Please respond to DCLG consultation – Planning for the right homes in the right places

DCLG Consultation - Planning for the right homes in the right places

DCLG Consultation – Planning for the right homes in the right places

Last month, the DCLG consultation (Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places) was published. These proposals to simplify and standardise the calculation of housing need. The good news is that Sajid Javid’s new  methodology, if adopted, will result in a significant reduction in Hart housing need. There are also reductions for Rushmoor and Surrey Heath.

We have now had chance to compile our answers and submit them to the Government. We encourage others to do so too. We understand that there have been howls of protest coming from the boardrooms of the developers, so it is important that the general public make their voice heard to see off this powerful lobby. You can respond to the consultation on the link below, it takes around 10 minutes if you cut and paste our suggested answers.

Full DCLG Consultation document (Planning for the right homes in the right places)

DCLG Consultation response link  Deadline 9 November 2017.

Our suggested responses to DCLG Consultation

Question 1 (a): do you agree with the proposed standard approach to assessing local housing need? If not, what alternative approach or other factors should be considered?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

We broadly agree with your proposals. The main strength is that the approach gives local housing targets that add up in total to the national requirements, thus giving a national consistent and coherent approach. This is in stark contrast to our own Hart Local Planning Authority (LPA) which has created a draft Local Plan to build at 485 dpa, compared to this new approach which arrives at a build rate of 292 dpa. The SHMA carries out a number of dubious adjustments to the baseline population forecast to arrive at a target of 382 dpa. The impact of the higher target would be to concrete over many beautiful green fields, and by definition, import people from other districts, many of which will work outside the area, which is quite the opposite of ‘sustainable’ development.

We challenge that nature of the ‘affordable housing’ uplift. First, there is no evidence that building extra houses will result in lower prices. Certainly not on a scale that would make a material difference to affordability. Houses are assets, and high prices are as a result of ultra-low interest rates and QE.

However, we do agree that there is probably a level of suppressed household formation that needs to be dealt with. Almost by definition, these people can’t afford to either rent or buy. Building more open market (or even ‘affordable’ houses at a 20% discount) is not going to help these people. These people need access to social housing at affordable rents. We therefore suggest that the ‘affordable housing’ uplift that you calculate should be delivered in the form of social housing.

Those who are already renting, but want to buy don’t, by definition, need an extra house to be built as they are already housed. What they need is to save for a deposit. However, we don’t support widespread Help to Buy programmes, since these are likely to end up fuelling higher house prices.

We would also suggest the planning horizon is extended to say 15 years, to cover the time horizon of many Local Plans.

We would also suggest that you ask LPAs to break down the housing need into size (e.g. number of bedrooms) and type (e.g. specialist accommodation for the elderly, self-build).

Question 1(b) how can information on local housing need be made more transparent?

Comments:

Ask Local Planning Authorities (LPA) to publish the ONS figures for future population growth in an easily digestible form; publish data on suppressed households and affordability ratios.

It would also be helpful if LPAs were asked to publish data on unimplemented planning permissions, by age since planning permission was granted. There needs to be pressure put upon developers to actually build the houses that have been permitted. A recent House of Lords report indicated that 100,000 fewer homes were being built each year than were being permitted.

Question 2: do you agree with the proposal that an assessment of local housing need should be able to be relied upon for a period of two years from the date a plan is submitted?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

LPAs need a sensible period of stability. Two years sounds about right. It might be desirable to extend it to three years, so LPAs have at least one year’s grace from when new figures are published to adjust their Local Plans accordingly.

Question 3: do you agree that we should amend national planning policy so that a sound plan should identify local housing needs using a clear and justified method?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

The current SHMA process is flawed. Typically, they are produced for a Housing Market Area (HMA) made up of several LPAs. The only consultees are industry insiders who have a vested interest in pushing up the housing numbers in areas that are profitable to develop, but not in line with local needs.

Once a particular Local Plan comes to examination, the developers bring along highly paid consultants and barristers to argue for even higher numbers. The housing target becomes effectively unchallengable because of the impact it would have on other LPA’s in the HMA.

This national approach is consistent and coherent at national and local level. This would have the impact of limiting housing targets to actual local needs and cutting out lots of cost and time from the process which will benefit everybody (except highly paid consultants and lawyers).

Question 4: do you agree with our approach in circumstances when plan makers deviate from the proposed method, including the level of scrutiny we expect from the Planning Inspectors?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

Again, this approach will cut time and cost out of the process and reduce the scope for developers and their advisors to spend thousands trying to push up housing numbers unnecessarily.

