Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

This article builds on our earlier post setting out the green case against Shapley Heath. We have been inspired by new research that shows the red list species that are found in Winchfield.  New analysis shows that 26 of the 67 bird species on the RSPB Red List have been spotted in Winchfield parish.

Clearly building 5-10,000 houses in the Shapley Heath area will endanger these important species. Hart Council’s survey about Shapley Heath focuses on biodiversity as a key issue. It is mentioned in questions 19, 20 and 21. However, they fail to mention the damage that a new community will do to the existing ecosystems and the threatened species found there.

This seems odd given that Hart has its own Biodiversity Action Plan. But it seems they haven’t kept up to date with their promised monitoring reports. The Council even has a page dedicated to biodiversity that promises to

[Set] targets for biodiversity achievement in planning, site management and monitoring and education and awareness

Having read the rest of this article, you might like to respond to the Shapley Heath survey. This is your chance to make known your concerns about the proposals. We have produced a handy guide with suggestions as to how you might choose to answer the freeform questions. The guide can be found on the download below. The full survey can be found here. The survey closes on 5 July.

Shapley Heath Survey with Suggested Responses

Winchfield Notable and Protected Bird Species

The current Winchfield Neighbourhood Plan (WNP) shows on p47 the notable and protected species identified by the Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre (HBIC).

Winchfield Notable and Protected Bird Species

Winchfield Notable and Protected Bird Species

This shows a total of 64 different species.

RSPB Red List

The RSPB helpfully produce a red list of UK birds. This contains 67 separate species.  To place a bird species on the Red List, the RSPB apply a set of strict criteria:

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

RSPB Red List Criteria

The criteria include population decline and contraction in breeding range. Clearly, building all over the Area of Search will contract the available space and may well kill-off the local population of these birds. The red list contains 67 different species.

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

By cross-referencing these lists, you can see the red list birds that make their home in Winchfield.

Shapley Heath Endangers Red List Birds

Red List Bird Species in Winchfield Neighbourhood Plan

This list contains 26 different species. So, nearly 39% of the species on the red list have been found in Winchfield parish. It would be an act of pure malice to destroy the habitat of these important birds.

Mammals Need Protecting Too

The WNP (p44) also says that Winchfield is home to five species of bats. All species of bats are protected in the UK.

Pipistrelle Bat found in Winchfield

Pipistrelle Bat found in Winchfield

Winchfield is also home to brown hares.

Brown Hare Found in Winchfield

Brown Hare Found in Winchfield

Hares are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. They are also a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. Surely a council committed to biodiversity wold not put these important creatures at risk.

 

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Regeneration is the Solution

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Regeneration is the Solution

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Regeneration is the Solution

The purpose of this post is to illustrate the green case against Shapley Heath.  We will:

  • Examine Hart’s environmental and climate change commitments.
  • Show how Shapley Heath will deliver excess housing and up to 1m tonnes of excess CO2 emissions just from building it.
  • Demonstrate how concreting over 505 acres to deliver 5,300 houses will destroy habitat and damage biodiversity.
  • Look at how the talk of “renewable energy” might put our forests at risk and produce more CO2 and particulates then burning coal.
  • Show how urban regeneration would produce lower CO2 per capita and keep our vital green spaces.

If Hart Council want to save the planet, they should cancel Shapley Heath and focus on urban regeneration.

Having read the article, you might like to respond to the Shapley Heath survey and make known your concerns about the environment. We have produced a handy guide with suggestions as to how you might choose to answer the freeform questions. The guide can be found on the download below. The full survey can be found here.

Shapley Heath Survey with Suggested Responses

Hart Council’s environmental and climate change commitments

In April 2021, Hart Council joined many other public bodies in declaring a Climate Emergency. They unanimously agreed (our emphasis):

“Following the successful adoption of Hart’s Climate Change Action Plan, this Council now wishes to declare a climate emergency, which commits us to putting the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere at the front and centre of all policies and formal decision making, particularly Planning.

They even proclaimed that climate change is their top priority on the front page of the latest edition of Hart News.

