Shapley Heath Financial Shell Game

Shapley Heath Financial Shell Game

Shapley Heath Financial Shell Game

Hart’s lack of financial control has also infected the Garden Community project. Their accounting for Shapley Heath has descended into a shell game. They set a zero budget, then we have to guess where they have hidden the actual spending. Let’s go through it.

Shapley Heath Zero Budget

Hart recently published the final budget for the current financial year. This also included the budget for last year, FY20/21. The budget for the new settlement at Shapley Heath was set at zero as can be seen in the image below. Note that in public sector accounts, positive numbers are spending and negative numbers are income.

HASETT - Shapley Heath Final Budget FY21-22

HASETT – Shapley Heath Final Budget FY21-22

It was made up of ~£68K for employee costs and car allowances, offset by a somewhat implausible identical receipt from GL Code 44047 – Consultants Projects. It is not clear why they were expecting consultants to pay them money. In common with the other service areas, no overheads were allocated.

Shapley Heath Declared Spending

Yet, the transparency report shows spending of £63.7K on consultants in “New Settlement” for FY20/21:

Shapley Heath Financial Shell Game: New Settlement Transparency Report FY20-21

Shapley Heath Financial Shell Game: New Settlement Transparency Report FY20-21

It is not clear how they managed to authorise this spending against a zero budget. On the face of it, it’s contrary to the Constitution. Budget regulation 3 limits spending to within the approved budget:

Hart Council Constitution Budget Regulation 3

Hart Council Constitution Budget Regulation 3

Budget regulation 5 allows transfer between budgets.

Hart Council Constitution Budget Regulation 5

Hart Council Constitution Budget Regulation 5

But this is limited by Financial Regulation 12 to £10,000 without Cabinet approval or £50,000 with Cabinet approval. We can find no record of Cabinet approving a change in the budget for Shapley Heath. In any event they have spent more than the transfer limit.

Hart Council Constitution Financial Regulation FR12

Hart Council Constitution Financial Regulation FR12

In addition FR10 says that they cannot incur unbudgeted expenditure without approval of full Council.

Hart Council Constitution Financial Regulation FR10

Hart Council Constitution Financial Regulation FR10

So, even the spending of the £63.7K appears to be in breach of the Constitution.

Shapley Heath Additional Work

Furthermore, the Shapley Heath Opportunity Board papers show that four Baseline Studies had reached the status of “Finalised” by 8 March. This is before the end of the financial year. These must have cost money, but do not show on the Transparency Report nor on the Contracts Register.

Shapley Heath Baseline Studies as of 8 March 2021

Shapley Heath Baseline Studies as of 8 March 2021

So, they have spent an unknown, but large amount of our money against a zero budget.

Shapley Heath Financial Shell Game: Transfer from Reserves

We can get an idea of how much they actually spent from the report recently presented to Cabinet. Buried on page 108 is an analysis of funds transferred from reserves.

Shapley Heath Financial Shell Game £283K Transfer from Reserves

Shapley Heath £283K Transfer from Reserves

This shows £283K was transferred from reserves for “funding 2020/2021 work on the New Settlement at Shapley Heath”. Note that the same report says that they incurred a deficit of £784K in the financial year (p103).

We will be asking questions at Council next week about how it was possible to spend £283K against a zero budget while running a massive deficit. Hart are fiddling while burning our money.

 

The questions can be found here.

Two Faced Liberal Democrats

Two Faced Liberal Democrats

Two Faced Liberal Democrats – the difference between rhetoric and reality

Alarming gaps have emerged between what the local Lib Dems claim in their promotional literature and what they actually do in office. These gaps appear in their:

  • Shapley Heath Policy.
  • Environmental Policy.
  • Financial Policy.

Two-Faced Liberal Democrats: Shapley Heath

The leader of Hart Council and portfolio-holder for Place are both Liberal Democrats. All Lib Dem councillors have voted in favour of Shapley Heath (or its predecessor Winchfield New Town or Policy SS3) at every opportunity. The portfolio holder for Place is the Cabinet champi0n for the project.  He described removing Shapley Heath from the Local Plan as “a bit of a defeat”.

Yet, they have put out literature claiming they were instrumental in defeating the Winchfield proposals.

Lib Dem Fake News claims to have saved Winchfield

Lib Dem Fake News claims to have saved Winchfield

And at the last local election, one candidate claimed that the “Liberal Democrats are totally opposed to a 10,000-house new town AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN”. Perhaps he’s in favour of 9,999 houses.

Two-Faced Liberal Democrats: Leaflet opposing Shapley Heath

Lib Dem Leaflet opposing Shapley Heath

They also claimed the new town is “not extra housing”.

However, in the official bid for funding from the Government, they clearly showed the potential for “up to 10,000” houses. They also boasted about how they would deliver Shapley Heath in addition to the Local Plan requirement.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses

Nightmare in Winchfield - capacity for 10,000 houses

Nightmare in Winchfield – Shapley Heath capacity for 10,000 houses

Shapley Heath in addition to Local Plan

Shapley Heath in addition to Local Plan

On Shapley Heath, they push it as hard as they possibly can when in office and claim the exact opposite in election literature.

