Winchfield New Town torpedoed by Government figures

Winchfield New Town torpedoed by new Government figures

Winchfield New Town torpedoed by new Government figures

The Government have published new figures that further undermine Hart’s proposals for the Winchfield New Town in the Hart Local Plan.

The housing requirements for Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath have been significantly reduced. Rushmoor is already planning for far more houses than it needs. Surrey Heath now has more housing supply than it will need to deliver to meet these new targets.

The impact on Hart is that we already have enough housing supply in the Local Plan to meet our needs up to and beyond 2041. This means that the proposed Winchfield New Town is not required at all. We believe it’s time to ditch the new town idea from the Local Plan. Failure to do so might result in the Local Plan being found unsound at examination.

New household projections impact on housing need

The Office for National Statistics has published household projections based upon a 2016 baseline. These new figures update earlier projections based on a 2014 baseline. The projections for Hart are lower than prior estimates and should reduce the number of houses we have to build.

We are concerned the current Lib Dem/CCH coalition won’t take advantage of this opportunity to ditch their ridiculous Winchfield New Town Plan.

The new projections show the number of households in Hart rising from 37,129 in 2016 to 40,347 in 2032. The total rises to 41,744 in 2041. This works out at a rate of 201 dwellings per annum (dpa) from 2016 to 2032 and 185 dpa from 2016 to 2041.

Hart District household changes based on 2016 baseline show no need for Winchfield New Town

Hart District household changes based on 2016 baseline

The new Government methodology for calculating housing need adds an ‘affordability uplift’ to these baseline figures. In Hart’s case, this is the maximum of 40%. Adding this uplift takes our total housing need t0 4,505 upto 2032 and 6,461 up to 2041. The required build rate is 282 dpa in the period 2016-2032 and 258 dpa from 2016-2041.

Comparison to the Hart Local Plan

The Government baseline used in the Local Plan was 292 dpa using the 2014-based figures. Hart has uplifted this requirement up to 388 dpa in their Local Plan, giving a total planned build of 6,208 houses.

Hart Local Plan 2016-2032 justification

Hart Local Plan 2016-2032 housing numbers justification

Their justification of contingency against uplift doesn’t hold water as we only need to build a total of 6,461 up to 2041.

At the time the Local Plan was prepared, they had already conservatively estimated 6,346 of available supply.

Understated housing supply

Since then, they have produced a topic paper as part of the Local Plan examination process that shows housing supply of 6,401. This is just 60 short of what is actually required up to 2041. The outstanding 60 will be more than met by the 72 dwellings expected to be built at Hartland Village in 2033 (see housing trajectory here, p24).

Hart District Housing Supply April 2018 demonstrates no need for Winchfield New Town

Hart District Housing Supply April 2018

Impact on Rushmoor and Surrey Heath

The housing requirements for both Rushmoor and Surrey Heath have come down considerably. There is definitely no need to plan for any overspill from either borough.

Indeed, Rushmoor is already planning for far more houses than they actually need. Surrey Heath’s supply now exceeds their requirement.

One could argue that if future projections were to increase, Rushmoor could easily absorb this.

Impact on Winchfield New Town proposals

To sum up, the Local Plan already proposes to build more houses than we need in the period to 2032. Hart Council chose to add a Winchfield new town on top of that inflated requirement. They intend to deliver even more unnecessary new houses from the mid-2020’s. These new Government figures show we already have more than enough housing supply to meet our actual needs up to and beyond 2041, without a new town.

It simply is not credible to keep the Winchfield New Town in the plan. Time to ditch it.

 

 

 

 

Developers call for Hart’s housing target to be doubled

The new age of crony capitalism

We have taken a brief look at the submissions made by developers to the Hart Council Refined Housing Options Consultation, found some worrying results. Barratt Homes, Berkeley Homes and Martin Grant homes all call for Hart’s housing target to be increased, and some call for it to be doubled. It is important that everyone in Hart unites to challenge these ridiculous figures. We should also challenge the developers to build the houses that are already permitted and not ‘land-bank’.