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath

Hart News Climate Change Top Priority June 2021

However, on the same page they talk about the new Shapley Heath survey, cunningly avoiding any discussion about the environmental impact.

Excess House Building Leads to Excess CO2 Emissions

The Local Plan was agreed at a build rate of 423 dwellings per annum (dpa). However, the latest Government target is 286dpa. The 286 represents Hart’s share of the Government’s overall 300,000 dpa target. According to ONS figures, this national target is far in excess of what is required to meet demographic changes.

Hart refuse to conduct an early review of the Local Plan to take advantage of this reduction. Moreover, their original bid for Shapley Heath funding committed to deliver the new town in addition to the Local Plan requirements.

Shapley Heath in addition to Local Plan

Shapley Heath in addition to Local Plan

So, Hart are proposing to continue building at a rate far higher than the Government target, which in itself is far more than required and to deliver Shapley Heath on top. We can pretty safely say that any houses delivered by Shapley Heath will be far in excess of requirements. So any CO2 emissions arising from construction will also be entirely unnecessary.

We calculated that a new town of 10,000 houses would emit around 1m tonnes of CO2. A new town of 5,000 would be half that amount.

Shapley Heath Climate Change Impact

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Up to 1m tonnes of CO2

We find it difficult to understand how building more houses than we need and emitting more CO2 than we need to is consistent with putting the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere at the front and centre of all policies.

Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Biodiversity Impact

There’s plenty of academic evidence that urbanisation causes irreparable damage to biodiversity and habitat loss.

For example here,

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Urbanisation Habitat Loss and Biodiversity Decline

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Urbanisation Habitat Loss and Biodiversity Decline

and here:

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Impacts of Urbanisation on Biodiversity

The Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Impacts of Urbanisation on Biodiversity

The issues include replacement of species, habitat loss and biodiversity decline. The Shapley Heath survey emphasises the importance of green spaces, wildlife habitat and woodland. Yet, they somehow fail to mention that the Viability Study accompanying their bid for Government funding proposed concreting over 505 acres of the 1,047 acres of land under consideration.

Shapley Heath Development Acreage

Shapley Heath Development Acreage

The damage to the local eco-systems will be incalculable. And all for a development that isn’t required and is in addition to the Local Plan requirement.

The Renewable Energy Trap

The new Shapley Heath survey does ask for opinion about renewable energy. Initially, this sounds quite green and cuddly. Until you look at what they meant by renewable energy in prior studies into the Winchfield new town. The Sustainability Appraisal (p74) said:

It is fair to assume that a scheme of this scale (c.3,000 homes) [Ed: How times have changed, now 5-10,000] could enable combined heat and power generation (potentially even fuelled by biomass, which might even be locally sourced).

What they mean by biomass is explained in the North Hampshire Renewable Energy Opportunities Plan.

North Hampshire Biomass from Forest Management

North Hampshire Biomass from Forest Management

What they mean is chopping down trees in Bramshill Forest to fuel a wood-burning power plant. Burning wood produces more CO2 per unit of electricity produced than coal. And if Drax is anything to go by, more than twice the amount of noxious particulates.

In summary, they are considering building a wood-fired power station, using locally sourced timber that will produce more CO2 and more particulates than burning coal. This will destroy our local forest in addition to concreting over 505 acres of land, all in the name of environmentalism.

Green Case Against Shapley Heath: Regeneration is the Solution

There is a simple alternative to Shapley Heath. It’s Urban Regeneration. The benefits of this approach would be:

  • Control the build rate to match the actual requirement
  • Reduce delivery risk by having a range of projects instead of relying on just one big development
  • Protect our green fields and ancient woodland to maintain habitats and biodiversity
  • Keep vital green infrastructure to enhance our quality of life, wellbeing and mental health
  • Maintain our agricultural capacity to produce food
  • Produce less CO2 per capita

There’s plenty of evidence that shows that gentle densification produces communities that are more sustainable from a CO2 emissions point of view.

