructure costs).
  • All of the SHLAA sites should be offered for consultation in Q6, and the ranking approach changed to something more objective and able to be analysed across parishes such as “strongly oppose, oppose, support, strongly support”. It should be possible to pass comment without ranking sites that you don’t agree should be developed. It was particularly odd to see that the NHB rejected sites that had appeared in Neighbourhood plans.
  • You might do well to review my suggested 5-point plan that I tried to put to council in the Summer, but my question was censored.
  • The different infrastructure contribution regimes for different styles of development should be properly explained: a certain cabinet member was spreading misleading information about this during the recent consultation. My understanding is that only office conversions attract no S106/CIL whereas brownfield redevelopment is subject to the same contribution regime as green field development. It should also be explained that new homes in vacant office blocks attract council tax (and new homes bonus), which HDC retains, rather than business rates much of which is surrendered to the Government.
  • There also needs to be more robust processes for verifying the identity of all those participating in the consultation, and proper rules set on who can and cannot comment: theoretically the consultation just abandoned could have been answered by babes in arms in Aberdeen which is clearly ridiculous.

Only root and branch change of process and personnel will restore confidence and give enough credibility to create a sporting chance of getting a good Local Plan on time.

Press release is available for download below, together with a carousel of pictures of our shot demo outside Hart Offices.

Response to Hart’s decision to abandon the consultation

 

 

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the consultation shambles

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices about the consultation shambles.

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the omnishambles Consultation

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices about the omnishambles Consultation

Protest at Hart's Offices about the Consultation farce

Protest at Hart’s Offices about the Consultation farce

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the consultation fiasco

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices about the consultation fiasco

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the Consultation farce

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices about the omnishambles Consultation.

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the Consultation shambles

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices about the omnishambles Consultation

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