Two-Faced Liberal Democrats: Environment

The Liberal Democrats have made a series of claims about their green credentials. First, Graham Cockarill, the Shapley Heath champion has said he is “the man with a plan to save our green fields”.

Two-Faced Liberal Democrats: Graham Cockarill Pants On Fire.

Hart Lib Dems: Pants On Fire

Quite how you can protect green fields by concreting over them is not explained. Another candidate greenwashed herself by claiming she would help our countryside flourish.

Lib Dem Greenwashing Themselves as they push Shapley Heath

Two-Faced Liberal Democrats Greenwashing

Yet, it’s the Lib Dems pushing Shapley Heath that plans to develop around 500 acres of the 1,046 acres in the area of search to deliver “up to 5,000” houses. More if the town grows to the 10,000 capacity. This is against their own climate change commitments and would put at risk dozens of red-list bird species as well as bats and hares. They say one thing, then do another.

Finance

Finally, two of their cabinet members claimed they were delivering a “balanced budget”.

Dave Neighbour, the Lib Dem Council Leader even claimed there wasn’t a deficit.

They did this even as the papers they were considering that night showed there was a deficit of £381K.

Hart Council budget deficits 2021/22 and 2022/23

Hart Council budget deficits 2021/22 and 2022/23

There is no plan to address the even wider deficit of over £1m next year.

The Liberal Democrats seem to have a problem with telling the truth. They are mendacious about Shapley Heath, making false claims on the environment and dissembling about the budget. They cannot be trusted.

 

 

 

Hart produces word salad Shapley Heath contract specs

Shapley Heath Word Salad Contract

Word Salad Shapley Heath Contract Specs

Hart has opened up the bidding on a contract to provide 8 reports for the Shapley Heath Garden Community (SHGC). The trouble is some of them are simply word salad and have no meaning. As an aside, have you noticed that they have subtly changed it from a Garden Village to a Garden Community. We think that means it gets bigger, and “community” sounds nicer than “town”.

Back to the point. The 8 reports are:

  1. Strategy Report – HNA and HIA [Health Needs Assessment and Health Impact Assessment]
  2. Strategy Report – GI, Sports and Leisure [Green Infrastructure]
  3. Strategy Report – Economy and Employment
  4. Evidence for Need for Housing for Older People
  5. Evidence for Need for housing for supported housing
  6. Evidence for Need for housing for younger people and first-time buyers
  7. Garden Community Technical Report – Accessible Housing
  8. Garden Community Technical Report – Keyworker Housing
Hart Contract Invitation 7 July 2021

Hart Contract Invitation 7 July 2021

They expect the contract to be worth around £56K in total, or approximately £7K per report. Although £56K is a lot of money, it doesn’t look like they are going to get a lot of in-depth, quality analysis for £7K per report. Moreover, the budgeted £56K is more than double the £25K total budget for consultants for the whole year.

Shapley Heath Burning Money: Budget 2021-22

Shapley Heath Burning Money: Budget 2021-22

Of course they must have already spent most of that £25K on the Shapley Heath website, the recent survey and advertising. They have received £130K from the Government that wasn’t in the budget, so maybe they are using that money to fund these reports.

Word Salad Shapley Heath contract specs

It gets worse when you start to look at the detail of the scope documents. In places they are virtually impossible to decipher. You can’t even work out what you think they are meant to say. They’re just word salad. So, heaven knows what the potential bidders are going to make of it.

First, take the GI Sports and Leisure report as an example. Section 2.6.6 sets out a specification for the final report including the following word for word quote:

e. To look at locally derived open space, recreation, sports and leisure standards for quantity, quality and accessibility including potential thresholds above which should be required and where available, financial information to be supplied….

g. Propose options for the long-term financial management, malignance of the facilities and open spaces which make best use of the resources and outline any commercial opportunities. This will include consideration for the placement of destination leisure facilities and commercial ventures.

We have no idea how any supplier is going to come up with options for malignance of the facilities.

It gets even worse. The Health report contains no mention at all assessing the number or size of GP practices required. It doesn’t even ask to look at local hospital capacity. There isn’t even a requirement to liaise with the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups and doesn’t even include the word “healthcare”.

However, we are sure readers will be reassured that it does include the requirement to ensure the report is “compatible with the councils [sic] 2040 target of district being net carbon neutral”. The consultants producing the report also have to “work with the Renewable Energy consultant and provide relevant information and data for the Renewable Energy consultant strategy report”.

As long as the report is carbon neutral and they’ve spoken to the Renewable Energy consultants, there’s no need to talk to the local NHS CCG, specify the size and shape of GP requirements or decide whether we’ll need extra hospital beds.

What a waste. Perhaps they should launch a contract to teach them plain English.

 

Shapley Heath Major Road Transport Issues

Shapley Heath Major Road Transport Issues: Eastbound travel perhaps requires new road

Shapley Heath Major Road Transport Issues: Eastbound travel perhaps requires new road

We first raised issues about the Shapley Heath sustainable transport goals here. That post focused on the minor roads within the area of search. This post examines the major road network surrounding the proposed new development and the gaps in the network. The Shapley Heath Survey has a number of questions about “sustainable transport”. Interestingly, there’s not even an option to request improvement to local roads or to rail services.  When many people think of sustainable transport they think of walking, running and cycling. This can be for fitness, leisure, work or even light shopping.  So, it is worth exploring whether the road network in and around the area of search is capable of delivering the basics such as pavements and cycle paths.

