Shapley Heath Survey Results – Bin this development

Shapley Heath Survey Results - Bin This Development

Shapley Heath Survey Results – Bin This Development

The results are in. Hart have finally published the answers to the Shapley Heath Garden Community Survey they ran over the summer. The results of the freeform comments are overwhelming: Hart residents do not want Shapley Heath to happen. In fact one comment urged the Council to bin the project. And that was one of the more polite comments.

The summary paper can be found here, and the full detailed results here.

The summary paper tries to put a brave face on things, claiming:

A sizeable number of respondents used template answers published by a local campaign group. Many of the template responses used similar wording throughout the survey. In many cases, these template responses did not answer the question being asked, but expressed a general objection to the project.

Do they mean us? Yes, we did publish a handy guide to the survey. However, what is most remarkable is the level of creativity in the freeform answers. Very few answers were verbatim copies of our guide. Some of the more entertaining responses are shown below, including the plea to “bin this development”. The summary report omits to mention the scale of Hart’s own promotional activity. There was an extensive Facebook ad campaign and they produced a number of promotional videos.

Most of the respondents came from Hartley Wintney parish. It is interesting that despite much higher populations, there were relatively few respondents from Fleet and Church Crookham. This indicates that CCH failed to mobilise their own supporters to respond to the survey. Virtually nobody from Yateley or Blackwater responded to the survey, indicating that nobody really cares about Shapley Heath in the Lib Dem strongholds.

Below is an image bringing together the significant comments from the summary report.

Shapley Heath Survey Responses

Shapley Heath Survey Responses

Shapley Heath Survey Results – Most Entertaining Comments

We have skimmed the results and picked out the results we found most entertaining.

Community Identity Section

The garden community will do nothing to enhance Hart’s local identity, and it should be cancelled now. The best place for an attractive and vibrant centre with public spaces can best be achieved through the regeneration of Fleet town centre.

The community of Hart does NOT want to see the rural parts of the district destroyed in order to facilitate the CCH/LibDem vanity project of Shapley Heath. The community identity will be best served by cancelling these
plans forthwith.

Please don’t build the Shapley Heath Garden Community.

Don’t build it, we live in villages, we don’t want urban sprawl.

Hart already has a clear identity. It has an historic countryside and green fields at it’s heart which would be destroyed by the Shapely Heath development. DO NOT BUILD IT. Hart does need urban regeneration to make Fleet in particular more attractive to live in and visit.

This is the first proper countryside one reaches on the trains departing from London. It is part of north Hampshire’s rural heritage. Is MUST NOT be built on.

I consider Shapely Heath development should be cancelled in order to preserve the existing rural character of the area and concentrate on the regeneration of Fleet which is badly needed.

WE DON’T NEED SHAPLEY HEATH. THIS IS A STUPID IDEA.

Yes, Hart does have a unique identity. Most of that unique identity derives from its mix of urban, semi-rural and rural areas dotted across the landscape as separate, unique, distinct communities. As your map shows, a new town in the Heart of Hart would effectively create a single conurbation, obliterating Winchfield and joining Fleet, Crookham Village, Dogmersfield, Hartley Wintney, Hook and Odiham together. This would destroy the main attraction of Hart and so the best way to preserve that identity would be to abandon the project altogether.

Yes and the current green spaces around Winchfield are a key part of that. It beggars belief that you would want to destroy that to build houses that aren’t even required to meet targets. No one wants this.

Sustainable Community Section

You have totally ignored the need to invest in road and rail infrastructure. Prior studies into a new settlement in this location discussed extending the car parks and platforms at the stations; potentially a new station;
improving the existing road network, building new roads and even the potential for a new motorway junction. The most sustainable option would be to retain the rural nature and green space in the area. So, the best way
of ensuring this project is “sustainable” is not to do it at all. Cancel it now.

The opening statement is beyond presumptive and directing the answers whilst perpetuating a myth that development can be dressed up with greenwashing – this question cannot be answered honestly.

Why are you asking me hypothetical questions – I am completely against turning any area of Hart into a Garden Community – unless you want to follow all the garden community principles properly instead of cherry picking the ones you might be able to achieve. Have you actually listened to Lord Taylor of Goss Moor? You’ve got him on the payroll and he talks a lot of good sense about the requirements for land value capture,
infrastructure first, room for growth. you wont stand up to the developers to get any of those, you will sacrifice Winchfield to coalesce with Hartley Wintney, Hook and Dogmersfield with no room for proper growth, no
centre to the community, no land bought at sensible rates. Never mind ‘future facilities’ – get the fundamental first principles right.

We don’t want a garden “village”!!

We do not need this development, this positive spin is crass.

Leaving the space as it is for environmental reasons and quality of life for people already living here and paying council tax.

Shapley Heath Survey Results: Community Connection Question

Yes. The open land and woods of the country side, most of which you intend to destroy. Cancel as soon as possible.

Yes, the green spaces that this development will destroy.

I strongly oppose SHGV and this survey is a farce.

Shapley Heath Survey Results: Governance Question

Cancel this project, stop wasting money on this crazy project.

Certainly not Hart District Council.

This is a very biased survey. It assumes the project will go ahead in the way the questions are asked. HDC’s management of planning and history suggest HDC should not be allowed anywhere near this project. Their
handling of this whole process over a number of years can only be described as pathetic.

I read the Lib Dem leaflet at the last election where it clearly stated that the Shapley Heath project was not going ahead and that the Tories were telling lies by stating that it is. Why therefore are you doing this survey
which is heavily slanted towards giving the green light to it. Who was telling the lies?????

Hart already has its building quota agreed by the Planning Inspector J Manning. This proposal is grotesque conceived by idiots having a pique over rejection of their fanciful plans for that known as “Winchook”. This is
simply another badly thought through scheme by an incompetent Lib DEM / CCH alliance.

There is no requirement for this development and I strongly object to it.

This is a ridiculous question. No one wants this settlement.

We already have open spaces and countryside! JUST CANCEL THE ENTIRE PROJECT!

Anyone except the HDC!

There is a CLIMATE EMERGENCY abandon this project.

Shapley Heath GV was removed from the Local Plan by the inspector in 2019 as he deemed it unnecessary. It is still unnecessary.

NOT HART COUNCIL. NOT FIT TO RUN A KEBAB VAN.

You ask me how you should proceed. Not if. This is wrong. The Hampshire majority believe, (1) SHGV is not needed. (2) SHGV should only be studied once it has been shown to be the best development option (3)
SHGV is an unnecessarily climate-damaging development (4) SHGV damages the possibility of Fleet development / redevelopment (5) There is no room for a Garden Village in the Winchfield area.

I really am not sure of the best answer to this question. However, based on the conduct of Hart D C in recent years they should not be let anywhere near it. If Hart D C listened to the majority opinion of sensible residents
THE PROJECT SHOULD BE CANCELLED NOW!

It’s tempting to say something about a blend of councillors, piano wire and lampposts, but I will refrain.

Shapley Heath Survey Results: Exercise Questions

Local public footpaths, heaths, wildlife areas, streets and areas around my home in the countryside which you are planning to destroy. Cancel the project now.

Stupid question by a stupid council.

I walked miles around the canal and village as did many others – the area that you are planning to destroy.

The local countryside. Odd that isn’t an option! Or are you just massaging the survey to give you the answers you want?

Dogging hotspots.

Resilience Questions

Shapley Heath will damage the local environment and amenity, will not help with the economic future of the area, will harm the ability to absorb, recover and prepare for environmental changes – response to this survey
does NOT endorse Shapley Heath, now or later. I DO NOT SUPPORT SHAPLEY HEATH #STOP SHAPLEY HEATH.

You are planning to destroy important agricultural and leisure land in order to build thousands od dwellings that are not needed or wanted. Please consider the planet first and help to maintain the agricultural land and
green lungs that provide our food and fresh air. Please cease all work on this project.

The best way to protect our environment is to avoid unnecessary development of green areas. Cancel these plans now.

The best way to prepare for future environmental change is to keep our green spaces that can be used to produce food, act as a carbon sink and provide amenity space for residents of urban areas. Cancel the project
now.

The open countryside should be preserved. It is an asset for all and it contributes to a healthy environment.

None of the above, as we want to keep the local villages.

This survey is a poor use of tax payers money and time. There is no good evidence to support the creation of the SHGV and most local residents feel that it is being bulldozered through by local authorities. Using this
‘consultation’ as a means to paper over the cracks of the lack of logic or support for SHGV is poor.

The phrase “garden community “is an anathema. I would refer you to the inspector’s comments on the local plan – a new settlement is not necessary.

Building homes on brownfield sites and not greenfield. Not building on floodplains.

Natural and Historic Environment

This is where the kind and sensitive CCH supporters reared their heads:

No. Concrete the lot – just don’t build more bloody houses in Fleet and Church Crookham

But others has their say too:

In 2019 the Inspector ruled that SHGV could not be reintroduced into the Local Plan until it had been shown (with proper evidence and a public consultation) to be the best strategy when compared to alternative strategies (including other locations and urban regeneration). This work has not been done so SHGV is premature.

As long as CCH councillors and their developer partners make lots of money then that is the main thing.

The cancellation of this unnecessary proposed project would be the most important measure you could adopt to ensure that the natural and historic environment of the local area is reflected and respected.

Don’t build this unwanted village.

Yes, by not building on it in the first place. Cancel the project.

Just to repeat myself again please stop wasting precious public money which could be better spent in so many other ways in the district.

This whole survey is based on the assumption that the Shapley Heath Garden Community is desirable. It is not. And furthermore it is not necessary, it is merely being proposed so that the Fleet Councillors can avoid
improving Fleet.

Yes. Abandon this senseless charade. SHGV was removed from the local plan by the inspector. Your own declaration of a Climate Emergency means Shapley is unjustifiable, especially when regenerating Fleet Town is the common sense solution and would retain the green spaces between Hook, Odiham and Fleet. Persevering with this senseless Garden Village is putting off developers putting forward proposals for regenerating Fleet so wise up.

Transport Questions

There are already so many cyclists, runners, walkers, horseriders, etc. If you’re desperate tospend money on the area, why not introduce lots more safe cycle paths? Why does it have to be accompanied by a great big
new garden community?

Ensuring proper transport capacity should be the primary concern. Building new roads, enhancing existing roads and adding rail capacity to ensure that the extra traffic movements generated by any new development do not negatively impact existing residents and settlements.

The mainline to/from Waterloo does not have capacity for more trains, therefore the already overcrowded services (outside of pandemic), so how can a new community more than twice the size of Church Crookham be
accommodated?

None of this is relevant, since we do not need a new mini-town. It is misleading to call it a garden anything.

In April 2021 HDC declared a Climate Emergency and promised to ‘put the reduction of CO2 at the front and centre of all policies and formal decision-making’. The Local Plan has recognised that Fleet has fallen behind
as a town and that this has caused an ‘outflow of retail expenditure from the District…[which] is relatively high and is likely to remain high in the future” [Local Plan para 65]. This outflow equates to unnecessary travel which is highly carbon inefficient. Therefore, HDC should be investing in a plan to regenerate Fleet as the best way to reduce Hart carbon emissions.

The best option is not to introduce 10-20,000 people to the countryside at all. If we wanted to live in a town we would have bought a house in Fleet.

This is a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of a question. These are blue sky objectives that assume a garden project will be built. The best way to make the transport system more sustainable is to not build 5-10,000
unnecessary houses in addition to the Local Plan. Cancel the project.

Pandemic Travel Questions

This is totally irrelevant, because if this is ever built, the pandemic will be long gone. Plus, it tells you nothing about what the future residents might do. Cancel the project now.

How is this relevant to future plans… You can’t base future needs on the past year.

I worked at home and took breaks in the countryside you want to destroy.

Shapley Heath Survey Results: Pandemic Shopping Questions

An irrelevant question for this survey. Cancel Shapley Heath.

Why is this relevant? The pandemic will be long gone when and if this development actually takes place. My belief is that we don’t need it and it should be cancelled.

Cancel the project now.

Irrelevant question as pandemic will be over.

None of the above, I object to this project. The development is NOT required.

This is a waste of money.

School run questions

Where’s the option for kids to stay at home? Useless question, like a lot of the policies Hart council dreams up.

I keep an ostrich in the garage. We sat on it’s back and together, shot through the traffic no problem at all. Cancel the Shapley Heath project now.

MIND YOUR BUSINESS! This project has NOTHING to do with Covid. Cancel it now!

An irrelevant question for this survey. Cancel Shapley Heath.

Daft question. Cancel the project.

Quality of Life Questions

Please keep the existing countryside as it is to best help my mental health. The threat of this project is having a detrimental effect on my mental health. Please stop it now.

Keeping the existing fields, woodland and habitats will be the best thing to promote my health, wellbeing and quality of life. Cancel the project now.

Don’t build and you won’t ruin what’s already here.

More than happy with the existing fields and woodland, which you will destroy. Cancel the project now.

Leaving nature alone. This development is NOT NECESSARY.

I don’t like answering this as the whole project should be dropped.

Ecology and Biodiversity Questions

Building 2,000, 5,000 or up to 10,000 new houses in the countryside will irreparably damage the ecology and biodiversity. The only way to protect and enhance them is to cancel the project now.

You can’t build biodiversity, it takes thousands of years to develop. This housing development will create a wasteland for animals. Planting a tree after you cut down a ancient forest is tokenistic, the local community
already enjoys this wonderful environment.

The optimum improvement would be actively protecting green spaces, woodland and natural areas and improving them. Concreting over them, building houses on them, increasing traffic and pollution, is only harming what’s left of our beautiful countryside.

The existing countryside has worked for centuries. Don’t interfere with it.

Shapley Heath Survey Results: Future Proofing Questions

Re-purpose empty office buildings in a post covid working environment.

Invest in our existing communities and protecting all countryside – abandon the focus on building a new town as it is ridiculous and would destroy hart. It’s only benefit is giving money to the council to bail it out due
to the mismanagement since CCH and LibDems took control.

I don’t want the garden community.

You can best future proof the area by cancelling the Shapley Heath Garden Community project.

Don’t ruin the already existing communities.

The best way to future-proof our district is to protect our green fields, protect the woodlands, SINCs, SSSI’s. They enhance well being and quality of life, provide food, habitat and carbon sinks. Cancel the project
now.

The best thing that can be done is to cancel the whole idea and protect our wonderful environment.

Technological Opportunities

Most of the items here are not in the gift of the council to deliver. We do not want a wood-burning
power plant or windmills and before even considering intelligent transport solutions, make sure you
put in the proper investment into road and rail capacity.Of course, the best thing you could do would be to leave this area alone and keep it as an area of peace and calm and a place to escape from technology. Cancel the project now.

Leave countryside alone – do not build huge, sprawling, soulless estates on natural countryside.

Yes. One where the voters of the community can be heard by CCH so that they stop Shapley Heath.

This is outside of the council’s gift to deliver, so any such proposals make your vanity project even more ridiculous. Cancel Shapley Heath now.

Bear in mind that futuristic forecasts seldom happen as envisaged so trying to second guess them is futile. They will come into use in different ways than you expect. Just make the best use of the developed land we
have and the new technology will be fitted into that as it has to be to serve all the existing residents. A whole new garden community requires so much infrastructure that you seem unlikely to be able to provide anyway
that second guessing seems entirely pointless. Why not spend the money you have been allocated to do the studies it is supposed to be funding and also spend money on eg the homeless instead of cutting the budget
for that. Please stop wasting taxpayers’ money in this way.

This is total pie in the sky, unrealistic How could this information be used in practice by Hart dealing with profit motivated developers intent on keeping costs low to maximise profit.

The countryside should be kept as it is because once lost it is lost forever. The emphasis should be placed on regeneration and improving built up areas of Hart. Please do not build Shapley Heath New Town.

CCH They Don’t Like It Up Em

CCH They Dont Like It Up Em

CCH They Don’t Like It Up Em

Local political party, Completely Concrete Community Campaign Hart (CCH) have been sent into disarray after our local MP, Ranil Jayawardena took them to task over their lack of a regeneration strategy.

Origins of the CCH They Don’t Like it Up Em Saga

Back in the summer, CCH published a post on their Facebook page saying they had written to our MP to ask about Hart’s housing numbers. They promised to “post any response we receive in due course”.

CCH They Don't Like it Up Em - Post about letter to Ranil

CCH They Don’t Like it Up Em – Post about letter to Ranil

Months passed and CCH went very quiet. A number of people asked politely what had happened to the response. Eventually it came to light that Ranil had answered their letter but CCH was reneging on their promise to publish it. Apparently, Ranil had not answered their question in the way they wanted. Apparently, CCH can renege on promises if things don’t go their way.

Follow Up from Concerned Resident

We understand that a concerned resident contacted Ranil with what they thought were similar questions. Recently the, resident received a reply (shown in full below) that took CCH to task. Ranil felt CCH were “passing the buck” and not getting on with the job they were elected to do.  He also lamented their focus on buying up office buildings outside of the district. He was clearly disappointed that CCH are focused on the ill-fated Shapley Heath green field project to deliver more houses than are actually needed. He pointed out that CCH and the Lib Dems are not showing any leadership around regeneration of our urban centres.

The post related to this response from Ranil can be found here.

Response from CCH – They Don’t Like it Up Em

This has prompted a childish response from CCH, accusing We Heart Hart of being “Facebook collaborators”, whatever that means. We had no involvement in the letter to or response from Ranil.

CCH They Don't Like it Up Em - Accusations of Facebook Collaborator

CCH They Don’t Like it Up Em – Accusations of Facebook Collaborator

They gave a long diatribe about the Brownfield Register, which mostly contains sites that have planning permission, some of which have already been built. Indeed there’s 3,600-3,800 homes identified compared to the meagre 400 we were told were possible in 2015. It is clear the council systematically underestimates the brownfield capacity of the district.

The Civic Quarter is conspicuously missing from the Brownfield register. This site is in public ownership and Hart have been trying to pull together a plan for its regeneration for at least two years. Like with the Shapley Heath project, they have delivered nothing. If the Council can’t even be bothered to put its own land on the brownfield register, what hope is there to persuade developers that they are serious about regeneration?

They also stated that the Hart Shopping Centre was not available for regeneration. This is clearly nonsense. We helped publicise a potential scheme back in 2018. This could have delivered hundreds of new homes and cultural facilities, without a penny of public money. The reason the project has not moved forward is that nobody from Hart Council would meet with representatives of the owners. Again, if the Council won’t take the initiative when an opportunity is presented to them on a plate, then they won’t get anywhere.

It seems CCH want to blame everyone else and not take the initiative to get things done. They are an empty vessel that makes a lot of noise, but lacks any real substance.

CCH They Don’t Like it Up Em – Letter from Ranil

I do not believe that CCH’s ongoing public ‘to and fro’ is in the public interest. Rather, many residents have said that they believe it is an attempt by CCH to ‘pass the buck’ from getting on with the job that they have – for now – been elected to do. The interests of my constituents are not best served through seeking to distort the truth, nor making potentially slanderous comments in public meetings.

My views remain the same. I support my constituents when they tell me that they want to see the development and regeneration of brownfield land first. Planning decisions remain for local councils and it is for Hart District Council (HDC) – which is ruled by CCH and their Lib Dem collaborators – to actually take forward the work needed to assess and procure brownfield land.

CCH have contacted me to ask what brownfield land is available. This is a complete abdication of responsibility. My response to them is very clear – I have my own views, I have delivered regeneration elsewhere; I know that councils have all the powers they need to get on with the job, but this is about leadership. They control the council so, if they are serious about brownfield regeneration, it is important for them to be bold in identifying what brownfield land they would like to acquire for development, whether or not it is on the open market currently. That is why I continue to call for HDC to carry out this work, rather than asking me to do their job for them without the resources of a council behind me.

In seeking to be as helpful as possible, it is not always understood that councils are able to buy land and buildings that are not for sale, through Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs). This can and, in my opinion should, be a key part of a robust focus on brownfield regeneration in our area, to improve the look and feel of Fleet’s, Yateley’s and Hook’s retail centres. This way forward relies on the council demonstrating flexibility and ambition – they must be ready to buy today to regenerate tomorrow.

Extraordinarily, whilst local people want the council to invest in our local area – to deliver brownfield regeneration – I am given to understand the CCH/LibDem rulers of HDC are buying buildings in Basingstoke and in the south of Hampshire instead. Why, I do not know, and this is a great shame because this money could have been used locally to begin to turn our retail centres around.

Again, this is about leadership. Only a robust approach will protect the environment surrounding our communities and – whilst it is not for me, nor HM Government, to carry out these studies – many constituents have asked that I continue to urge HDC to do this work and to get them to get on with brownfield regeneration, rather than pursuing their current plans to concrete over a huge number of green fields to build inflated housing numbers.

For the avoidance of doubt, I refer to HDC building an inflated number of houses – despite what I can only conclude is an attempt at political posturing from CCH – because it is they who decided to include 423 new dwellings per year in their local plan. This is far more than was needed, evidence by HM Government’s indicative new homes target for Hart of just 286 per year – 137 new homes a year fewer than those in charge of HDC have decided to build.

I will always champion the best interests of North East Hampshire and I am pleased that the Prime Minister agrees with the approach I have long set out – most recently in in my Constituency Conservation Charter at: ranil.uk/charter – as he recently confirmed that there should not be major developments on green fields. Instead he wants the focus to be on brownfield sites. On 6th October he said:

“You can… see how much room there is to build the homes that young families need in this country… not on green fields, not just jammed in the South East, but beautiful homes on brownfield sites in places where homes make sense.”

I would urge any local resident who has not yet signed my Constituency Conservation Charter to do so urgently, in order that I will have a stronger evidence base to use in making the case for this to HDC.

And that is the truth: whatever I or the Prime Minister think, whatever we would like to see, we create the national policy; we do not decide planning applications nor do we set the Local Plan. The clue is in the name of the latter. Local democracy means that it is for our local council to now get on with it, to provide leadership and to deliver what local people and I are calling for. CCH and the Lib Dems no longer have any excuse.

I hope this provides a helpful update on my position.

Hart Sees the Light on Brownfield Development

Hart Sees the Light on Brownfield Development

Hart Sees the Light on Brownfield Development

Hot on the heels of the Prime Minister’s announcement last week, Hart Council seems to be taking brownfield options more seriously. A paper is going to be considered by Overview and Scrutiny next week about the Local Plan review. There are some interesting ideas in there:

  • Shapley Heath.
  • Regeneration and Brownfield Capacity.
  • Financial Implications.

Shapley Heath Project “Concluded”

The paper makes clear that the standalone Shapley Heath project has “concluded”. This does not mean they will stop consideration of a new settlement altogether, because they will consider it again in the Local Plan Review. But for now, work has ceased.

They have also committed to publish the survey results and baseline studies. The studies are:

  • Transport.
  • Landscape.
  • Agricultural land classification.
  • Heritage.
  • Flooding, Drainage, and Water Management.
  • Utilities.
  • Air Quality.
  • Noise.
  • Contamination.
  • Ecology and Biodiversity.
  • Woodland, trees, and Hedgerows.

However, the timeline is somewhat ambiguous. Section 4.11 says (our emphasis):

It is intended that these surveys and technical baseline assessments continue to completion and that they are all published promptly as and when they become available. This exercise should be complete early in the new year.

However, later in the document, section 5.2 says:

The project itself is concluded but existing baseline studies and surveys will proceed to completion and will be published early in the new year.

So, there is some ambiguity about the publication date. We know that a number of the studies were complete as early as March this year, and of course the survey was completed in July. The studies and survey were due to be considered by the Opportunity Board in the cancelled September meeting. We can see no reason why those documents should not be published immediately.

Hart Sees the Light: Regeneration and Brownfield Capacity Study

The section on the capacity study begins with:

The new housing and communities secretary has recently said that “urban regeneration” and building homes on “neglected brownfield sites” will be a priority for the government. This is a clear sign that the focus on future growth will be directed at seeking to prioritise the opportunity to deliver growth wherever reasonably possible within the settlement areas.

This is a clear echo of what this campaign has been suggesting for years. Finally, the Government is using similar language and Hart is following suit. Only time will tell if this is a genuine “Hart Sees the Light” moment or whether they are paying lip service to the prevailing political winds.

The scope of the study is very wide ranging:

The proposal, therefore, is that the Council should commission a far ranging and robust study that assesses the opportunity and capacity for the district’s settlements to deliver regeneration, brownfield renewal, and general development intensification.

Examples of capacity sources are:

  • Subdivision of existing housing.
  • Flats over shops.
  • Empty homes.
  • Previously developed vacant and derelict land and buildings (non-housing).
  • Intensification of development within existing areas.
  • Redevelopment of existing housing.
  • Redevelopment of car parks.
  • Conversion of commercial buildings.
  • Review of all existing land use allocations in plans.
  • Vacant land not previously developed.

The study is going to be carried out with “policy off”, meaning that they not apply existing policy designations to the initial assessment.

It seems the work will not commence until the new Planning Bill has been passed. It is expected they will start in FY22/23.

Financial Implications.

The paper says that there are no financial implications of the paper. This is odd, given that the budget for Shapley Heath was £279K this year (before grants), and as of the end of September, they had only spent £81K. We might have hoped for a saving to be made.

The business case for the Local Plan is not included in the potential “Level 2 savings” in another paper put to the same meeting.  This is odd, because it was clearly billed as such by Councillor Radley at Cabinet last month.

Shapley Heath Paused

Garden Community Project Paused

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boris Puts Another Nail in Shapley Heath Coffin

Boris puts another nail in Shapley Heath Coffin

Boris puts another nail in Shapley Heath Coffin

Boris Johnson put another nail in the Shapley Heath coffin in his Conservative Party conference speech yesterday.  The key passage in the full speech reported on the the Conservative Party website was:

You can also see how much room there is to build the homes that young families need in this country.

Not on green fields.

Not just jammed in the south east.

But beautiful homes on brownfield sites in places where homes make sense.

Press Coverage

The same message has been reported in the Telegraph (subscription maybe required):

Boris Promises no homes on green fields

Boris Promises no homes on green fields

Boris Johnson on Wednesday said houses should not be built on “green fields” as ministers abandoned proposals for a vast overhaul of planning rules.

In a clear signal to Tory heartlands that he had heard their concerns, Mr Johnson used his Conservative Party conference speech to acknowledge fears that the countryside would be “desecrated by ugly new homes”.

The Prime Minister’s comments reveal a change in strategy after a Tory voter backlash over planning reforms saw the party lose the safe seat of Chesham and Amersham in a June by-election.

The Telegraph understands that the most controversial aspects of biggest overhaul of the planning system in 70 years have effectively been ditched, with ministers looking for changes that will be less radical but more palatable to Tory MPs.

The new focus will be on boosting construction on brownfield sites, which have been previously developed and are less controversial locations for housebuilding.

There are even discussions about abandoning the 300,000 per year overall target.

There are even discussions within the Cabinet about whether the Tories should alter their manifesto target to build 300,000 homes a year.

This would make sense as the target is far higher than that required by demographic change. The 300K target is too high, even after taking account of the “affordability uplift”. As we discussed here.

On the face of it, this is good news. However, we have to be cautious as there is often a wide gap between rhetoric and reality.

Muffled screams of anguish could be heard through the thick concrete walls of the CCH bunker last night.

Revised Bramshill Proposals Released

New Bramshill Proposals January 2020

Revised Bramshill Proposals Released

City and Country have released revised proposals for the Bramshill site they acquired in 2015. This is the former site of the Police College. They applied for planning permission some time ago. They eventually went to appeal. The appeal judgement was complex, but resulted in them not going ahead with the development.

Now, they have separated their proposals into two parts:

  1. Refurbishment of the Grade I listed Bramshill House, to convert it into a single dwelling. Planning permission has already been granted for this. This is already on the market alongside 92 acres of gardens and various outbuildings.
  2. Redevelopment of the rest of the site, to include 230 family homes and a care village consisting of assisted living dwellings and a residential care home. This will include getting rid of the old accommodation blocks associated with the Police College.

The developers are suggesting that these new proposals are more sympathetic to the setting of Bramshill House. They also claim these new proposals will result in fewer traffic movements, within the limits set by Hampshire County Council. They are proposing some road improvements:

  • Improvements to the geometry and visibility at the site access junction of Reading Drive South and Plough Lane.
  • A safety scheme at the off-site junction of Bramshill Road/Bracknell Lane, converting the double priority junction into a single priority T-junction resulting in significant safety benefits.
  •  Improvements to the geometry and visibility at the off-site junction of Reading Drive South and Bramshill Road.

They held an exhibition on Thursday 16th January. The materials presented there are available on the City and Country website.

The main brochure can be downloaded below.

We think that it is important that the main Bramshill House is preserved for posterity and some development of the rest of the site is inevitable. However, we think 230 houses plus care home is still probably too much development for this site. We remain to be convinced that the proposed road improvements will be enough to mitigate the increased traffic. Let’s see how this develops.

Revised Bramshill Proposals

 

 

Graham Cockarill Pants On Fire

Graham Cockarill Pants On Fire

Graham Cockarill Pants On Fire

The latest electoral material from Lib Dem Graham Cockarill reveals that at the very best he has his pants on fire. This comes hot on the heels of the previous fake news. It is quite astonishing that he claims that he is “the man with a plan to save our green fields”.

Graham Cockarill Pants On Fire.

NE Hants Lib Dems: Pants On Fire

This is the same man who is sponsoring the entirely unnecessary new Shapley Heath Garden Village. The developers expect this to deliver up to 10,000 houses. So, that’s 10,000 unnecessary houses on our green fields. Entirely the opposite of his claim to save them.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses

This new town was thrown out of the Local Plan because it was unnecessary. In fact the Local Plan itself said it was unnecessary. The Inspector agreed and even the bid for Government money said so.

Shapley Heath Garden Village not required

Shapley Heath Garden Village not required

Despite four years of effort, no evidence could be produced to demonstrate viability or deliverability.

Shapley Heath not viable or deliverable

Shapley Heath not viable or deliverable

NE Hants Lib Dems play down brownfield capacity

Perhaps the most egregious claim in the leaflet is he says “only an idiot or a liar would pretend all our housing needs could be met by brownfield land”. We have long campaigned for brownfield development in place of needlessly concreting over our green fields. We remind Mr Cockarill that back in 2015, Hart Council claimed there was capacity for only 450 homes on brownfield land. Since then around 1,500 have been granted permission at Hartland Park plus over 500 at Sun Park and many more on smaller sites across the district. As a result, we have over 2,500 dwellings on brownfield sites. Or more than 5 times the claimed capacity. And we haven’t even started on revitalising our urban areas yet.

We will leave it up to readers to decide who is the idiot and who is lying.

Ranil demands bold Hart Regeneration Plans

Ranil Jayawardena MP demands bold Hart regeneration plans

Ranil demands bold Hart regeneration plans

Our local MP, Ranil Jayawardena has written a column in Fleet News and Mail demanding that the local Council develop bold Hart regeneration plans.

Hos article sets out the excellent regeneration work happening in neighbouring Aldershot and Basingstoke. He might well have added Farnham and Wokingham that have attracted millions in development funding.

By contrast, the CCH/Lib Dem led Hart District Council are proposing to spend £650K of public money on the  Shapley Heath Garden Village proposal. They refuse to entertain any discussions about regeneration of Fleet, Hook and Blackwater and Yateley.

Ranil’s full artcle can be downloaded using the button below.

Ranil demands bold Hart regeneration plans

Fleet regeneration is feasible without taxpayer funding

Fleet Regeneration: Hart Shopping Centre Design Study

Fleet Regeneration: Hart Shopping Centre Design Study

We are delighted to announce the release of a study into Fleet regeneration undertaken on behalf the Rural Hart Association. This study shows that it is feasible and desirable to redevelop Hart Shopping Centre as a stepping stone to wider Fleet regeneration.

Benefits of Fleet Regeneration

The benefits of the proposed scheme are as follows:

  • 371 flats of 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms, with 20-40% affordable, ideal for first time buyers. It is possible that some of the units would be attractive to the private rented sector.
  • Potential for some of the unit to be sheltered housing for our growing elderly population.
  • Extra customers for local Fleet businesses including retail, restaurants, bars, photographers, hairdressers, mobile phone shops etc, bringing an extra ~£3m per year of spending to the town centre.
  • Provision of a cinema for film lovers.
  • Provision of a community space for local cultural events.
  • Modern retail units for a supermarket and to attract High Street retailers, benefiting existing Fleet residents. Although there is an option to increase the number of homes and have less retail space if necessary.
  • Underground car-parking.
  • The scheme will no doubt make contributions to fund infrastructure in Fleet.
  • Supports Fleet Town Council’s objectives to bring cultural and entertainment facilities to Fleet Town Centre as outlined in the Fleet Neighbourhood Plan.
  • Help Hart Council address the challenge of bringing investment to Fleet, as outlined in the Hart Local Plan.
  • The scheme would be profitable in its own right and would not require any contribution from Fleet or Hart taxpayers.

The proposals respect the sight lines of the existing Hart Shopping Centre, so it shouldn’t be intrusive.

The savings for Fleet taxpayers would run into £10’s of millions as they would no longer be on the hook for the controversial Gurkha Square development. The savings for Hart taxpayers would include the £1.5m for planning the unnecessary new town, and of course they would retain the Gurkha Square parking revenue.

Background to Fleet Regeneration Proposals

The genesis of this idea came at the January Council meeting, where the Graham Cockarill, portfolio head of Planning said they were pressing ahead with the unnecessary new town, because the regeneration of Fleet was an “impossible pipedream”. These proposals should give Hart Council food for thought. We would strongly recommend that Hart takes these proposals seriously and get behind a plan to regenerate Fleet. Together we can make a vibrant town and help Hart remain one of the best places to live in the country.

Next steps for Fleet Regeneration

These proposals will be formally submitted to Hart Council and Fleet Town Council early this week. We are also seeking for these proposals to be discussed as part of the upcoming Local Plan examination.

We think these proposals could be viewed as the first project of a larger programme to regenerate Fleet. The next site on our own target list would be the whole Civic area including Hart’s Offices, the library and the Harlington. There should be no need to disturb either Gurkha Square car park, or Bakers. The Fleet neighbourhood plan also targets this area for improvement. It is time for Hampshire, Hart and Fleet councils to get round the table with sensible planners like Lambert Smith Hampton to come up sensible plans for the future.

This is a much better idea than to concrete over our green fields with an unnecessary new town.

Rural Hart Association email to supporters about Fleet Regeneration

Dear Supporters

The Rural Hart Association (RHA) has made very good progress over the summer and we are now fully prepared to play our part in opposing a New Town at the Examination in Public (EIP) which starts on 20 November.

You will remember that the RHA decided to concentrate its resources on the single issue of Fleet regeneration. We set out to demonstrate that it was feasible for Fleet Town Centre to be regenerated with a mixed-use development (residential, retail and leisure) which would provide housing as well as reviving the commercial viability of Fleet as Hart District’s largest town.

The issue of Fleet Regeneration is of vital importance because Hart District Council’s justification for a New Town rests on their assertion that it can’t be done. In a bit more detail the argument runs like this:

  • The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires that  Brownfield sites are used to their maximum potential before building on greenfield land
  • The NPPF also requires that councils regenerate their Town Centres. NPPF para 86 says “Planning policies and decisions should support the role that town centres play at the heart of local communities, by taking a positive approach to their growth, management and adaptation”
  • HDC admits that Hart District is failing commercially (because there is a growing net outflow of retail and leisure spend from the district)  and the Local Plan states (para 66) that “the challenge for Fleet will be to secure investment so that it can compete with the comparison towns in neighbouring districts”
  • But HDC has made no attempt to secure the investment needed to regenerate Fleet. When challenged on this at the January council meeting HDC stated that regeneration of Fleet was an “impossible pipedream”.

In May we appointed Lambert Smith Hampton to undertake a Design Study to investigate the feasibility of a mixed-use regeneration of Fleet’s Hart Shopping Centre. This study is now complete and the main conclusions of the Study are:

  • Hart Shopping Centre can be regenerated to provide the same retail and parking space, as well as 950sqm of community space, a multi-screen cinema and 371 flats (of 1,2 and 3 bedrooms). The whole area would become modern and desirable, and the flats would provide a tremendous boost to the viability of the shopping centre.
  • The flats would be ideal for first time buyers and elderly people because they are close to the shops and the station – the Design Study has allowed for the full 40% affordability provision.
  • The return on investment for potential developers looks good.

In summary, we have demonstrated that Hart’s claim that Fleet cannot be regenerated is utterly wrong. Hart Council is dominated by CCH councillors whose agenda is to stop Fleet being regenerated at all costs. As a result the draft  Local Plan condemns Fleet in particular (and the whole Hart in general) to long-term economic decline.

We hope that on the basis of this Study, the Inspector will insist that the New Town is removed from the Local Plan and that a large-scale regeneration of Fleet is undertaken instead. Hart should be guiding the district towards a bright future in which Fleet becomes a modern, vibrant and highly successful town surrounded by beautiful countryside and rural villages.

LSH will submit the Design Study to Hart District Council, and will ask the Council to cooperate in its implementation. We will also submit the Design Study to Fleet District Council, whose Neighbourhood Plan supports mixed-use developments in the Town Centre. LSH will also submit the Design Study to the Inspector in preparation for the Inspector’s review of the Spatial Distribution of Housing (Matter 4) and Town Centre and Retail (Matter 10).

You can find the full study in David Turver’s excellent WeHeartHart website at www.wehearthart.co.uk. The We Heart Hart blog also provides a full commentary of the progress of the Local Plan and its well worth reading.

Thank you all for your generous contributions to the Design Study and to funding LSH to attend the Examination in November/December. I think that we have built a very strong case, and I believe that we have a good chance of preserving all of our green fields for many decades to come.

Tristram Cary
Chairman Rural Hart Association

Fleet Regeneration – Yes we can!

Candidate for Fleet Regeneration: Brownfield site at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire. Hart Council protecting from redevelopment.

We must deliver Fleet Regeneration

A guest post from Tristram Cary, chairman of the Rural Hart Association, setting out why we must and how we can deliver Fleet Regeneration.

Fleet Regeneration Report

40% of the population of Hart live in Fleet, and yet, in the Local Plan, Fleet is only taking only 21% of the housing development. This massive imbalance puts a huge strain on Hart’s countryside. It is extraordinary that Hart is preventing the regeneration of Fleet when you consider that:

Fleet housing density versus towns of similar size

Fleet housing density versus towns of similar size

  1. Fleet is the most sparsely populated town of its size in Britain (see above)
  2. Hart admits in para 236 of the Local Plan that, without regeneration, “it is unrealistic for Fleet to try to compete” for comparison shopping with neighbouring towns such as Camberley (which is the same size as Fleet)
  3. The new National Planning Policy Framework (para 86) requires districts to “take a positive approach to the development of Town Centres” and to “recognise that residential development often plays an important role in ensuring the vitality of Town Centres”

Hart’s extraordinary lack of ambition for Fleet is explained by Councillor Cockarill’s statement at the 4 January Council Meeting that any serious Fleet regeneration was “a pipedream”. Hart claims that Fleet is full, and that it would not be possible to raise any serious money for its regeneration.

The Rural Hart Association (RHA) commissioned a study from Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), a leading Town Centre regeneration specialist, to analyse the potential for Fleet regeneration. This study was submitted to Hart in response to the Reg 19 Consultation, and the full document is available on the link above. The key findings of the study are that:

  1. Fleet has ample opportunities for re-generation if only Hart would consider mixed-use (residential and retail) developments
  2. It is hopeless for Fleet to resist the residential conversion of redundant office blocks – there is no realistic prospect of these ever being revived for business use.

It’s worth reading the following summaries provided by directors of LSH.

“As has been widely reported the growth of online retail sales is having a major impact on the retail landscape – online sales are currently circa 16% of all UK sales and growing annually. There is a fundamental structural change in our shopping habits which in turn is having a major impact on retailers and town centres. The retail centres that are thriving tend to be those regional locations offering a high quality experiential mix of retail and leisure or the smaller centres that are able to provide easily accessed, convenience retail facilities in an aesthetically pleasing environment.

Interestingly, we have started to witness retail assets (shopping centres and retail parks) particularly in the South East being acquired or redeveloped for their residential potential.  In some instances, we are seeing retail being proposed above shopping centres and in other instances the complete redevelopment for residential – examples include Forbury Park in Reading which has consent for 765 homes and Whitley’s Shopping Centre in Bayswater which is to be redeveloped for a mixed retail and residential scheme. This trend is likely to continue especially in areas where residential values are high and the retail assets are stagnating.

The Hart Shopping Centre could offer such potential in the future – retaining strong convenience retail facilities at ground floor level with retailers such as Waitrose but with residential accommodation on the upper parts.

What is clear, is that on a national basis we have too many shops and alternative uses, in particular residential, is a desirable way of regenerating our town centres”.

Sean Prigmore, Retail Director, Lambert Smith Hampton

And,

“I have been actively involved in the Fleet office market for more than 30 years.

The office market in Fleet has been in decline for a number of years as larger corporates have vacated to consolidate occupation in larger centers and locations benefitting from more amenity – such as Farnborough Business Park. Key Business centres such as Reading and Basingstoke have prospered whilst the smaller satellite office location such as Fleet are finding it harder to prove their relevance as office locations. M3 HQ, 70,000 sq ft on ABP, has been vacant for many years and is unlikely to be occupied as offices again. There is the potential to enable redevelopment of larger unwanted office stock for residential and to focus B1 provision in locations better served by public transport and amenity and in buildings which will allow business space for the SME sector where what demand there is lies.”

Paul Dowson , Director, Lambert Smith Hampton

Fleet Regeneration Sites

Fleet Regeneration Sites

The Lambert Smith Hampton report identifies eight sites in Fleet Town centre which between them could provide 990 homes in mixed-use developments, and LSH is confident that these sites would attract developer investment. [Personally, I would add the entire civic quarter – ed]. It is shocking that Hart has turned its back on mixed use developments in Fleet without even investigating their potential. We hope that Hart Council will restructure its Local Plan to take account of the LSH report before submitting it for Inspection.

[Note that this is exactly in line with Ranil’s call for regeneration of our urban centres – ed]

Hart Local Plan: Remove brownfield restrictions

Brownfield site at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire. Hart Local Plan protecting from redevelopment.

Hart Local Plan restricting redevelopment of sites like this

This is the third part of our submission to the Regulation 19 Hart Local Plan consultation. This article explains how Hart’s policies are restricting brownfield redevelopment and why they must remove policy ED2, change their SANG policy and remove their Article 4 direction on Permitted Development Rights.  The process for making a submission is as follows:

  1. Go to the Hart Local Plan Consultation page of the Council website
  2. From the Hart website, download and complete Response Form Part A (Personal Details). A copy can be downloaded here.
  3. Also download and complete the Response Form Part B (Your Representations), a separate Part B is required for each representation you wish to make. A copy can be downloaded here
  4. Make sure you include words of this form in each representation. Policy [X] is not sound because it is not [positively prepared, justified, effective or consistent with national policy] (delete as appropriate).
  5. Once you have filled in Part A and Part B, please email them to planningpolicy@hart.gov.uk or post them to Planning Policy Team, Hart District Council, Harlington Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 4AE. 
Submissions have to be made before 4pm on 26 March 2018. If you are keen to get your submission completed, you can use the summary guide we have pulled together, or for the more adventurous, you can use our full submission. Please edit the text into your own words.
WHH Local Plan Reg 19 Guide
WHH Local Plan Reg 19 Entry

How the Hart Local Plan restricts brownfield development

Policy ED2 relates to safeguarding employment land and Para 297 refers to SANG owned by the council.

Policy ED2 protects essentially every major employment site in the district from redevelopment.

The reason this is a bad policy is that the prior version of the Local Plan itself, as well as the Employment Land Review (ELR), acknowledges that there is an over-supply of low grade office space (para 125). The ELR states that investment in this stock is unviable (para 6.17):

Commercial agents note that the costs of refurbishing such stock to a good standard attractive to the market typically costs between £50-£60 per sq ft; and that the current over-supply of office accommodation limits investment in refurbishing such stock as low rent levels made such investment unviable.

Owners of these sites have three choices. First they can keep the wasting asset and collect no rent, which is not an attractive commercial proposition. Second, they can convert the offices into flats. By and large, they need no planning permission for this. However, these types of development carry no obligation for S106 or CIL payments to councils. Nor do they deliver a good ‘sense of place’. Finally, they could apply for planning permission to properly redevelop these sites into attractive homes, with a particular focus on affordable homes for the young. These types of development will be high-density, but with a good sense of place, and will attract some funding for infrastructure.

The consequences of this policy will be to discourage redevelopment of sites and either lead to more sites being simply converted or worse, sitting idle as eyesores.

We believe this is contrary to Government policy.

Remedy: Consequently policy ED2 should be removed.

Moreover, the Inspector should be aware that the council has implemented a new policy regarding SANG that effectively further obstructs brownfield development. This is already blocking schemes that would provide homes that ordinary people can afford (as distinct from Affordable Homes that ordinary people can’t afford). The schemes affected are a conversion on Ancells Farm and proposals to redevelop the old police station in Fleet town centre. It has been suggested that this SANG policy may be unlawful.

In addition, Hart has commenced work to implement an Article 4 direction to block permitted development on brownfield sites.

In effect they have set some nice sounding objectives about protecting our historic assets and building green infrastructure, but their policies act against their objectives and actively create a worse place to live by leaving decrepit buildings to rot and scar the landscape.

We think the Inspector should also take a view on these policies since they are closely related to the Local Plan, even though they are not contained within it.

Remedy: We believe that the SANG policy and the Article 4 direction should be removed