Hart Council holds Shapley Heath Secret Meeting with developers and Homes England

Stop Shapley Heath

Shapley Heath Secret Meeting

It has emerged that Hart Council officers have held a secret meeting about Shapley Heath with Homes England and the developers. The meeting was revealed in a late response to a question put to Graham Cockarill back in November. He didn’t turn up to the meeting, and the promised written answer has only been provided today.

No wonder he didn’t want to answer the question during the General Election campaign.

The question was put by head the head of the Conservative group on the council, Anne Crampton. The response is produced in full below.

Hart District Council holds Shapley Heath secret meeting with developers and Homes England

Hart holds Shapley Heath secret meeting with developers and Homes England

It is astonishing that meetings like this are not minuted. Even more astonishing is that the developers are more involved in the process than elected councillors.

We also asked a question at the same meeting. This was about the climate change impact of building up to 10,000 unnecessary houses. Sadly, the response didn’t really answer the question. But it is clear they are doubling down on investigating Shapley Heath Garden Village.

Cockarill doubles down on Shapley Heath Garden Village madness

Cockarill doubles down on Shapley Heath madness

The full minutes can be found here.

Revised Bramshill Proposals Released

New Bramshill Proposals January 2020

Revised Bramshill Proposals Released

City and Country have released revised proposals for the Bramshill site they acquired in 2015. This is the former site of the Police College. They applied for planning permission some time ago. They eventually went to appeal. The appeal judgement was complex, but resulted in them not going ahead with the development.

Now, they have separated their proposals into two parts:

  1. Refurbishment of the Grade I listed Bramshill House, to convert it into a single dwelling. Planning permission has already been granted for this. This is already on the market alongside 92 acres of gardens and various outbuildings.
  2. Redevelopment of the rest of the site, to include 230 family homes and a care village consisting of assisted living dwellings and a residential care home. This will include getting rid of the old accommodation blocks associated with the Police College.

The developers are suggesting that these new proposals are more sympathetic to the setting of Bramshill House. They also claim these new proposals will result in fewer traffic movements, within the limits set by Hampshire County Council. They are proposing some road improvements:

  • Improvements to the geometry and visibility at the site access junction of Reading Drive South and Plough Lane.
  • A safety scheme at the off-site junction of Bramshill Road/Bracknell Lane, converting the double priority junction into a single priority T-junction resulting in significant safety benefits.
  •  Improvements to the geometry and visibility at the off-site junction of Reading Drive South and Bramshill Road.

They held an exhibition on Thursday 16th January. The materials presented there are available on the City and Country website.

The main brochure can be downloaded below.

We think that it is important that the main Bramshill House is preserved for posterity and some development of the rest of the site is inevitable. However, we think 230 houses plus care home is still probably too much development for this site. We remain to be convinced that the proposed road improvements will be enough to mitigate the increased traffic. Let’s see how this develops.

Revised Bramshill Proposals

 

 

Shapley Heath too expensive for Hart’s finances

Shapley Heath Garden Village too expensive for Hart District Council's finances

Shapley Heath too expensive for Hart’s finances

Hart Council has committed to spending the £150K Government funding it received on Shapley Heath. It has also said that it will seek a further £500K of funding from next years’ budget. By way of context, Hart’s annual spending budget is around £10m. So, this £500K represents about 5% of annual expenditure.

However, Hart’s finances are coming under increasing pressure.

First, they are forecasting an overspend for the current 2019-20 financial year.

Hart District Council FY19-20 129K deficit

Hart District Council FY19-20 129K deficit

Second, the medium term outlook is deteriorating. It was described in a recent Cabinet paper as a “perfect storm of detrimental changes to funding”.

Shapley Heath too expensive for Hart's finances

Hart District Council perfect Storm of detrimental changes to funding

This is caused by a number of issues such as the New Homes bonus being phased out and a reduction in business rates income. They are reliant upon risky and uncertain income from their commercial activities to balance the books from 2021/22.

