After the announcement of the government’s new methodology for assessing housing need, which closed for consultation two weeks ago, Leeds reviewed the plan and now proposes to leave 33 of the sites in the green belt – roughly 55% of the green belt sites originally included in the plan.
According to the city’s original local assessment of housing need, it needed 3,660 homes a year, but statistics released this week show that it only built 2,824 homes in 2016/17.
According to the government’s new methodology, however, this figure is actually higher than necessary. The government’s new assessment of housing need in Leeds is that 2,649 homes are needed every year, leading the council to scale back its development plans.
This of course begs the obvious question: If Leeds can do it, why can’t Hart?
We believe Hart’s housing target in the forthcoming Local Plan should be cut from the ridiculous 10,185 in the latest draft to a more reasonable 6,500. This would include the 6,132 from the Government consultation and allow a few hundred extra to help out Surrey Heath.
However, it seems we have new town ideologues running the council now, who won’t listen to reason.
It is time to adopt the new Government approach to calculating Hart’s housing target so we can meet local needs and address our infrastructure problems. This will cut our housing target to around 6,500 after we make allowance to build some houses for Surrey Heath.
The article in reproduced in full below.
Lex in depth: The false promise of a UK housebuilding boom
Chancellor Philip Hammond is under pressure to commit billions of pounds to build more affordable housing. But what if a lack of houses is not the real problem?
The cost and availability of housing has become a potent political issue in the UK, where younger people especially are being priced out of the market as their parents and grandparents benefit from decades of above-inflation rises in home values.
The ruling Conservatives, traditionally the party of home ownership, now find themselves shunned by millennial voters frustrated by spiralling housing costs. So far, the response has been to provide subsidy to renters and buyers, and to exhort the construction industry to build more. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, is under pressure to announce more money for housing in Wednesday’s budget.
Yet building more homes is unlikely to meaningfully reduce prices, especially in the short term. One reason is that, whatever the other dysfunctions of the housing market there is — nationally at least — no shortage of homes.
To suggest this is to challenge a prevailing, almost universally accepted wisdom: that British house prices are high because the country has for many years failed to build enough houses. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, new home construction fell by more than a third, and even their pre-crisis levels were a far cry from the halcyon days of the 1960s or the 1930s, when completions were higher, both absolutely and relative to population.
Those on the left attribute this to the sharp fall in the construction of social housing since the 1980s. Those on the right blame the planning system for throwing sand in the wheels of the free market. Both broadly agree that the solution is to build many more homes. In 2015, ministers set a target of 1m new dwellings by 2020. On Sunday, Mr Hammond pledged to build 300,000 homes a year, though he did not specify a timeframe.
That number echoes the promise made by Harold Macmillan, housing minister in the 1951-55 Conservative government, whose achievements are hailed by those in the ruling party calling for more ambition on housing. The 1951 administration came to power on a promise to “give housing a priority second only to national defence” and presided over a construction boom in an era when austerity included food rationing.
Many prognostications about the housing market cite government data on new builds. But what matters more is the net change in overall supply, which includes property converted to residential from other uses, and subtracts the homes demolished.
The gap between these two was substantial in the Macmillan era and in the 1960s, when housebuilding was at its peak but thousands of condemned homes were also being flattened in slum clearances. It is still fairly wide today, but in the opposite direction. In the year to March 31 2017, 183,570 homes were built in England, the most since 2008. But conversions and changes of use took the total net new supply to 217,350.
All that would be academic if the supply were consistently behind demand, which at first glance does appear to be the case. In recent years, net new supply has been below the 210,000 dwellings that the government estimates will be needed each year from 2014 to 2039 in England. But long-range forecasts on household formation require big assumptions about longevity, fertility, household size and migration, and are subject to large margins of error. In 2008, the government estimated that 280,000 homes would be needed in the UK each year until 2016. In 2012, after the global financial crisis, that had dropped to 231,000 a year.
Not only are the figures a moving target — the statisticians now have to factor in the impact of Brexit on migration, for instance — but they are also some way off the reality. The 2012 forecasts predicted 27.7m households by 2016. Figures from the Office for National Statistics say there are now 27.2m households — around 500,000 fewer than predicted.
