Hart Council refuses to answer infrastructure questions

Hart Council refuse to answer Infrastructure Questions

Hart Council refuses to answer infrastructure questions

Last week, we tabled six infrastructure questions to be answered at tonight’s council meeting. We found out last night that five of them won’t be answered for dubious reasons.  We think this behaviour form the council is dangerously authoritarian. Our questions (in bold), Hart’s reasoning, and our response (in red) are shown below.

In essence, it seems that the CCH/Lib Dem administration does not want to face facts about school and infrastructure provision. This is frankly pathetic, and does not bode well for the quality of the next version of the Local Plan that is due to be published before Christmas, in preparation for a Cabinet meeting in early January.

Infrastructure Questions – Schools

Q1: Hampshire County Council have recently published a school places plan that shows a surplus of secondary school places up to 2021. There is now extra space for expanding Calthorpe Park. Would a new secondary school be required if the Local Plan was based on:

  1. The 10,185 units in the draft Local Plan?
  2. The 8,022 units in the SHMA?
  3. The 6,132 units (or ~6,500 if Hart needs to build some extra for Surrey Heath) implied by the recent Government consultation on the approach to calculating housing need?

Notwithstanding the fact that the question is badly framed because it seeks to compare a short term School Places Plan with a much longer Local Plan which would run to 2032 (therefore there is no possibility of a genuine comparison), Hampshire County Council has a statutory duty to ensure a sufficiency of school places for Hampshire children. Therefore the hypothetical question set out in the question about the need for a secondary school should be put to Hampshire County Council as Hart District Council is not promoting a new secondary school other than working with Hampshire County Council to secure the long term availability of land for a possible future secondary school.

We are therefore rejecting the question as it relates to a matter for Hampshire County Council and also the answer will not inform any current decisions or scenarios that are being considered by Hart District Council.

The question will not be put to Council on Thursday.

For background information Hampshire County Council made comments in respect of 10,185 units. These can be viewed on the Council’s web site at: https://www.hart.gov.uk/sites/default/files/4_The_Council/Policies_and_published_documents/Planning_policy/Local_Plan/EM143%20-%20Hampshire%20County%20Council.pdf

Given the Government has published new guidance on how to calculate housing need, we think it is perfectly reasonable to ask questions about how that will impact school place planning. We wish that HCC had done pupil forecasting beyond 2021, but they haven’t. We were not comparing HCC’s time horizon with the Local Plan period, merely noting that up to 2021, no new secondary school is required. The purpose of the question was to find out if this would remain the case up to 2032 under a range of housing target scenarios. We think this analysis is crucial to creating a sound Local Plan. 

Q2: The school places plan also shows continuing pressure on Fleet schools. Given that there is significant development proposed at Sun Park and Hartland Village, have you considered siting a new secondary school, if required, at Hartland Village or using part of the Bramshot Farm SANG?

Apparently, this question will be answered tomorrow.

Q3: HCC has also published an Infrastructure Statement showing the cost of a 150-pupil expansion of Robert Mays to be £7.6m. Scaling this up, a 9-form entry secondary school at Murrell Green or Winchfield would cost ~£68m. The expected developer funding from an 1,800 unit development with 40% affordable would be around £16m. How do you propose to fund the remaining budget for the school plus necessary the road improvements and community infrastructure?

Hampshire County Council has a statutory duty to ensure a sufficiency of school places for Hampshire children. The scenario presented in Q3 about education costs is based upon speculation that does not reflect true costings (benchmarking costs as published on Hampshire County Council’s web site at http://documents.hants.gov.uk/education/NationalSchoolDeliveryCostBenchmarking-PrimarySecondarySENSc.pdf).  

(It will confirm that the scenario of £68m is quite unrealistic)

We have checked this source, and they are quite right, using the median estimate per pupil, a 9-form entry, 1,350 pupil school would cost around £27.3m. However, this is somewhat below Hart’s/HCC’s own assessment in July 2015, of £56-60m. So, we don’t think our £68m estimate is out of the ballpark, given it is based on more recent budget numbers for a school extension. In any event, this is not a reason to refuse to answer the question.