This is illustrated in the following excerpt from the Cabinet paper:

Shapley Heath Garden Village too expensive for Hart's finances

Shapley Heath too expensive for Hart’s stretched finances

The medium term forecast is reliant upon making more than £500K profit in FY21/22 from commercial activities. This rises to over £1m in the following year.

Hart District Council reliant on commercial income from 2021

Hart District Council reliant on commercial income from 2021/22

Given this backdrop, it is unbelievable that they are planning to spend around £650K on Shapley Heath Garden Village. We have shown how the project is not required. The Inspector said there’s no evidence it’s viable or deliverable. It will drive up the housing target and be made irrelevant by Grazeley. Not to mention the unnecessary 1m tonnes of CO2 that will be emitted during construction. This is a white elephant project that we cannot afford. It must be stopped.

 

Winchfield Flooding Returns with #StormBrendan

Winchfield Flooding returned on 15 January 2020 with #StormBrendan.

It does appear as though these one in 30 year events are turning into 1 in 30 day events. The video above is of flooding on Taplins Farm Lane.

The Winchfield flooding also affected Bagwell Lane, which relatively recently had new drainage installed.  It doesn’t seem to be working.

Of course this is not the first time it has flooded on Taplins Farm Lane. We have recorded flood events on 20 December 20194 February 2019,  in April 2018 and three times in 2016 alone. Evidence documenting the 2016 flood events can be found here (4 Jan) , here (7 Jan)here (9 March on Station Road) and here (28 March due to #StormKatie).

It seems that the actual weather is stubbornly refusing to comply with the flood assessment carried out for Hart Council as part of its evidence base for the Local Plan. The sustainability assessment claimed:

There was some evidence of wet ground at the far east of SHL183, but “no other obvious evidence of current or past flooding”.

Winchfield Strategic Assessment - Flood Risk 1

The detailed assessment also said there’s only a one in 30 year chance of surface water flooding.

Winchfield Strategic Assessment - Flood Risk 3

Taplins Farm Lane and Bagwell Lane are in the middle of the proposed Shapley Heath development. The proposal to spend £150-650K of taxpayer funds does not include any work to assess or mitigate flood risk.

Shapley Heath work-plan doesn’t look at flood risk

Let us hope for a more sensible approach prevails. We are working on a revision to the Hart Local Plan. These will mean we avoid a new settlement anywhere in Hart, and won’t need large urban extensions either to at least 2041. Plus we get improved facilities in our urban centres.

 

 

 

Grazeley Garden Town makes Shapley Heath irrelevant

Grazeley Garden Town Masterplan Scenario 1 - 15,000 homes

Grazeley Garden Town Masterplan – 15,000 homes

Amongst all of the noise about Shapley Heath it is easy to overlook the work going on in neighbouring areas. A consortium of West Berkshire and Wokingham councils have received £750,000 to explore the Grazeley Garden Town.

It is proposed to develop 15,000 new houses on land surrounding Grazeley village. This site lies just to the south of the M4 and west of the A33, adjacent to AWE Burghfield. The councils have already carried out a master-planning exercise. The plans include a new railway station, primary and secondary schools, employment buildings and outdoor space. Incidentally, this master-plan work looks far higher quality than anything so far produced for Winchfield New Town/Shapley Heath.

The press release from Wokingham Council says the development will require £750m of infrastructure spending for 15,000 houses. This equates to £50,000 per house. Interestingly, the master-plan evaluated 5,000, 10,000 and 15,000 house schemes. Only the 15,000 house scenario produced a viable outcome.  The viability assessment for Shapley Heath included only £164m of infrastructure funding for 5,300 houses or only £31,000 per house. Grazeley is proposing around 61% more spending per dwelling than Shapley Heath. It seems Hart Council’s claims of massive infrastructure spending for Shapley Heath are just a pipe-dream.

The Grazeley site is close to the northern boundary of Hart District. Of course the extra traffic from extra 15,000 houses on our doorstep will have a big impact on our district. But the bigger question is, why do we need Shapley Heath Garden Village, if there is to be a much bigger new town just a few miles away?