The conclusion for the major roads is that significant investment will be required to alleviate congestion and provide adequate pavements and cycle paths.  Here is the overall assessment, followed by an examination of each road one by one.

Shapley Heath Major Road Issues - Overall Assessment

Shapley Heath Major Road Issues – Overall Assessment

Having read the rest of this article, you might like to respond to the Shapley Heath survey. This is your chance to make known your concerns about the proposals. We have produced a handy guide with suggestions as to how you might choose to answer the freeform questions. The guide can be found on the download below. The full survey can be found here. The survey closes on 5 July.

Shapley Heath Survey with Suggested Responses

Eastbound Travel

Starting with the those people who might want to travel to Crookham Village, Church Crookham, Fleet or further afield to Farnham, Farnborough or Guildford. We have already established that Chatter Alley, which is only single lane in places with no cycle path or pavement is totally unsuitable for a massive influx of new cars and people. Similarly, Pale Lane is too narrow. So, that raises the possibility of a new road from the eastern tip of the area of search to Hitches Lane. This would help access to Fleet and the Crookhams. This is shown on the image at the top of this post. It would need to be a proper 2-lane road with cycle paths and at least one pavement. Sadly, it would cut through part of the Edenbrook Country Park, but we can think of no other way of directing the extra traffic from 5-10,000 new houses eastbound.

Shapley Heath Major Road Transport Issues: A287

A287

Shapley Heath Major Road Transport Issues: A287

Moving clockwise, the next major road is the A287. The junction with the B3016 Odiham Road is already dangerous. So, there would need to be a new roundabout across the dual carriageway there. The rest of the road is suitable for busy 2-way traffic, but there’s no pavement or cycle path for much of the length of the road. That means this road would need to be widened to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. And the roundabouts to Odiham and North Warnborough would probably also need to be improved.

M3 Junction

M3 Junction

M3 Junction

Prior studies into a Winchfield new town have raised the possibility of a new motorway junction. This seems unlikely on cost grounds, which means that significant improvements to Junction 5 of the M3 will be required. There is a rudimentary pavement across the junction that can also be used by cyclists, but it is quite dangerous. The pavements on the approach roads are also poor with scant provision for cyclists.

Hook Roundabouts

Hook Roundabouts

Hook Roundabouts

There is little provision for pedestrians on the B3349 from the M3 to Hook and no cycle lane. The roundabout already gets busy so would probably require improvement if Shapley Heath gets built. The other roundabout on Griffin Way South has poor provision for walkers and cyclists and would also need to be improved. Similarly, the roundabout with the A30 would need to be improved, especially as more houses are already being built near there.

Shapley Heath Major Road Transport Issues: A30 London Road

A30 London Road

A30 London Road

The A30 does have a pavement/cycle path between Holt Lane and the turning for Borough Court Road. However, elsewhere the pavement provision is poor. There is room for a cycle path on the dual carriageway part, but not elsewhere. Presumably a new access road will be built to access the Murrell Green part of the development, so a new roundabout across the dual carriageway will be needed.

Hartley Wintney Junctions

Hartley Wintney Junctions

Hartley Wintney Junctions

There are pavements at each of the junctions in Hartley Wintney, but no cycle lanes. However, main road through Hartley wintney gets very busy already, so significant improvements will need to be made at the following junctions:

  • A30/Dilly Lane & Thackham’s Lane
  • A30/B3011 Bracknell Lane
  • A30/A323 Fleet Road

It’s not at all clear if there is enough space to make significant improvements such as adding extra lanes.

Shapley Heath Major Road Transport Issues: A323 Fleet Road

A323 Fleet Road

A323 Fleet Road

It is already almost impossible to turn right out of Church Lane on to Fleet Road, so this junction would need to be improved, perhaps with a roundabout. The stretch of the A323 from Hartley Row Park to the M3 bridge would need widening and improving because it has no pavements and no cycle lane. The junction with Pale Lane would also need to be improved, probably with a roundabout.

 

Walk for Winchfield

Walk for Winchfield

Walk for Winchfield

The CPRE, the Countryside Charity, has organised a “Walk for Winchfield” on 25th July 2021 at 2.30pm. The route covers much of the area proposed for the Shapley Heath Garden Community. This is a chance to appreciate wildlife and countryside that might be lost if this project were to go ahead.

It starts at the Basingstoke Canal car park opposite the Barley Mow pub. The walk starts along the canal (see map and detailed instructions on the download below). It later passes the delightful St Mary’s Norman church, then along Bagwell Lane and beside Odiham Common. After crossing the B3016, the walk continues to Totters Lane, up to the old railway bridge high over Winchfield cutting, then down the bridleway towards Murrell Green. It turns off through fields and woodlands back to the B3016, then on to Winchfield Station. The route then completes by going down Station Road to the footpath up to Taplins Farm, then along Taplins Farm Lane to Winchfield Hurst to complete the circuit at the Barley Mow. Most of the route is on footpaths, but there are a few stretches on quiet roads without pavements.

