Gurkha Square Plans revised

Amended Gurkha Square Plans. We Heart Hart. We Love Hart

Amended Gurkha Square Plans

The plans for the proposed development on the Gurkha Square car park have been amended. Unfortunately, it appears as though we now have to re-object to this unwelcome proposal. The letter we received  about this can be found here.

You can object by navigating to the Hart public access website and searching for 18/00147/OUT or use this link. Comment must be submitted by 4 July 2018.

We have used the following reasons:

I still object to this proposal on the following grounds:

1) The size and massing of the building is inappropriate for the area
2) The design is horrible, and negatively impacts on the Harlington, library and Bakers
3) It takes away valuable parking spaces, with no plan for replacement
4) The loss of parking will make traffic worse

As I understand it, FTC don’t even own the Gurkha Square land. Moreover, the details of the proposed land swap between HDC and FTC have not been made public . This is against Government Value for Money principles.

Feel free to use or edit as you wish.

 

 

 

Hart Local Plan Submission details revealed

Hart Local Plan Submission details

Hart Local Plan Submission Details Revealed

Details of the Hart Local Plan submission process and details have been revealed. They are contained in a presentation given to a range of parish, town and district councillors on Tuesday 12 June.

The full presentation is available on the download below.

Key points include:

1. The documents will be submitted to the Secretary of State on 18 June 2018

2. The documents will include:

      • The Proposed Submission Hart Local Plan and Policies Map (unchanged from February (Reg19 version)

      • Schedule of minor modifications

      • Sustainability Appraisal

      • Statement of Community Involvement

      • Consultation Statement

      • Duty to Cooperate Statement

      • Copies of the representations

      • Habitats Regs Assessment

      • Evidence base documents

3. In around mid-July the Inspector will write to all those who submitted representations to outline the procedures and timetable.

4. The inspector will be focused on testing whether the plan is sound

5. The examination in public hearings are expected to start in late September and last for 2-3 weeks

6. Appearance at the hearings will be limited to those people who submitted representations to the consultation and who were seeking to change the plan

7. After the hearings there may be an additional consultation if modifications to the Plan are recommended as part of the examination

We understand that the representations made during the last consultation will be published around the same time as submission to the Secretary of State. Things are certainly hotting up, and it’s all to play for.

Hart Local Plan Submission Briefing

Elvetham Chase Appeal Documents Revealed

Wates Pale Lane aka Elvetham Chase Appeal

Elvetham Chase Appeal Documents

The Pale Lane aka Elvetham Chase appeal documents have been made available. At the time of writing, they haven’t yet been published on the Hart Council website, nor on the Planning Inspectorate website. These documents confirm our story that the Wates have appealed the decision to turn down the proposed development of 700 new houses.

The two documents can be found as downloads at the foot of this article.

The key elements of their statement of case are:

Elvetham Chase Appeal – Policies out of date

Elvetham Chase Appeal Policies out of date

Wates argue that the policies used to refuse the original application are out of date. This argument was successful when the Grove Farm development was approved on appeal.

Elvetham Chase Appeal – Little impact on Fleet

Elvetham Chase Appeal Policies little impact on Fleet

Wates also argue that, contrary to Hart’s refusal decision, the Pale Lane development will have little impact on Fleet. In addition, the policies Hart have used to justify this stance are out of date.

Elvetham Chase Appeal – Local Plan too slow

Elvetham Chase Appeal Policies Local Plan too slow

Wates are also arguing that Hart have not kept to their timetable for the Local Plan. There was supposed to be a presentation to members during May, prior to submission on 18 June. We understand that presentation did not happen, so the 18 June deadline may be at risk.

They also argue that the draft Local Plan and the site allocation may well face legal challenge.

The draft Local Plan doesn’t include Pale Lane in the site allocation. They say the plan is a long way from adoption and that refusal isn’t justified on those grounds. Wates are effectively saying that the draft Local Plan should carry very little weight in the appeal decision.