[Update] Consultation on Grazeley Garden Town planned for February as part of the Wokingham Local Plan [/Update]

Surely Grazeley makes Shapley Heath completely irrelevant?

The full Grazeley Garden Town master-plan document can be downloaded from the button below.

Grazeley Garden Town Masterplan

This is another of our posts showing:

  • What is Shapley Heath, explaining its location and scale?
  • All the reasons why Shapley Heath Garden Village is a bad idea
  • An outline of an alternative approach to long term planning in Hart

The master page containing all of these posts can be found here. A link is also provided in the navigation at the top of the page.  Please do keep an eye out for further updates and share them with your friends.

 

Shapley Heath increases housing target

Stop Shapley Heath

Shapley Heath increases housing target

Building Shapley Heath will increases Hart’s housing target. This is quite a complex argument, but please bear with us. First let’s dispel some myths.

The CCH/Lib Dem coalition claim that Hart’s housing target is bound to increase, so we must plan for Shapley Heath. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The Hart Local Plan is being examined under the old SHMA method, plus we have been asked to build 731 extra houses for Surrey Heath. This results in an average 423 dwellings per annum (dpa) over the plan period to 2032 (see main modification 19). The SHMA is the Strategic Housing Market Assessment, where the councils concerned pay consultants to make up numbers about our housing need. If we had been assessed under the new standard method, the housing need for Hart would have been 282 dpa.

In various documents Hart has suggested it will pursue an early review of the Local Plan once adopted. This early review will be carried out using the standard method. According to the latest ONS projections, this will see our annual average requirement fall to around 251 dpa for the period 2020-2041.

Hart District Build Requirements under various scenarios

Hart District Build Requirements under various scenarios

Moreover, Surrey Heath will be examined under the standard method. They have already ‘promised’ to build 4,901 houses on their own patch in the plan period 2016-2032 (see Objective A on page 13) . Under the standard method, their requirement will fall to 3,720. They already have more than enough sites identified to meet this need. It is likely that there will be no need for Hart to take any extra for Surrey Heath.

In summary, all the evidence points to Hart’s housing need falling, not increasing. Having dispelled the Lib Dem/CCH myth, let’s have a look at the impact of their proposals. In fact, building Shapley Heath will bake in over-building for decades to come.

Shapley Heath Garden Village impact on housing need

In recent years, we have built at a faster rate than is required by the Local Plan. This is the result of ‘planning by appeal’, where we have had a number of large developments forced upon us. This is forecast to continue out to around 2023. The Shapley Heath housing trajectory submitted to the Government adds to the build rate, starting in 2023.

Nightmare in Winchfield - Shapley Heath Winchfield New Town Housing trajectory

Shapley Heath/Winchfield New Town Housing trajectory

However, under the standard method, our requirement falls to 251 dpa over the period 2020-2041. The steady-state build rate for Shapley Heath is 360 dpa, far higher than the requirement. If we add Shapley Heath (at only 5,000 total houses) to the existing Local Plan commitments, and compare it to the 2020-2041 requirement, then we will end up building 3,225 extra unnecessary houses out to 2039. If Shapley Heath expands to 10,000 houses, then this excess build rate will continue for many more years.

Shapley Heath Garden Village Excess Building

Shapley Heath Garden Village Excess Building

But it gets worse. The housing target is derived from population and household projections. The population projections are based upon trends from the previous ten years extrapolated forwards. If we continue to build more than we need to, this over-build is baked into our future housing targets, affecting us for decades to come. This will add extra pressure to build even more settlements or urban extensions such as Rye Common or West of Hook. So we must try and build at a steady rate to match no more than our annual housing target.

In conclusion, the rationale for investigating Shapley Heath is built on (at best) a misconception about future housing targets. Continuing to build this monstrosity will add even more pressure to build even more. It is a reckless policy that must be stopped.

Let’s hold our politicians to their word:

If the Government don’t force any more houses on us, this development is not needed, it will never go ahead.