As for dwellings, there were 28m in 2014, the last year for which UK-wide figures are available. Even allowing for second homes — around 200,000 in England, down from over 300,000 a decade ago — and those that are temporarily empty, there are clearly more dwellings than there are households. That may be because there is a surplus of housing in some areas, such as old industrial towns. But Ian Mulheirn, director of consulting at Oxford Economics, says that even London and the south-east added more dwellings than households from 2001 to 2015.
One possible explanation for this contradiction is that high prices have suppressed household growth. Households cannot form because 30-year-olds are still living in their parents’ spare bedrooms. The data do not really bear out the anecdotal evidence of the “boomerang generation”. Around a quarter of people aged 20-34 still live in the parental home. In 1996, when house prices were much lower relative to earnings, the proportion was still a fifth.
But many more young people are now renting. A study by the Resolution Foundation in September found that two in five millennials (those born between 1981 and 2000) were living in private rented accommodation at the age of 30. For baby boomers (born 1946 to 1965), the equivalent figure was one in 10. Rented households are still households, but it may be that the individuals who rent together may prefer to have bought individually. The Resolution Foundation also found that, on average, renters were living in less space further from their place of work than would have been the case in the past.
Julie Rugg, a research fellow at the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy, also cautions that national data on rents conceal wide regional variations. “There are parts of the country with housing oversupply, and where private rents may sit somewhere below social housing rents,” she says. Nevertheless, aggregate rents have risen far more slowly than aggregate prices — suggesting that high prices are about something more than just the supply and demand of homes.
For Toby Lloyd, director of housing policy at Shelter, the housing charity, that something is actually two things, “land and money”. Not just the cheap credit that followed the global financial crisis and pushed up real estate prices in cities around the world, but a whole series of policy interventions over several decades.
In Macmillan’s era, only building societies could extend mortgages, and only then on conservative terms. Liberalisation of credit and tax cuts led to the “Barber boom” of the early 1970s, where wages and prices (including house prices) rose sharply. More relaxing of credit regulation at the start of the 1980s drove an even larger expansion in lending. Mortgage securitisation facilitated further growth, as did the Basel II reforms cutting the risk weights applied to real estate. This made mortgage lending less capital-intensive for banks.
The fuelling of the housing boom
1963 Tax on imputed rents scrapped
1969 Mortgage interest relief at source (Miras) introduced
September 1971 Competition, Credit & Control Act (allows banks to borrow from wholesale market)
October 1980 Housing Act gives council tenants right to buy their homes
1988 Assured shorthold tenancies introduced, giving landlords more rights
1996 First buy-to-let mortgages sold
2000 Miras scrapped
2007 Collapse of Northern Rock and onset of financial crisis
A similar thing happened in other European countries, notably Spain and Ireland. “After about 2003 [the boom] became more about rates and money,” says Kieran McQuinn, a research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin. “Lots of overseas banks set up shop in Ireland. More of the buying became about investment and retirement. Even business loans were increasingly tied to property.” In the peak year for home construction, 2006, this country of just 4m people built over 90,000 homes — yet prices still rose 11 per cent that year.
The expansion of credit was only one part of what Neal Hudson, a property market analyst, calls the “financialisation of housing”. In 1963, “schedule A” personal income tax, an annual levy on the imputed rent of an owned home, was abolished. Housing profits were exempted from the new capital gains tax. In 1969 came “Miras”, a tax break on mortgage interest that endured until 2000.
Council house sales in the 1980s gave rise to a private rental market, whose development was accelerated by the reform of assured shorthold tenancies and the advent of buy-to-let mortgages in the 1990s. These came with their own advantages: landlords only paid the interest, not principal, and until this year interest costs could be offset against profit in full. More recently came the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, and increased allowances for property within inheritance tax.
Such favourable treatment of property in the legal and tax systems, and the ready availability of cheap credit and government support, did more than just nurture a long house price boom. They created behavioural effects that no econometric house price model could capture.
“People like houses as an investment because they are tangible,” says Greg Davies, a behavioural economist. “They feel they understand them far more than funds or shares or bonds. People assume that property is safe because of its familiarity.”
They may also feel that policymakers are standing behind the market. The government spends £24bn a year on housing benefit, and recently earmarked another £10bn to the Help to Buy scheme. Andrew Lilico, an economist who subscribes to the idea that there is no housing crisis, points to a key Bank of England meeting in August 2005 when, according to the minutes, “the ongoing adjustment in the housing market” was one factor that resulted in a narrow vote to cut rates to 4.5 per cent. “We took a decision to protect those who had paid too much for houses at the expense of those who wanted to buy,” says Mr Lilico.