According to the current Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), Hart must build 7,534 homes in the planning period up to 2032. This amounts to around 370 per annum. This number was arrived at by using the 2011-based population projections as a starting point. Since then the 2012-based population projections have been published and they show a lower population projection than the older numbers

However, Barratt Homes have come up with their own assessment of Hart’s housing need which is 730 homes per annum.

Berkeley Homes have also come up with their own housing target for Hart in the range of 540-685 dwellings per annum

Finally, Martin Grant Homes also say that Hart’s housing ‘need’ is 730 dwellings per annum, nearly double the currently assessed need.

What is particularly galling about these projections put forward by the developers is that they are not even building at anywhere near the 370 per annum rate required to meet the 7,534 target,

Hart District Housing Completions by year

Hart District Housing Completions by year

even though there are 1,075 homes that were granted permission in or before 2013, out of the over 3,000 outstanding permissions. It is ridiculous to suggest that these developers are going to double their build rate, because prices would collapse along with their profits.  This is just a way for developers to try and gain more planning permissions and then sit on them and produce houses at a rate that suits them.

Outstanding permissions in Hart District as of 20 April 2016 by year of grant

Outstanding permissions in Hart District as of 20 April 2016 by year of grant

We hope that all campaigning groups in Hart unite to challenge these ridiculous notions of housing ‘need’ coming from the developers. If we don’t then there is a strong risk we will be forced to build even more houses for Rushmoor and Surrey Heath and end up having to build Pyestock (aka Hartland Village) and all three of the options in the consultation.

 

 

Busy time ahead for the Hart Local Plan

Keep Calm and Wait for news about the Hart Local Plan

News about the Hart Local Plan has been sparse lately, but we can expect a flurry of news over the coming weeks.

First, now that the council elections are over, we can expect the results of the recent consultation to be released over the next few weeks.  Of course, we don’t know the results, but whatever the outcome, the results will be of limited value given that Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), has emerged as an additional brownfield site with capacity of around 1,500 dwellings.

Second, the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), together with the related Employment Land Review (ELR) have been in gestation for a few months now and we should hear of the new housing numbers in the next few weeks.  We Heart Hart is hopeful the new SHMA will result in Hart being asked to build 1,000-1,500 fewer houses over the planning period.  Of course, the new SHMA should also reduce the allocation for Surrey Heath and Rushmoor and the new ELR should enable Rushmoor in particular to release more of the brownfield sites it is protecting. The net result should reduce the risk of Hart being asked to build 3,100 extra houses for those districts.

Third, the results of Hart’s brownfield study should be released in the next couple of months and will set out a more sensible view of the brownfield capacity of the district.

Finally, should also expect the revised timetable for the Hart Local Plan to be released, so we will know when we will be asked our views. Expectations are the draft Local Plan should be released in September or October.

Please respond to the Hart Local Plan consultation by 18 March 2016

Hurry up, time is running out to respond to the Hart Council consultation about the Local Plan.

The consultation has now closed

The deadline for submissions to Hart Council’s Local Plan consultation is tomorrow, Friday 18th March.  So, please do respond.

Here is a quick reminder of the key arguments to help you make up your mind on how to respond:

First, there is a brownfield solution to meet our remaining housing needs that will not require either a new town or new urban extensions. The proposed densities in the brownfield option are not at all demanding, with an average density on the SHLAA sites of around 25 dwellings per hectare.  The proposed densities on the vacant office blocks are no different to some developments that Hart has already permitted on Fleet Road, such as the new McCarthy and Stone development.  Our proposals do not include Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), which could deliver even more houses on brownfield sites into the future if Hart Council is successful in reallocating that site for housing.

Remember that Hart Council themselves said back in September that brownfield capacity was 1,800 units and now they have miraculously lost 75% of them.  Since then, more sites have been identified and Hart has started to work with Government to build a brownfield register.