If we don’t need the houses, then it won’t get done.

Well, we don’t need the houses, so it’s time to save £650K and  abandon the project now.

This is another of our posts showing:

  • What is Shapley Heath, explaining its location and scale?
  • All the reasons why Shapley Heath Garden Village is a bad idea
  • An outline of an alternative approach to long term planning in Hart

The master page containing all of these posts can be found here. A link is also provided in the navigation at the top of the page.  Please do keep an eye out for further updates and share them with your friends.

Shapley Heath not required and doubts about deliverability

Stop Shapley Heath

Shapley Heath not required

Shapley Heath is not required to meet our housing targets to 2032. Indeed we believe that our housing needs up to at least 2041 can be met without any new settlement or urban extension anywhere in Hart. Here is our evidence to support our claims.

The Local Plan submitted for examination said it wasn’t required (footnote 7 on page 29).

Shapley Heath not required

Shapley Heath Garden Village not required

The Inspector’s initial report agreed (para 37). Even the council’s own bid document (page 2) said:

As part of this we have identified a new settlement within the Local Plan. However, we did not need to do this as delivery from the new settlement is not required to meet the identified Local Plan housing target of 6,208 homes but is provided ‘in addition’ to this.

No evidence Shapley Heath Garden Village is deliverable or viable

In addition, the Inspector raised grave concerns about the soundness, viability and deliverability of the plan.

Shapley Heath not viable or deliverable

No evidence that Shapley Heath is viable or deliverable

At para 18 he said:

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

Despite over 4 years of effort, the Inspector also found:

In addition, to my above concerns, there is little evidence to demonstrate that a site can actually be delivered in terms of infrastructure, viability and landownership within the identified AoS…

There is consequently some doubt, at this time, whether a comprehensive and inclusive new community can be delivered as required by Policy SS3 and its supporting text. Given all of this, I am not sufficiently content based on the evidence available to the examination that Policy SS3 is deliverable and is therefore not effective.

The Inspector did leave open the door to a new settlement in the future. However, this would need to be backed with proper evidence and:

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.

Even the viability assessment submitted as part of the bid for Garden Communities funding had serious flaws.

Work programme not addressing the key issues

Work programme not addressing the key issues

Hart Council’s new work programme is not even trying to address the key issues. It is focusing on “visioning” to start with. Then using consultants to create a project plan and land equalisation issues. Finally, it is hiring some admin support.

There are natural constraints in the shape of SSSIs, ancient woodland SINCs and TPOs.

Shapley Heath Garden Village Key constraints Natural.

Shapley Heath Garden Village Key constraints Natural.

There are also physical constraints including conservation areas, pylons, high pressure gas main, former landfill, flood risks and of course a big land ownership gap.

Shapley Heath Key constraints Physical.

Shapley Heath Garden Village Key constraints Physical

In summary, Shapley Heath is not required and there’s no evidence that it will ever be deliverable. None of the money the council is spending will even attempt to address these issues. Why is this project happening at all when the council’s finances are constrained?

Remember what the councillors said when discussing this at Cabinet:

If the houses aren’t needed, it won’t get done.

If Shapley Heath doesn’t work, it won’t get done.

This is another of our posts showing:

  • What is Shapley Heath, explaining its location and scale?
  • All the reasons why Shapley Heath Garden Village is a bad idea
  • An outline of an alternative approach to long term planning in Hart

The master page containing all of these posts can be found here. A link is also provided in the navigation at the top of the page.  Please do keep an eye out for further updates and share them with your friends.

 

Shapley Heath Viability Study flawed

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Study

Shapley Heath Viability Study

Hart Council has released the Shapley Heath Viability Study under a Freedom of Information request. At first glance, it looks as though the proposal is viable.

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Summary

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Summary

The summary shows 5,300 units in total, split 60:40 into 3,180 open market units and 2,120 affordable units of various types. This generates revenue of £1.68bn. It appears as though the discounted cash-flow gives a £32.1m surplus at the end of the project. This comes after an investment of £164m in infrastructure.