With the wet summer, long trousers and stout footwear are recommended. There will be a competition for the best photograph of views or wildlife that might be lost.

There is Facebook Event set up for the walk. Please indicate your interest, so the organisers can keep track of how many people want to come along: https://www.facebook.com/events/343895127298516/

There is also a not-for-profit online shop where you can purchase merchandise to express your support: https://shop.spreadshirt.co.uk/say-no-to-shapley-heath/all

We hope to see you there on the day.

A map and detailed route instructions can be found on the on the download below:

Walk for Winchfield

 

You might like to respond to the Shapley Heath survey. This is your chance to make known your concerns about the proposals. We have produced a handy guide with suggestions as to how you might choose to answer the freeform questions. The guide can be found on the download below. The full survey can be found here. The survey closes on 5 July.

Shapley Heath Survey with Suggested Responses

Guest Post: What is wrong with Shapley Heath

What is Wrong with Shapley Heath

What is Wrong with Shapley Heath

Today, we have a guest post from Tristram Cary, chairman of the Rural Hart Association. In this post, he sets out his reasons why the Shapley Heath Garden Community is a bad idea.

Having read the rest of this article, you might like to respond to the Shapley Heath survey. This is your chance to make known your concerns about the proposals. We have produced a handy guide with suggestions as to how you might choose to answer the freeform questions. The guide can be found on the download below. The full survey can be found here. The survey closes on 5 July.

Shapley Heath Survey with Suggested Responses

Introduction

Hart District Council is exploring the potential to build a new community in the district of up to 5,000 new homes, with associated community facilities, to meet its long-term housing requirements.” This statement, from the introduction to SHGV Community Survey, sums up HDC’s motivation for embarking on a major publicly-funded project which includes a SHGV website, a sophisticated Communications and Engagement Strategy, a SHGV Stakeholder’s Forum with five Thematic Groups and the commissioning of 13 Baseline Surveys on things like Transport, Heritage, Landscape, Flooding and Utilities.

This article makes the case that:

  1. Hart District Council (HDC) has no business undertaking the SHGV project because:
    • It is a blatant attempt to pre-determine Hart’s future development by promoting its preferred strategy over viable alternatives
    • It is not in synchronisation with the Local Plan which should guide all HDC’s planning activities
  2. By failing to consider the trade-offs involved in developing SHGV over alternative development strategies, the results of the SHGV Project in general, and the Community Survey in particular, will be largely invalid.
  3. The SHGV Project is not merely an expensive and misguided attempt at pre-determination. It is also damaging the prospects for regenerating Fleet (and Hart’s other urban centres), which is an Objective of the Local Plan (unlike SHGV)
  4. SHGV is objectively a bad development strategy for Hart (when compared to the alternatives) in terms of sustainability, climate/carbon footprint, and green spaces.

Predetermination

The SHGV Project team explains that the SHGV project is not an attempt at pre-determination because it is subordinate to the Local Plan. The Project team explains that the SHGV conclusions and recommendations will only carry weight if and when the Local Plan is updated to include SHGV, at that therefore the SHGV project is neutral and unbiased.

This argument is wrong for the following reasons:

  • SHGV is in fact the chosen strategy of HDC. HDC is dominated by Community Campaign Hart (CCH) whose primary objective is to save Fleet/Church Crookham from over-development by building a new Settlement in the Winchfield area. This is made clear in many of CCH’s newsletters (available on the CCH website). Here is an extract from the Spring 2012 CCH Newsletter:

We either continue to grow Fleet & Church Crookham outwards (in which case what, realistically, do you do with the traffic?) or we look at a new settlement.  Winchfield is about the only sustainable location for such a new settlement in Hart District.”

  • The Communication and Engagement Strategy for SHGV is heavily biased in favour of SHGV and makes no attempt to present a balanced view of SHGV in comparison to the alternatives. To illustrate this here are some quotes (with my comments in blue):

Use Shapley Heath in communications where possible [to get the public used to the idea that it is going to happen];

Create awareness of what the alternatives might be (sequential development, developments on appeal) [these are bad alternatives – no mention has been made of good alternatives including regeneration of Fleet to make it more attractive and commercially successful];

We want our audience to know why we think it’s the right location to explore [a clear bias in favour of SHGV and against alternative locations such as Rye Common];

Highlight key benefits – a new community with a unique character, green spaces, employment opportunities, retail space, leisure facilities, economic development, new schools, and other critical infrastructure [no mention of Key Disadvantages such as loss of green space, coalescence of towns, lack of growth potential, damage to prospects of Fleet regeneration, increasing housing capacity which would be taken up by Rushmoor and Surrey Heath under the Duty to Cooperate etc];

Be clear about the limited brownfield opportunities in the district [biased in favour of SHGV and ignores the alternative strategies];

Use subject matter experts (like Lord Taylor of Goss Moor) to highlight the benefits of garden communities from experience elsewhere [stressing benefits without acknowledging the downsides].