Elvetham Chase Appeal – Our View

We think the appeal will rest on this issue. If the Inspector believes the draft Local Plan carries significant weight, then he may well refuse the appeal. If however, he believes the opposite, then on the past precedent of Grove Farm, then he will probably allow the development to proceed.

We think Hart’s chances of successfully fighting this appeal are higher than Grove Farm, and it is probably worth the cost and effort of doing so. However, we hear some councillors are much less optimistic about Hart’s chances of success. Let’s hope common sense prevails and the appeal is dismissed.

We will work on what we think are the best arguments for fighting the appeal.

Wates Pale Lane/ Elvetham Chase Appeal Statement
Wates Elvetham Chase/ Pale Lane Appeal Statement of Common Ground

Appeal statement of case that can be found here.

Draft statement of common ground that can be found here.

 

Council announce Hart Local Plan Submission Date

Council announces Hart Local Plan submission date

Council announces Hart Local Plan submission date

The council has announced the submission date for the Hart Local Plan.

The news is contained in papers due to be considered by Cabinet on 7 June. The relevant paper can be found here.

They say the plan will be submitted during week commencing 18 June:

It is anticipated that the Hart Local Plan Strategy and Sites 2016-2032 Submission Version (the Submission Plan) will be submitted to the Secretary of State in the week commencing 18 June 2018. Once submitted the Submission Plan does not supersede the Hart Local Plan 1996 – 2006 (Saved Policies). The saved policies will still comprise the Development Plan for Hart.

This is in line with earlier commentary from the Joint Chief Executive at an earlier council meeting.

Impact of submitting the Hart Local Plan

Although the submitted plan doesn’t yet form the development plan for Hart, it should have some weight in determining planning applications (and one hopes, planning appeals):

The Submission Plan gains some weight in decision-making. Paragraph 216 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)) states that decision-takers may also give weight (unless material considerations indicate otherwise) to relevant policies in emerging plans according to:

  • The stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced the preparation, the greater the weight that may be given).

  • The extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies (the less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight that may be given).

  • The degree of consistency of the relevant policies in the emerging plan to the policies in NPPF (the closer the policies in the emerging plan to the policies in the Framework, the greater the weight that may be given).

The council’s comentary says:

The Submission Plan is at an advanced stage of preparation. Therefore, it should be given weight in the decision-making process and so upon submission to the Secretary of State it should be used in the determination of planning applications. Furthermore, as it reflects approved Council policy, applications that are determined in accordance with the Submission Plan should not be considered as representing “departures” where approval would otherwise require referral to Council for determination.

We can only hope that the submission of the Local Plan helps in fending off the unwelcome appeal against the decision to refuse planning permission for 700 new houses at Pale Lane.

Wates launch Elvetham Chase aka Pale Lane appeal

Wates launch Elvetham Chase aka Pale Lane appeal

Elvetham Chase aka Pale Lane appeal

[Update 1: 29/5/2018: We understand that the developers have stated they intend to appeal, but have not yet submitted the appeal documentation]

[Update 2: 6/6/2018: Story now confirmed by Fleet News and Mail. Copy here.]

[Update 2: 8/6/2018: Appeal documents published here.]

We understand that the agents for the developers have submitted a Pale Lane appeal. The site, also known as Elvetham Chase was, quite rightly in our view, turned down for development of 700 new houses by Hart Council back in February. The developers, Wates, were apparently quite angry.

The Pale Lane appeal comes despite the recent Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 consultation. Of course, the draft Local Plan doesn’t include Pale Lane in the housing plans. We understand that Hart plan to submit the Local Plan to the inspector on 18 June. The plan published as part of the consultation has some weight to fend off this unwelcome development. That weight should increase when the plan is submitted to the Inspector. But it won’t have the same weight as a plan declared sound by the Inspector.

We don’t yet know the timeline for the Local Plan inspection hearing. Nor do we know the timeline for the Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase) appeal.