Question 5(a): do you agree that the Secretary of State should have discretion to defer the period for using the baseline for some local planning authorities? If so, how best could this be achieved, what minimum requirements should be in place before the Secretary of State may exercise this discretion, and for how long should such deferral be permitted?

Answer: Not sure

Comments:

Question 5(b): do you consider that authorities that have an adopted joint local plan, or which are covered by an adopted spatial development strategy, should be able to assess their five year land supply and/or be measured for the purposes of the Housing Delivery Test, across the area as a whole?

Answer: Not sure

Comments:

Question 5 (c): do you consider that authorities that are not able to use the new method for calculating local housing need should be able to use an existing or an emerging local plan figure for housing need for the purposes of calculating five year land supply and to be measured for the purposes of the Housing Delivery Test?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

There ought to be some sort of maximum deviation from the new method that can be allowed.

Question 6: do you agree with the proposed transitional arrangements for introducing the standard approach for calculating local housing need?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

Your proposals look fine. However, the Table 1 and para 54 are expressed in very complex sentences with complex and/or conditional statements in both the Plan stage definition and transitional arrangements.

For instance, what constitutes ‘publication’ is this Reg 18 or Reg 19 consultation.

It appears as though you wish to implement as quickly as possible, however, you should make the language clearer. In particular, you should make clear what LPAs whose housing targets have gone down compared to the SHMA or draft Local Plan, what housing target to use. This is especially true when the planned submission date is around March or April 2018. You should also commit to a date for publication of the new NPPF.

Question 7(a): do you agree with the proposed administrative arrangements for preparing the statement of common ground?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

The problems you identify around Duty to Cooperate have affected Hart LPA. Their plan was failed at the last moment, on DtC grounds, back in 2013. Since then it has operated without a Local Plan and is subject to speculative applications.

So, being more specific and transparent around what needs to be done to demonstrate cooperation can only be a good thing, and a Statement of Common Ground sounds like a useful tool.

Question 8: do you agree that the proposed content and timescales for publication of the statement of common ground are appropriate and will support more effective co-operation on strategic cross-boundary planning matters?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

Broadly agree, with the following extra suggestions:

It should be possible for LPAs to go to the Inspector at an early stage of the plan making process to get a steer on the draft of their Statement of Common Ground, to avoid it being failed at examination.

There should be defined timelines for SoCG’s to be kept up to date (say every five years) after plans are adopted, as part of the natural plan updating process

Question 9(a): do you agree with the proposal to amend the tests of soundness to include that:

  1. plans should be prepared based on a strategy informed by agreements over the wider area; and
  2. plans should be based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities, which are evidenced in the statement of common ground?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

Question 9(b): do you agree to the proposed transitional arrangements for amending the tests of soundness to ensure effective co-operation?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

Question 10(a): do you have any suggestions on how to streamline the process for identifying the housing need for individual groups and what evidence could be used to help plan to meet the needs of particular groups?

Comments:

There are already mechanisms for defining the size of houses by number of bedrooms and housing for special needs (e.g. specialist accommodation for the elderly) in the SHMA process. It would be most helpful to use these.

It would also be helpful to identify the quantum of social housing requirements. This could be done by estimating ‘suppressed households, and examining local authority housing waiting lists.

Question 10(b): do you agree that the current definition of older people within the National Planning Policy Framework is still fit-for-purpose?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

Question 11(a): should a local plan set out the housing need for designated neighbourhood planning areas and parished areas within the area?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

However, the total of the neighbourhood planning areas added together should be the same total as the overall LPA. There needs to be safeguards that Neighbourhoods are not forced to build many more houses than the formula you put forward in 10(b) against their will.

Question 11(b): do you agree with the proposal for a formula-based approach to apportion housing need to neighbourhood plan bodies in circumstances where the local plan cannot be relied on as a basis for calculating housing need?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

This approach will effectively force already built up areas to increase density and bring forward brownfield sites for development. This can only be a good thing, as it will:

  • Probably decrease average property size, and thus reduce prices making it easier for younger people to get on the housing ladder
  • Act as a spur for redevelopment of run down town centres as more people live there, leading to more demand for local shops, cafes, restaurants and cultural venues
  • Protect green areas on the fringes of built-up areas as amenity space.

Question 12: do you agree that local plans should identify the infrastructure and affordable housing needed, how these will be funded and the contributions developers will be expected to make?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

The proposals should go further and include a post-hoc analysis of the actual performance of a site in terms of sales revenue and profit achieved by developers. Where this is significantly above the planned revenue and profit in the viability statement, then developers should be mandated to make some of that additional profit available for  additional infrastructure contributions to roads, schools, cultural venues etc.