In any event, the question is badly framed. It is not a proper question to put to Council as it is more of a hypothetical and speculative debating point. It starts with a false premise about secondary school cost (£68m for a secondary school that is not being promoted through the emerging Local Plan) and then goes on to make uninformed speculative statements on developer funding and cost without any supporting evidence base. The suggested conclusion is not logical either. The published facts confirm that for Murrell Green for example, the development will, in addition to its own infrastructure costs, deliver 40% affordable homes, £34.5m in S106 contributions, and still leave the developer a healthy and viable surplus.

A new school was certainly being promoted in the draft Local Plan, so we feel the question is entirely reasonable. The estimate of £34.5m S106 contributions for Murrell Green is entirely new to us. We based our calculation as follows. 1,800 units in total, 40% affordable leaves 1,080 units available to make contributions, of around £14,800 per unit. At an average price of £500,000 this would mean arond 3% of revenues, or around 20% of estimated net margin of 15% of selling price. Hart’s estimate of £34.5m assumes £32,000 per unit that sounds on the high side to us.

The next version of the Local Plan at formal Regulation 19 Publication stage will show how much housing we are planning for and where it is going. The accompanying infrastructure plan to support the development proposed will be published alongside it.

The Chairman is, therefore, rejecting the question for the above reasons as we consider that the preparation of an answer to such hypothetical and speculative scenarios would require a disproportionate amount of time, money, and effort in circumstances where the work required to answer the question would not inform any decisions to be made by the Council.

We don’t think it is at all hypothetical to ask about how our infrastructure will be funded. Indeed, James Radley has recently gone on the record calling for an “infrastructure led” Local Plan, which makes our questioning even more relevant.

The question will not be put to Council on Thursday.

Infrastructure Questions – Overall Funding

Q4: The same Infrastructure Statement showed an overall funding gap of £72m for Hart. The figures don’t include healthcare, extra-care places for the elderly nor countryside services. How do you propose to quantify the un-costed items and to close the funding gap?

The question again is badly framed and fundamentally mis-quotes the purpose of Hampshire’s Infrastructure Statement.  It also confuses matters that are not infrastructure funding or relevant to funding from new development. 

We have not misquoted Hampshire’s document. OUr report about it, and relevant images from the document can be found here. All of the elements in our question are in Hampshire’s statement. It is entirely reasonable to ask how the funding gap will be closed, whether through development or other means.

For the record, the HCC Infrastructure Statement set out the requirements identified to support growth, but it does not attempt to set priorities with regard to funding. The Statement also specifically recognises that local authorities cannot require developers to fund existing deficiencies in infrastructure provision.

We never said it did.

In this regard, there is no expectation that development in Hart or any other District should seek to meet the overall funding gap as identified in the Infrastructure Statement (because much of the infrastructure deficit is historic) but infrastructure funding will be required to mitigate the adverse effects arising from the development itself.  

We shall have to agree to disagree. When the Deputy Leader goes on the record calling for an ‘infrastructure led’ Local Plan, then it does set an expectation that our creaking infrastructure will be fixed. The reason why we have an historic funding deficit is continued mismanagement and inability to focus on getting infrastructure right. It seems by refusing to answer questions about it, the council is going to continue in the same vein. Continuing to do the same thing whilst expecting a different result is the definition of stupidity.

The next version of the Local Plan at formal Regulation 19 Publication stage will show how much housing we are planning for and where it is going. The accompanying infrastructure plan to support that development will be published alongside it.

The Chairman is, therefore, rejecting the question for the above reasons as we consider that the preparation of an answer to such hypothetical and speculative scenarios would require a disproportionate amount of time, money, and effort in circumstances where the work required to answer the question will would not inform any decisions to be made by the Council.

The question will not be put to Council on Thursday.