Impact of Pale Lane Appeal

So, this move sets in train some complex legal and procedural manoeuvres and a race agaisnt time for both Hart and Wates. Clearly, Wates believe they can win or they wouldn’t be spending the money on the appeal. They are clearly hoping their appeal will be heard prior to the Local Plan being inspected and declared sound.

Despite opposing the development, we think the grounds for rejecting the proposed development were quite weak. The grounds for the decision can be found here. Unfortunately, Hart doesn’t have a good track record in defending appeals.

We have to hope that the current state of the Local Plan will provide stronger defence that the Council’s current outdated policies.

Another of the 1 in 30 year Winchfield Floods

Winchfield Floods Taplins Farm Lane 20180411

Winchfield Floods: Taplins Farm Lane 11 April 2018

It seems 1 in 30 year Winchfield floods are becoming a habit. Here are images of the flooding on Taplins Farm Lane on 11 April 2018.

This area has flooded many times in recent years as we documented here (4 Jan 2016) , here (7 Jan)here (9 March on Station Road) and here (28 March due to #StormKatie). Earlier this year Winchfield flooded on 24 January and on 30 March as documented here.

Apparently, this latest flood comes just after the drainage culverts were cleared last week.

It is almost as if the Sustainability Assessment and Flood Risk Assessment are total nonsense.

Winchfield Floods Taplins Farm Lane 20180411

Winchfield Floods: Taplins Farm Lane 11 April 2018

 

Winchfield Floods Taplins Farm Lane 20180411

Winchfield Floods: Taplins Farm Lane 11 April 2018

 

Winchfield Floods Taplins Farm Lane 20180411

Winchfield Floods: Taplins Farm Lane 11 April 2018

Stop Elvetham Chase hypocrisy (and CCH)

Stop Elvetham Chase Hypocrisy

Stop Elvetham Chase Hypocrisy

We have done some more digging to expose the Stop Elvetham Chase hypocrisy, after our article revealing that a leading member of was standing for election for Community Campaign Completely Concrete Hart.

To recap, Stop Elvetham Chase have consistently argued against development of Pale Lane. This is a position we agree with. However, they now support the unnecessary new town in Winchfield that is being proposed as part of the Hart Local Plan.

They have come up with 13 reasons to object to Elvetham Chase, many of which also apply to Winchfield. These reasons are reproduced below with our comments in red.

Stop Elvetham Chase Hypocrisy – their reasons apply to Winchfield too

1. The effect on the area – The valley of the River Hart is a naturally beautiful area. There will be a loss of hedges, trees and fields. It will destroy the semi-rural character of the approach to Winchfield, Fleet and Hartley Wintney. The area around the development is a haven for wildlife the developer’s proposal does not address this issue. When the green fields are gone they are gone for good! Quite. All these arguments apply even more to Winchfield.

2. The existing road design through Elvetham Heath is designed with no stopping areas, traffic islands and central islands to slow traffic through this residential estate. The use of these roads to take more traffic to the M3 and A30 will have a huge safety impact for pedestrians, cyclists, children walking to school and a significant increase on noise and pollution for the residents of Elvetham Heath. No doubt a new development at Winchfield will also affect traffic levels through Elvetham Heath. Not only that the roads through Winchfield are even narrower than the one through Elvetham Heath and not suited to 5,000 more houses.

3. The existing lanes surrounding Winchfield and Dogmersfield are narrow and windy with dangerous bends and bridges they are not designed to cope with the additional traffic any development the west side of Fleet would bring. Exactly.

4. Local secondary schools are at capacity. The houses planned or under construction at Brickyard, Pale lane and Grove farm (1700 homes in total) will be closer to Calthorpe than the children of Elvetham Heath. Calthorpe has no capacity to take any more children and as such it is proposed that children from Elvetham Heath and other perimeter areas of Fleet will be bussed to schools with capacity such as Yateley. It is possible that Elvetham Heath will be taken out of the catchment area for Calthorpe Park school totally. There is no evidence that we need a new secondary school. But, this argument applies equally to Winchfield, as they have yet to find a site for a school that is suitable. Even so, there’s no need to concrete over 100’s of acres of countryside to provide 10Ha for a new school.