Question 13: in reviewing guidance on testing plans and policies for viability, what amendments could be made to improve current practice?

Comments:

The proposals should include a post-hoc analysis of the actual performance of a site in terms of sales revenue and profit achieved by developers. Where this is significantly above the planned revenue and profit in the viability statement, then developers should be mandated to make some of that additional profit available for additional infrastructure contributions to roads, schools, cultural venues etc.

You might also consider re-adopting Garden City principles where land vendors made contributions to infrastructure. This could be achieved by levying a ‘planning gain’ charge on those who sell agricultural land valued at say £2,000/acre on with planning permission at £2m/acre. This pushes up costs for developers and the land vendors make a large windfall. A levy on this windfall could help fund vital infrastructure.

Question 14: do you agree that where policy requirements have been tested for their viability, the issue should not usually need to be tested again at the planning application stage?

Answer: No

Comments:

The level of viability testing that can be carried out at the plan making stage will be very limited. Moreover, a significant amount of time may pass between the plan being made and the application coming up for determination.

Many things could change in the meantime such as the cost of the land, the number and style of the units proposed on the site, the build costs and the infrastructure requirements of the LPA.

It is therefore appropriate that viability is tested again at the point of application, and again once the site is built out, and it can be seen what level of profit the developer has made.

Question 15: how can Government ensure that infrastructure providers, including housing associations, are engaged throughout the process, including in circumstances where a viability assessment may be required?

Comments:

A good start would be to mandate County authorities to extend their timelines for planning school places. For instance, Hampshire’s school planning goes out to 2021, yet Hart’s Local Plan has to be produced up to 2032. These are clearly misaligned and this issue needs to be fixed.

A similar argument should be applied to authorities responsible for roads and healthcare. They should be able to model the overall impact of extra housing within and across LPA boundaries, and make better, more timely assessments of the additional capacity required. This will enable better arguments to be made to demand higher payments from developers.

Question 16: what factors should we take into account in updating guidance to encourage viability assessments to be simpler, quicker and more transparent, for example through a standardised report or summary format?

Comments:

It should be possible to create a standardised land appraisal model, including land costs, build costs, number of units, average net selling price, overhead costs and CIL/S106 contributions. The sensitivity will be around the discount rate used in any NPV calculation, which will vary developer by developer dependent upon their cost of capital.

However, it should be possible to come up with a baseline solution that most can agree on for assessing viability. But as stated above, this should be revisited at planning application stage and post-hoc after the development has been completed.

The building industry produces average costs for different types of dwellings, land prices house prices are available from the Land Registry.

Question 17(a): do you agree that local planning authorities should set out in plans how they will monitor and report on planning agreements to help ensure that communities can easily understand what infrastructure and affordable housing has been secured and delivered through developer contributions?

Answer: Yes

Question 17(b): what factors should we take into account in preparing guidance on a standard approach to monitoring and reporting planning obligations?

 

Comments:

It should be for Government to set out a standard data schema in say xml format to be used by all LPAs. This should be machine readable, and be possible to be aggregated and compared across LPAs.

Question 17(c): how can local planning authorities and applicants work together to better publicise infrastructure and affordable housing secured through new development once development has commenced, or at other stages of the process?

Comments:

A public, standard database as described above should be sufficient, together with normal reporting through Council press releases and magazines.

Question 18(a): do you agree that a further 20 per cent fee increase should be applied to those local planning authorities who are delivering the homes their communities need? What should be the criteria to measure this?

Answer: No

Comments:

It seems odd to give extra funding to those LPAs that are performing best, and no extra money to those who aren’t performing. You should let LPAs choose their own fee levels, subject only to the safeguard that they collect no more in fees overall than the costs of the planning department.  These levels should not be set by national Government.

Question 18(b): do you think there are more appropriate circumstances when a local planning authority should be able to charge the further 20 per cent? If so, do you have views on how these circumstances could work in practice?

Answer: Not Sure

Comments: See 18a

Question 18(c): should any additional fee increase be applied nationally once all local planning authorities meet the required criteria, or only to individual authorities who meet them?

Answer: Not sure

Comments:  See 18a

Question 18(d): are there any other issues we should consider in developing a framework for this additional fee increase?

Comments: See 18a

Question 19: having regard to the measures we have already identified in the housing White Paper, are there any other actions that could increase build out rates?

