Hart District Council gets its facts wrong on the Local Plan

Hart District Council Local Plan Update Spring-Summer 2015

Hart District Council Local Plan Update Spring-Summer 2015

Hart District Council has published an article in the latest copy of Hart News that gets its facts wrong on how many houses we have to build under the emerging Local Plan.

As can be seen from the above image, Hart Council is saying we only need to build 4,000 houses up to 2032.  However, this is in direct contradiction to the strategic housing market assessment and the evidence presented to Cabinet back in November 2014 that clearly states we need to build 7,534 houses in the period up to 2032.

Hart District Council Housing Requirement from Cabinet Meeting November 2014 or Local Plan; SHMA

Hart District Housing Requirement from Cabinet Meeting Nov 2014

Even 7,534 houses is probably an understatement, because Rushmoor Borough Council and Surrey Heath Borough Council have told Hart that they cannot build all of their allocation on their own patches and want Hart to build a further 3,100 houses for them.  This would give a total of 10,634 houses to be built in Hart up to 2032.

Hart District acts as sink for 3,100 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Housing Shortfall

Hart’s strategy of building a new settlement (option 4) in Winchfield creates additional capacity that makes it much more likely that we will have to take these additional houses.

The article in Hart News also further illustrates that Hart is not serious about its brownfield strategy as they are continuing to ignore the large number of vacant office blocks and sites such as Sun Park and Hartland Park and are still assuming only 30 dwellings per hectare. Furthermore, they make no mention of the need to build specialist housing for our ageing population which a new town won’t deliver.

Finally, Hart Council were supposed to be consulting on the draft plan now, with a view to modifying it during the Summer before publication of the actual plan for a further round of consultation in the Autumn.  But now they have skipped one of the consultations.

We can only speculate as to the motives behind this mistake and the skipping of one round of consultation. However, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Hart District Council are hiding the truth, and trying to push through a disastrous strategy without proper consultation.

If you would like to oppose Hart’s approach to the Local Plan, please sign and share our petition:

 

Go to Petition

 

 

 

Rushmoor could take all of Hart’s allocation and more

Example High Density Brownfield Development - Arundel Square, London

Example High Density Brownfield Development – Arundel Square, London

 

If we used our brownfield land better we could meet our existing housing needs and more without concreting over our green fields.  A study by trainee architect, Gareth Price shows that Rushmoor Borough Council is not making the most of its brownfield sites, and if it showed more vision, it could meet its own housing needs and those of Hart District using brownfield sites only.

If you would like to add to the pressure to Hart to change tack and take brownfield more seriously, then please sign our petition.

Typically, suburban developers and councils use a metric of around 30 dwelling per hectare (dph) as a rule of thumb for how many houses can be fit on to  any particular space. However, a study of London has shown that in central areas, densities of between 160-405 dph can be achieved and deliver viable, vibrant social communities with amenity space incorporated into the design.

This study has been used by Gareth Price, a final year architecture student, to propose an alternative set of schemes for Rushmoor (see download below).  His work shows that it is entirely possible for Rushmoor to not only build their own housing need, but could also take all of Hart’s requirement and more.

Of course, these concepts could equally be applied to Hart.  Bravehart has already found loads of brownfield sites that don’t even appear on the land database of Hart council. These include derelict buildings in the heart of Fleet and Hook.

Derelict Offices in Fleet

Derelict Offices in Fleet

Not only that, we know that Fleet town centre is dying with many vacant shops in the shopping centre and on the High Street. Surely the best way to rejuvenate our town centres is to build vibrant communities at their heart, rather than concreting over the countryside on their outskirts.  Using the same metrics, it is probable, that all of Hart’s housing need could be met by using brownfield sites.

Empty Shop in Hart Shopping Centre, Fleet

Empty Shop in Hart Shopping Centre, Fleet

Another advantage of the types of schemes that Gareth proposes is that on average, the dwellings are likely to be smaller and so more affordable for our young people.  We could also build mixed use developments with some schemes dedicated to specialist homes for older people.

Surely it is time we ask our councillors in Rushmoor Borough Council, Surrey Heath Borough Council and Hart District to break from the past, think out of the box, get more creative and take brownfield much more seriously instead of proposing endless urban sprawl across our countryside.

A Sustainable Approach to Housing on Brownfield

We Heart Hart Questions for Hart Council

There is a Hart District Council meeting on 26 February at the Hart Council Offices in Fleet at 7pm.  There is an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions about any subject including the emerging Local Plan.  Great questions would be:

  1. If Hart keeps the new town in its plan, what is the risk it will have to build the new town and strategic urban extensions in Fleet and Church Crookham to accommodate the extra 3,100 houses that Surrey Heath Borough Council and Rushmoor Borough Council are trying to force on to Hart?
  2. What will be the additional traffic and congestion impact of the proposed new town on surrounding settlements of Church Crookham, Crookham Village, Fleet, Hook, Hartley Wintney and Odiham?
  3. What are the criteria, marking scheme and weighting factors Hart are using to evaluate the alternative housing development options?
  4. What is Hart’s vision for the future of the district?
  5. How will Hart evaluate the risk of coalescence of the existing settlements that will effectively happen if a new town is built?
  6. What is Hart DC’s strategy for identifying and analysing and maximising the development of brownfield sites to avoid concreting over our valuable green spaces?
  7. What will be the environmental impact of a new sewage works discharging into the River Hart?
  8. What will be the environmental impact of 5,000 new houses in the SPA zone of influence?
  9. What will be the environmental impact of 5,000 new houses on the SSSI’s at Odiham Common and Basingstoke Canal?
  10. What will be the environmental impact of concreting over the green gaps between the SSSI’s and SINCs in Winchfield?