Failure to Consider Trade-Offs as a part of the SHGV Project

The SHGV project’s stated aim is to conduct an assessment of the potential of SHGV as a means of satisfying Hart’s long-term housing needs. The SHGV project team insists that the project is unbiased and that all alternatives will be properly explored as required by the Local Plan Inspector. However, if that is true, why would the SHGV project not be open about the pros and cons of SHGV when compared to alternative strategies such as alternative sites for a Garden Village and re-generation of Hart’s urban centres? Every alternative strategy will have advantages and disadvantages, and to hide the disadvantages is clearly biased.

Failure to present SHGV in the context of the alternative strategies will invalidate the results of the Community Survey.

SHGV Project is already Damaging the Prospects for the Regeneration of Fleet and Hart’s other urban centres

The Local Plan identifies that Hart does not provide adequate retail and leisure outlets for its residents. As a result, “The outflow of retail expenditure from the District…is relatively high and is likely to remain high in the future”: [Local Plan para 65.]

The Local Plan goes on to identify the cause of this problem: “The main centres in Hart have not kept pace with other centres in the wider area. Other centres have strengthened and improved their offering through investment and development. Failure to invest in the centres will see them continue to fall in the rankings”: [Retail, Leisure and Town Centre Study Part 1 para 2.15].

To provide Hart with adequate retail and leisure outlets the Local Plan states that “The challenge for Fleet specifically will be to secure investment so that it can compete with the comparable towns in neighbouring districts. All the neighbouring towns are subject to regeneration or expansion projects”: Local Plan Para 66

To attract major investment into Fleet an essential first step is to invest in a Masterplan for Fleet which would identify how the residential, employment, leisure, education, transport, and infrastructure needs could be developed in a coordinated way so that Fleet would become a better, greener, more prosperous and more commercially successful town. It is quite extraordinary that HDC has failed in its clear duty to invest in a Masterplan for Fleet (and note that HDC’s investigation into regeneration of the Civic Quarter is not sufficient)

But to make matters worse, by investing solely in the SHGV project, HDC is sending a further clear signal to developers that Fleet is not a priority. So HDC’s claim that the SHGV project is ‘neutral’ and can run in parallel with the Local Plan without damaging the Local Plan objectives is false. HDC has clearly nailed its colours to the SHGV mast, and by doing so it is already significantly damaging Fleet’s future prospects.

SHGV is Objectively a Poor Strategy

SHGV is objectively a poor strategy compared to the alternatives for the following reasons:

  1. It is a well-established fact that larger settlements are more sustainable than smaller ones (because larger settlements have more residential, employment, health and leisure facilities within easy reach of the residents than smaller ones). SHGV is therefore going to generate a larger carbon footprint than a strategy based on re-generating Hart’s existing towns and villages. This should be a critical issue now that HDC has declared a Climate Emergency and has undertaken to ‘put the reduction of CO2 at the front and centre of all policies and formal decision-making.’
  2. SHGV scores badly against several of the Guiding Principles of Garden Villages. In particular:
    • Green Space – Garden Communities should be surrounded by countryside. SHGV will not be
    • Sustainable Scale – This principle includes the ‘capacity for future growth to meet the evolving housing and economic needs of the local area’. SHGV will have very limited geographical scope for future growth
    • Future Proofed – This principle also includes the ‘capacity for future growth’ which SHGV will not have

Coalescence and Conurbation

What's wrong with Shapley Heath - Coalesence

What is wrong with Shapley Heath – Coalesence

This map shows the density of residential housing in the district (based on March 2017 residential address data in 1km squares). Areas which are not coloured in green are countryside (having less than one home per hectare).

Points to note are:

  1. The green areas of urban development clearly show how coalescence has already caused towns like Yateley, Camberley, Farnborough and Aldershot to be merged into a single conurbation
  2. This conurbation already spreads in a continuous thread from the centre of London westwards to the westerly edge of Fleet
  3. At present Fleet, Hartley Wintney, Hook and Odiham are all surrounded by countryside which adds significantly to their character and provides an important leisure amenity. This is what gives the district its rural character
  4. SHGV would merge Fleet, Hartley Wintney, Hook and Odiham a continuous conurbation, in defiance of the Garden Village principles and the Local Plan vision to maintain the rural character of the district

What is Wrong with Shapley Heath: Conclusions

  1. The SHGV Project is not an unbiased exploration of the potential of SHGV. It is an attempt at pre-determination.
  2. SHGV is causing real damage to the Local Plan aim of attracting investment for the re-regeneration of Fleet and other urban centres
  3. The results of the Community Survey will not be valid because no balanced context has been provided on the advantages/disadvantages of SHGV and alternative strategies
  4. SHGV is objectively a poor strategy which does not align with HDC’s Climate Emergency commitment to put the reduction of CO2 at the front and centre of all polices and decision-making
  5. SHGV will cause coalescence between Fleet, Harley Wintney, Hook and Odiham which will significantly damage their character as well as the rural nature of Hart District.

Recommendations

  1. HDC should abandon the SHGV Project and invest instead in a comprehensive Masterplan for Fleet which is an essential first step towards meeting the Local Plan objective to secure funding for Fleet regeneration
  2. Failing a), the SHGV project should provide clear information about the pros and cons of SHGV when compared to the alternative development strategies
  3. Respondents should be encouraged to object to the clear bias of the SHGV Community Survey

Are Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Deliverable?