5. Transporting children to schools miles away will have a detrimental environmental impact. It will also have a social impact on children, time spent travelling to school will reduce time for family activities, school clubs etc. It will also affect the health of our children, walking to and from school is a good form of physically activity. Not really an argument. Plenty of children travel a long way to school already.

6. Foot paths and road crossing points surrounding Elvetham Heath on roads such as Hitches Lane, Reading Road North and Elvetham Road are narrow and dangerous and congested to use at peak times such school start and finish times. Extra traffic will further compromise the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Indeed, Basingstoke and Deane have opposed the new settlement on the grounds of too much extra traffic. These arguments apply equally to Winchfield.

7. There will be a significant increase in noise for existing houses along the perimeter of Fleet Road and the roads through Elvetham Heath. Existing gardens will be forced into red unacceptable levels. The new development will be sandwiched by a railway, the M3 and Fleet Road. Any new occupants will be surrounded by pollution and noise this has clear dangers to public health. The Environmental Health Department at Hart does not support the use of the Pale Lane site for residential development due to the very high levels of noise and constraint from the railway and the M3. Indeed a new settlement at Winchfield will detrimentally affect Elvetham Heath. In addition, the proposed area of search for the Winchfield new town is bisected by the M3 and the railway and bordered by the A30. Moreover, the Murrell Green portion is crossed by a Major Accident Hazard high pressure gas pipeline.

8. Local doctors surgeries are operating at capacity and have long waiting times for even routine appointments. Yes, and a new town won’t fix this either.

9. Pale Lane and the immediate area are liable to flooding. The proposal put forward by the developers makes little mention of the River Hart flood plane any development would contribute to the problem. Tell me about it. Winchfield East is very susceptible to flooding. It has flooded three time this year so far, and at least three times in 2016.

10. The development is against Hart’s policy to allow development of green field sites. There are enough Brownfield sites to meet demand. Hart has 6 years land supply exceeding the requirement for 5 years laid down by the Governments national policy Planning Framework. The land at Pale Lane and Grove Farm is not required to meet those obligations. Pale Lane is a green field site and it has not been previously identified for development. Indeed. We have been arguing this for more than three years now. This argument applies equally to Winchfield.

11. Car parking at railways stations of Winchfield and Fleet are at capacity. Trains are full and cannot cope with current demand. Indeed. 5,000 new houses at Winchfield will make this even worse, and no doubt impact Hook too.

12. The provision of a cycle path on the new development does not link to the existing cycle network and is of little purpose. No plans detailed enough for examination have been put forward for Winchfield.

13. There will be an impact on Fleet Pond with is a site of special scientific interest. There will be an increase of users (humans, dogs and vehicles). It is dubious whether Elvetham Chase will have any impact on Fleet Pond. Similarly, WInchfield. But whilst we are on the subject of SSSIs, why not consider Basingstoke Canal and Odiham Common which both border the proposed area of search for Winchfield?

As you can see, it seems their principles only extend as far as the railway line, and can’t be extended beyond their own narrow view. Stop Elvetham Chase hypocrisy. And now they are standing for CCH, stop Completely Concrete Hart hypocrisy too.

Cabinet Update: Pressure on to deliver the Hart Local Plan

Hart District Council seeks to block brownfield development

Hart District Council under pressure to deliver the Local Plan

Unfortunately, we could not make it to the Cabinet meeting on Thursday 5 April. However, we have received feedback from the meeting about the Hart Local Plan item.

Respondents to the Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 Consultation

We understand there were around 300 respondents to the consultation. However, there are about 1,500 individual representations. The council has its work cut out to analyse the representation and provide a response to each one.