Answer: Yes

Comments:

A time limit should be set on completion of any site given planning permission. Any units not completed by the end date, should be subject to council tax (perhaps a punitive rate of council tax) to act as an incentive for developers to actually build the homes that have been awarded planning permission.

If say, 12 months after the end date, the homes have still not been completed, then the LPA should have the authority to compulsorily purchase the remains of the site at a knock-down price to be sold on to another developer to complete.

 

 

 

 

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap as wide as ever

Hart infrastructure funding gap £72m

Hart infrastructure funding gap £72m

New figures have been published by Hampshire that shows the Hart Infrastructure funding gap to be as wide as ever. The overall funding gap for Hampshire is £1.2bn and Hart’s share is £72m.

Hampshire infrastructure spending shortfall

Hampshire infrastructure spending shortfall £1.2bn

Hart’s share of the gap is made up of:

  • Transport, £34m
  • Education: £38m.
  • Countryside: To be Determined.
  • Extra Care places: To be Determined.

No estimate has been made of the requirements or costs of additional healthcare provision.

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap Transport

Hart District Strategic Infrastructure Schemes – Transport

The transport gap is £34m.

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap Education and Countryside

Hart District Strategic Infrastructure Schemes – Education and Countryside

Education is the widest gap at £38m. Interestingly, this doesn’t include the costs of a new secondary school. The developers of Murrell Green have promised land and a contribution to a 9-form entry secondary school. This would amount to a 1,350 place school. A 150 place expansion of Robert Mays is indicated to cost £7.6m. It is therefore realistic to expect a 9-form entry, 1,350 place school would cost around £68m. Developer contributions from a 1,800 unit settlement might be expected to be £16m or so. This is calculated by assuming 40% of the development will be affordable housing, which does not attract S106 funding. It is assumed the remaining 1,080 open market dwellings would deliver S106 contributions of £15,000 per unit.

It is therefore clear that all of the developer contributions would be consumed by the new school, before any road improvements were made. And the road funding deficit is already £34m.

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap Extra Care

Hart District Strategic Infrastructure Schemes – Extra Care

Hampshire identify the need for 221 more extra care units, but don’t identify the cost or say where the money will come from.

What does this mean for the Local Plan?

Community Campaign Hart are promising an “Infrastructure led Local Plan”. It is now obvious that a new settlement will only make the infrastructure funding gap worse. They are sticking to the ridiculous 10,185 housing target. If they adopted the new Government housing target of 6.132, then the infrastructure funding gap would be reduced. There would be fewer houses, therefore less need for road improvements. Fewer people and so less need for a new school. Indeed the latest figures from Hampshire show there’s no need for a new secondary school.

It is time to call them out on their plans and start asking “Show Me the Money”.

 

Community Campaign Hart have not learned lessons

Completely Concrete Hart (CCH) Community Campaign Hart have learned no lessons

Community Campaign Hart (CCH) have learned no lessons

Community Campaign (Hart) – CCH hint at keeping a new town in the Local Plan in an opinion piece in this week’s Fleet News and Mail. The full article can be found here. The summary is:

  • Building more houses won’t lead to a reduction in prices.
  • We need to build more Affordable homes, but set policies that will achieve precisely the opposite outcome.
  • The Grove Farm decision is everybody else’s fault. Yet CCH chaired the meeting that failed to make a decision on time.
  • There’s a conspiracy to derail and delay the Local Plan, yet CCH have frustrated the process.
  • Hint that they must press on with the ridiculous housing target and an unnecessary new town
  • Hart must deliver an Infrastructure led Local Plan (whatever that means). Yet they have no idea how to close the £1.2bn funding deficit across Hampshire and £72m in Hart.

In short, CCH have learned no lessons and are pressing on with their failed policies. No wonder they are becoming known as Completely Concrete Hart.

Let’s deconstruct what James Radley has to say.

Building more houses won’t lead to a reduction in prices

First, let’s start on points of agreement. We do agree that within sensible limits, building more houses will not bring down house prices. This is backed up by research by Ian Mulheirn of Oxford Economics, which we reported on here. We also agree the decision to go ahead and develop Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse), is a bad decision.

Community Campaign Hart policies will achieve the opposite of their objectives

However, we start to part company with Community Campaign Hart when they say we need to build more ‘Affordable’ homes. Yes, we do need more homes that people can afford to buy. But that isn’t the same as building Affordable homes. Take a recent development at Hartley Wintney where the cheapest 3-bed was over 11 times median household income in the district and the cheapest 2-bed was more than 9 times income. Even with a 20% ‘affordable’ discount, these houses are out of reach of most first time buyers in the district.