From the mid-19th century until the start of the 1970s, the price of land moved more or less in line with the prices of homes, according to Paul Cheshire, professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics. After that, land prices tended to act as a leveraged play on house prices, with considerable volatility.
This was partly down to credit conditions. But it was also due to changes in the planning regime, especially the 1961 Land Compensation Act. This forced local authorities to pay a price for land that reflects its likely future use, rather than its current value, and gradually curtailed the involvement of local authorities in constructing new housing.
The steep rises in the value of land as it moves through the planning process are a major driver of profits for landowners and housebuilders, who have the legal expertise and financial resources to endure the often lengthy process. But the fact that land with permission to build is so costly, up to half the final selling price in some areas, is a major reason why British houses are small, poor-quality and expensive.
The existence of “green belts” around many conurbations, designed to limit further development, makes it hard for councils to approve new housing in response to local conditions. In the five years to 2017, more homes were built in Barnsley (3,480) a former mining town in South Yorkshire, than were built in booming Cambridge (2,490).
Few would dispute that building more homes is a good idea, even if aggregate data suggest there is no acute shortage. “All of the other problems become easier to solve if there are more houses to start with,” says Mr Lloyd. But few expect that building more homes to buy will reduce prices in anything but the long term — meaning over five years.
The problem for Mr Hammond is that other options are either ineffectual or politically difficult. No politician is going to turn off the credit tap. Appropriating unearned property profits from older homeowners — who in aggregate are under-occupying housing — results in howls of outrage from voters. Reforming the planning system to permanently lower the cost of development land risks incurring the wrath of voters in the leafy, prosperous counties that surround London.
Interventions such as taxing foreigners who buy UK property play well politically but have little impact. The same pattern is evident elsewhere; overseas investors buying property in Hong Kong, Singapore, Vancouver and some Australian cities pay additional stamp duty of up to 15 per cent, but such eye-watering levies have done little to stem the appetite for real estate in those cities.
Perhaps the most promising way to reduce housing costs — if not house prices — is to increase the supply of homes for rent. “The nub of the whole debate is that the market in housing assets is different from the market in housing services,” says Mr Mulheirn. “House prices do not set rents. Landlords charge what the tenant market will bear.” Yet even here, the current administration lacks the pragmatism of past ones.
Harold Macmillan encouraged private developers, but also thought nothing of mobilising the resources of the state to ensure that his target of 300,000 homes a year was met. In some of the most open markets in the world, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, the state owns most of the land and up to half the population is housed in government-owned apartments.
Some have lobbied for more state intervention. Last week Sajid Javid, the UK secretary of state for communities and local government, said he would alter the rules so that housing associations are treated as private companies and can borrow more freely. But this is a timid reform compared with the one that many academics, think tanks and even former ministers have advocated: legislating to change planning rules so that the cost of land comes down. Mr Hammond appears unmoved. His comments so far suggest the Budget will offer more of the same: relying on benefits, mortgage subsidies, tweaks to planning rules and increased private-sector construction to improve the affordability of houses to buy. Like previous attempts, it looks doomed to fail.
Community Campaign Hart (CCH) have revealed their plan to Completely Concrete Hart by sticking to the ridiculous 10,185 housing target in the draft Local Plan. This comes despite the new Government method for calculating housing need results in a much lower housing target for Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath.
It is time to up the pressure on CCH to come up with a strategy to take account of this new information. They should build a Local Plan that is good for the whole of Hart that everybody can live with. It is time to drop their plan to Completely Concrete Hart.
To be clear, in our view, Hart’s housing target should be reduced to around 6,500, to take account of the new Government approach, plus a few hundred for Surrey Heath. Using the figures in the draft Local Plan consultation (para 104), this would leave 906 new houses left to plan for. This could be made up from
The remaining 40 can come from any number of brownfield sites for instance:
Hartley Wintney (Nero Brewery – 10)
Winchfield (Winchfield Court extension – 17)
The derelict eyesores on Fleet Road – up to 200.
We can save Hartland Village (Pyestock) for the 2030’s.
