Is the ‘tin-man’ new town plan viable?

Tin Man new town has no heart

Tin Man new town has no heart

The new town, which might be termed Hartley Winchook is Hart District Council’s preferred option to meet our housing needs, but it is not clear whether the proposals are at all viable.

First, if you look at the sites put forward to make up the new town (see below), it is clear they are a mish-mash of disconnected sites bisected by the M3 and the railway, with no clear heart from which to build a successful community. This is recognised by HDC’s planning consultants who have said “It would be challenging to plan a compact nuclear settlement on this site”. In short, this is a ‘tin-man’ proposal for a new town, that Hart Council themselves ruled out back in 2012 and we urge you to oppose it in the consultation.

 

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

Second, there are a large number of significant constraints, many of which will be very difficult to overcome. We have set these out below, pulling the quotes from the official HDC evidence base.

Finally, both Hart and the Government have said that new towns need to be at least 5,000 dwellings. We have taken a look at the housing capacity below, and conclude that it is going to be a struggle to achieve this goal because HDC has not yet taken proper account of the need for SANG, schools, sports facilities, roads, car parks and shops.

We do wonder quite what has been going on inside Hart Planning Department, when last year the new town proposal was the preferred option ‘subject to testing’.  Where are the results of the testing?

We have created a dedicated consultation page and 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

 

 

Constraints to housing

The first point to note is that each and every site put forward to be part of the new town is listed as “not currently developable” in all of the SHLAA documentation.  There are many constraints noted for the sites, including:

  • The road infrastructure  has limited capacity for additional traffic.
  • There are a number of significant nature conservation features and designations either adjacent or in close proximity to the site.
  • Some part of the site are subject to area based TPOs, particularly to the north of the site, near to Winchfield House.
  • The Hampshire Minerals and Waste Plan Policies Map indicates that parts of the site contain areas subject to minerals safeguarding
  • Characterised as attractive rolling countryside… The potential for new development within this area to negatively impact on landscape character is considered to be significant.”
  • Potential to cause considerable harm to landscape character.
  • It is possible that the site contains some ʻbest and most versatileʼ (BMV) agricultural land
  • There are a variety of Listed Buildings within and adjacent to the site
  • Significant parts of the site are subject to the risk of groundwater flooding at the surface”.
  • The nature of the site, split, with substantial areas of farmland, as well as Winchfield Station between the two halves is considered to significantly influence how a new settlement could be planned.
  • Development at the north of the site risks leading to settlement coalescence with Hartley Wintney”.
  • Overhead power lines traverse the site and may represent a constraint”.
  • The extent to which environmental noise from the motorway and railway impacts on the site should be ascertained.

Housing Capacity

The capacity put forward for each site by Hart Council for the sites in Winchfield, Hook and Hartley Wintney Parishes is shown below.

Parish/Ref Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Site Assessment Capacity (High)
Hook 1,458 1,458
SHL126 450 450
SHL136 663 663
SHL169 345 345
Winchfield 5,039 6,039
SHL124 500 1,500
SHL133 396 396
SHL135 55 55
SHL167 772 772
SHL168 46 46
SHL182 600 600
SHL183 150 150
SHL184 850 850
SHL185 450 450
SHL186 350 350
SHL187 600 600
SHL188 200 200
SHL83 10 10
SHL84 60 60
Grand Total 6,497 7,497

HDC and the Government have said that the minimum size for a new eco-town is 5,000 dwellings. However, many of these sites have not yet been fully assessed by officers to verify the housing capacity claimed by developers.  Of particular note is that only ~50Ha of land has been assigned to SANG (part of SHL183).  A development of 5,000 houses would require 100Ha of land (minimum of 8Ha per 1,000 people), so a further 50Ha at least is required.  At Hart’s usual planning rule of thumb of 30 dwellings per hectare, this would reduce the available capacity by 1,500 units.

A new settlement would also require space for sports facilities.  Hartley Wintney has three football pitches and a cricket pitch, and it is less than half the size of the proposed new town. So, let’s assume a new town would need 6 football pitches and 2 cricket pitches.  Hartley Wintney FC (with three pitches covers some 3Ha and the cricket pitch some 1.5 Ha) – together say 9 Ha.

HDC say the new town would also need 4 new schools, one secondary and three primary.  Robert Mays’ site is around 5 Ha (measured on Google Maps) and the site of Greenfields School at Hartley Wintney is around 2.5Ha, so the four schools would need around 12Ha between them.

Then of course, there would need to be a new supermarket and other shops, medical facilities and other employment space. Tesco in Hook takes up about 1 Ha, but the new town is to be around twice the size of Hook, so a bigger store would be needed. So let’s say a conservative 10Ha in total for supermarkets, shops, surgeries and car parks.

Then of course, we need space for new roads, a sewage works and the new railway station.  Fleet station is around 2 Ha, and the old sewage works at Branshott Farm was around 2 Ha.  New roads and a motorway junction will further reduce capacity.

That brings the total up to around 35 Ha.  That takes off space for a further 1,050 dwellings.

As can be seen, when you take into account the need for SANG, schools, shops, sports facilities, new station and sewage works, the available capacity drops by around 2,550 units, taking the low end estimate of housing capacity to ~4,000, well below the minimum 5,000 and the high end just below the boundary of viability.

A number of the sites are unlikely to ever be suitable for housing, and other sites have very real issues with the potential for groundwater flooding which would further reduce capacity. For example, site SHL167 has just been refused permission for even a solar farm, and SHL133 is borders two SSSI’s and a significant part of it is subject to flooding. And sites such as SHL182, 184, 186, 187 and 188 do not yet appear to have had their capacities factored down by officers to take account of the constraints.