CO2 emission per capita vs Population density

CO2 emissions per capita vs Population density

The reason for this is that more people can walk to work, walk to the station and walk to leisure facilities. They need fewer cars and do fewer journeys. And slightly denser building means that occupants need less heating.

So, if we want to save the planet, urban regeneration is the answer. Cancel Shapley Heath.

 

Shapley Heath Climate Change Impact

Shapley Heath Climate Change Impact

Shapley Heath Climate Change Impact

In the light of the focus on the environment in the General Election campaign, we thought it would be a good idea to look at the Shapley Heath Climate Change impact.

Shapley Heath Climate Change Impact: Summary

  • 1,000,000 tonnes of CO2 emitted from construction
  • 312,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum from the occupants
  • Loss of pasture carbon sink
  • Damage to SSSIs, Ancient Woodland and heritage

Yet, Hart has agreed the “serious impact of climate change globally” and recognises “the need for urgent action”.  Councillor Graham Cockarill is standing in the General Election as a Liberal Democrat candidate. They say “the UK should be leading the world on tackling the environment crisis”.

Why are they pursuing an unnecessary new town that goes against their own climate change policies?

Shapley Heath Climate Change Impact: CO2 emissions

According to this article in the Guardian, construction of an average 2-bed cottage emits around 80 tonnes of CO2.  The average size of Shapley Heath dwellings is likely to be larger, so let’s assume 100 tonnes of CO2 per dwelling.  The vision and bid documents both suggested the eventual size of Shapley Heath will be 10,000 houses. So, building 10,000 houses will emit around 1,000,000 tonnes of CO2. There will of course be additional emissions from building new roads, supermarkets and office blocks.

These 10,000 houses will house around 24,000 people, and each of them will emit on average ~13 tonnes of CO2 per annum each. So, there will be 312,000 tonnes of CO2 emitted by the occupants of the houses.

Moreover, the existing pasture acts as a carbon sink, so this benefit will be lost too.

Remember, the Hart Local Plan, the Inspector’s report and even the bid document said that Shapley Heath isn’t required to meet our housing targets, so all of these emissions are entirely avoidable.

Shapley Heath Climate Change Impact: Damage to Nature

The area of search contains or borders many important natural sites. These include:

  • Odiham Common SSSI
  • Basingstoke Canal SSSI
  • Numerous ancient woodland sites that are also Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation
Shapley Heath Climate Change Impact - Damage to nature

Shapley Heath Climate Change Impact – Damage to nature

Hart District Council and Lib Dem Climate Change Policies

Back in September, Hart Cabinet decided the following in respect of climate change (our emphasis):

  1. Recognises the serious impact of climate change globally and agrees that there is a need for urgent action; and

  2. Agrees that a cross party Climate Change Member Working Group be established and that the Terms of Reference for that Group as set out in Appendix 1 be agreed in principle; and

  3. That a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan led by the Member Working  Group be prepared by January 2020 based on Hart District Council becoming a net zero carbon emitter by 2040 at the latest.

Councillor Graham Cockarill is standing in the General Election as a Liberal Democrat candidate. They say:

The UK should be leading the world on tackling the environment crisis. Our planet is on the brink of being irreparably damaged and we are responsible for that damage.

Why are they pursuing an unnecessary new town that goes against their own climate change policies?

Greens set out their position on Winchfield, Pyestock and housing policy

Green Party Logo

The local Green Party have been in touch, setting out their position on the key planning issues impacting the Hart Local Plan and some ideas on broader housing policy.  In short, all of the candidates oppose Winchfield New Town and support redeveloping the brownfield site at Pyestock (aka Hartland Park). This is an important issue for the Hart Local Elections 2016.

We have updated our summary page, and table of candidates accordingly.  The detail of their response is reproduced below.