CCH’s argument is being used to justify Hart’s ridiculous decision to plan to uplift the housing target from the 8,022 in the SHMA to 10,185 units. This is justified on the grounds it will deliver ~800 extra ‘affordable’ homes. As Mr Radley states in his preamble, these extra homes won’t actually reduce prices. All they will do is attract more buyers from London, rather than meet the needs of ordinary people already here. They are doing their best to avoid and ignore the new Government consultation that set Hart’s housing target at 6,132 units, and that includes an affordable housing uplift on the base demographic requirement.

A glut of these ‘affordable’ homes won’t help those who can’t rent or buy, like Mr. Radley’s son. What these young people need is more social housing with cheaper rents. These ‘affordable’ houses won’t help those who can rent, but can’t buy either. These people can probably afford to service a mortgage if they can afford rent, but don’t have enough money for a deposit. Building extra houses won’t help these people either.

We understand that the new Lib Dem/CCH administration has shelved plans for Hart to create its own housing development corporation, which would have provided a significant number of social rented homes. Plans for this company have disappeared from the Corporate Plan consultation, thus reducing supply of social housing.

Moreover, the new Lib Dem/CCH cabinet have recently approved plans to obstruct brownfield development by restricting the supply of council owned SANG. These types of development tend to deliver smaller, cheaper properties. This type of property is more likely to be bought by young people trying to get on the housing ladder.

So, CCH’s actual policies are precisely the opposite of what is required to meet the objectives they have set.

Community Campaign Hart take no responsibility for the Grove Farm decision

Mr Radley blames the inspector for ‘setting aside the democratic expression of will’ in the Grove Farm decision. However, he fails to mention that the council officers recommended that permission be granted. However, we do think Community Campaign Hart is partly culpable because CCH was chair of the planning committee when they failed to determine the planning decision on time. Moreover, CCH caused a delay in the Local Plan last December, when they insisted Winchfield (which had failed testing), be included as an option.

The main reason why the inspector granted permission is that Hart don’t have a Local Plan, and the policies are out of date. The other reason of course is that our housing target is far too high. We have yet to see any public statement from CCH calling for:

  • A reduction in the ridiculous housing target.
  • More brownfield development.

Indeed, we hear on the grapevine that CCH argued in private for fewer houses to be built at Hartland Park (Pyestock). This puts extra pressure on green field development.

It is simply ridiculous to mourn the loss of Grove Farm, but strongly support concreting over green fields elsewhere.

Community Campaign Hart take no responsibility for Local Plan delays

The article says:

I fear there are some who may have deliberately attempted to derail the Local Plan process in order to achieve planning by appeal and so impose all the housing growth on those areas which already have over stretched schools and congested roads

In other words, he is right, everybody else is wrong, and anybody who disagrees with him is conspiring against him. On the one hand, he claims there’s majority support for his view, whilst arguing there’s a conspiracy against him. This is clearly ridiculous.

What Mr Radley overlooks since the last attempt at a Local Plan was thrown out:

  • He has been a councillor for all of that time.
  • Mr Radley himself has been a Cabinet member in 2014/15 and again now, in 2017
  • CCH delayed the Local Plan consultation last December, by insisting a new town at Winchfield be included, even though it was clear that the proposals had not passed testing
  • The previous administration promised a Regulation 19 consultation on the next version of the Local Plan in ‘Winter 2017’. This has now been pushed back until at least January 2018.
  • Despite promising in June this year that the responses to the latest consultation would be published ‘in a couple of months’, there is still no sign of them

It is to be hoped he wasn’t referring to us as part of the conspiracy to “derail” the Local Plan. We Heart Hart first highlighted the project management and governance problems back in April 2015 and again in January 2016 after the consultation omnishambles.

We have never seen a CCH member ask a question at council challenging the persistent missing of deadlines. We have never seen a CCH member challenge the ridiculous housing target. We have never seen Community Campaign Hart support brownfield development.

What is an Infrastructure led Local Plan?

This is the $64,000 question, to which we don’t have a proper answer. We think they mean to continue with a Local Plan that includes an unnecessary new settlement at Murrell Green or Winchfield. However, the justification for this falls away, if they adopt the new Government approach to calculating the housing target. If they do accept this, then the remaining housing needs can be met from Sun Park and Hartland Park.

Meanwhile, SWR are proposing to cut services at Winchfield and Hook train stations. This blows a hole in main main argument for siting a new town near Winchfield station.

Even their arguments for a new school are falling away, with latest Hampshire County Council projections showing a new secondary school is not needed.

