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 focus on brownfield sites. There are many brownfield sites in Hart, that the Council are ignoring.
- 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.