Petition Response: Develop a vision to protect Hart’s rural nature

Hart in Heart of Hart, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

Hart in the Heart of Hart, Winchfield

As we posted earlier, we have submitted the We  Hart petition with 2,130 responses to Hart District Council and the council have set out the process by which they will consider the petition.

We have drafted some suggestions as to how the council should respond  and sent them to Council leader, Stephen Parker.  We have a chance to put these ideas to Cabinet on 1 October at 7pm.  Please tell us if you are coming along to give us your support and please e-mail your councillors to ask them to support these proposals and incorporate them into the forthcoming consultation about the Local Plan.

The full set of suggestions can be found here.

This suggestion relates to developing a vision to protect Hart’s rural nature.

We ask that that the Council develops a vision and strategy for Hart that retains its role as a rural, green hinterland for NE Hampshire that respects the separate character and identity of Hart’s settlements and landscapes and preserves the green spaces as amenity space for the urban settlements.

You may recognise the words above as taken from the withdrawn 2013 Core Strategy.  This was, and remains a good vision.  We ask that as a minimum, the forthcoming Regulation 18 consultation sets out at least one potential “vision” for the district, and that one of the “vision” options includes words to this effect.

Rushmoor could take all of Hart’s allocation and more

Example High Density Brownfield Development - Arundel Square, London

Example High Density Brownfield Development – Arundel Square, London

 

If we used our brownfield land better we could meet our existing housing needs and more without concreting over our green fields.  A study by trainee architect, Gareth Price shows that Rushmoor Borough Council is not making the most of its brownfield sites, and if it showed more vision, it could meet its own housing needs and those of Hart District using brownfield sites only.

If you would like to add to the pressure to Hart to change tack and take brownfield more seriously, then please sign our petition.

Typically, suburban developers and councils use a metric of around 30 dwelling per hectare (dph) as a rule of thumb for how many houses can be fit on to  any particular space. However, a study of London has shown that in central areas, densities of between 160-405 dph can be achieved and deliver viable, vibrant social communities with amenity space incorporated into the design.

This study has been used by Gareth Price, a final year architecture student, to propose an alternative set of schemes for Rushmoor (see download below).  His work shows that it is entirely possible for Rushmoor to not only build their own housing need, but could also take all of Hart’s requirement and more.

Of course, these concepts could equally be applied to Hart.  Bravehart has already found loads of brownfield sites that don’t even appear on the land database of Hart council. These include derelict buildings in the heart of Fleet and Hook.

Derelict Offices in Fleet

Derelict Offices in Fleet

Not only that, we know that Fleet town centre is dying with many vacant shops in the shopping centre and on the High Street. Surely the best way to rejuvenate our town centres is to build vibrant communities at their heart, rather than concreting over the countryside on their outskirts.  Using the same metrics, it is probable, that all of Hart’s housing need could be met by using brownfield sites.

Empty Shop in Hart Shopping Centre, Fleet

Empty Shop in Hart Shopping Centre, Fleet

Another advantage of the types of schemes that Gareth proposes is that on average, the dwellings are likely to be smaller and so more affordable for our young people.  We could also build mixed use developments with some schemes dedicated to specialist homes for older people.

Surely it is time we ask our councillors in Rushmoor Borough Council, Surrey Heath Borough Council and Hart District to break from the past, think out of the box, get more creative and take brownfield much more seriously instead of proposing endless urban sprawl across our countryside.

A Sustainable Approach to Housing on Brownfield

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.

 

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.

Only 700 houses on Brownfield land?

Bravehart has been busy today touring Hart looking for brownfield sites in the district.  He found loads of sites and finds it difficult to believe that there is capacity for only 700 houses on sites like this.  Our brownfield tracker suggests otherwise

There’s vacant office buildings, sites earmarked for other development where building hasn’t started and derelict buildings on Fleet high street and in Hook.  The sites he found include sites like Sun Park near J4A of the M3; Hartland Park near Pyestock; much of Ancells Farm at Fleet; Bartley Wood and other areas in Hook.

If you know of sites you would like Bravehart to visit and photograph as examples of where we could be building instead of over our beautiful green fields, the please do get in touch with the We Heart Hart campaign through the website or this page.

Surely it is better to build on these brownfield sites before concreting over our green fields.

Photos of these sites are shown in the slider.

Please sign the petition