Fleet News and Mail have picked up on our story about Hart Council botching the new brownfield register. They have obtained a quote from Hart Council leader, Stephen Parker (our emphasis):
“One of the pilot requirements is for sites to be ‘deliverable’. The Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds is currently a real barrier to development in Hart.
“The council is working hard with our partners, including Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, to deliver a big area of SPA mitigation land which, once in place, will allow additional sites to come forward.”
However, the manual for the pilot scheme says that to be regarded as suitable for housing our proposed criteria are that sites must be:
Available. This means that sites should be either deliverable or developable. Sites that are deliverable should be available and offer a suitable location for development now and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years and in particular that development of the site is viable. To be considered developable, sites are likely to come forward later on (e.g. between six and ten years). They should be in a suitable location for housing development and there should be a reasonable prospect the site will be available and that it could be viably developed at the point envisaged.
The terms deliverable and developable have specific meanings in the NPPF. It appears as though there is a requirement on the council to include sites that meet the less onerous ‘developable’ criteria, which they have failed to do. The manual also says that sites that are entered on the register should be free of constraints that cannot be mitigated. We Heart Hart recognises that the provision of SANG land is a significant constraint, but the council is in the process of purchasing over 30 Ha of land, capable of supporting 1,600 new dwellings. We might add that most of the sites on the pilot register have already been delivered so are not within the spirit of the brownfield register project.
There is also provision for councils to include sites in the register that it doesn’t think are suitable to ensure transparency in the decisions taken by the authority.
We think there’s around 2,500 extra units that can be built on brownfield sites that do not appear in the register. It is time that Hart Council started doing as much as it can to support the brownfield strategy and not as little as it thinks it can get away with.