In brief I can confirm that the local [Green] party, and all its candidates in these elections are opposed to the Winchfield new town, but support the latest proposal for redevelopment of housing in Pyestock.
1. Winchfield – No. It is not required to meet Hart’s own housing targets and  by concreting over such swathes of green space, would be the destruction of Hart as we know it for generations to come. In addition, Winchfield simply does not have the infrastructure to support a New Town – it would put strain on GPs, schools, roads and quality of life – not just in Winchfield but also in Hook, Fleet, Hartley Wintney, etc.
2. Pyestock for housing – Yes. By developing brownfield sites such as Pyestock, Hart’s housing targets can be met through dispersal of home building, and lessen the burden on roads and facilities in a concentrated area. Additionally, such developments are eligible for central Government grants towards infrastructure and do not leave HDC at the mercy of council tax hikes and s106-shy developers.
Our more detailed response will include demands for any new housing to be zero- or negative-carbon and high density, and any new roads to incorporate cycle lanes. But more importantly, we don’t see this as being just about whether or not to build the Winchfield development and need to address the broader policy – how the housing need projections are worked out and allocated. If this area continues to be put under pressure to build new houses, taking in allocations from outside the area, other beautiful rural areas will be hit.
We need to emphasise the importance of rural, countryside for everyone, not just those of us lucky enough to live in villages/ rural areas. There are genuine benefits for non residents too – loads of research on mental health benefits, conservation, getting children engaged with nature, air quality etc.
And we  need to be offering alternatives, and to acknowledge the problems lots of people have in getting onto the property ladder. Is continuing to build in the over-developed South East really the answer? Should we be pushing for a more equal distribution of investment, for example, promoting business growth and sustainable development in northern England?
Consequently we are developing a vision starting with what the area should look like in 2030, and then how to get there.
We Heart Hart welcomes the stance of the Green Party on the local development issues in Hart and broadly accept many of their ideas on wider housing policy.

Planning Inspector’s Trimmers Farm decision could scupper Winchfield new town plan

Solar Farm at Trimmers Farm, Hook, Hampshire turned down by planning inspectorate

Trimmers Farm solar farm turned down by inspector

The Planning Inspectorate has decided not to allow a solar farm to be built at Trimmers Farm, near Beggars Corner, on a site that straddles Hook and Winchfield parishes.  The implication of this decision is that it also likely scuppers the proposed Hartley Winchook new town. The full decision can be downloaded from the button below.

The main reason given by the planning inspector was that the solar farm “would cause substantial harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding landscape”. Although the inspector did also say that ” the proposal would make a valuable contribution to the cutting of greenhouse gas emissions. It would also assist in securing the ongoing viability of the farm enterprise”. The more detailed assessment of the harm said:

From my own observations and having regard to the appellants’ photomontages and Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV), the solar farm would have an adverse visual impact which would significantly detract from the visual amenity of the area. Having taken into account the presence of the railway, motorway and pylons I consider that the proposal would consolidate the spread of man-made features across the skyline and add to the creeping urbanising effect on the area, thereby exacerbating the resultant harm to the landscape character and visual amenity. In conclusion the level of harm to the character and appearance of the landscape would be significant and would conflict with LP saved Policies GEN10, GEN1, GEN3, CON23, RUR2 and RUR3.

SHL167 SHLAA Map - Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

SHL167 SHLAA Map – Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

The implications of this could be quite interesting as the same Beggars Corner site is contained in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment as SHL 167, and is included in the proposals for the proposed new town at Winchfield. We have written before that 772 houses were proposed to be built on the former land fill site.

SHL 167 Landfill details Beggars Corner

SHL 167 Landfill details Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

However, we find it difficult to believe that 772 houses, many of which might have solar panels on their roofs, would have a lower visual impact or create less creeping urbanisation than a solar farm.  Of course, the challenges of building houses on landfill would be much greater than installing solar panels.

As can be seen from the image below, the removal of SHL167 from the new town plan would effectively isolate two halves of the proposed new town, with the Murrell Green sites being disconnected from the other sites.  This will compromise sustainability and will also reduce the housing capacity.

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

We have previously challenged the viability of the new town plan, as have Winchfield Parish Council. However, to re-cap, the SHLAA suggests that the housing capacity of the new town sites is in the range 6,500-7,500. But not enough space has been set aside for SANG, or for sports facilities, schools, shops, car-parks or community facilities. Making allowance for these elements would reduce capacity to 4,000-5,000. Removing the 772 houses from SHL167 would further reduce the capacity to 3,228-4,228, which is well below the minimum viability threshold of 5,000 dwellings.