Key themes

The key themes emerging from the consultation include a number of contradictory elements:

  • Inadequate infrastructure
  • Housing numbers too high
  • Housing numbers too low (from developers)
  • Housing numbers not robust
  • Quality of life issues
  • Reliance on strategic sites
  • Revisit reg 18 for sites
  • Should have more sites to spread the load
  • New gaps / more gaps
  • No gaps at all (from developers)
  • Employment sites/  brownfield sites
  • Regeneration of town centres, particularly Fleet
  • No minimum internal size (floor space) specified

In addition, there is a need to focus on sustainability and decide if the approach of adding a new settlement is sound. Apparently, Basingstoke and Deane objected to the new town on the grounds of the extra traffic it would generate. [Obviously we believe it is not sound, but that is for the Inspector to decide].

Timetable to submission of the Hart Local Plan

There was discussion of the work required before the Hart Local will be ready for submission. This includes:

Feedback from the Independent Planning Consultant (Keith Holland, a former Inspector) is expected by late April.

In addition a topic paper has to be produced to explain how the housing number was arrived at and other options if different numbers were used (i.e. plan ‘b’ and plan ‘c’).

Then  a further series of tasks are required:

  • Update project plan
  • Format each representation, enter onto database including HDC response
  • Update consultation statement
  • Identify issues arising from consultation
  • Make minor modifications to plan
  • Provide statements of common ground (highways, neighbouring councils etc.)
  • Review and update topic papers (including the new one on housing numbers)
  • Infrastructure plan review
  • Soundness check list
  • Review reg 18 and how consultation was responded to

There might be another meeting of the Local Plan Steering Group (LPSG) before submission.

The project team consists of one full-time leader and three part-time team members. However, the leader has been off sick recently. They want to get the plan submitted as soon as possible to help fight off two anticipated appeals. [We don’t know which ones exactly, but we would hazard a guess at Elvetham Chase (Pale Lane) and West of Hook].

They hope to achieve submission by mid-to-late May. [Our view is that this sounds ambitious given the level of work and the apparently sparse resources allocated].

Questions from the floor

Apparently, a number of questions were asked relating to:

  • Which housing numbers to use. Should these be based on the old SHMA or the newer Government methodology. It appears as though this hasn’t been decided yet. [We would prefer if the new Government methodology was used, as it gives a lower number. However, the inflated numbers the council have used in the Local Plan are slightly higher than the SHMA, once they are adjusted for the building between 2011 and 2016. So, either scenario does not require a new town].
  • Membership of the LPSG. Apparently, Conservative members won’t be invited to the LPSG unless their particular expertise is required.
  • Resourcing for the Local Plan. Apparently this is a very sensitive subject that resulted in some argument. [We take it that the officers feel under pressure to deliver quickly and are struggling for resource].

Let’s see what happens.

 

 

Fleet Regeneration – Yes we can!

Candidate for Fleet Regeneration: Brownfield site at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire. Hart Council protecting from redevelopment.

We must deliver Fleet Regeneration

A guest post from Tristram Cary, chairman of the Rural Hart Association, setting out why we must and how we can deliver Fleet Regeneration.

Fleet Regeneration Report

40% of the population of Hart live in Fleet, and yet, in the Local Plan, Fleet is only taking only 21% of the housing development. This massive imbalance puts a huge strain on Hart’s countryside. It is extraordinary that Hart is preventing the regeneration of Fleet when you consider that:

Fleet housing density versus towns of similar size

Fleet housing density versus towns of similar size

  1. Fleet is the most sparsely populated town of its size in Britain (see above)
  2. Hart admits in para 236 of the Local Plan that, without regeneration, “it is unrealistic for Fleet to try to compete” for comparison shopping with neighbouring towns such as Camberley (which is the same size as Fleet)
  3. The new National Planning Policy Framework (para 86) requires districts to “take a positive approach to the development of Town Centres” and to “recognise that residential development often plays an important role in ensuring the vitality of Town Centres”

Hart’s extraordinary lack of ambition for Fleet is explained by Councillor Cockarill’s statement at the 4 January Council Meeting that any serious Fleet regeneration was “a pipedream”. Hart claims that Fleet is full, and that it would not be possible to raise any serious money for its regeneration.

