The delivery of 36 affordable homes is being blocked by Hart’s restrictive brownfield policies. Magna Group is seeking to convert Zenith House on Rye Close on Ancell’s Farm in Fleet into 36 relatively affordable properties, designed to retail at £175,000 to £300,000. But they are being blocked by Hart’s restrictive SANG policy.
The council has given its prior approval to the development. However, Hart is effectively blocking the development by refusing to allocate any of its SANG.
We understand the same developer owns the old Fleet Police station on Crookham Road in Fleet and plans to replace it with 14 new dwellings. However, we understand the council planning officers have been instructed to refuse planning permission for even compliant proposals.
This has the effect of:
- Restricting the supply of housing that would be affordable for many young people trying to get on the housing ladder
- Adding extra pressure to build on green field land
- Stopping the market dealing with the problem of the over-supply of dilapidated office blocks in the district
It transpires that Hart’s SANG policy may well be illegal. We understand that legal representations have been made that cast doubt on Hart’s SANG policy:
First the policy is clearly intended to frustrate the delivery of housing rather than to facilitate development. The policy confers on the head of the regulatory services absolute discretion to allocate SANG but makes clear that SANG will not be allocated to any development unless the Council considers it to be acceptable.
That means that if Planning Permission is granted on appeal the Council will nevertheless use its powers in relation to SANG to thwart that development.
The policy may result in the Council preventing people from exercising the rights they have been granted by Parliament through the permitted development process. In effect the Council is removing a property right from them in breach of the terms of the Human Rights Act 1998.
Furthermore the Council is in breach of its duty to make proper provision to facilitate the delivery of housing.
It certainly looks like the council is setting itself up for more expensive legal battles.