Infrastructure Questions – Alternative Scenarios

Q5: What is the expected incremental infrastructure funding requirement and contribution from developers if you were to construct the Local Plan based on:

  1. The 10,185 units in the draft Local Plan?
  2. The 8,022 units in the SHMA?
  3. The 6,132 units (or ~6,500 if Hart needs to build some extra for Surrey Heath) implied by the recent Government consultation on the approach to calculating housing need?

This question is based upon retrospective or hypothetical scenarios that are not being advanced by the Council.  These again are debating points and not a proper question to be put to Council.  In any event, the next version of the Local Plan at formal Regulation 19 Publication stage will show how much housing we are planning for and where it is going. The accompanying infrastructure plan to support development in the Local Plan will be published alongside it.

These are not hypothetical scenarios. The draft Local Plan called for 10,185 new houses. THe SHMA came up with 8,022. The consequence of the new Government consultation on housing need is 6,132 units. It is perfectly reasonable to expect the council to do some strategic scenario planning to calculate the different costs and contributions to infrastructure that might be expected under each scenario and make decisions accordingly. 

The Chairman is therefore, rejecting the question for the above reasons as we consider that the preparation of an answer to such hypothetical and speculative scenarios would require a disproportionate amount of time, money, and effort in circumstances where the work required to answer the question will would not inform any decisions to be made by the Council.

We asked the question because we thought they would have already done this work. It is fundamental to the decision-making process.

The question will not be put to Council on Thursday.

Pathetic.

Q6: Which of the above options would result in the lowest infrastructure funding gap?

This question is based upon hypothetical scenarios that are not being advanced by the Council.  These again are debating points and not a proper question to be put to Council.  In any event, the next version of the Local Plan at formal Regulation 19 Publication stage will show how much housing we are planning for and where it is going. The accompanying infrastructure plan to support the Local Plan proposals will be published alongside it.

No, it is asking for a conclusion, based on the previous question. I think we all know that we will end up with a lower infrastructure funding gap if we go with a lower housing number. The council has a duty to at the very least consider this and make decisions based on sound data and information. And we as residents should expect no less from our elected representatives.

The Chairman is, therefore, rejecting the question for the above reasons as we consider that the preparation of an answer to such hypothetical and speculative scenarios would require a disproportionate amount of time, money, and effort in circumstances where the work required to answer the question will would not inform any decisions to be made by the Council.

The question will not be put to Council on Thursday.

 

 

Goalposts changed in SWR timetable consultation

South West Trains SWR timetable consultation

South West Trains SWR timetable consultation comparison

The goalposts have been changed in the South West Railway SWR timetable consultation. As you may know already, SWR launched a consultation on the train timetable in late September. However, in response to negative feedback they have revised their proposals.

These new proposals are still unacceptable. Sorry to say this, but even if you have already responded to the first proposals, please respond to these new proposals. Please use the download below to respond to consultation by 22 December 2017. Feedback can be sent to: timetable.feedback@swrailway.com

SWR timetable consultation

Please also sign Ranil’s petition which can be found here.

Impact of South West Railway SWR timetable consultation

The current line to London is already running beyond capacity, and these changes represent a reduction in service at peak hours which cannot be a good idea.

In summary the changes proposed are:

  • Retains the same number of services from Hook and Winchfield to London, however, many of these services now no longer stop at Fleet and Farnborough
  • Keeps the same number of Fleet to London services as now
  • The new proposals result in slightly faster services to London

The impact of these changes will be:

  • School children and students attending Farnborough Sixth form, Salesian and Farnborough Hill will now have far fewer services to choose from to get from Hook/Winchfield to Farnborough.
  • This is likely to lead to both over-crowded trains and increased car journeys, leading to more pollution and congestion
  • No effective increase in capacity from Fleet, Winchfield and Hook to London, even though services are already over-crowded.