 

Trimmers Farm Solar Farm Planning Inspector’s Appeal Decision

link

Please respond to the Hart Local Plan consultation by 18 March 2016

Hurry up, time is running out to respond to the Hart Council consultation about the Local Plan.

The consultation has now closed

The deadline for submissions to Hart Council’s Local Plan consultation is tomorrow, Friday 18th March.  So, please do respond.

Here is a quick reminder of the key arguments to help you make up your mind on how to respond:

First, there is a brownfield solution to meet our remaining housing needs that will not require either a new town or new urban extensions. The proposed densities in the brownfield option are not at all demanding, with an average density on the SHLAA sites of around 25 dwellings per hectare.  The proposed densities on the vacant office blocks are no different to some developments that Hart has already permitted on Fleet Road, such as the new McCarthy and Stone development.  Our proposals do not include Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), which could deliver even more houses on brownfield sites into the future if Hart Council is successful in reallocating that site for housing.

Remember that Hart Council themselves said back in September that brownfield capacity was 1,800 units and now they have miraculously lost 75% of them.  Since then, more sites have been identified and Hart has started to work with Government to build a brownfield register.

Second, we need to take a strategic view of the future and recognise that continuing to concrete over green fields equivalent to 25 football pitches each year is not at all sustainable and our children and grandchildren would not thank us for doing that.

The advantages of a brownfield solution are:

  • It preserves the very countryside that makes Hart such a great place to live,
  • Produces a greener solution, making better use of existing infrastructure and more efficient housing,
  • Delivers more of the smaller, more affordable housing of the types that we need to meet the needs of our young people aspiring to gain a foothold on the housing ladder,
  • Delivers more specialist accommodation for the elderly in the right places for them as well as freeing up larger properties for growing families,
  • Delivers infrastructure funding to existing communities where there is currently a £78m funding deficit
  • Lower risk of delivery because it is spread across a large number of sites with multiple developers

Of course, the new town proposal that is in the consultation has been undergoing testing for over a year now, and has identified a number of significant barriers including education, transport and foul water drainage.  The evidence to date shows the new town is simply not viable because the costs of the infrastructure required for a new town are astronomical and would never be met by developer contributions. One of the main arguments used in favour of a settlement at Winchfield, the presence of a railway station, is undermined by the suggestion that the station would have to be relocated to support the new town. If Hart were to choose the new town option, it runs the risk of not passing inspection because infrastructure delivery could not be guaranteed.

Finally, whilst we hope that the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment, (SHMA) when it is eventually delivered in June will result in a lower housing target for Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath. But until then, the threat of Hart having to build 3,000 for those districts is very real.  Support for a new town will create capacity to build these extra houses which will mean we will end up with the worst of all worlds, a new town, urban extensions and dispersal across the district.

So, we urge all residents of Hart to reject a new town, reject urban extensions and get behind a brownfield solution and give Hart Council further encouragement to step up their efforts in this regard by responding to the consultation and putting support for a brownfield solution in the comments.

If you responded to the previous consultation and gave your email address, you should have been contacted by the council asking you whether you want to re-submit your response to the new consultation.  If you have received that e-mail, we recommend you re-submit your prior submission.  This can be done here.

If either you did not respond to the last consultation, want to modify your submission or you did not give your email address before, then you will need to submit a brand new response here. Please make sure all of your friends and family respond too.

We have created a dedicated consultation page and updated our two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

Response to Hook Action Against Over Development

Which would you rather preserve - derelict eyesore or our wildlife?

Which would you rather preserve – derelict eyesore or our countryside and wildlife?

Hook Action Against Over Development have written an article on their website which has been shared on Facebook, criticising both our support of a brownfield solution to our housing needs and the statement from the CPRE saying that the Winchfield New Town proposal was the worst site and the worst option for development.