Shapley Heath viability study

Shapley Heath Viability Study flaws

But, the good news ends there. There are three major flaws in the analysis:

  • Mismatch between the viability study and the commitments made in the Shapley Heath bid
  • Significant areas infrastructure are not even mentioned in either the study or the bid
  • The infrastructure spend per unit is much lower than proposed at the Grazeley Garden Town just over the border in Wokingham/West Berkshire.

Let’s look at each area in turn:

Mismatch between viability study and commitments

The bid to Government for £150K to support further work on Shapley Heath Garden Village contained a number of infrastructure commitments:

Shapley Heath Bid Infrastructure Commitments

Shapley Heath Bid Infrastructure Commitments

These included 4 primary schools, a health centre and health garden. Railway station and car park improvements were also promised.

However, the sketchy costings in the viability study missed out key elements:

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Assessment Infrastructure Costs

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Assessment Infrastructure Costs

The eagle-eyed amongst you will note that it only mentions 3 primary schools and there is no mention of a health centre. It is debatable whether the railway station improvements are included in the “transportation” bucket. So, there is a primary school and a health centre missing.

The missing infrastructure

However, the issues don’t stop there. First, let’s continue the discussion about railways. They don’t give any detail on the proposed improvements to the station. Winchfield station car-park is already full on weekdays and the line is acknowledged to be running over-capacity. The station has short platforms too.

Already 500 houses are being built in north-east Hook. Hook station car park is also full. So, it is likely many of these residents will try and use Winchfield station. Adding a further 5-10,000 new houses at Shapley Heath is equivalent to adding as many houses as in Fleet parish today. This would put a massive further strain on the station. It is difficult to see how this could be accommodated at the current site. Indeed, a study in 2015 by Hart Council said that it might be appropriate to relocate the station to Murrell Green. The cost of this wasn’t calculated, but it is difficult to see how they would get change from £25m.

The road improvements mentioned do not seem to include:

  • Improvements to the bridges over the railway on Station Road, Taplins Farm Lane and Pale Lane.
  • Strengthening and widening the the bridges over the River Hart at the Queens Head, Dogmersfield and Pale Lane
  • Improving the roads to the east side of the development including Taplins Farm Lane, Pale Lane, Chatter Alley/Pilcot Road through Dogmersfield to Crookham Village or Totters Lane.

It is difficult to see how they can improve M3 J5, the A30, B3016 and A287 as well as the above for the paltry £20m they have set aside. Remember the roundabout improvements on the A30 near Blackbushe cost £4m.

Moreover, the 2015 study also talked of a new juntion on the M3. This would likely cost around £100m. Of course, we don’t know how much, if anything they have allowed for re-routing the high-pressure gas main or burying the high voltage power lines or a new sewage works.

Lower spending per unit than Grazeley

Wonkingham and West Berkshire councils are planning the Grazeley Garden Town. This is for around 15,000 new homes just south of the M4 and west of the A33.  They suggest £750m of infrastructure spending is required for a town of this size. This equates to £50,000 per unit. The Shapley Heath viability study suggests £164m for 5,300 houses. This is around £31K per unit. The spending would have to increase by £101m to £265m to match the level of spending per unit at Grazeley.

Summary

We can estimate the extra spending required to match the commitments made and quantify the missing elements:

  • Extra primary school: £5m
  • Health Centre/Garden: £2m
  • New railway station: £25m
  • Additional road improvements: £20m
  • Bridge improvements: £18m
  • Total: ~£70m

We don’t know if they have set realistic budgets for re-routing the high pressure gas main, burying the power lines and building a new sewage works.

These extra requirements would likely render the project not viable, because it would more than wipe out the £32m surplus. Remember what Councillor Radley said:

Time to hold him to his word.