Alternative approach to SWR timetable consultation

Thousands of houses have either already been given permission or are proposed in Hart’s Local Plan. These include around 500 dwellings at Sun Park, 1,500 Hartland Village, and 420+ at Grove Farm all near to Fleet station. Moreover, 550 houses are currently being built in NE Hook and 1,800 dwellings are proposed at Murrell Green, both close to both Hook and Winchfield stations. Many hundreds more dwellings are being considered on brownfield sites in Hook. It does seem rather odd that SWR are not proposing to dramatically increase services just at the time when demand is going to increase. I would suggest the following alternative plan:

  • Ensure that many more of the Hook/Winchfield services stop at Fleet/Farnborough to help our kids get to school
  • Increase services from Fleet to London
  • Increase capacity by running more 12-car trains on the whole line at peak times
  • Reduce the number of first class carriages on 8 and 12-car trains to further increase passenger capacity

 

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap as wide as ever

Hart infrastructure funding gap £72m

Hart infrastructure funding gap £72m

New figures have been published by Hampshire that shows the Hart Infrastructure funding gap to be as wide as ever. The overall funding gap for Hampshire is £1.2bn and Hart’s share is £72m.

Hampshire infrastructure spending shortfall

Hampshire infrastructure spending shortfall £1.2bn

Hart’s share of the gap is made up of:

  • Transport, £34m
  • Education: £38m.
  • Countryside: To be Determined.
  • Extra Care places: To be Determined.

No estimate has been made of the requirements or costs of additional healthcare provision.

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap Transport

Hart District Strategic Infrastructure Schemes – Transport

The transport gap is £34m.

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap Education and Countryside

Hart District Strategic Infrastructure Schemes – Education and Countryside

Education is the widest gap at £38m. Interestingly, this doesn’t include the costs of a new secondary school. The developers of Murrell Green have promised land and a contribution to a 9-form entry secondary school. This would amount to a 1,350 place school. A 150 place expansion of Robert Mays is indicated to cost £7.6m. It is therefore realistic to expect a 9-form entry, 1,350 place school would cost around £68m. Developer contributions from a 1,800 unit settlement might be expected to be £16m or so. This is calculated by assuming 40% of the development will be affordable housing, which does not attract S106 funding. It is assumed the remaining 1,080 open market dwellings would deliver S106 contributions of £15,000 per unit.

It is therefore clear that all of the developer contributions would be consumed by the new school, before any road improvements were made. And the road funding deficit is already £34m.

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap Extra Care

Hart District Strategic Infrastructure Schemes – Extra Care

Hampshire identify the need for 221 more extra care units, but don’t identify the cost or say where the money will come from.

What does this mean for the Local Plan?

Community Campaign Hart are promising an “Infrastructure led Local Plan”. It is now obvious that a new settlement will only make the infrastructure funding gap worse. They are sticking to the ridiculous 10,185 housing target. If they adopted the new Government housing target of 6.132, then the infrastructure funding gap would be reduced. There would be fewer houses, therefore less need for road improvements. Fewer people and so less need for a new school. Indeed the latest figures from Hampshire show there’s no need for a new secondary school.

It is time to call them out on their plans and start asking “Show Me the Money”.

 

Facebook group launched to fight #SWRCuts

Save our Station (SOS) WInchfield and Hook Stations Action Group #SWRCuts

Facebook group: Save our Station (SOS) Winchfield and Hook Stations Action Group launched to fight #SWRCuts

A Facebook group called “Save our Station (SOS) Winchfield and Hook Stations Action Group”, has been launched to combat the South Western Railways proposed cuts to services at Winchfield and Hook stations. SWR have proposed the cuts as part of their train timetable consultation.

The group can be found here. Please do visit their page to learn more about what is going on and express your disgust at the proposed #SWRCuts.

In the meantime, SWR are holding a customer feedback session at Waterloo on Wednesday 18 October between 16:00 and 19:00

This has resulted in some interesting feedback from customers:

What can you do to help fight the #SWRCuts

Please do sign Ranil’s petition. It can be found here.

It would also be helpful if you could respond to the consultation directly by emailing your views to timetable.feedback@swrailway.com. We have created a handy template to help you that is can be downloaded below.

SWR timetable consultation

Summary of SWR train timetable proposals

South Western Railways (SWR) has launched a consultation that proposes changes to services from Winchfield, Hook and Fleet train timetables. The full document can be found here. The proposals:

  • Reduce the number of peak morning services from Hook and Winchfield to London from eight to five.
  • Increase peak time services from Fleet by three.

Impact of SWR train timetable proposals

The current line to London is already running beyond capacity, and these changes will lead to the following impact:

  • School children and students attending Farnborough Sixth form, Salesian and Farnborough Hill will now have far fewer services to choose from to get from Hook/Winchfield to Farnborough.
  • This is likely to lead to both over-crowded trains and increased car journeys, leading to more pollution and congestion
  • No effective increase in capacity from Fleet, Winchfield and Hook to London, even though services are already over-crowded.

What do the SWR train timetable proposals mean for Fleet?

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR train timetable comparison

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR train timetable comparison

UPDATE: See details of new SWR timetable consultation here

Summary of SWR train timetable proposals

South Western Railways (SWR) has launched a consultation that proposes changes to services from Winchfield, Hook and Fleet train timetables. The full document can be found here. The proposals:

  • Reduce the number of peak morning services from Hook and Winchfield to London from eight to five.
  • Increase peak time services from Fleet by three.

Impact of SWR train timetable proposals

At first thought, the increase in Fleet services might seem like a good thing. And if accompanied by capacity increases elsewhere, then it would be a good thing. But, the cuts at Winchfield and Hook, coupled with the London line already running beyond capacity, these changes will lead to the following impact:

  • Three peak-time services from Winchfield and Hook to London cut from the timetable
  • Harder for commuters to get to work and for children to get to school/college
  • Increased pressure on already over-crowded Fleet station, with no planned increase in car-parking capacity
  • More road congestion and increased carbon footprint

Of course, we all know many thousands more houses are planned for the area, including 1,500 homes at Hartland Village (Pyestock). It cannot make sense to cut services in Hook and Winchfield and further increase the load on Fleet.

What can you do?

Ranil Jayawardena, our local MP has launched a campaign against these changes, so please do sign his petition that can be found here.

A Facebook group called Save our Station (SOS) Winchfield and Hook Stations Action Group, has been launched to combat the South Western Railways (SWR) train timetable changes. The group can be found here. Please do visit their page to learn more about what is going on and express your disgust at the proposed #SWRCuts.

It would also be helpful if you could respond to the consultation directly by emailing your views to timetable.feedback@swrailway.com. We have created a handy template to help you that can be downloaded below.

SWR timetable consultation

Ranil petition to fight #SWRCuts to Winchfield and Hook trains

Ranil petition launched against SWR train cuts at Hook and Winchfield stations

Ranil petition launched against SWR train cuts at Hook and Winchfield stations

UPDATE: See details of new SWR timetable consultation here

Our local MP, Ranil Jayawardena has launched a petition to combat the proposed #SWRcuts to services at Winchfield and Hook stations. South Western Railways (SWR) have proposed significant cuts to peak time morning services to London. Ranil has said he is “appalled that SWR have already reneged on the promises that helped them win the franchise.”

Ranil is meeting with SWR on 25th October to discuss the proposed changes to the timetable. It would be helpful if as many people as possible sign his petition and also make specific representations to SWR.

Ranil petition details

Please do sign his petition. It can be found here.

It would also be helpful if you could respond to the consultation directly by emailing your views to timetable.feedback@swrailway.com. We have created a handy template to help you that can be downloaded below.