The revelations came in a reply to an email sent to CCH by a concerned correspondent on Facebook. We reproduce the question, James Radley’s answer and our commentary in red below.
Question to Community Campaign Hart (CCH)
I write to you ask a question about your party’s policy towards supporting (or not) a reduced housing total for Hart District. Specifically, in regard of this statement on the We Heart Hart (WHH) Facebook page:
If Hart followed the latest Government approach to calculating housing need, even Hartland Park wouldn’t be needed. The remaining housing need could be met from Sun Park and any number of other small brownfield sites.
Answer from CCH revealing commitment to Completely Concrete Hart
I am probably the best placed to explain the CCH position on housing numbers. It is true that as a rule we do not engage in social media debates, mainly due to a lack of time. As well as trying to fit in my day job I also expect to spend over 6 hours in total in the council offices today and similarly tomorrow.
One has to ask why the council Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for Services is spending quite so much time in council offices working on the Local Plan. One would hope this time would be put in by the portfolio holder for planning, Lib Dem councillor Graham Cockarill. It obviously takes a lot of effort to Completely Concrete Hart.
Social media debates are very time consuming in order to stay on top of all the posts and then the debate tends to descend to the lowest common denominator. I for one would certainly rather put the time and effort in where it matters and unless one is going to invest all that precious time in the social media arena, better not to engage at all.
This sounds like CCH want to stay in their own bunker and not actually engage with anyone who disagrees with them. They are afraid to engage because they don’t have any facts or arguments to back up their new town ideology.
Unfortunately WHH are wrong in their assessment of housing numbers.
Para 15 of Planning for the right homes in the right places
Working through this. The demographic baseline is the latest DCLG household projections (Table 406) that can be found here. These show that over the period 2011-2032, Hart requires 218 dwellings per annum, or 4,536 in total. In the reference period of 2016-2026 used by the Government, Hart requires 209 dwellings per annum. This 209 dpa is then modified to account for market signals and results in a new Government figure for Hart of 292 dpa. Scaling up to the full planning period results in 6,132 new houses for Hart. And that’s it. No more further adjustments for changes in household size. No more houses for people we have to import who then go and work in London. This compares to the 8,022 in the SHMA and 10,185 in the draft Local Plan.
Hart housing targets under alternative scenarios
They are citing a baseline figure in a government consultation paper which is not part of the planning policy framework in effect at this point in time and is a figure which even if it was policy is taken as a starting point on top of which other factors will add to the housing numbers needed.
We have answered the point about the baseline above. The baseline is the demographic projection. The Government then already made the upwards adjustment for market signals in the 292 dpa figure. It is true that these figures are so far only part of a consultation paper, but the feedback we have received is that the Government is committed to pushing these through. It would seem prudent to us for Hart to take these figures into account now and prepare a Local Plan with two scenarios:
The first scenario should be based upon the 6,132 outlined above. Plus a few hundred to give some flexibility to build some new houses for Surrey Heath. They may still have a problem meeting their new, lower housing target. This would give a total of around 6,500.
The second scenario should be based solely on the SHMA figure of 8,022.
To be clear, the daft 10,185 target in the draft Local Plan should be dropped forthwith. Even James Radley admits the extra 2,000+ houses on top of the SHMA won’t affect house prices. As the Government position becomes clear, Hart can make the decision on which scenario can be submitted to the inspector. There is no need to Completely Concrete Hart.
We lost the fight against Grove Farm because we don’t have a local plan in place. We don’t have a local plan because the Conservatives have allowed it to drift for years in a sea of procrastination driven by their internal in fighting.
True, Grove Farm was lost because we don’t have a Local Plan. It was also lost because our policies are out of date and because the application was not determined on time. Yes, the Tories missed all their own deadlines. But CCH have also played their part by forcing a delay in the Local Plan last December.
The main reason for taking control was to get the local plan out and to do so by a total focus and not letting the intentional disruptions from WHH to deflect us from that.
At no time have we sought to delay 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.
It is quite clear that if we don’t get a local plan out that is based on realistic and future proof housing numbers, then Fleet & Church Crookham will continue to be blighted by bolt on developments such as Grove Farm, Pale Lane and whatever is next.
Yes, we need a Local Plan. And quickly. The realistic numbers to use are the Government’s new numbers. These are already future proofed by the extra houses to take account of market signals. We have suggested a modest further uplift to help out Surrey Heath.