Second, we need to take a strategic view of the future and recognise that continuing to concrete over green fields equivalent to 25 football pitches each year is not at all sustainable and our children and grandchildren would not thank us for doing that.

The advantages of a brownfield solution are:

  • It preserves the very countryside that makes Hart such a great place to live,
  • Produces a greener solution, making better use of existing infrastructure and more efficient housing,
  • Delivers more of the smaller, more affordable housing of the types that we need to meet the needs of our young people aspiring to gain a foothold on the housing ladder,
  • Delivers more specialist accommodation for the elderly in the right places for them as well as freeing up larger properties for growing families,
  • Delivers infrastructure funding to existing communities where there is currently a £78m funding deficit
  • Lower risk of delivery because it is spread across a large number of sites with multiple developers

Of course, the new town proposal that is in the consultation has been undergoing testing for over a year now, and has identified a number of significant barriers including education, transport and foul water drainage.  The evidence to date shows the new town is simply not viable because the costs of the infrastructure required for a new town are astronomical and would never be met by developer contributions. One of the main arguments 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. If Hart were to choose the new town option, it runs the risk of not passing inspection because infrastructure delivery could not be guaranteed.

Finally, whilst we hope that the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment, (SHMA) when it is eventually delivered in June will result in a lower housing target for Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath. But until then, the threat of Hart having to build 3,000 for those districts is very real.  Support for a new town will create capacity to build these extra houses which will mean we will end up with the worst of all worlds, a new town, urban extensions and dispersal across the district.

So, we urge all residents of Hart to reject a new town, reject urban extensions and get behind a brownfield solution and give Hart Council further encouragement to step up their efforts in this regard by responding to the consultation and putting support for a brownfield solution in the comments.

If you responded to the previous consultation and gave your email address, you should have been contacted by the council asking you whether you want to re-submit your response to the new consultation.  If you have received that e-mail, we recommend you re-submit your prior submission.  This can be done here.

If either you did not respond to the last consultation, want to modify your submission or you did not give your email address before, then you will need to submit a brand new response here. Please make sure all of your friends and family respond too.

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

Response to Face IT article in Fleet News and Mail

 

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

FACE IT have been quoted in this week’s Fleet News & Mail, claiming that the “urban extension option may sound like a ‘brownfield’ solution but would actually mean an extra 2,173 homes being built on green fields in Fleet and Hook”.

It does appear that all of the efforts they have put into their campaign around the Hart Council’s Housing Option Consultation has exhausted them to such an extent that they now misunderstand the difference between types of development because nobody is arguing that urban extensions are somehow brownfield development in disguise.

They make spurious claims about school places, after making up their own estimate of how many extra school places might be required without doing a proper population projection.  Note that Hampshire County Council have not put in place any plans beyond 2018, are forecasting a surplus of secondary school places at that time and a reduction in the birth rate as well as admitting that Hart schools are educating many children from outside the district.

They also make some claims about the scale of development that has occurred in Fleet, Church Crookham and Hook and about how many houses would end up being built around Fleet and Hook under each of the options Hart has put forward. It is not clear where they get their numbers from, because they don’t tally with the figures we put together.

However, nobody would dispute that Hook in particular has seen a big rise in housing in both absolute and relative terms. But what we find difficult to understand is why Hook’s Neighbourhood Planning team and Parish Council are advocating the new town option as their first choice which would deliver more than 1,800 houses in Hook Parish and effectively coalesce Hartley Wintney, Winchfield and Hook into a giant conurbation that might be named Hartley Winchook. This is more houses than the urban extension they oppose (730 houses), more than the dispersal option put forward by Hart Council (204 houses) and more than the brownfield solution put forward by We Heart Hart (only 57 new dwellings to be permitted).