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Overview

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Overview

The Shapley Heath Survey has a number of questions about “sustainable transport”. Interestingly, there’s not even an option to request improvement to local roads or to rail services.  When many people think of sustainable transport they think of walking, running and cycling. This can be for fitness, leisure, work or even light shopping.  So, it is worth exploring whether the road network in and around the area of search is capable of delivering the basics such as pavements and cycle paths.

Sadly, the conclusion is a resounding “No”. Overall none of the roads into, out of or through the area of search are capable of sustaining busy 2-way traffic, a pavement on at least one side of the road and even a single cycle lane. Here is the overall assessment, followed by an examination of each road one by one.

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Overall Assessment.

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Overall Assessment

Having read the rest of this article, you might like to respond to the Shapley Heath survey. This is your chance to make known your concerns about the proposals. We have produced a handy guide with suggestions as to how you might choose to answer the freeform questions. The guide can be found on the download below. The full survey can be found here. The survey closes on 5 July.

Shapley Heath Survey with Suggested Responses

B3016/Odiham Road

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals B3016 Odiham Road

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals B3016 Odiham Road

Starting with the busiest road in the area of search. The B3016/Odiham Road does have a pavement from the A30 to Station Road and this pavement is also designated as a cycle path. There is also a pavement from Bagwell Lane to the A287. However, for the rest of the length of the road, there is no room for either a pavement or a cycle path. There have been fatal accidents on this road, so it is questionable whether it is even suitable to take the extra car traffic from 5-10,000 houses.

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals: Station Road

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Station Road

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Station Road

There is a pavement for the short distance from the B3016 to Winchfield Station. The rest of the road is barely capable of taking two way traffic. Of course, there’s a narrow tunnel under the railway too. There is no room for a pavement or cycle path.

Bagwell Lane

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Bagwell Lane

Bagwell Lane

The road is barely suitable for occasional 2-way traffic. There’s no pavement and no room for a cycle path along any of its length. There is also a narrow bridge over a water course.

Taplins Farm Lane

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Taplins Farm Lane

Taplins Farm Lane

Overall Taplins Farm Lane is barely suitable for 2-way traffic. There is a narrow tunnel under the railway and a blind bend. The bridge over the M3 does have pavements. But there is no pavement anywhere else on the road. There is not enough space for pavements or cycle paths along the rest of the length of the road. When it becomes Church Lane and passes Hartley Wintney it remains a narrow road, with an awkward turning on to the A323.

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals: Pale Lane

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Pale Lane

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Pale Lane

Pale Lane is a narrow lane, barely capable of taking occasional 2-way traffic. There is a narrow tunnel under the railway and a narrow bridge over the River Hart. There is no space for a proper 2-way road and no room for pavements or a cycle lane.

Chatter Alley

"Shapley

The road out of the area of search towards Dogmersfield and Crookham Village is Chatter Alley. This is a narrow road with pinch-points to stop 2-way traffic. There is a short stretch of pavement near the school. There is no space for proper 2-way traffic and no room for a cycle lane or pavements along the rest of the length of the road.

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals: Pilcot Road

Shapley Heath Sustainable Transport Goals Pilcot Road

Pilcot Road

Pilcot Road is another narrow lane with a bridge over the River Hart and a pinch-point to stop 2-way traffic. The stretch up to Crookham Village does have a pavement, but the rest of the road doesn’t and there’s no room for a cycle path.

Totters Lane

"Shapley

This is a narrow road for most of its length and not capable of carrying 2-way traffic. There is also a tight, narrow bridge over the railway. The widest part of the road under the M3 does have a pavement.  However, the rest of the road is not wide enough for a pavement or cycle lane.

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

This article builds on our earlier post setting out the green case against Shapley Heath. We have been inspired by new research that shows the red list species that are found in Winchfield.  New analysis shows that 26 of the 67 bird species on the RSPB Red List have been spotted in Winchfield parish.

Clearly building 5-10,000 houses in the Shapley Heath area will endanger these important species. Hart Council’s survey about Shapley Heath focuses on biodiversity as a key issue. It is mentioned in questions 19, 20 and 21. However, they fail to mention the damage that a new community will do to the existing ecosystems and the threatened species found there.

This seems odd given that Hart has its own Biodiversity Action Plan. But it seems they haven’t kept up to date with their promised monitoring reports. The Council even has a page dedicated to biodiversity that promises to

[Set] targets for biodiversity achievement in planning, site management and monitoring and education and awareness

Having read the rest of this article, you might like to respond to the Shapley Heath survey. This is your chance to make known your concerns about the proposals. We have produced a handy guide with suggestions as to how you might choose to answer the freeform questions. The guide can be found on the download below. The full survey can be found here. The survey closes on 5 July.

Shapley Heath Survey with Suggested Responses

Winchfield Notable and Protected Bird Species

The current Winchfield Neighbourhood Plan (WNP) shows on p47 the notable and protected species identified by the Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre (HBIC).

Winchfield Notable and Protected Bird Species

Winchfield Notable and Protected Bird Species

This shows a total of 64 different species.