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s even worse. The latest infrastructure plan from Hampshire County Council shows a £1.2bn funding deficit across the county. £72m of this shortfall is attributed to Hart.

These figures don’t include healthcare or provision of extra care places for the elderly. The overall numbers should be regarded as a minimum figure.

Hampshire £1.2bn infrastructure funding gap regarded as minimum

Hampshire £1.2bn infrastructure funding gap regarded as minimum

CCH would be much better off working out how to close the existing funding gap. Their policies will result in building more unnecessary housing that will make the problem worse.

It’s time for CCH to realise their mistakes, learn form them and change strategy. They should focus on a realistic housing target and support for brownfield development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hampshire plan challenges need for new Hart school places

Hampshire County Council pupil plan challenges need for new Hart School places

Hampshire County Council pupil plan challenges Hart school places requirement for a new secondary school

Hampshire County Council have published a new Hart school places plan up to 2021. This shows that Hart will overall have more places than required in 2021.

Hart school places plan forecast 2016 to 2021

Hart district school place plan forecast 2016 to 2021

Fleet and Odiham schools will be operating slightly above capacity, but this will be more than made up by the surplus of places at Yateley.

Prior analysis has shown that a significant proportion of Hart school places are taken from pupils who live ‘out of district‘.

This new forecast from Hampshire challenges the need for a new secondary school in Hart district. However, these figures don’t include planned new developments such as Hartland Village (Pyestock), Sun Park and Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse). These developments are likely to put additional pressure on over-stretched Fleet schools.

To us, it would make sense to utilise part of the Hartland Park (Pyestock) site for a secondary school, rather than Murrell Green. This would add extra capacity where it is most needed, and give an extra convenient location for kids in the east and south of Fleet. This would free up capacity at Calthorpe to take extra children from Watery Lane and Grove Farm.

We argue that we don’t need a new settlement at Murrell Green, nor the new school. Of course, we shouldn’t build a new school on top of a high pressure gas main.

 

 

Facebook group launched to fight #SWRCuts

Save our Station (SOS) WInchfield and Hook Stations Action Group #SWRCuts

Facebook group: Save our Station (SOS) Winchfield and Hook Stations Action Group launched to fight #SWRCuts

A Facebook group called “Save our Station (SOS) Winchfield and Hook Stations Action Group”, has been launched to combat the South Western Railways proposed cuts to services at Winchfield and Hook stations. SWR have proposed the cuts as part of their train timetable consultation.

The group can be found here. Please do visit their page to learn more about what is going on and express your disgust at the proposed #SWRCuts.

In the meantime, SWR are holding a customer feedback session at Waterloo on Wednesday 18 October between 16:00 and 19:00

This has resulted in some interesting feedback from customers:

What can you do to help fight the #SWRCuts

Please do sign Ranil’s petition. It can be found here.

It would also be helpful if you could respond to the consultation directly by emailing your views to timetable.feedback@swrailway.com. We have created a handy template to help you that is can be downloaded below.

SWR timetable consultation

Summary of SWR train timetable proposals

South Western Railways (SWR) has launched a consultation that proposes changes to services from Winchfield, Hook and Fleet train timetables. The full document can be found here. The proposals:

  • Reduce the number of peak morning services from Hook and Winchfield to London from eight to five.
  • Increase peak time services from Fleet by three.

Impact of SWR train timetable proposals

The current line to London is already running beyond capacity, and these changes will lead to the following impact:

  • School children and students attending Farnborough Sixth form, Salesian and Farnborough Hill will now have far fewer services to choose from to get from Hook/Winchfield to Farnborough.
  • This is likely to lead to both over-crowded trains and increased car journeys, leading to more pollution and congestion
  • No effective increase in capacity from Fleet, Winchfield and Hook to London, even though services are already over-crowded.

Application for 700 houses at Owens Farm west Hook

Planning application submitted for 700 houses at Owens Farm west Hook 17/02317/OUT

Planning application submitted for 700 houses at Owens Farm west Hook

A planning application has been submitted for 700 new houses at Owens Farm west of Hook. This follows on from the consultation we discussed back in July. It appears as though the developer, Wilbur Developments Limited is taking advantage of Hart not having a Local Plan.

Since the appeal decision granting permission at Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse), Hart is effectively a sitting duck. Hart’s saved policies were ruled to be out of date and its five-year land supply was judged to be irrelevant.

The planning application, with reference 17/02317/OUT, is for an urban extension of 700 dwellings on Owens Farm, on the western edge of Hook. There’s over 140 documents to wade through.