This is another of our posts showing:

  • What is Shapley Heath, explaining its location and scale?
  • All the reasons why Shapley Heath Garden Village is a bad idea
  • An outline of an alternative approach to long term planning in Hart

The master page containing all of these posts can be found here. A link is also provided in the navigation at the top of the page.  Please do keep an eye out for further updates and share them with your friends.

 

 

 

 

What is Shapley Heath Garden Village?

What is Shapley Heath

What is Shapley Heath Garden Village?

Shapley Heath Garden Village is a proposal to build up to 10,000 new houses in Winchfield and Hook parishes. If built, it would effectively create a single conurbation joining Fleet, Hartley Wintney and Hook. We have termed this abomination Hartley Winchook. It would virtually obliterate Winchfield as we know it. It is worth noting that earlier very similar proposals would result in around 1,850 houses being built in Hook parish.

Below is a map showing how the proposal fits into the local area.

Shapley Heath in Context

Shapley Heath in Context

The new town would start ~650m west of Edenbrook in Fleet. It would extend west to the Crooked Billet in Hook and be bounded to the north by the A30 & M3 near to St Mary’s Park in Hartley Wintney to the north. It stretches south to the Basingstoke Canal SSSI.

This new town was proposed as Policy SS3 in the Hart Local Plan. It was rejected by the Inspector on the grounds that it wasn’t necessary. Hart Council’s bid to the Government for funding to support this proposal included a housing trajectory.

Nightmare in Winchfield - Shapley Heath Winchfield New Town Housing trajectory

Shapley Heath Garden Village/Winchfield New Town Housing trajectory.

Starting in 2023, over the course of the Local Plan period up to 2032, the Garden Village would result in 2,440 unnecessary houses being built.

Scale of Shapley Heath

Scale of Shapley Heath

When completely built out to up to 10,000 houses it would be 5 times the size of Elvetham Heath, ~4 times the size of Hartley Wintney,  around 3 times the size of Hook, and nearly as many houses as Fleet parish.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses

This is the first of our posts showing:

  • What is Shapley Heath, explaining its location and scale?
  • All the reasons why Shapley Heath is a bad idea
  • An outline of an alternative approach to long term planning in Hart

The master page containing all of these posts can be found here. A link is also provided in the navigation at the top of the page.  Please do keep an eye out for further updates and share them with your friends.

The Shapley Heath Garden Village Vision Document can be downloaded below.

Shapley Heath Garden Village Vision Document

Christmas Season marred by Winchfield Flood

Winchfield Floods Again December 2019

Christmas Season marred by Winchfield Flood

The Christmas season has been marred by another Winchfield flood. The picture above comes from Hartley Wintney Fire Station. Of course this is not the first time it has flooded on Taplins Farm Lane, under the railway bridge. We have recorded flood events on 4 February 2019,  in April 2018 and three times in 2016 alone. Evidence documenting the 2016 flood events can be found here (4 Jan) , here (7 Jan)here (9 March on Station Road) and here (28 March due to #StormKatie).

[Update] Bagwell Lane also flooded [/Update]

Bagwell Lane Flood 21 December 2019

Bagwell Lane Flood 21 December 2019

It seems that the actual weather is stubbornly refusing to comply with the flood assessment carried out for Hart Council as part of its evidence base for the Local Plan. The sustainability assessment claimed:

There was some evidence of wet ground at the far east of SHL183, but “no other obvious evidence of current or past flooding”.

Winchfield Strategic Assessment - Flood Risk 1

The detailed assessment also said there’s only a one in 30 year chance of surface water flooding.

Winchfield Strategic Assessment - Flood Risk 3

Taplins Farm Lane is in the middle of the proposed Shapley Heath development. The proposal to spend £150-650K of taxpayer funds does not include any work to assess or mitigate flood risk.

Shapley Heath work-plan doesn’t look at flood risk

Let us hope for a more sensible approach in the New Year. We plan to come forward with some alternative ideas for a review of the Local Plan. These will mean we avoid a new settlement anywhere in Hart, and won’t need large urban extensions either to at least 2041. Plus we get improved facilities in our urban centres.

We wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.