And of course, Dr Anne Crampton has called for a 500m exclusion zone around the motorway, which would render the whole scheme unviable.

 

Would a new town be safe for our children?

500m M3 exclusion zone near Winchfield Hampshire

Proposed new town in Winchfield and Hook, Hampshire with 500m exclusion zone around the M3

Many councillors are doing their utmost to promote the supposed benefits of a new town – Hartley Winchook, but it is clear that the plans have not been properly thought through.  For instance, what is the impact on  the health and well-being of our children?

First let’s take a look at site of the proposed new town in the image above or on this link.

As can be clearly seen the M3 and the railway go straight through the middle of the proposed sites.  However, a number of medical studies have been carried out in a number of countries such as the US, Germany and Holland that highlight the dangers to children’s health of living close to major highways such as motorways.  Examples can be found here, here and here. The highlighted risks include cardiac and pulmonary risks, wheeziness in children, shorter lifespans, premature births, asthma and cancer.  It is worth noting that a new school is proposed just north of site 83 on the map above, meaning the children living in the new town would both live and go to school very close to the motorway.  In the light of these studies, Councillor Dr. Anne Crampton has proposed that there should be a 500m exclusion zone for new housing around the M3 (shown in yellow hatching on the map).  The implication of this, as can be seen from the map, is that many of the proposed sites would be rendered unsuitable if Dr. Crampton’s proposal was adopted and in fact, the whole new town proposal would fail.  So, it seems we have  choice: protect our children or concrete over the green fields.

There’s another issue too.  The proposed site of the secondary school is between the motorway and the Mildmay Oaks hospital that was housing child sex offenders (one of whom escaped) and other patients who were violent towards staff. Originally, this school site was proposed in the Barratts Vision document that some councillors have since  disowned. But, amazingly, this location is still proposed for the secondary school in the site assessments from Hart District Council (HDC) – see image from this document below – Mildmay Oaks is inside the pink blob towards the middle of the image and the boundary for the school is shown in blue.

Potential school next to MIldmay Oaks Hospital Winchfield Hampshire

Potential school next to Mildmay Oaks Hospital Winchfield Hampshire

It is clear that this new town proposal has not been well thought through at all and if this is no longer the proposed site for a school, then the council should say where the school would go.  Would it be within the proposed 500m exclusion zone?

It is worth noting also, that if this 500m exclusion zone were applied, it would also reduce the brownfield capacity at Ancells Farm, so we would have to seek out some additional sites and the urban extension at Pale Lane would also be deemed an unsuitable site.

We have created a dedicated consultation page and 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

New town plan transforms Winchfield into a concrete jungle

Winchfield SHLAA Sites in Hart District Hampshire

Winchfield SHLAA Sites in Hart District Hampshire

The combination of the sites put forward for the Winchfield new town will put more than half of the beautiful countryside at the Heart of Hart under concrete with devastating impacts on the ecology and environment.  But readers should also note that around a quarter of the planned houses will be in Hook parish, with some of it in Hartley Wintney next to the Dilly Lane development, many houses on the boundary with Odiham Parish and of course the eastern boundary of the site will directly abut Fleet and be very close to the Edenbrook estate.

The notion that this is in any way “sustainable development” is total nonsense and the notion that there will be limited impact on other areas of the district is also nonsense.

If you want to protect our countryside you must vote for Approach 1, a dispersal strategy in the Local Plan consultation and ask Hart Council to find again the 1,400 sites they lost.  Our remaining needs can be met from brownfield sites alone.

We have created a dedicated consultation page and 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

Do we really want to create a giant Hartley Winchook conurbation?

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

Hartley Winchook New Town proposal for Hart District in Hampshire

As you may know, Hart District Council has embarked on a new consultation about the Hart Local Plan.  One of the approaches put forward is for a “new settlement at Winchfield”.  However, this is misleading because a number of the sites that form part of the proposal are in the Hook and Hartley Wintney parishes.  This new town proposal is really a plan to create a single conurbation of Hartley Winchook that will damage the distinct identity if each of the existing settlements.

Moreover, there are also sites in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment that further encroach on the parishes of Hartley Wintney and Hook.

Let’s take a look at Hartley Wintney parish first:

Hartley Wintney SHLAA sites in Hart District

Hartley Wintney SHLAA sites in Hart District, Hampshire

As can be seen, many of the proposed new town sites adjoin the Hartley Wintney parish boundary and site SHL 124 actually adjoins what will become phase 2 of the St Mary’s Park Dilly Lane development.  Moreover, the pink rectangle that is bisected by the Hart Parish boundary where it adjoins Fleet and Elvetham Heath is the site of a proposed urban extension to the Elvetham Heath community.

Now, let’s take a look at Hook:

Hook SHLAA sites in Hart District

Hook SHLAA sites in Hart District, Hampshire

As you can see, sites 126, 136 and 169 already make up part of the proposed new town and they are in the Hook Parish and 1,458 houses are proposed.  More than half of SHL167 is also in Hook Parish, delivering a further 400 houses to Hook, giving a total of around 1,850 dwellings.  These are very close to sites 1&2 where Hart Council has already resolved to grant planning permission and to sites SHL 3 & 4, which so far have been rejected, but the capacity is between 1,000 and 2,800 houses.  It is surely only a matter of time before voracious developers start to lobby for sites 3 and 4 to be included in the package to make the whole thing “more sustainable”, as if concreting over our green fields is in any way sustainable.

The only way to combat this urbanisation of our countryside is to vote for Approach 1, dispersal in the current consultation about the Hart Local Plan, and make comments saying you want Hart Council to find again the brownfield sites they said were “readily quantifiable”.

We have created a dedicated consultation page and 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