We re-produce their article below, together with our responses in blue:

There has been a lot of talk about brownfield development and some claims that a new settlement is not necessary because brownfield housing development can provide for all of Hart’s housing needs. Brownfield housing development is the reuse of property or land for residential use where it was previously used for something else, for example office space, industrial land, military use or farm buildings.

Yes, we do believe that all of Hart’s remaining housing need can be met from brownfield sites, and we have set out the case and our plan here and here.  This draws on sites in the SHLAA at only ~26 dwellings per hectare (dph) and the work of the Stonegate Report, plus we have added the civic area that Fleet Future recommended for redevelopment and Fleet Town Council have raised their council tax to fund the costs of preparing a redevelopment plan.

One group in particular from outside of Hook is putting forward the suggestion that the Hart consultation is a simple choice between brownfield and greenfield development. But no matter how much they repeat it does not make it any more true. The CPRE, an organisation with laudable aims, appears to have now fallen for this fiction and hijacking of the term “sustainable development”.

We believe they are referring to We Heart Hart.  We believe the CPRE have not put forward an actual plan, but have clearly stated that they think that a new town at Winchfield is the worst site and worst option for development in Hart.  Sustainable development was defined by the Sustainable Development Commission as:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The concept of sustainable development can be interpreted in many different ways, but at its core is an approach to development that looks to balance different, and often competing, needs against an awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations we face as a society.

We believe that sustainable development does not include concreting over the equivalent of 25 football pitches per year of green fields and leaving untouched, vacant, decaying office blocks. A new settlement would compromise future generations by needlessly concreting over hundreds of hectares of green fields, depriving future generations of the health benefits of the countryside. The economics of the proposals don’t stack up, requiring ~£350m of infrastructure spending, money that neither Hart nor Hampshire County Council have, especially now that HCC is facing an £81m per annum funding deficit. 

Hart’s housing strategy is brownfield first, but Hart cannot propose development on sites that are in commercial use or that have not been put forward for housing. If they were to do so then the Local Plan would fail inspection again at the first hurdle and this would be a disaster. Even hypothetically utilising these unavailable brownfield sites would demand construction at inner city density in order to meet Hart’s objectively assessed housing need. We cannot believe that CPRE are promoting building at such a density in Hart. That would not be sustainable.

We agree that sites need to be developable and eventually deliverable and nobody wants to see the Local Plan fail. Back in September, Hart Council said that they thought the brownfield capacity was 1,800 units.  Miraculously, this has fallen by 75% to only 450 units in the consultation. However, as described above, most of the sites we have put forward are in the SHLAA and in no worse state of deliverability than those put forward for consultation. The other sites are in the Stonegate report and we understand Stonegate are working hard to secure these sites.  The average density for the SHLAA sites is less than Hart’s planning rule of thumb at 26dph, and the Stonegate sites are at no higher density than developments that Hart has granted permission for such as the McCarthy & Stone’s recent development on Fleet Road which many people think is an attractive building.

Hart are actually consulting on which of Hart’s green fields should be selected for housing in the event that there is insufficient brownfield land to meet the housing need. Given the vast expansion of the existing towns and villages in Hart already, with Hook alone having a 25% expansion approved for this Local Plan period, the only suitable and truly sustainable option is a new settlement to allow for a planned increase in infrastructure. Just expanding existing towns and villages either piecemeal or with “urban extensions” is still building on green fields, but in a way that will not provide the opportunity to build extra schools, roads and health facilities that the thousands of new Hart residents will require. That would not be sustainable.

The proposed new town will in fact deliver over 1,800 houses in Hook Parish, which is more than the proposed urban extension and more than the undeveloped brownfield sites.  To be clear, we do not support urban extensions either because we believe all of the remaining need can be met on brownfield sites. The infrastructure costs for a new town do not stack up and a new town will do nothing to close the large £12.2m existing infrastructure funding gap in Hook, and £20.7m gap in Fleet and Church Crookham. No evidence has been presented that we need a new secondary school and the funding for a new town will not address existing road bottlenecks, nor will there be sufficient funding to address the roads requirements of a new town. We repeat, we do not believe concreting over 25 football pitches each year is at all sustainable.