This site did not figure in the draft Local Plan consultation. We don’t need it to even to meet Hart’s ridiculous 10,185 housing target. And we certainly don’t need it to meet the Government’s new target of 6,132 for Hart District.

Obviously, Hook residents are hopping mad with the proposals, with one resident describing the proposals as follows:

Owens Farm west Hook consultee comment 17/02317/OUT

Owens Farm west Hook consultee comment

How to object to Owens Farm West Hook

Please lodge you objections to these unnecessary proposals here.

You might like to join Hook Action against Over Development, whose website can be found here and their Facebook page is here.

 

 

 

What do the SWR train timetable proposals mean for Fleet?

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR train timetable comparison

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR train timetable comparison

UPDATE: See details of new SWR timetable consultation here

Summary of SWR train timetable proposals

South Western Railways (SWR) has launched a consultation that proposes changes to services from Winchfield, Hook and Fleet train timetables. The full document can be found here. The proposals:

  • Reduce the number of peak morning services from Hook and Winchfield to London from eight to five.
  • Increase peak time services from Fleet by three.

Impact of SWR train timetable proposals

At first thought, the increase in Fleet services might seem like a good thing. And if accompanied by capacity increases elsewhere, then it would be a good thing. But, the cuts at Winchfield and Hook, coupled with the London line already running beyond capacity, these changes will lead to the following impact:

  • Three peak-time services from Winchfield and Hook to London cut from the timetable
  • Harder for commuters to get to work and for children to get to school/college
  • Increased pressure on already over-crowded Fleet station, with no planned increase in car-parking capacity
  • More road congestion and increased carbon footprint

Of course, we all know many thousands more houses are planned for the area, including 1,500 homes at Hartland Village (Pyestock). It cannot make sense to cut services in Hook and Winchfield and further increase the load on Fleet.

What can you do?

Ranil Jayawardena, our local MP has launched a campaign against these changes, so please do sign his petition that can be found here.

A Facebook group called Save our Station (SOS) Winchfield and Hook Stations Action Group, has been launched to combat the South Western Railways (SWR) train timetable changes. The group can be found here. Please do visit their page to learn more about what is going on and express your disgust at the proposed #SWRCuts.

It would also be helpful if you could respond to the consultation directly by emailing your views to timetable.feedback@swrailway.com. We have created a handy template to help you that can be downloaded below.

SWR timetable consultation

Ranil petition to fight #SWRCuts to Winchfield and Hook trains

Ranil petition launched against SWR train cuts at Hook and Winchfield stations

Ranil petition launched against SWR train cuts at Hook and Winchfield stations

UPDATE: See details of new SWR timetable consultation here

Our local MP, Ranil Jayawardena has launched a petition to combat the proposed #SWRcuts to services at Winchfield and Hook stations. South Western Railways (SWR) have proposed significant cuts to peak time morning services to London. Ranil has said he is “appalled that SWR have already reneged on the promises that helped them win the franchise.”

Ranil is meeting with SWR on 25th October to discuss the proposed changes to the timetable. It would be helpful if as many people as possible sign his petition and also make specific representations to SWR.

Ranil petition details

Please do sign his petition. It can be found here.

It would also be helpful if you could respond to the consultation directly by emailing your views to timetable.feedback@swrailway.com. We have created a handy template to help you that can be downloaded below.

SWR timetable consultation

Summary of Winchfield Hook train cuts

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR timetable comparison 2

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR timetable comparison

South Western Railways (SWR) has proposed Winchfield and Hook train cuts. The full document can be found here. They have launched a consultation that:

  • Reduces the number of peak morning services to London from eight to five
  • Increases peak time services from Fleet, but there is no extra car-parking to cope with additional passengers

The impact of the cuts will be to:

  • Three peak-time services from Winchfield and Hook to London cut from the timetable
  • Harder for commuters to get to work and for children to get to school/college
  • Increased pressure on already over-crowded Fleet station
  • More road congestion and increased carbon footprint

SWR proposes Winchfield Hook train cuts

South West Railways (SWR) Fat controller gets it wrong proposing winchfield hook train cuts.

SWR Fat Controller gets it wrong proposing Winchfield Hook train cuts.

UPDATE: See details of new SWR timetable consultation here

[Post updated to correct interpretation of confusing timetable]

Summary of Winchfield Hook train cuts

South Western Railways (SWR) has launched a consultation that proposes Winchfield and Hook train timetable cuts. The full document can be found here. The proposals:

  • Reduce the number of peak morning services to London from eight to five
  • Increase peak time services from Fleet, but there is no extra car-parking to cope with additional passengers

Please use the download below to respond to consultation.