It is interesting that the Deputy Leader for the whole of Hart is only concerned about Fleet and Church Crookham. We are also concerned about Owens Farm to the west of Hook. We are also concerned about the long term impact of adopting a ridiculously high housing target. This will then be compounded for decades to come, putting even more of our green fields under threat, including Pale Lane and Crookham Village.
WHH know this and are trying to undermine the new settlement option in the full knowledge that they are condemning us to yet more incremental developments which do not produce any retrospective infrastructure.
We are opposed to the new settlement because we don’t believe it is needed. And we certainly don’t believe it will solve the infrastructure problems facing the district. And we don’t want to Completely Concrete Hart. If we adopt the new Government housing numbers, it will be better for everyone.
I hope that my brief explanation helps.
It does, but not in the way he thinks. It confirms CCH is in the driving seat, dragging the Lib Dems along with disastrous policies to Completely Concrete Hart. The explanation confirms CCH is in a bunker, unwilling and unable to debate the real issues. CCH is locked into its new town ideology and is trying to justify it by sticking to a ridiculous housing target.
In total the council spent £109,858.59 on external legal and consultant costs. Astonishingly, Hart Council does not seem to track the time spent by its own staff on such matters and can’t tell us the costs incurred by internal officers. The good news is that it seems the developer did not press to be awarded its own costs of running the appeal.
However, it appears as though the council did not seek an external view on the chances of success of the appeal. We said back in December 2016 that the failure to determine the application would lead to an appeal and that Hart would likely lose the appeal.
£110,000 represents about 1% of Hart’s spending budget, and they are strapped for cash. Even though we oppose the Grove Farm development, we don’t think the council should be wasting money trying to fight lost causes.
Full FOI request on Grove Farm appeal costs
The full questions and answers (in red) are shown below:
Can you please set out the cost of defending the appeal including:
a) External legal and consultant costs: The Council holds the information that you seek. The costs were £109,858.59.
b) Internal time costs of officers. The Council does not hold the information that you seek.
c) Any potential loss of New Homes Bonus. The Council does not hold the information that you seek.
d) Lost time on the Local Plan due to resources being diverted to defend the appeal. The Council does not hold the information that you seek.
e) Appellant costs. The Council does not hold the information that you seek
Did the council receive legal advice on the chances of success in defending the appeal? The Council does not hold the information that you seek
a) What, in summary, did the advice say? The Council does not hold the information that you seek.
b) Will you make the advice public? The Council does not hold the information that you seek
c) Was the provider of this legal advice the same organisation that helped
defend the appeal? The Council does not hold the information that you seek
d) How much did the advice cost? The Council does not hold the information that you seek
Why the 10,185 ridiculous housing target is a bad idea
We challenged a number of groups who did not oppose the ridiculous housing target. This led to one of the accused groups saying we were spreading “negative waves, man”. We think it is very negative to support the 10,185 housing target, but were surprised that many did not understand the full impact. This post aims to explain why the housing target in the draft Hart Local Plan is such a bad idea.
This analysis shows that, given the way Government household projections are calculated, if we continued to follow the 10,185 target in the Local Plan, the compounding effect would mean we end up building over 12,000 houses. However, if we followed the new Government methodology, we would end up building around 8,200 new houses, which could be accommodated on brownfield sites.
The only possible reason to continue with this ridiculous housing target is CCH’s ‘new town at all costs’ ideology that will end up destroying what all most love about living in Hart district.
The detailed analysis is shown below:
How are the Government household projections calculated
Data for up to 6 preceding years are used, so for the 2014-based projections trends were based on data from the years 2009 to 2014. The projections based on these trends are constrained to the assumptions made for the principal 2014-based national population projection for England.
The civilian population from the previous year is then aged-on, local fertility and mortality rates are applied to calculate projected numbers of births and deaths, and the population is adjusted for internal (movement between areas within England), cross-border (movements between England and the other countries of the UK), and international (movements between England and countries outside of the UK) migration.
Impact of higher migration into Hart from other districts
The impact of planning for more houses than we need is that inward migration is artificially inflated and then used in later years to inflate the future housing requirement even further. This is compounded each time the population and household projections are made. Remember also that Local Plans are supposed to be reviewed every five years and the revised household forecasts taken into account.