FACE IT rightly say that the combination of Fleet, Church Crookham, Elvetham Heath and Ewshot (greater Fleet) has seen a lot of new housing in absolute terms over recent years. However, this is only part of the story as all parts of the district have seen significant development. When you look at the amount of new housing in proportion to size, the percentage increase for greater Fleet over the planning period of 2011-2031 is forecast to be around 17% for the dispersal and urban extension options and 14% with the new town option. This is below the average for the whole district at 21%, 18% and 18% respectively for each option and well below the percentage increases for places like Hartley Wintney which is forecast to see 34%, 39% and 21% increases for each of the options put forward by Hart.

The brownfield option that We Heart Hart has put forward has the potential to meet all of the remaining housing need and results in a more balanced distribution across the district in proportion to the size of existing settlements.  Our solution would result in a 23% increase for the greater Fleet area, 22% for Hartley Wintney and 27% for the smaller parishes that include Winchfield.

The proposed densities in the brownfield option are not at all demanding, with an average density on the SHLAA sites of around 25 dwellings per hectare.  The proposed densities on the vacant office blocks are no different to some developments that Hart has already permitted on Fleet Road, such as the new McCarthy and Stone development.  Our proposals do not include Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), which could deliver even more houses on brownfield sites into the future if Hart Council is successful in reallocating that site for housing.

We do agree with FACE IT, that we need to take a strategic view of the future, but we disagree on what that strategic vision might be.  In our view, continuing to concrete over green fields equivalent to 25 football pitches each year is not at all sustainable and our children and grandchildren would not thank us for doing that.

The advantages of a brownfield solution are:

  • It preserves the very countryside that makes Hart such a great place to live,
  • Produces a greener solution, making better use of existing infrastructure and more efficient housing,
  • Delivers more of the smaller, more affordable housing of the types that we need to meet the needs of our young people aspiring to gain a foothold on the housing ladder,
  • Delivers more specialist accommodation for the elderly in the right places for them as well as freeing up larger properties for growing families,
  • Delivers infrastructure funding to existing communities where there is currently a £78m funding deficit
  • Lower risk of delivery because it is spread across a large number of sites with multiple developers

Of course, the new town proposal that is in the consultation has been undergoing testing for over a year now, and has identified a number of significant barriers including education, transport and foul water drainage.  The costs of the infrastructure required for a new town are astronomical and would never be met by developer contributions. If Hart were to choose the new town option, it runs the risk of not passing inspection because infrastructure delivery could not be guaranteed.

We hope that the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment, (SHMA) when it is eventually delivered in June will result in a lower housing target for Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath. But until then, the threat of Hart having to build 3,000 for those districts is very real.  Support for a new town will create capacity to build these extra houses which will mean we will end up with the worst of all worlds, a new town, urban extensions and dispersal across the district.

So, we urge all residents of Hart to reject a new town, reject urban extensions and get behind a brownfield solution and give Hart Council further encouragement to step up their efforts in this regard by responding to the consultation and putting support for a brownfield solution in the comments.

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

7 reasons to oppose a new town in Hart

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

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

As the consultation on the Hart District Local Plan draws to a close, it is worth reiterating the main reasons why you should oppose a new town and urban extensions in Hart.

  1. They would open us up to 3,000 extra houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor, and we would get the worst of all worlds, a new town, urban extensions and green field dispersal.
  2. The rate of building would then be used against us in the next planning period, so the problems we create today would be compounded into the future.
  3. It would be bad strategy to commit to a new town now, when we know that the housing needs assessment is being revised, and in all likelihood it will be revise down
  4. The proposed new town location is simply not suitable, in that there isn’t enough land to create the nirvana of a self contained new settlement promised by some HDC councillors, and would lead to a giant Hartley Winchook conurbation.
  5. The infrastructure costs are astronomical, and the developer contributions will not meet these costs, thus pushing up council taxes in the future
  6. There is an alternative brownfield solution that will meet the actual needs of Hart residents through providing specialist accommodation for the elderly and affordable starter homes for the young people struggling to get on the housing ladder.
  7. Brownfield development is a more sustainable, greener alternative that will be kinder to the environment and provide infrastructure funding for our existing communities.