SWR timetable consultation

Please also sign Ranil’s petition which can be found here.

Impact of Winchfield Hook train cuts

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR timetable comparison 2

Hook Winchfield and Fleet SWR timetable comparison 2

The current line to London is already running beyond capacity, and these changes represent a reduction in service at peak hours which cannot be a good idea. The impact of the cuts will be to:

  • Three peak-time services from Winchfield and Hook to London cut from the timetable
  • Harder for commuters to get to work and for children to get to school/college
  • Increased pressure on already over-crowded Fleet station
  • More road congestion and increased carbon footprint

Of course, we all know many thousands more houses are planned for the area, so it cannot make sense to reduce capacity just as demand is about to increase.

This goes against the commitments SWR made when bidding for the contract:

As part of our bid we promised new and better trains, more seats, improved service frequencies and quicker journey times.

Their proposals also go against the objectives they set in the consultation:

The new timetable has been designed to deliver more services, more peak capacity and seats, allow the introduction of new suburban rolling stock (starting later in 2019) and increase frequencies on some routes. Most suburban routes have earlier services than now and many routes have later evening trains.

SWR seem to recognise there might be significant issues with their proposed changes to Winchfield and Hook train services. We do think they ought to make ‘some adjustments’ to their proposals.

Issues with Hook and Winchfield train services

Issues with Hook and Winchfield train cuts

How to respond to the consultation

The consultation is open until Friday 22nd December 2017. Comments can be sent to timetable.feedback@swrailway.com. We have produced a download with some suggested comments to be made to SWR. This can be found below:

SWR timetable consultation

Our main alternative suggestions are:

  • Keep the frequency of peak time services to London.
  • Increase capacity by running more 12-car trains.
  • Reduce the number of first class carriages on 8 and 12-car trains to further increase passenger capacity.

Winchfield-Hook train cuts analysis

The current morning timetable is shown below:

Hook and Winchfield to London train timetable

Current Hook and Winchfield to London train timetable

This shows eight trains during the peak morning hours between 6:30 and 8:30 and all of these services are direct to London.

The proposed timetable is shown below:

Proposed South West Railway (SWR) Hook and Winchfield to London timetable

Proposed Hook and Winchfield to London timetable

This has only six morning peak services. Note also that half of the off-peak services now require passengers to change at Woking

There are also changes to evening services. The current evening timetable is shown below:

London to Hook and Winchfield train timetable

Current London to Hook and Winchfield train timetable

This shows eight services in the peak hours 5 and 7pm. All of these services are direct.

The proposed timetable is shown below:

Proposed South West Railway (SWR) London to Hook and Winchfield timetable

Proposed London to Hook and Winchfield timetable

The proposed timetable shows eight services in the peak hours from 5pm to 7pm and these are all direct. This isn’t a significant change.

Grove Farm decision makes Hart Council a sitting duck

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) decision makes Hart Council a sitting duck

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) decision makes Hart Council a sitting duck

Hart Council is a sitting duck after the planning inspector decided to grant planning permission for 423 new houses at Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse). The inspector demolished the main pillars of the council’s argument against the development (See below):

  1. The inspector found that the main policies it used to defend the appeal were out of date
  2. Hart’s claim to have a five-year land supply was essentially ruled to be irrelevant

The impact of this is that it opens the way for developers to make even more planning applications. It will also embolden developers to appeal where the council doesn’t take decisions on time or turns down planning applications.

This makes it imperative that the Local Plan and associated policies are put in place ASAP. Sadly, the precedent is not good because Hart has missed every deadline it has set itself over the past few years. It is now four months since the consultation into the draft Local Plan. The consultee comments haven’t even been published. Of course, we have no idea how the Council will respond to the comments. Nor do we have any idea how they will respond to Government consultation that will reduce our housing target by around 4,000 houses.

Detailed findings from the Inspector that make Hart Council a sitting duck

The decision rested on a number criteria. The inspector found it to be very significant that most of the policies that the council relied upon for its defence were out of date:

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Out of date policies make Hart Council a sitting duck

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Out of date policies make Hart Council a sitting duck

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Out of date policies make Hart Council a sitting duck

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Out of date policies make Hart Council a sitting duck

Second, the inspector didn’t determine one way or the other whether the council has a five year land supply. Essentially, the five year land supply is irrelevant.

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Housing Supply Irrelevant and makes Hart Council a sitting duck

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Housing Supply Irrelevant and makes Hart Council a sitting duck