Hart housing target model
We have done some simple modelling to illustrate the impact of this over the plan period. This is illustrated in the data table below:
Hart housing requirement data table
The table shows four baseline numbers for 4 different scenarios:
The raw 2014-based DCLG household projections which give a total of 4,586 new houses over the plan period
The new Government methodology, using their rate of 292 per annum from 2016-2026 over the whole plan period of 2011-2032. This gives a total of 6,132.
The SHMA, which gives a total of 8,022
The ridiculous 10,185 in the draft Local Plan
The first thing to note is the draft Local Plan figure is more than twice the raw household projections. The second point to note is the figures in the new Government methodology already include a 40% ‘market signals’ uplift over the raw household forecasts. This is because Hart’s house prices are very expensive compared to local earnings.
However, these numbers are not the end of the matter, because the Local Plan has to be reviewed every five years. We have modelled what might happen in 2021 and 2026 under two scenarios. When we get to 2021, the DCLG household forecasts will look backwards at the rate of population and household growth from 2016 to 2021 and project this rate of growth forwards. Similarly, in 2026, the forecasts will project forwards the 2021-2026 rate of growth.
Hart housing requirement using new Government methodology
Under the first scenario, we have assumed that Hart builds at the rate of 292 per annum from 2016 to 2021. This rate of growth won’t have any impact on house prices, unless there is a significant recession. So, house prices will still be very high compared to earnings. Even James Radley agrees with this. Therefore, the ‘market signals’ upwards adjustment will apply again. This will inflate the required build rate. Similarly, in 2026, the 2021 build rate will then be further adjusted. This will result in a total build in the period 2011-2032 being 8,239. This is slightly more than is in the current SHMA.
Hart housing requirement using Local Plan figures
Under the second scenario, we have started with the 485 build rate in the Local Plan. We then made adjustments in 2021 and 2026 as above. The result is that the total build in the period 2011-2032 will be 12,185 units. Or 2.6 times the baseline household projections.
This is clearly an unsustainable proposition. We must reject the current Local Plan target and use the new Government figures as soon as possible. The only possible reason to continue with this ridiculous housing target is CCH’s ‘new town at all costs’ ideology that will end up destroying what all most love about living in Hart district.
We have looked at the responses from the following groups and can find no mention of their objection to the housing target:
Fleet and Church Crookham Society
Church Crookham Parish Council
Fleet Town Council
Many of these groups strongly oppose the now withdrawn Cross Farm proposal that was included as a strategic site in the draft Local Plan. Their message seems to be: go ahead and build thousands of houses we don’t need, but don’t put them in Fleet or Church Crookham.
Councillors fail to challenge the ridiculous housing target
Community Campaign Hart CCH councillors fail to challenge the ridiculous housing target
Moreover, three Community Campaign Hart councillors have responded to the consultation without opposing the ridiculous housing target of 10,185 in the draft Local Plan:
Removing Cross Farm from the Local Plan. This application for this site has now been withdrawn.
No wonder they are being nicknamed Completely Concrete Hart
Area of search for Winchfield new settlement opportunity
Brian Blewett of the Liberal Democrats has also responded, supporting the position of Blackwater and Hawley Town Council and Neighbourhood Plan group. Neither of these groups opposed the housing target. As far as we can tell, Hook and Crondall Parish Councils did not oppose the housing target either.
We struggle to understand the logic of this position. We can’t understand why members who purport to stand for the good of the whole of Hart support the ridiculous uplift from the SHMA total of 8,022. The Government consultation is clear, Hart’ new housing need is going to be 6.132 units. The remaining target can be met from brownfield sites alone.
Some councillors and local groups oppose the ridiculous housing target
In better news, Andrew Renshaw, member for Hartley Wintney argued for a lower overall housing target. As did the following groups:
Crookham Village Parish Council
Dogmersfield Parish Council
Eversley Parish Council
Hartley Wintney Preservation Society
Rotherwick Parish Council
Rural Hart Association
Whitewater Valley Preservation Society
Winchfield Action Group
Winchfield Parish Council
Alastair Clarke, chair of the Hart District Association of Parish and Town Councils (HDAPTC), also opposed the housing target in his personal response.
It’s great that such a diverse set of groups has seen the logic of opposing the ridiculous 10,185 housing target.