RSPB Red List

The RSPB helpfully produce a red list of UK birds. This contains 67 separate species.  To place a bird species on the Red List, the RSPB apply a set of strict criteria:

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

RSPB Red List Criteria

The criteria include population decline and contraction in breeding range. Clearly, building all over the Area of Search will contract the available space and may well kill-off the local population of these birds. The red list contains 67 different species.

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

By cross-referencing these lists, you can see the red list birds that make their home in Winchfield.

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

Red List Bird Species in Winchfield Neighbourhood Plan

This list contains 26 different species. So, nearly 39% of the species on the red list have been found in Winchfield parish. It would be an act of pure malice to destroy the habitat of these important birds.

Mammals Need Protecting Too

The WNP (p44) also says that Winchfield is home to five species of bats. All species of bats are protected in the UK.

Pipistrelle Bat found in Winchfield

Pipistrelle Bat found in Winchfield

Winchfield is also home to brown hares.

Brown Hare Found in Winchfield

Brown Hare Found in Winchfield

Hares are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. They are also a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. Surely a council committed to biodiversity wold not put these important creatures at risk.

 

Shapley Heath Mapgate: Council map hides the reality

Shapley Heath Mapgate - Coalescence

Shapley Heath Mapgate – Coalescence

They say a picture paints a thousand words. However, sometimes, what’s missing from a picture can tell you more than what’s in it. As you may know, Hart has published a survey about the proposed Shapley Heath Garden Community. There is a map associated with the survey that is published on the dedicated Garden Community website.

Shapley Heath #Mapgate - Heart Shaped Love It

Shapley Heath #Mapgate – Heart Shaped Love It

Note the soft boundaries, the warm orange dots and the attempt to make the boundary heart shaped, so you will subliminally love it. Of course the OS map on which it is based doesn’t include the Edenbrook development on the western Fleet boundary.

To combat this propaganda, Winchfield Parish Council has published some maps of its own, showing the impact of Shapley Heath should it ever go ahead. The first, at the top of this post, shows the potential coalescence with surrounding towns and villages. If they build in the NE zone, it will effectively join Fleet to Hartley Wintney. On the other hand, if they build in the NW, around Murrell Green, then it will coalesce Harley Wintney and Hook. If they build both sides, then effectively, Fleet, Hartley Wintney, Hook and the new town will become a single, large conurbation. We have previously termed this Hartley Winchook.

Shapley Heath Mapgate: Central Land Not Available

Shapley Heath #Mapgate - Central Land Not Available

Shapley Heath Mapgate – Central Land Not Available

The next map shows land ownership in the area of search. The areas in green are under the control of the developers. Land that is potentially available to the developers – presumably not yet under option – is shown in blue. The red zone is land that is not and never will be under the control of the developers. Areas of ancient woodland, shown in brown, cannot be developed either.

As can be seen, there’s vast swathes of land in the area of search that cannot be developed. This means they have to build either in the NW area, the NE area or both. But none of those options allows for a single coherent settlement. All three options lead to coalescence.

Shapley Heath Mapgate: Additional Constraints

Shapley Heath #Mapgate - Physical Constraints

Shapley Heath Mapgate – Additional Constraints

However, the constraints don’t stop there. When you add on the additional environmental items such as the Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), then the area becomes even more constrained. The physical constraints of the high-voltage electricity pylons, the high pressure gas main, the M3, railway line and the former landfill all add further restrictions on what is safe or sensible to develop.

Conclusion

If you display an anodyne map to the general population, they will form one view of the site under consideration. When faced with maps that actually convey real information, then perceptions can change markedly. We wonder why Hart Council aren’t taking more heed of the Inspector’s words when he examined plans for a new town in the same area as part of the Local Plan (our emphasis):

I have a number of fundamental concerns with regard to the soundness of Policy SS3.

There is little evidence to demonstrate that a site can actually be delivered in terms of infrastructure, viability and landownership within the identified AoS.

Policy SS3 is not required for the Plan to be sound and, in light of my comments above, I consider that the most appropriate course of action would be to remove it (along with any other necessary subsequent changes) from the Plan.

I am also mindful that following further work, there can be no guarantee that the evidence would support it as the most appropriate long-term growth strategy or that Policy SS3 would be found sound.

All of these issues are known, yet the Council is pressing on spending money they don’t have, on a project we don’t need and probably won’t work anyway.

Having read this article, you might like to respond to the Shapley Heath survey. This is your chance to make known your concerns about the proposals. We have produced a handy guide with suggestions as to how you might choose to answer the freeform questions. The guide can be found on the download below. The full survey can be found here.

Shapley Heath Survey with Suggested Responses

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Regeneration is the Solution

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Regeneration is the Solution

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Regeneration is the Solution

The purpose of this post is to illustrate the green case against Shapley Heath.  We will:

  • Examine Hart’s environmental and climate change commitments.
  • Show how Shapley Heath will deliver excess housing and up to 1m tonnes of excess CO2 emissions just from building it.
  • Demonstrate how concreting over 505 acres to deliver 5,300 houses will destroy habitat and damage biodiversity.
  • Look at how the talk of “renewable energy” might put our forests at risk and produce more CO2 and particulates then burning coal.
  • Show how urban regeneration would produce lower CO2 per capita and keep our vital green spaces.

