We Love Hart Campaign Update

We haven’t been posting too much for a couple of weeks, but there’s been plenty going on behind the scenes.

We are working up plans to enhance the campaign by mounting a face to face leafleting campaign in the major settlements of Fleet, Crondall, Church Crookham, Hartley Wintney, Hook, Odiham and North Warnborough, Yateley and Blackwater)  to raise awareness of how much housing we are being asked to deliver and the devastation a new town will bring.  We will need “boots on the ground” to help with this, so please do get in touch if you can help.  We are provisionally targeting the weekend of 28/29 March for this.

On top of that, we are raising money to do a leaflet drop across the district during April to add further weight to the campaign and to ask all residents to challenge those councillors who are up for re-election to oppose Option 4: New Settlement because it will result in massive urban sprawl and open Hart up to 3,100 extra houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.  We will publish the names, wards, parties and contact details of all those contesting the election to make it easy for you to make your voice heard.

One supporter has also taken a look at the plans for building in Rushmoor.  He is horrified at how brownfield land is being wasted at the proposed Aldershot Barracks site.  We will be posting more about that in the next few days.

 

Official: Hart has no Vision

SHLAA Sites in Hart District Jan 2015

SHLAA Sites in Hart District Jan 2015

It’s official, in an answer to a question to be posed at tomorrow’s council meeting, Hart District Council has disclosed that it doesn’t have a vision.  It is quite simply astonishing that after months of work on the Hart Local Plan they still don’t have a vision for what Hart is going to look like in 2031.

If you want to protest against this staggering lack of leadership, please sign and share our petition.

We Heart Hart posed a number of questions to the council ahead of tomorrow’s meeting.  Among them was a question about their vision for the future of the district that they must prepare in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

One might expect this to be an early part of their work so that they can objectively assess alternative development scenarios against that vision.  However, their approach appears to be the other way round, decide where they are going to dump the houses and then retro-fit a vision to that.  Sadly we seem to be on the slippery slope to a giant, sprawling conurbation in the north east of Hart by default (joining up Fleet, Dogmersfield, Church Crookham, Crookham Village, Hartley Wintney, Hook, Odiham and North Warnborough) because they can’t be bothered to come up with a more positive vision.  Not only that, but they are still insisting on a new town option that will act as a sink for the 3,100 houses that Surrey Heath and Rushmoor say they can’t build.

Other revelations from their answers include:

  • Their belief that the locations of the houses we build won’t change the traffic and congestion impact very much.  I am not sure residents of Hartley Wintney, Hook, Fleet Odiham and Church Crookham will welcome the additional traffic from a new town on their doorstep in Winchfield.
  • Admission that they are being forced to include a new town option in their planning so they can accommodate the overspill from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor
  • Insisting that there is capacity for only 750 houses on brownfield land even though many of the brownfield sites BraveHart photographed are not in the SHLAA despite there being several sites on Ancells Farm up for sale.

The full questions and answers can be found here.

 

We Heart Hart Questions for Hart Council

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

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

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

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

We Love Hart Questions for Hart Council

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

We Heart Hart Press Coverage

We are delighted to see that the We Heart Hart (We Love Hart) campaign has been covered in the Basingstoke Gazette, “It’s time for Hart to think again”, p20 and online at “We Heart Hart petition get 600 signatures“.

We Heart Hart in Basingstoke Gazette

Also covered in the Fleet News and Mail, “Number against building more homes in Hart swells”, p3, and online at “Petition attracts hundreds of signatures opposing more homes in Hart

We Love Hart in Fleet News and Mail

This shows support is growing across Hart District for a change of tack on the Local Plan

Councils Frightened to Reject Housing Plans

A new investigation by the BBC has found that councils in the east of England are “frightened” to reject plans for new housing.

It seems many councils are either reluctantly approving schemes they would otherwise reject because they know the inspector will go against them at appeal.  Appeals cost a lot of money, so councils are opting to give in rather than fight.

This mirrors the situation in Hart District where we are being lumbered with a housing target that is far too high, we don’t yet have a local plan so the council is having to push through ill-advised development because they suspect the inspector will find against them.

The only way to change this is by popular support, so please sign the We Heart Hart petition.

 

Hart has no Brownfield Strategy

We Heart Hart asked Hart District Council for an analysis of the brownfield sites that are available under FOI.  The results from this request are quite shocking and reveal a startling lack of focus on brownfield development.  Hart’s assertion was that there was space for only around 700 houses on brownfield sites.  According to their data, at first glance this appears to be true.  However, it appears as though a large number of the vacant brownfield sites identified by Bravehart on his tour do not even appear in the Hart District Council analysis. There must be space for thousands more dwellings on these sites such as the vacant office buildings at Ancells Farm and in Hook and Hartland Park (Pyestock).  Sun Park is on their map, but not in the analysis. Given undoubted difficulties facing all of us in Hart in building the >7,500 houses being forced upon us by the central Government mandated NPPF, it is shocking that Hart doesn’t seem to have a discernible brownfield strategy.