SWR timetable consultation

Summary of Winchfield Hook train cuts

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR timetable comparison 2

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR timetable comparison

South Western Railways (SWR) has proposed Winchfield and Hook train cuts. The full document can be found here. They have launched a consultation that:

  • Reduces the number of peak morning services to London from eight to five
  • Increases peak time services from Fleet, but there is no extra car-parking to cope with additional passengers

The impact of the cuts will be to:

  • Three peak-time services from Winchfield and Hook to London cut from the timetable
  • Harder for commuters to get to work and for children to get to school/college
  • Increased pressure on already over-crowded Fleet station
  • More road congestion and increased carbon footprint

SWR proposes Winchfield Hook train cuts

South West Railways (SWR) Fat controller gets it wrong proposing winchfield hook train cuts.

SWR Fat Controller gets it wrong proposing Winchfield Hook train cuts.

UPDATE: See details of new SWR timetable consultation here

[Post updated to correct interpretation of confusing timetable]

Summary of Winchfield Hook train cuts

South Western Railways (SWR) has launched a consultation that proposes Winchfield and Hook train timetable cuts. The full document can be found here. The proposals:

  • Reduce the number of peak morning services to London from eight to five
  • Increase peak time services from Fleet, but there is no extra car-parking to cope with additional passengers

Please use the download below to respond to consultation.

SWR timetable consultation

Please also sign Ranil’s petition which can be found here.

Impact of Winchfield Hook train cuts

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR timetable comparison 2

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR timetable comparison 2

The current line to London is already running beyond capacity, and these changes represent a reduction in service at peak hours which cannot be a good idea. The impact of the cuts will be to:

  • Three peak-time services from Winchfield and Hook to London cut from the timetable
  • Harder for commuters to get to work and for children to get to school/college
  • Increased pressure on already over-crowded Fleet station
  • More road congestion and increased carbon footprint

Of course, we all know many thousands more houses are planned for the area, so it cannot make sense to reduce capacity just as demand is about to increase.

This goes against the commitments SWR made when bidding for the contract:

As part of our bid we promised new and better trains, more seats, improved service frequencies and quicker journey times.

Their proposals also go against the objectives they set in the consultation:

The new timetable has been designed to deliver more services, more peak capacity and seats, allow the introduction of new suburban rolling stock (starting later in 2019) and increase frequencies on some routes. Most suburban routes have earlier services than now and many routes have later evening trains.

SWR seem to recognise there might be significant issues with their proposed changes to Winchfield and Hook train services. We do think they ought to make ‘some adjustments’ to their proposals.

Issues with Hook and Winchfield train services

Issues with Hook and Winchfield train cuts

How to respond to the consultation

The consultation is open until Friday 22nd December 2017. Comments can be sent to timetable.feedback@swrailway.com. We have produced a download with some suggested comments to be made to SWR. This can be found below:

SWR timetable consultation

Our main alternative suggestions are:

  • Keep the frequency of peak time services to London.
  • Increase capacity by running more 12-car trains.
  • Reduce the number of first class carriages on 8 and 12-car trains to further increase passenger capacity.

Winchfield-Hook train cuts analysis

The current morning timetable is shown below:

Hook and Winchfield to London train timetable

Current Hook and Winchfield to London train timetable

This shows eight trains during the peak morning hours between 6:30 and 8:30 and all of these services are direct to London.

The proposed timetable is shown below:

Proposed South West Railway (SWR) Hook and Winchfield to London timetable

Proposed Hook and Winchfield to London timetable

This has only six morning peak services. Note also that half of the off-peak services now require passengers to change at Woking

There are also changes to evening services. The current evening timetable is shown below:

London to Hook and Winchfield train timetable

Current London to Hook and Winchfield train timetable

This shows eight services in the peak hours 5 and 7pm. All of these services are direct.

The proposed timetable is shown below:

Proposed South West Railway (SWR) London to Hook and Winchfield timetable

Proposed London to Hook and Winchfield timetable

The proposed timetable shows eight services in the peak hours from 5pm to 7pm and these are all direct. This isn’t a significant change.

Draft Local Plan has no infrastructure plans or costings

 

Hart Local Plan contains no infrastructure plans or costings

Local Plan contains no infrastructure plans or costings

The draft Local Plan contains no infrastructure plans or costings. We think this is a massive error by the council that makes the draft Local Plan unsound.