If Hart Council want to save the planet, they should cancel Shapley Heath and focus on urban regeneration.

Having read the article, you might like to respond to the Shapley Heath survey and make known your concerns about the environment. We have produced a handy guide with suggestions as to how you might choose to answer the freeform questions. The guide can be found on the download below. The full survey can be found here.

Shapley Heath Survey with Suggested Responses

Hart Council’s environmental and climate change commitments

In April 2021, Hart Council joined many other public bodies in declaring a Climate Emergency. They unanimously agreed (our emphasis):

“Following the successful adoption of Hart’s Climate Change Action Plan, this Council now wishes to declare a climate emergency, which commits us to putting the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere at the front and centre of all policies and formal decision making, particularly Planning.

They even proclaimed that climate change is their top priority on the front page of the latest edition of Hart News.

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath

Hart News Climate Change Top Priority June 2021

However, on the same page they talk about the new Shapley Heath survey, cunningly avoiding any discussion about the environmental impact.

Excess House Building Leads to Excess CO2 Emissions

The Local Plan was agreed at a build rate of 423 dwellings per annum (dpa). However, the latest Government target is 286dpa. The 286 represents Hart’s share of the Government’s overall 300,000 dpa target. According to ONS figures, this national target is far in excess of what is required to meet demographic changes.

Hart refuse to conduct an early review of the Local Plan to take advantage of this reduction. Moreover, their original bid for Shapley Heath funding committed to deliver the new town in addition to the Local Plan requirements.

Shapley Heath in addition to Local Plan

Shapley Heath in addition to Local Plan

So, Hart are proposing to continue building at a rate far higher than the Government target, which in itself is far more than required and to deliver Shapley Heath on top. We can pretty safely say that any houses delivered by Shapley Heath will be far in excess of requirements. So any CO2 emissions arising from construction will also be entirely unnecessary.

We calculated that a new town of 10,000 houses would emit around 1m tonnes of CO2. A new town of 5,000 would be half that amount.

Shapley Heath Climate Change Impact

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Up to 1m tonnes of CO2

We find it difficult to understand how building more houses than we need and emitting more CO2 than we need to is consistent with putting the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere at the front and centre of all policies.

Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Biodiversity Impact

There’s plenty of academic evidence that urbanisation causes irreparable damage to biodiversity and habitat loss.

For example here,

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Urbanisation Habitat Loss and Biodiversity Decline

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Urbanisation Habitat Loss and Biodiversity Decline

and here:

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Impacts of Urbanisation on Biodiversity

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Impacts of Urbanisation on Biodiversity

The issues include replacement of species, habitat loss and biodiversity decline. The Shapley Heath survey emphasises the importance of green spaces, wildlife habitat and woodland. Yet, they somehow fail to mention that the Viability Study accompanying their bid for Government funding proposed concreting over 505 acres of the 1,047 acres of land under consideration.

Shapley Heath Development Acreage

Shapley Heath Development Acreage

The damage to the local eco-systems will be incalculable. And all for a development that isn’t required and is in addition to the Local Plan requirement.

The Renewable Energy Trap

The new Shapley Heath survey does ask for opinion about renewable energy. Initially, this sounds quite green and cuddly. Until you look at what they meant by renewable energy in prior studies into the Winchfield new town. The Sustainability Appraisal (p74) said:

It is fair to assume that a scheme of this scale (c.3,000 homes) [Ed: How times have changed, now 5-10,000] could enable combined heat and power generation (potentially even fuelled by biomass, which might even be locally sourced).

What they mean by biomass is explained in the North Hampshire Renewable Energy Opportunities Plan.

North Hampshire Biomass from Forest Management

North Hampshire Biomass from Forest Management

What they mean is chopping down trees in Bramshill Forest to fuel a wood-burning power plant. Burning wood produces more CO2 per unit of electricity produced than coal. And if Drax is anything to go by, more than twice the amount of noxious particulates.

In summary, they are considering building a wood-fired power station, using locally sourced timber that will produce more CO2 and more particulates than burning coal. This will destroy our local forest in addition to concreting over 505 acres of land, all in the name of environmentalism.

Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Regeneration is the Solution

There is a simple alternative to Shapley Heath. It’s Urban Regeneration. The benefits of this approach would be:

  • Control the build rate to match the actual requirement
  • Reduce delivery risk by having a range of projects instead of relying on just one big development
  • Protect our green fields and ancient woodland to maintain habitats and biodiversity
  • Keep vital green infrastructure to enhance our quality of life, wellbeing and mental health
  • Maintain our agricultural capacity to produce food
  • Produce less CO2 per capita

There’s plenty of evidence that shows that gentle densification produces communities that are more sustainable from a CO2 emissions point of view.

CO2 emission per capita vs Population density

CO2 emissions per capita vs Population density

The reason for this is that more people can walk to work, walk to the station and walk to leisure facilities. They need fewer cars and do fewer journeys. And slightly denser building means that occupants need less heating.

So, if we want to save the planet, urban regeneration is the answer. Cancel Shapley Heath.