It is time all parishes and groups within Hart united behind the opportunity that the new Government consultation brings. This will benefit the whole of Hart and help stop the needless playing off of one parish against another.
Developers request screening opinion EIA Assessment of Winchfield New Town
Barton Willmore have submitted an application for an Environmental Impact Assessment screening opinion on Winchfield New Town (aka Garden Community). The application can be found here and searching for application number 17/02592/EIA.
Provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace
Reasons to oppose Winchfield New Town
As might be expected, we oppose this new development on number of grounds:
Flood Taplins Farm Lane Winchfield 28 March 2016
The site is not in the draft Local Plan, and to change the Local Plan so significantly would require another round of consultation and more delay, putting at risk other sensitive sites such as Pale Lane and West Hook.
Development of this scale is simply not required. The new Government approach to calculating housing needs would result in 6,132 new houses for Hart compared to the unnecessary and ridiculous 10,185 in the draft Local Plan.
South West Trains SWR timetable consultation comparison
The goalposts have been changed in the South West Railway SWR timetable consultation. As you may know already, SWR launched a consultation on the train timetable in late September. However, in response to negative feedback they have revised their proposals.
These new proposals are still unacceptable. Sorry to say this, but even if you have already responded to the first proposals, please respond to these new proposals. Please use the download below to respond to consultation by 22 December 2017. Feedback can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Impact of South West Railway SWR timetable consultation
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.
In summary the changes proposed are:
Retains the same number of services from Hook and Winchfield to London, however, many of these services now no longer stop at Fleet and Farnborough
Keeps the same number of Fleet to London services as now
The new proposals result in slightly faster services to London
The impact of these changes will be:
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.
Alternative approach to SWR timetable consultation
Thousands of houses have either already been given permission or are proposed in Hart’s Local Plan. These include around 500 dwellings at Sun Park, 1,500 Hartland Village, and 420+ at Grove Farm all near to Fleet station. Moreover, 550 houses are currently being built in NE Hook and 1,800 dwellings are proposed at Murrell Green, both close to both Hook and Winchfield stations. Many hundreds more dwellings are being considered on brownfield sites in Hook. It does seem rather odd that SWR are not proposing to dramatically increase services just at the time when demand is going to increase. I would suggest the following alternative plan:
Ensure that many more of the Hook/Winchfield services stop at Fleet/Farnborough to help our kids get to school
Increase services from Fleet to London
Increase capacity by running more 12-car trains on the whole line at peak times
Reduce the number of first class carriages on 8 and 12-car trains to further increase passenger capacity
Local Economy. Restore the focus on urban regeneration, by appointing a cabinet member with specific responsibility for this area.
Community Campaign Hart dominate Hart Corporate Plan
Anybody who has been to the last two council meetings cannot have failed to notice the domination of Community Campaign Hart (CCH). This is evidenced by:
Council leader passing furtive glances to CCH deputy leader as he answers questions from members.
CCH leader passing notes on how to answer questions to the head of the Planning portfolio.
Submissive body language from Lib Dem cabinet members towards CCH members.
This shows that the changes to the Corporate Plan have been driven by the CCH dominance of the coalition administration.
In particular, the policies to restrict brownfield development, drop the housing trading company and remove the focus on urban regeneration will impact Liberal Democrat voting areas such as Blackwater and Ancells Farm, where they hold both District and County seats.
The Lib Dems should reassert their position and start fighting for policies that will help the areas that vote for them.
Local Plan consultation responses are still being hidden by Hart Council
The recent Local Plan consultation responses were being hidden by Hart Council. However, thanks to questions at Thursday’s Council meeting and pressure from an open Freedom of Information request, the results will now be published. Hart Council cabinet member, Graham Cockarill announced that the consultation comments will be released on 6 November 2017.
Local Plan Consultation Responses History
The consultation on the draft Local Plan completed on 9 June 2017. The pro-forma response form said:
All valid comments (electronic or written) and the name(s) of the respondent will be made publically (sic) available. Personal contact details will remain confidential.
We hope to be able to publish this information in the next couple of months
One of Hart’s own Code of Corporate Governance principles calls for “Ensuring openness and comprehensive stakeholder engagement”. More than four months have now elapsed since the close of the consultation, and the consultation responses have not yet been published.