If you agree, please download from the link below and review our suggested comments on the draft Local Plan. Please do make amendments into your own words and submit it to planningpolicy@hart.gov.uk before the deadline of 5pm on 9th June 2017. All of the Council’s consultation documents can be found here.

Response to the Hart Draft Local Plan Consultation

Here is our analysis of the infrastructure weaknesses in the Local Plan

Local Plan contains no infrastructure plans

Paragraphs 7, 17 and 177 of the NPPF/NPPG make clear that infrastructure should be planned alongside housing. Para 395 of the draft Local Plan says there’s a Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) available for viewing alongside the Local Plan. However, no IDP has been made available.

Given that back in 2013, a £78m infrastructure funding deficit was identified, this is a critical omission. In particular, we think Hart Council should focus on:

  1. The requirement for a new secondary school. The Murrell Green proposal includes a site for a new school, albeit on top of a high-pressure gas main. However, no evidence has been presented to demonstrate a new secondary school is required. WeHeart Hart research shows that a new secondary school may not be required, and the sustainability assessment for Murrell Green mentions a 9% surplus of places.
  2. Railways. SW Trains have indicated that the mainline rail route to London is 20% over-crowded at present and is forecast to be 60% overcrowded by 2043. Para 58 of the Local Plan makes no mention of this, and there is no apparent plan to improve capacity.
  3. Our roads are becoming increasingly congested and generally in a poor state of repair. There is no sign that the council has carried out an overall road transport assessment to establish the level of investment required to improve our roads so they can cope with the scale of development that is being proposed
  4. Paras 65 & 66 make no mention of groundwater and surface water flood risk in Winchfield, which was identified in the Sustainability Assessment
  5. Para 68 provides no plan to fix the acknowledged wastewater capacity issues
  6. None of the plans for the strategic sites include proper plans for sports and community facilities such as allotments.

Local Plan contains no cost analysis for infrastructure requirements

Neither the Local Plan nor the Sustainability Assessment contain a financial assessment of the alternative means of providing the housing need. We think this is a very significant omission.

We already have a £78m infrastructure deficit, so this is a critical issue. The financial analysis should include:

  1. An assessment of the major infrastructure requirements generated by each of the approaches you have considered. These include new roads; road improvements such as roundabouts; railway station and parking improvement; railway line capacity improvements; schools; healthcare; fixed and mobile telecommunications, flood prevention, wastewater disposal and social infrastructure. A high level cost of each item should be provided.
  2. An analysis of the likely contribution that could be expected from developers and other providers to meet these requirements.
  3. An estimate of the likely contributions from Government such as New Homes bonus and grants to support brownfield development.
  4. A calculation of the gap between the requirement and the contributions for each development scenario

Residents should then be able to see the financial impact of the proposals and make decisions based on that.

Time to work together to head off new Hart housing threat

Hart Housing threat: sites under consideration

Hart Housing threat: sites under consideration

Overshadowed by our earlier  story of CCH further delaying the Hart Local Plan was the news of the new Hart housing threat of our target being raised from 7,500 to over 10,000 new houses up to 2032. This comes on top of the potential financial costs of delay.

Details of how this has come about are sketchy. It is related to how Hart should respond to Government rules about how to deal with affordable housing. We understand Hart Council is working on a ‘topic paper’ to give a further explanation.

We have analysed the impact of this new target below. Sadly, most of the large, sensitive green field sites are potentially under threat once again.  In addition, it is likely that Hart would no longer have more than five years of land supply. This exposes us to the threat of speculative planning applications. If most of these additional houses end up being ‘affordable’, they won’t attract contributions from developers to fund vital infrastructure.