The Rural Hart Association (RHA) commissioned a study from Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), a leading Town Centre regeneration specialist, to analyse the potential for Fleet regeneration. This study was submitted to Hart in response to the Reg 19 Consultation, and the full document is available on the link above. The key findings of the study are that:

  1. Fleet has ample opportunities for re-generation if only Hart would consider mixed-use (residential and retail) developments
  2. It is hopeless for Fleet to resist the residential conversion of redundant office blocks – there is no realistic prospect of these ever being revived for business use.

It’s worth reading the following summaries provided by directors of LSH.

“As has been widely reported the growth of online retail sales is having a major impact on the retail landscape – online sales are currently circa 16% of all UK sales and growing annually. There is a fundamental structural change in our shopping habits which in turn is having a major impact on retailers and town centres. The retail centres that are thriving tend to be those regional locations offering a high quality experiential mix of retail and leisure or the smaller centres that are able to provide easily accessed, convenience retail facilities in an aesthetically pleasing environment.

Interestingly, we have started to witness retail assets (shopping centres and retail parks) particularly in the South East being acquired or redeveloped for their residential potential.  In some instances, we are seeing retail being proposed above shopping centres and in other instances the complete redevelopment for residential – examples include Forbury Park in Reading which has consent for 765 homes and Whitley’s Shopping Centre in Bayswater which is to be redeveloped for a mixed retail and residential scheme. This trend is likely to continue especially in areas where residential values are high and the retail assets are stagnating.

The Hart Shopping Centre could offer such potential in the future – retaining strong convenience retail facilities at ground floor level with retailers such as Waitrose but with residential accommodation on the upper parts.

What is clear, is that on a national basis we have too many shops and alternative uses, in particular residential, is a desirable way of regenerating our town centres”.

Sean Prigmore, Retail Director, Lambert Smith Hampton

And,

“I have been actively involved in the Fleet office market for more than 30 years.

The office market in Fleet has been in decline for a number of years as larger corporates have vacated to consolidate occupation in larger centers and locations benefitting from more amenity – such as Farnborough Business Park. Key Business centres such as Reading and Basingstoke have prospered whilst the smaller satellite office location such as Fleet are finding it harder to prove their relevance as office locations. M3 HQ, 70,000 sq ft on ABP, has been vacant for many years and is unlikely to be occupied as offices again. There is the potential to enable redevelopment of larger unwanted office stock for residential and to focus B1 provision in locations better served by public transport and amenity and in buildings which will allow business space for the SME sector where what demand there is lies.”

Paul Dowson , Director, Lambert Smith Hampton

Fleet Regeneration Sites

Fleet Regeneration Sites

The Lambert Smith Hampton report identifies eight sites in Fleet Town centre which between them could provide 990 homes in mixed-use developments, and LSH is confident that these sites would attract developer investment. [Personally, I would add the entire civic quarter – ed]. It is shocking that Hart has turned its back on mixed use developments in Fleet without even investigating their potential. We hope that Hart Council will restructure its Local Plan to take account of the LSH report before submitting it for Inspection.

[Note that this is exactly in line with Ranil’s call for regeneration of our urban centres – ed]

Winchfield Flood on Taplins Farm Lane Again

Winchfield Flood Taplins Farm Lane 30 March 2018

Winchfield Flood Taplins Farm Lane 30 March 2018

As sure as night follows day the great Winchfield flood has happened again on Taplins Farm Lane. This follows another flood in Winchfield earlier this year.

Winchfield Flood 24 January 2018

Winchfield Flood 24 January 2018

This area has flooded many times in recent years as we documented here (4 Jan 2016) , here (7 Jan)here (9 March on Station Road) and here (28 March due to #StormKatie).

This of course flies on the face of the Winchfield Sustainability Assessment that claimed the area was only at risk of flooding once in 30 years.

Winchfield Strategic Assessment - Winchfield Flood Risk 1

Winchfield Strategic Assessment - Winchfield Flood Risk 3

We do hope the Inspector takes this into account when assessing the Local Plan.