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town alternative 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 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

 

 

Housing allocation for Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath should reduce by 6,560 according to new DCLG figures

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

The housing allocation for the combined Housing Market Area (HMA) of Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath should be reduced by by 27.7% or 6,560 houses, taking away the risk that Rushmoor and Surrey Heath will ask Hart to build 3,000 houses for them and ensuring Hart’s own requirement can be built on brownfield sites only according to new population projections that have been released by the DCLG.

Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix F Figure 2

Figure 1: Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix F

The SHMA worked by taking as a starting point earlier Government figures that showed the combined population of the HMA would be 307K (PROJ 2 circled in Figure 1 above) and this was inflated by increasing the assumptions on inward migration, average household size and jobs growth to arrive at a final figure of 322K (PROJ 5 circled in Figure 1 above).

Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix G Figure 1

Figure 2: Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix G

Interestingly, revised population forecasts were published by the Government as the SHMA was being finalised that showed that the start point population forecast should be reduced to 295K (circled in Figure 2 above), but amazingly these changes were not used to reduce the assessed housing need.  If they had been used, the total amount of housing that would be required for the HMA would have reduced by 208 per annum (see Figure 3 below), or a total of 4,160 dwellings out of a total objectively assessed housing need (OAHN) of 23,600.

Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix G Figure 2

Figure 3: Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix G

Now the latest DCLG figures (Table 426) have reduced the population forecast for 2031 for the whole HMA down to only 289K, a reduction of 6,000 people, which equates to a reduction of a further ~2,400 houses (@2.5 people per property).

Taken together these reductions in population forecasts would reduce the whole housing need for the HMA by 6,560 houses of the 23,600 or a reduction of a stunning 27.7%.

We wonder when Hart Council, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath councils will take these new figures into account in the Local Plan.

 

Hart household projections fall according to new figures from DCLG

Cows in Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

Do we want to lose our cows to concrete?

In a piece of good news, revised population projections published by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show that Hart will have fewer households in 2031 than were assumed in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).  This should have the effect of reducing the housing requirement being imposed on Hart District as part of the Local Plan.  This might reduce the remaining 2,900 houses left to grant permission for and make it more likely we can meet all of the remaining need from brownfield sites.

 

Local Authority2011 householdsSHMA start point for 2031 using 2011-based population projectionNew projection for 2031 using 2012-based population projectionChange between 2011-based and 2012-based projectionsSHMA end-point for 2031
Hart357574222040618-160243291
Rushmoor365594083042362153246381
Surrey Heath33632381703832115140689
Total10594812122012130181130361

 

However in other news, the same new figures for Rushmoor and Surrey Heath show higher projections for households up to 2031 than were assumed in the SHMA.  This might increase the housing requirement for Surrey Heath and Rushmoor and they may ask that Hart builds those houses for them.

What is clear is that the SHMA then makes several dubious adjustments to the baseline DCLG projections that add a further 9,000 or so houses to the total for the housing market area that need to be challenged.

The DCLG figures can be found here and here.  The SHMA can be found here.

Latest jobs growth figures well short of SHMA estimates

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Jobs Growth rates 1998 to 2013 compared to SHMA

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Jobs Growth rates 1998 to 2013 compared to SHMA

The Government have released the revised BRES job numbers for 2013 and these show that the jobs growth rate we have achieved since the recession ended in 2009 is still much lower than the jobs growth rate assumed in the SHMA for the period 2011-2031, during which period it is inevitable we will experience at least one more recession.  This comes at a time when the UK is creating more jobs than the rest of the EU put together, so can hardly be described as a normal set of circumstances.

The flawed jobs growth rate in the SHMA adds 5,100 extra houses to to the overall housing allocation to the combined Housing Market Area of Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.  The impact of this is that it pushes up Hart’s own allocation and forces Surrey Heath and Rushmoor to ask Hart to become a sink for 3,000 extra houses for them. Furthermore, these jobs forecasts lead to over-estimates of the amount of employment land we need and so constrains the amount of land that might be made available for housing.