So, we have come to the conclusion that it is time for all the politicians and pressure groups to work together to fight off this new threat rather than spend their time arguing over where the new houses should go. This level of development will mean that substantially all of the district will be under threat for some time. Moreover, this increased rate of building will be carried forward into the new planning period making things even worse for decades to come. We need to demand three key actions:

  1. The councillors need to stop squabbling and get a Local Plan in place ASAP
  2. Challenge robustly this new housing target and get the ridiculous new Government rules changed
  3. Pressure the council to properly examine the brownfield options for the district, complete their brownfield study and bring these sites forward instead of the precious green field sites.

Impact of the Hart housing threat on sensitive sites

First we take a look at where we would need to build to meet this new target and compare it to last year’s consultation; the most recent land supply position and our estimate of a ‘fair’ housing target.

Impact of new Hart housing threat on Hart District sites

Impact of new Hart housing threat on sensitive sites

As can be seen above, if the housing target remains around current levels, our remaining housing needs can easily be met from brownfield sites such as Hartland Village (Pyestock), the sites Hart Council identified in the consultation, Bramshill House and some further redevelopment of Ancells Farm and Bartley Wood. Moulsham Lane, Yateley was given the go ahead at appeal over the summer.

For some reason related to the Hop Garden Road appeal, Hart decided to increase our housing requirement up to 8,022 houses.  This is achievable from the 4,000 units we have identified on brownfield sites. But the planners would need to be persuaded to:

  • Redevelop the area around the Harlington and Hart’s offices in Fleet for mixed use.
  • Bring the many other smaller borwnfield sites across the district into the equation.

Failing that, it is inevitable that one of the green field sites is chosen.  For the purposes of this analysis we have used Grove Farm/ Netherhouse Copse as that is up for determination at the moment and the officers have recommended it.

Our estimate of a ‘fair’ housing target is based on the work of Alan Wenban-Smith. This starts with the population projections which on their own would generate a housing need of 5,040 houses over the planning period. A generous allowance is then added for additional economic growth to arrive at a need of 7,140 houses. This is easily achievable on brownfield sites, with some left over for future periods. Note that the new housing target is twice the level of housing required to meet the projected population forecasts.

The new target of 10,177 houses makes it much more difficult to achieve on brownfield. Again, the brownfield capacity could be larger than indicated above if the councillors and planners were to finally deliver on their brownfield study. If they don’t, it is inevitable that most of the sensitive green field sites including Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase), the land west of Hook and one or more of Murrell Green, Winchfield, Lodge Farm or Rye Common come into the equation. As you can see this new housing target will impact everyone.

Impact of Hart housing threat on the land supply

In the absence of the Hart Local Plan and up to date policies, the only defence we have against voracious developers is the five year land supply. This gives some limited control over speculative planning applications. So, we have taken a look at what the new target will mean for our five year land supply.

Impact of new Hart housing threat on 5 year land supply

Impact of new housing target on Hart District 5 year land supply

The left hand columns show the current 5-year land supply that Hart Council use. This shows we are in the relatively comfortable position with over 6 years land supply. If We Heart Hart’s fair housing target was adopted this would rise to 8 years supply.

However, the new housing target would reduce our land supply to below the crucial 5-year threshold leaving Hart very exposed. We would need another 525 additional houses to be granted permission ASAP to bring us back over the threshold.

Conclusion

We are in a very serious position with many of our cherished green fields under grave threat from speculative planning applications. There is no Local Plan and our policies are out of date. Hart is running an infrastructure funding deficit of £78m. The new housing target is double what we need to meet the official Government population forecasts. If the new housing target is adopted, Hart will no longer have a five year land supply. Unless we change tack, all our green fields will be concreted over and lost forever.

To preserve all that makes Hart such a great place to live we need to take serious action:

  1. The councillors need to stop squabbling and get a Local Plan in place ASAP
  2. We need to challenge robustly this new housing target and get the ridiculous new Government rules changed
  3. We need to pressure the council to properly examine the brownfield options for the district, complete their brownfield study and bring these sites forward instead of the precious green field sites.

This can only be done by everyone with a stake in Hart housing development working together to get the best outcome for Hart.

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.