If you would like to join us to ask Hart to think again try harder to find brownfield development land and build on that in preference to concreting over our green spaces, please sign the We Love Hart petition.

Interestingly, the Government is planning to introduce legislation to penalise councils that under-perform on brownfield development. Under these plans, Councils would be required to publish data about available brownfield land on their websites in a standardised form, enabling individuals and groups to “assess and, if necessary, challenge the inclusion or exclusion of particular sites as brownfield land suitable for housing”.  Whilst of course, these rules have not come into force, it seems Hart does have a way to go to comply with the forthcoming rules.

Our analysis of the data supplied showed:

  • No systematic way if identifying brownfield sites: there is no tag on any of the data to separate brownfield sites from other sites.
  • Significant inconsistencies in their data such as sites being in their analysis spreadsheet that are not on the SHLAA map (e.g. Sites SHL319 and 321).
  • Sites recorded on the SHLAA map (e.g. SHL100) in one place (Sun Park) and recorded in their analysis as completely different places (Hartfordbridge).
  • Significant discrepancies between the detailed sheets and the summary of those detailed sheets.  For instance, Part 1, shows a total housing availability of between 612 and 701 houses, but on the summary sheet this shows as between 463 and 648.  Similar discrepancies exist throughout the spreadsheet.

It is time for Hart to focus more on identifying brownfield sites and applying pressure to get them made available. Surely, higher density development on these sites is far preferable to sacrificing our green spaces and putting at risk the very things that make Hart such a great place to live.

Images of brownfield sites in the district below:

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant office in Hook, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant office in Hook, Hampshire

Vacant office in Hook, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant office in Hook, Hampshire

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant block at Bartley Wood in Hook, Hampshire

Bartley Wood Estate in Hook

Vacant block at Bartley Wood in Hook, Hampshire

Bartley Wood Estate in Hook

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Office in Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Development Land in Fleet / Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Development Land in Fleet / Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Block in Fleet / Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Block in Fleet / Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant, derelict brownfield site in Hook, Hampshire

Vacant, derelict block in Hook, Hampshire

Vacant offices in Hook, Hampshire

Vacant offices in Hook, Hampshire

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Vacant block at Ancells Farm, Fleet

Vacant Sun Park block near J4A of M3, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Sun Park block near J4A of M3, Hart District, Hampshire

Hartland Park near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire, warehouse development not started

Hartland Park near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire, warehouse development not started

 

Vacant brownfield Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Office at Ancells Farm, Fleet

Brownfield site near Crondall, Hart District, Hampshire

Brownfield site near Crondall, Hart District, Hampshire

Brownfield site at Hartland Park, Pyestock, Hart District, Hampshire

Brownfield site at Hartland Park, Pyestock, Hart District, Hampshire

Development site near Tweseldown, near Fleet/ Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Development site near Tweseldown, near Fleet/ Church Crookham, Hart District, Hampshire

Brownfield site at Hartland Park, Pyestock

Brownfield site at Pyestock, near, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

How do we regenerate our high streets?

Bravehart has been on tour again, looking at Fleet High Street.  He couldn’t believe how many empty shops there were and how many vacant and derelict offices.

The nature of shopping is changing as more and more of us shop on-line and from our mobile phones.  The nature of our high streets needs to change to become centres for social activity and nightlife.  Surely it would be better to re-generate a lot of these brownfield sites and replace them with affordable apartments to bring more young and old people to the town centre without the need for more traffic, rather than building a new town that will concrete over our green fields.

The We Heart Hart campaign says we need a new vision for Hart District and some joined up thinking.

We Love Hart Campaign covered in Star Courier

We are delighted to see that the press in the form of the Star Courier has started to cover the We Heart Hart campaign, although they termed it We Love Hart, next to an article about Ranil Jayawardena listening to local concerns about the Hart Local Plan

Download available below:

We Love Hart in Star Courier

Let’s make planning an election issue

Government policy is at the root of the problem Hart District faces today.  Yes, we can complain about Hart’s response to the policy, but at the same time we need to support Hart District Council by extending the We Heart Hart (aka We ♥ Hart and We Love Hart) campaign to aim at local MP’s, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and Government ministers.

I have compiled a template letter to politicians to explain the impact of policy on our district and set out some ideas for how they might change policy to protect our green fields from over-development.  To make it easy for you, it also contains the e-mail addresses of all of the relevant people mentioned above.

Can I ask that you download the letter below, amend it as you see fit and send it to all of these people so they start to take notice that planning will become an election issue.

Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-hart

Dear Politician Letter

£188m Infrastructure Funding Gap Leaves Hart New Town Plan in Tatters

Hart District Infrastructure Funding Gap

There is a potential infrastructure funding gap of up to £188m arising from the plan for a new town in Hart District. Much has been made of the infrastructure benefits that could be brought to the district by building a new town, however, it is not widely known that there is already a £78m funding gap for infrastructure.  This does not include the infrastructure costs of a new town, nor the expected funding from a developer.  We might expect Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding – or S106 – to yield £40m from the developer, but the infrastructure costs of a new town could be up to £150m (not including costs of improving healthcare services), meaning that if Hart were to proceed with this plan, we would have a funding gap of £188m.  Note that new analysis from Hart District Council indicates that costs could increase to over £300m.

This surely leaves the idea of a new town in tatters.  Indeed it calls into question the whole idea of building an extra 7,500 homes in Hart, wherever they are built because there simply isn’t enough money to fund road improvements, new schools, new healthcare facilities or improvements to railway stations.  One has to ask why the council are pushing through this idea when the costs are outrageous, the funding isn’t available and the results will be devastating for the local area?

If you would like the Government and Hart to think again, please sign the  We Heart Hart (aka We ♥ Hart and We Love Hart) petition.

Of course the £150m cost of infrastructure for the new town is my estimate, but  it is clear whatever the actual number there is a considerable gap to be closed between the cost of the infrastructure required for the Local Plan and the funding available.

The detail of the calculations to back up these numbers is shown below.

First, here is the table from the Hart Infrastructure Delivery Schedule:

Hart Existing Infrastructure Funding Gap

This shows that there is an existing gap of £78m.  Some say that even this is an under-estimate.  Crucially it does not include any infrastructure for the proposed new town: no new schools, no road improvements in that area and no improvements to the railways.  And it does not attribute a cost to healthcare improvements like doctors surgeries or expansion of hospitals.

We might expect around £40m from developing 4,000 new houses that have not yet received planning permission in the local plan.  This is based on only 2,400 houses being eligible for a CIL charge as 40% of what is built has to be “affordable” and does not attract a CIL charge.  If each house is 95 sq m, and the charge per sq m is £175, then this results in CIL funding of £40m.  If they use S106 instead of CIL, the yield can be expected to be broadly similar.

Note that CIL money has to be used for specific projects outlined in the Regulation 123 list.  None of the projects on this list relate to building a new town.  So all of that money raised will have to towards funding the existing gap.  This leaves a gap of £38m before even considering the costs of infrastructure for the new town in Winchfield or anywhere else.

A back of the envelope calculation suggests that the proposed Hart new town will need around £150m of spending on infrastructure.

Hart / Winchfield New Town Infrastructure Costs

Hart / Winchfield New Town Infrastructure Costs

Of course, the road widening costs above will mean the destruction of miles of ancient hedgerow which is highly undesirable.  Many of the other works would be very detrimental to the environment and the rural feel of Hart.

The sources for these number are as follows:

  • Roundabouts.  Cost of A30 improvements at Blackbushe is around £4m.  Roundabouts at either end of the B3016 will cross a dual carriageway and will likely require some element of approach road improvement, so reasonable to assume the cost of each change will be about the same.  I have scaled down this number for the additional roundabouts needed as they are simpler.
  • Bridge improvements estimated.  Both bridges over the river Hart (at the Queens Head pub and on Pale Lane) will need to be completely replaced and widened to cope with two way traffic and probably some road adjustments too.  The work on the railway bridges will be considerable to widen them to cater for two way traffic underneath, and potentially to strengthen them for double decker trains.  Plus the Barratts new town plan for Winchfield shows a new footbridge over the motorway that hasn’t been individually costed.
  • Road costs estimated from this  2006 report from Imperial College London give a cost of £2.13m/km  of new single carriageway road.  Road lengths above taken from Google Maps.
  • Schools.  Hart Council quoted £32m as the cost of a secondary school.  Scaled this down to £10m for cost of new primary school.  Note that the secondary school is within a couple of hundred metres of the M3 and one of the primary schools is located between the M3 and the railway, hardly a suitable environment for children to grow up in.
  • Electricity Pylons.  No-one is going to want to live underneath high voltage electricity pylons, and two lots of high voltage pylons cross the planned area for the new town.  Presumably they were put there originally because they weren’t near where people live.  It costs £1.6m/km to lay new pylon runs and £20m/km to bury cables.  For the purposes of this I have assumed that it costs a similar amount per km to move existing pylons.  If they have to bury them, then that will cost £50m on its own.

Please download a poster: http://wehearthart.co.uk/home/get-involved/

Sign the petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-hart

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/IHeartHart/

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeHeartHart