CCH reveal plan to Completely Concrete Hart

Community Campaign Hart (CCH) reveal plans to Completely Concrete Hart

CCH reveal plans to Completely Concrete Hart

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

  • Sun Park (320), from Local Plan para 109
  • Grove Farm (423), sadly
  • The forthcoming Rawlings depot site in Hook (123)
  • 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.

No, we are not wrong in our numbers. Here is the relevant section of the Government consultation document.

Para 15 of Planning for the right homes in the right places - baseline plus maket signals

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

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.

Fleet and Crookham groups fail to oppose ridiculous housing target

The Scream - Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA

Fleet and Crookham groups fail to oppose ridiculous housing target

The responses to the draft Local Plan consultation have finally been published and it is clear that groups from Fleet and Church Crookham groups have failed to oppose the ridiculous housing target.

We have looked at the responses from the following groups and can find no mention of their objection to the housing target:

  • Face IT
  • 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

Completely Concrete Hart CCH 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:

Between them, these councillors argued for:

  • Fewer homes at the brownfield site Hartland Village (Pyestock), which would add to pressure for green field development
  • Dropping Murrell Green in favour of Winchfield East, even though the Murrell Green sites were in the area of search in the 2015 consultation (see image below)  and the Winchfield East sites fared less well in testing.
  • 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

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

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
  • Odiham 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.

Conclusion

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hart Corporate Plan Consultation – please respond

Hart Corporate Plan: Liberal Democrats David Dave Neighbour in the pocket of Community Campaign Hart James Radley

Hart Corporate Plan: Liberal Democrats in the pocket of Community Campaign Hart

A consultation has been launched on the latest iteration of the Hart Corporate Plan. Whilst this contains some welcome initiatives, there are other developments that are of significant concern.

We rask that you respond to the consultation that can be found here. The deadline is 4pm on 31st October 2017. We suggest you make the following comments:

  1. Communities. Restore the plan to create a Hart-controlled trading company to deliver much needed social housing to the district.
  2. Communities. Drop the idea of delivering more houses than identified in the SHMA, and follow the new Government housing target of 6,132 instead.
  3. Communities: Focus infrastructure spending on the areas most in need: roads, education and healthcare provision. Adopt a Local Plan that minimises the infrastructure funding gap.
  4. Local Economy. Drop the idea to obstruct brownfield development by using Hart controlled SANG to restrict redevelopment of brownfield sites.
  5. Local EconomyRestore 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:

  1. Council leader passing furtive glances to CCH deputy leader as he answers questions from members.
  2. CCH leader passing notes on how to answer questions to the head of the Planning portfolio.
  3. 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.

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap as wide as ever

Hart infrastructure funding gap £72m

Hart infrastructure funding gap £72m

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

Hampshire infrastructure spending shortfall

Hampshire infrastructure spending shortfall £1.2bn

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

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

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

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap Transport

Hart District Strategic Infrastructure Schemes – Transport

The transport gap is £34m.

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap Education and Countryside

Hart District Strategic Infrastructure Schemes – Education and Countryside

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

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

Hart Infrastructure Funding Gap Extra Care

Hart District Strategic Infrastructure Schemes – Extra Care

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

What does this mean for the Local Plan?

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

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

 

Community Campaign Hart have not learned lessons

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

Community Campaign Hart (CCH) have learned no lessons

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

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

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

Let’s deconstruct what James Radley has to say.

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

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

Community Campaign Hart policies will achieve the opposite of their objectives

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Campaign Hart take no responsibility for the Grove Farm decision

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

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

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

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

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

Community Campaign Hart take no responsibility for Local Plan delays

The article says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is an Infrastructure led Local Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

Hampshire £1.2bn infrastructure funding gap regarded as minimum

Hampshire £1.2bn infrastructure funding gap regarded as minimum

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grove Farm development approved at appeal

Breaking News: Hart needs to build 1,500 fewer houses for the Local Plan

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) development allowed on appeal

The planning inspector has granted outline planning permission to the Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) development, between Fleet and Crookham Village. This comes as a blow to those of us who oppose green field development, so our commiserations go to those most affected by this decision.

Grove Farm - Netherhouse Copse appeal decision

The full decision can be found here.

Impact of Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) decision

It is early days to come to firm conclusions, but here are a few thoughts:

  • Costs. The appeal decision doesn’t talk about the costs of the appeal, but at the very least the council will have to meet its own costs. These are likely to be of the order of £100,000. This is a self-inflicted wound as it was the council itself that failed to make a decision on the planning application. This left the developer with little choice but to appeal on the grounds of non-determination.

 

  • Local Plan. This decision adds 423 houses to the housing supply that weren’t in the draft Local Plan. Theoretically, this could free up other sites that are in the Local Plan. Of course, if the council adopts the new Government methodology for calculating housing need, we certainly won’t need a new settlement now, and it is questionable whether even Hartland Village will be required. [Update 2] The finding that the polices are out of date and the level of housing supply is irrelevant makes it imperative that the council gets the Local Plan and associated policies in place ASAP [/Update 2].

 

  • Community Campaign Hart (CCH). This party will be particularly angry and disappointed at this decision. They also suffered setbacks with the recent decisions at Watery Lane, Crookham Park and Edenbrooke. However, to our knowledge, CCH have never challenged the ridiculous housing target. Now they are putting in place obstructions to brownfield development. Perhaps now is the time to rethink their strategy. They should focus on a sensible housing target and brownfield development.

We will provide further updates as we find out more information.

[Update 1]

Detailed findings from the Inspector

The decision rested on a number criteria. First, the inspector found limited impact on the Local Gap between Fleet and Crookham Village. Here is the Inspector’s summary:

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Local Gap decision

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Local Gap decision

Second, the inspector found no grounds to reject the application based on highway safety:

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Highway Safety decision

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Highway Safety decision

Third, the inspector found it to be very significant that most of the policies that the council relied upon for its defence were out of date:

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Out of date policies

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Out of date policies

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Out of date policies 2

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Out of date policies

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

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Housing Supply Irrelevant

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Housing Supply Irrelevant

In summary, the inspector found significant economic benefits, and that the potential harms would not outweigh those benefits.

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Summary of decision

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) Summary of decision

[/Update 1]

 

Hart SANG plan to obstruct brownfield development

James Radley of CCH pulling the string of Graham Cockarill in Hart SANG plan to obstruct brownfield development

CCH calling the shots on Hart SANG plan to obstruct brownfield development

Hart Council has published a new report recommending that its own SANG land should not be used to enable brownfield development. This effectively renders the council’s SANG useless and calls into question the council’s ability to fund the repayments on the loan it has taken out to buy the SANG.

The document is sponsored by Community Campaign Hart (CCH) Deputy Leader, James Radley and not the portfolio holder for Planning, Lib Dem Graham Cockarill. This indicates that CCH is pulling the strings on important planning matters. The Hart SANG plan will be discussed at Cabinet tomorrow.

Hart SANG plan

Hart has bought its own SANG land at Bramshot Farm which lies between Ancells Farm and the link road between Hartland Village and the M3. The site has capacity to support 1,745 new houses. The new report proposes that no SANG land is allocated to the sites set out below unless signed off by both the Services Portfolio Holder (James Radley) and the chair of the Planning Committee (Graham Cockarill).

Brownfield sites affected

The following brownfield sites will effectively be blocked from development by the Hart SANG plan:

  • Bartley Wood, Hook, RG27, 9UP
  • Bartley Point, Hook, RG27 9EX
  • Cody Park, Farnborough, GU14 0LX
  • Meadows Business Park, Blackwater, GU17 9AB
  • Osborne Way, Hook, RG27 9HY
  • Waterfront Business Park, Fleet, GU51 3OT
  • Ancells Business Park, Fleet, GU51 2UJ (right next door to Bramshot Farm)
  • Blackbushe Business Park, GU46 6GA
  • Eversley Haulage Yard, RG27 0PZ
  • Eversley Storage, RG27 0PY
  • Finn’s Business Park, Crondall, GU10 5HP
  • Fleet Business Park, Church Crookham, GU52 8BF
  • Grove Farm Barn, Crookham Village, GU51 5RX
  • Lodge Farm, North Warnborough, RG29 1HA
  • Murrell Green Business Park, RG27 9GR
  • Potters Industrial Park, Church Crookham, GU52 6EU
  • Rawlings Depot, Hook, RG27 9HU
  • Redfields Business Park, Church Crookham, GU52 0RD
  • Optrex Business Park, Rotherwick, RG27 9AY

Essentially, development on every significant potential brownfield site other than Hartland Park and Sun Park (which already have SANG earmarked), will be hindered by this new proposal.

This new proposal runs contrary to the Vision outlined in the draft Local Plan which says:

The priority will have been given to the effective use of previously developed land (‘brownfield land’) so that ‘greenfield’ development will have been limited,

It also runs contrary to paras 105 and 107:

Our preference is still to deliver as much of our New Homes Left to Plan as possible on previously developed land.

many new homes will be built on brownfield sites (where possible and if they are viable)

Their new approach also goes against policy MG2 that says:

Policy MG2: Previously Developed Land

The Council will encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value.

Of course, this plan also goes against stated Government policy to encourage brownfield development. See here and here.

Financial impact of Hart SANG plan

However, all the large, controversial green field developments are being proposed with their own SANG. This includes Murrell Green, Winchfield, Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase), Rye Common and Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse). Most of these sites are probably outside the 5km catchment area of this SANG anyway or closer to Crookham Park SANG. Of course, the new Government consultation has reduced Hart’s housing target by ~4,000 houses compared to the draft Local Plan. If this new target (plus a few extra to help out Surrey Heath) was adopted, our remaining housing target could be more than met by Sun Park and Hartland Park alone.

So, if the main brownfield sites are excluded from using the council SANG, the other brownfield sites have their own SANG and the major greenfield sites are not needed, or have their own SANG,  we have to ask what it will be used for.

Apparently, the council is about to sign an agreement with Rushmoor to use the SANG to support the delivery of approximately 1,500 new homes in Rushmoor. However, the latest Government housing target consultation has reduced Rushmoor’s allocation by ~3,000 dwellings and Surrey Heath’s by 630 houses. This calls into question whether Rushmoor will need this SANG at all.

The council is strapped for cash, and has borrowed £5.3m to fund the purchase of this SANG. It must payback this loan in instalments up to 2023/24:

Financial implications of Hart SANG plan

These new developments call into question the immediate demand for this SANG, and of course, Hart’s ability to repay the loan.

Conclusion

It is a scandal that Hart is using its powers to obstruct brownfield development. The major greenfield developments come with their own SANG, and probably aren’t required anyway. Rushmoor and Surrey Heath’s housing targets will probably be reduced. This calls into question the financial sustainability of the council’s purchase of this SANG land.

image

Motion of No Confidence in Hart District Council submitted

Breaking News: Motion of No Confidence submitted in Hart District Council

Motion of No Confidence submitted in Hart District Council

A motion of no confidence in Hart District Council has been submitted by Community Campaign Hart (CCH), (or as some call them Completely Concrete Hart) and the Liberal Democrats.

Apparently, they are unhappy that a new settlement at Winchfield has not been included in the Local Plan. They plan to push for Winchfield to be re-included if they manage to take over.

Community Campaign Hart (CCH) screwing up Hart Planning since 2004

We think this is a bad idea for a number of reasons:

  1. This will add extra delay to the Local Plan process, adding to the risk that sites like Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) and Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase) will be given the go ahead at appeal before the Local Plan can be put in place
  2. Winchfield has failed testing. The main issues with the proposal are:
    • groundwater and surface water flooding,
    • Cost of new road infrastructure and the need to travel to Fleet for main services
    • requirement for new wastewater treatment works
    • too much delivery risk concentrated in one site
    • impact on landscape
    • impact on heritage assets and SSSIs
  3. CCH have completely failed to oppose the main issue: we are being asked to build too many houses. Hart Council have arbitrarily added an extra 2,000 houses to the already inflated SHMA figure of 8,000, giving a total over 10,000 houses. Tackling this would mean we don’t need a new settlement at Winchfield or Murrell Green, nor would we need Pale Lane or Grove Farm
  4. A new settlement at Winchfield will likely have a major impact on congestion in Church Crookham and the western edge of Fleet.

We predict a stormy council meeting on 25 May.

[Update  – Statement from Conservative Council Leader]

Conservative Council Leader Stephen Parker commented:

We have a clear track record of success in running Hart Council. Despite cuts to Hart’s government funding we used Conservative ministerial contacts to reduce the cuts, froze Council tax for 6 years and made minimum increases for the last two years. At the same time we made innovative partnerships to make sure that no cuts were made to our services or to our support to the voluntary sector. We delivered the new Hart Leisure Centre, a superb facility which pays for itself with no increases to Hart’s Council tax. We listened to residents in making our Local Plan which maximises use of brownfield sites and protects our towns and villages from unwanted expansion. At no time in the last eight years of Conservative leadership have they challenged any of these successes. Residents will no doubt look forward to reading their joint manifesto.

[/Update]

[Update 2 – statement from CCH]

Statement about motion to bring about a vote for Council Leader

Until fairly recently Hart District Council had a democratic process of electing the council Leader every year at the AGM. This right was taken away by the then Conservative administration, presumably because they realised that as is the case now there would be times when they did not have a majority on the council.

The Conservatives forced through the instigation of a 4 year term for the council Leader, the maximum period they could have gone for without falling foul of legislation.

Out of 33 councillors there are 14 Conservative, 10 Community Campaign, 8 Lib Dems and 1 Hook Independent. No one party have the 17 councillors required to hold a majority on the council.

The Community Campaign have asked the current Leader if he’d be willing to continue as Leader with a proportional Cabinet made up of 3 Conservatives, 2 Lib Dems and 2 Community Campaign members. Given the proportionality of such a Cabinet it does not seem to be an unreasonable request.

We await his response. However, should the Conservatives not wish to work with a cross party partnership then we believe that the Council should have the right to elect a new Leader.

The nature of the council’s constitution is such that in order to bring about the opportunity to elect a new Leader a motion to withdraw support for the current leadership needs to be lodged 7 clear working days before the council’s AGM.

The full motion moved by Cllr. James Radley of the Community Campaign reads;
The council wishes to use this AGM, as it represents the traditional point in the municipal year, to undertake a vote for the leader of council. To bring about such a vote the constitution requires that a vote to remove the current leader first be tabled. To this end this council retracts support for the current leader and does so as required by the constitution by voting to ‘remove from office the current Leader of the Council and agrees that a new Leader should be elected forthwith’.

[/Update 2]

[Update 3: Lib dems tweet to say they don’t support new settlement at Winchfield]

NE Hants Lib Dems statement about Winchfield

[/Update 3]

Hart Cabinet sell us down the river as they plan for 10,000 houses

Hart Cabinet sell us down the river by planning for far more houses than we need

Hart Cabinet plan for houses we don’t need

Hart Cabinet sold us down the river on Thursday night as they voted to plan for 10,000 houses to be built in Hart District in the period up to 2032.

Aside from vote on the paper some other interesting information was disclosed on a number of subjects:

  • Hart Cabinet vote on the 10,000 houses?
  • Do we need a secondary school?
  • Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) update
  • Hart Cabinet and Council politics

Hart Cabinet vote on the 10,000 houses?

Well, the short answer is we don’t. Our statement was received without challenge and was described as “informed” by the joint Chief Executive. There really is no answer to the points about double counting, nor the extra 1,200 houses on top of the alleged additional affordable housing requirement. To his credit, Ken Crookes asked some challenging questions. He didn’t really receive satisfactory answers.

The cabinet chose to plan for the extra 2,000 houses on top of those set out in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), even though Ken abstained.

The plan was supported by two cabinet members from Hook. They apparently favour a new settlement that will deliver more houses in Hook Parish. But they vehemently oppose the proposed new development to the west of Hook, that is outside the Thames Valley Heath SPA zone of influence.

There is a risk that Hart will no longer have a five year land supply, now it has agreed an uplift to 10,000 houses. Apparently, officers are working on a new document.

The leader and joint chief executive will now proceed to produce a draft Local Plan. A new consultation will be held on this draft will begin some time in March.

Do we need a new secondary school?

One of the justifications for the new settlement at Murrell Green is that the district needs a new secondary school. You may recall that the council voted on a resolution to include a secondary school in the Local Plan.

However, in his statement to cabinet, the joint chief executive said that although:

Hampshire County Council (HCC) welcome the principle of a new school site, the scale of growth envisaged in the Local Plan is not one that would require the delivery a new school in the planning period.

HCC is responsible for planning school places. But HCC is not responsible for delivering new schools as they will now be delivered as free schools, outside local authority control.

Apparently, Hart has also been offered secondary schools by the developers of Winchfield, West of Hook and Rye Common.

In other words, Hart has acted outside its responsibilities in resolving to deliver a site for a school and the authority responsible for planning school places don’t believe we need a new school. So, we are creating a new settlement to create capacity for houses we don’t need and a school we don’t need either.

Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) update

In conversation we found out more about the Grove Farm application. The developer has now appealed this case on the grounds of non-determination.

Community Campaign Hart (CCH) screwing up Hart Planning since 2004

To re-cap, the Community Campaign Hart (CCH) chair the planning committee and failed to make a decision on the application at last December’s planning meeting. The council officers has recommended approval.

Hart is going to fight the appeal, probably on the grounds of wishing to maintain the Local Gap between Fleet and Crookham Village.

If Hart does lose its five year land supply, then this will make things difficult at appeal.

Apparently, the risk of losing £1.6m of New Homes Bonus has been mitigated because the indications from Government are that they are no longer going to push through those proposals.

However, there is still a significant risk that Hart will lose this appeal. The expectation is the appeal inquiry will be held in June, with a decision in August.

Hart Cabinet and Council Politics

We have now heard from several sources that one of the reasons Hart Cabinet appears to be so dysfunctional is that the ruling Conservative Party fears a vote of no confidence over the summer. This would entail CCH bidding to oust the Tories, presumably to be replaced by some sort of CCH/Lib Dem coalition. Maybe, the CCH coup is dependent upon the outcome of the Grove Farm appeal.

So, it appears as though we are planning for the extra houses to deliver a new settlement and secondary school we don’t need to appease CCH, who would prefer the new settlement at Winchfield.

It does seem very odd that we are having a new settlement forced upon us by dysfunctional politics.

 

 

Status of Hart Local Plan set out in email to parish councils

Hart District Local Plan delayed again

The current state of play of the Hart Local Plan was set out in an email to Parish Councils last week.  We reproduce it below with our commentary in [bold italics]

Dear All, I am writing to update you on the current position with regard to the Hart Local Plan.

The Council’s overall strategic position on the Local Plan was agreed in October 2016.  It is to:

“Seek to meet Hart’s full, objectively assessed need for new homes, subject to the inclusion of an appropriate contingency to allow for any delays or the non-delivery of sites, and that it will also seek to accommodate any demonstrated unmet need for new homes from its Housing Market Area partners, and additionally provide for essential infrastructure including a site for a secondary school”. 

We have a Local Plan Steering Group (LPSG) that was set up by Cabinet and comprises a small Core Group of Members (The Leader, the respective Portfolio Holders for Planning and Housing, all Group Leaders, and the Chairman of Planning Committee). The purpose of LPSG is to advise Cabinet on Local Plan matters. It is not a decision making body. LPSG meetings are not held in public but the meetings are not secret and the minutes of each meeting are reported to Cabinet. The meetings are also open to all Councillors to attend and Stephen Parker, as Chairman, has encouraged all present to participate.

The latest meeting in December (LPSG minutes attached) tested the Policy Planners recommendation that we should support a potential option (which we called Option 3a) that included a possible small new settlement, urban extensions and a balanced distribution of new homes across the District. [We believe this included Murrell Green, Grove Farm and Owens Farm to the west of Hook. We understand Winchfield and Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase) were specifically excluded]. A site for a secondary school was also identified. In principle Option 3a would have accorded with the strategic aims agreed by the Council in October 2016. If agreed it would have resulted in a draft Plan being progressed to Council at the end of January with a view to it all going out to public consultation.

Whilst Option 3a still lies on the table the consensus from the recent LPSG meeting was that Option 3d (a larger new settlement and distribution option) [We believe this brought Winchfield back into the equation. The likely timescales would probably mean that Grove Farm and some combination of Pale Lane and Owens Farm would be required] should be revisited [We understand the driving force behind this initiative was Concrete Community Campaign Hart, who seem intent on derailing the whole process]. This was because the recent Housing Options consultation had confirmed that the public’s first preference is for future growth to be focused on the delivery of a new settlement [Actually the council stated its first preference was for brownfield development, but did not give the public an opportunity to vote on that solution].  The least preferred option was for more urban extensions. The broad cross party consensus was that we should look to avoid delivering urban extension and Option 3d would in itself be an alternative way of delivering the strategic aims agreed by the Council in October 2016.

At the moment we are reflecting upon this. We are reviewing the two options and we will consult shortly on one of them. At the time of consultation we will offer a briefing to all Parish and Town Councils. We are also testing the need for any affordable housing uplift [This is the rumoured 2,155 extra houses to meet an alleged need for 800+ extra affordable homes] which is also an new approach that is being recommended to us by the Policy Planners. It does have an implication for how many new homes that we should built but it does reflect issues that have been raised by Inspectors at recent Local Plan examinations. We need to consider it further and a policy decision made by the Council about whether it agrees to follow it. This testing may require a little additional work and re-evaluation of delivery timescales and trajectories. More information is being submitted to help us with the evaluation.

In the meantime Officers are keen not to undermine the democratic processes by engaging in a public debate [!!!!!] in advance of the District Councillors themselves having formed a view about how they wish to see the way forward [Perish the thought that councillors be involved in a debate with the public] . There is absolutely no benefit in seeking to rehearse decisions that have not yet been made and I’m sure that everyone would agree that it would not be right for Officers to engage in what is in effect political speculation.

We understand form elsewhere the delay to the Local Plan will be 4-6 weeks, or longer. Given that five of the six weeks have already all but gone by since the LPSG meeting on 13 December, we shall not be holding our breath.