Hart becomes Housing Sink for Surrey Heath and Rushmor

Hart becomes sink for 3,100 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

If these errors in the SHMA growth rate were corrected the threat from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor would evaporate and Hart’s own housing allocation for the Local Plan would come down from 7,534 to around 6,750, which would definitely mean the remaining requirement could be made from brownfield sites alone.

How long before the penny drops with Hart District Council and the other Hampshire boroughs that they need to revise the SHMA to a more realistic number?

Hart Council rejects opinion of 2,130 people who signed the We Heart Hart petition

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

Hart in the Heart of Hart, Winchfield, Hampshire

We went to the Cabinet meeting last night armed with a draft of Hart Council’s response to the petition and unfortunately, the council rejected the three main elements of petition to reduce the overall housing allocation for Hart and our demand that the remaining housing allocation is met from brownfield sites alone.  The council also refused to stop planning to build a new town that would act as a sink for 3,100 houses from Rushmoor and Surrey Heath.

It is outrageous that Hart Council should dismiss the opinion of 2,130 people.  Hart’s own consultation only received 750 replies and only 202 of those expressed a preference for a new town. Given the earlier failure of the Local Plan at inspection, it is simply astonishing that Hart should be basing their planning policy on a “guesstimate” of brownfield capacity. It is unbelievable that they refuse to set up a proper register of brownfield sites and can’t be bothered to track which brownfield sites have been granted planning permission.

We have produced a press release about this that can be downloaded from the link below:

 

We Heart Hart Press Release 2 October 2015

 

Hart becomes Housing Sink for Surrey Heath and Rushmor

Hart becomes sink for 3,100 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

On a more positive note, the council did say they would consider the vision we put forwards and will include a new vision in the forthcoming consultation.  The council did also say they would try to accommodate the needs of the elderly, but implied they could only do so if they built a new town at Winchfield. It is clear the council has no means of measuring its performance against the SHMA requirement to build 2,500 specialist units for the elderly.

The debate at council raised a number of interesting points, but Cabinet did not resolve to alter anything in the draft response they had put forward and clearly had not fully considered our suggested response to the petition.  In effect, the council are ignoring the views of 2,130 people on several of the key issues raised by the petition.  We will have to mobilise our supporters to put forward their views in the forthcoming consultation.

The detail of the discussion covered a number of topics:

Challenging the SHMA.  The council did concede that they would need to re-visit the SHMA in due course and update the employment forecasts.  We did point out that the jobs forecasts assume a growth rate nearly double that we achieved in the period 1998-2012, and that Cambridge employment forecasts for the South East used in a challenge to the Vale of White Horse Local Plan are similar to historic average growth rates we beleive should be used in the SHMA.

The council refused to undertake a study to quantify the value of Hart’s environment and ecology.  This is a blow as it could enable the council to use environmental constraints as an argument for not building the full housing allocation.

Brownfield sites.  Despite putting evidence in front of council that there is brownfield capacity for at least 2,438 dwellings and possibly over 3,600 units, Hart is still sticking by its current “guesstimate” of only 1,800 units on brownfield sites.  It is quite astonishing that Hart is basing its planning policy on a “guesstimate”. Last week Hart Council did admit that there was a residual requirement of only 2,900 houses.  It is clear to us, that meeting the the remaining need from brownfield only is well within reach.

Some councillors were concerned about our proposed densities in urban areas until we pointed out that they have already approved and are delivering developments at even higher densities.  Other concerns raised were about using up too much employment land until we pointed out that there’s over 500,000 sq m of vacant employment land across the housing market area, and we are in no danger of running out any time soon.

Overall I am afraid I got the impression that they listened, but they had already made their mind up that a new town was the answer to the Local Plan no matter what contrary evidence was put to them.

We must gird our loins for a long campaign to fight against these proposals.