We Heart Hart has asked a number of these questions already as shown in the download and is aware of others asking questions too.

Please take some time to ask your own questions of the council.  You can use the download below that already has the e-mail addresses in it you need.  Questions need to be submitted by noon on Friday 20 February.

We Love Hart Questions for Hart Council

And if you have not done so, please sign the petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-hart

3,100 Reasons to Oppose a New Town in Hart

Hart becomes Housing Sink for Surrey Heath and Rushmor

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

A new town in Hart District, whether in Winchfield or anywhere else, will open up Hart to be a sink for 3,100 overflow houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Borough Councils. Yet Hart District Council’s strategy for the Local Plan has set us on the path for a new town which makes this inevitable and will destroy our green fields and wildlife habitats and clog up all of our infrastructure.

If you disagree with this strategy please sign the We Love Hart (We ♥ Hart) petition.

The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), calls for Hart to build a total of around 7,500 houses in the district up to 2031.  Our neighbouring districts, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor also have demanding targets and are saying that they cannot build all of their own allocation in their districts.  So, they want to pass over an extra 3,100 or so houses (1,700 from Rushmoor and 1,400 from Surrey Heath) to Hart that will push our target up to around 10,600 houses.  See answers to questions here, page 17.

In their housing options paper the council says that we would need to deliver 1,800-2,400 houses on a new settlement (Option 4). However, the Barratts New Town proposal document says that such a new settlement would have capacity for 5,000 houses, more than twice the size of Elvetham Heath,  and could start building as early as 2017.  This leaves a convenient surplus  of around 3,000 dwellings in the new settlement that could be used to fill the shortfall  from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.

The We Heart Hart campaign believes this is a grave strategic error on the part of Hart Council because they are following a policy that means there is a real risk we will have to build even more houses in Hart and concrete over our green fields.

The impact of this could be enormous:

  • Massive increase in congestion throughout all of the district.
  • Increased stress on already creaking infrastructure
  • Overcrowding of trains already running over capacity
  • Massive environmental harm to the SSSI’s, SINCs and the Thames Valley Heath SPA
  • Coalescence of Fleet, Church Crookham, Crookham Village, Dogmersfield, Winchfield, Hartley Wintney, North Warnborough and Odiham into a giant conurbation.

What’s wrong with Hart Council’s Approach?

We have several problems with Hart’s current approach:

  • Lack of overall vision for the district.  Sadly Hart Council is simply reacting to events and not setting out a vision of what it wants the district to look like in 20, 30, 50 or 100 years time.  This means that if we are not careful, we will end up with piecemeal development that will damage the very things that make Hart an attractive place to live.  Ideas for an improved vision are shown here.
  • Opening up the District to being a sink for the unmet housing needs of other districts.  The overall housing allocation plan for the plan period calls for 1,800-2,400 homes to be built in a new town at Winchfield.  However, the Barratts document Vision Document suggests that a new town at Winchfield could entail 5,000 new houses.  By pure coincidence (of course), Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Borough Councils need to find space for about 3,100 more houses in their districts.  Building a new town anywhere in Hart opens up the strong possibility that we will be forced to take this additional requirement from bordering areas.
  • Lack of provision for elderly and infirm.  According to the SHMA, by 2031, there will be an additional 10,000 people over 60 (including more than 6,850 over 75) expected to be living in the district and an extra 3,620 people who will be suffering from dementia or have some sort of mobility problem. Section 9 of the SHMA suggests that future housing stock should be built to broadly reflect the existing stock.  This new stock will attract more families to the area and crowd out the developments required to meet the needs of the elderly and infirm.

Overall, the lack of strategy, opening up the potential for a new town and not addressing the needs arising from changing demographics amount to very serious flaws in approach which puts our countryside at risk.

We have outlined an alternative approach to producing the local plan here.

Hart District

Hart is a beautiful district made up of a mixture of large urban settlements such as Fleet and smaller village type settlements such as Odiham. The space around these settlements is largely made up of green fields and woodland which give Hart its essential rural feel.

In December 2014, for the fourth year running, Hart was named the best place to live in the country in a survey by the Halifax. Each settlement has a distinctive community feel; the quality of the schools is excellent and the 84 square miles of green fields and wooded landscape are a perfect example of England’s green and pleasant land that is excellent for wildlife, cycling and walking.

This essential nature of Hart is now being put under pressure by the National Planning Policy Framework and Hart Council’s response to it. In the years up to 2031, Hart has to build another 7,500 homes. Hart Council is proposing to meet the bulk of this need by building a new settlement in the heart of Hart at Winchfield destroying over 700 acres of green fields and woodland in the process.

We are mounting a campaign against these proposals because we believe the Strategic Housing Market Assessment that gave rise to the need for 7,534 extra houses (not to mention the extra 3,100 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor) is flawed and Hart’s response to this is inappropriate.

This is putting all of the parishes of Hart District at risk including:

Blackwater and Hawley; Bramshill;  Church Crookham; Crondall; Crookham Village; Dogmersfield; Elvetham Heath; Eversley; Ewshot; Fleet; Greywell; Hartley Wintney; Heckfield; Hook; Mattingley; North Warnborough; Odiham; Rotherwick; South Warnborough; Winchfield; and Yateley.