Elimination of all potential commercial property space in Hart is in fact extremely short-sighted. Even the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership which is urging more housing would not want to see commercial space becoming rare and expensive. There is already an acknowledged shortage within Hart of small business units and light industrial space. Larger available office space provides options for small local businesses to grow without leaving the area. A thriving local economy needs a balance of housing and business to provide employment opportunities locally and avoid all of these new residents having to take to the roads and railways to commute out of the area for work on already busy transport links. That would not be sustainable.

Nobody is saying that all of the vacant commercial space be handed over to housing.  But even the Employment Land Review, based as it is on the inflated Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and the inflated jobs forecasts, suggests that there will be around 600,000 sq m of vacant employment space across the Housing Market Area at the end of the plan period and Rushmoor was planning to “protect” 96 Ha of vacant brownfield sites that simply are not needed. If there was such a shortage of offices or of light industrial space, places like the Murrell Green Estate would not have the big vacancies they currently have. Of course it would be more sustainable to free up some of these spaces and redevelop them for residential use rather than leave them to rot and decay.

There is very little brownfield land in Hart but there is an amusing “brownfield site slideshow”, made available by campaigners whose aim is to push development away from their village, to supposedly “demonstrate” how much brownfield land is available for housing. If you happen to see it, do bear in mind that:

  • Several of the sites are already being developed for housing (and therefore counted in existing housing build numbers!) such as Landata House and Greenwell in Hook, Sun Park and others.
  • Several of the sites are being converted to other commercial uses, e.g. Warehousing at Pyestock and retail development on Fleet Road where M&S are looking to move to an expanded new store.
  • Several of the sites are in fact just one vacant floor(or even a partial floor) in an otherwise occupied office building!

Now perhaps the future really is an office building with some adjacent floorspace being residential, but can anyone imagine this being attractive to either residential or commercial tenants?!

The fact that some of the sites have already been taken up for redevelopment simply proves our case and shows it can be done.  Our brownfield solution has taken account of the sites that are already underway. Work at Hartland Park (aka Pyestock) stopped years ago, and there is no sign of it re-starting.  The owners will not wish to keep an expensive site forever generating no returns. Of course if M&S moves into another Fleet Road site, then they will leave behind a different vacant block to go with the many other vacant units in the Hart Centre.

There are plenty of examples of mixed residential and commercial use, both in this country and on the continent.  Nobody is suggesting this should happen without comprehensive redevelopment.

This current consultation is clearly not about a choice between brownfield and greenfield development, it is about the best way to provide Hart’s required housing with essential supporting infrastructure and only a new settlement can achieve that. For more, please refer to our previous article hookdevaction.org.uk/hart-housing-consultation-restarted-your-action-needed.

The Hartley Winchook new town is not required, it not viable because of the flood risks and the massive, unfunded infrastructure costs, and will not be sustainable in any sense of the word. There is a brownfield alternative, and we should seize that opportunity.

 

 

Here are the slideshows of vacant brownfield sites we have found in Hart and Rushmoor:

 

  • We Heart Hart's Mascot - Bravehart
    We Heart Hart's Mascot - Bravehart

 

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page, updated our two guides to responding to the consultation and they are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

Rushmoor calls for new town, urban extensions and dispersal in Hart

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Earlier this week Rushmoor cabinet considered its response to Hart’s Local Plan consultation and has come up with some controversial proposals.

First, their response says:

Rushmoor Borough Council supports the strategy of prioritising development on brownfield land, and on land outside the zone of influence for the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. Rushmoor expects that in addition to this, the first full consultation version of the Hart Local Plan will be based on a strategy to meet housing needs that requires a combination of the options set out in in the consultation paper. This will include dispersed development, strategic urban extensions and a new settlement at Winchfield in order to help deliver the housing need identified in the SHMA.

And in a veiled criticism of Hart’s strategy of holding the consultation now, when the evidence base is under review it says:

At this stage in the plan preparation process, Rushmoor Borough Council considers that the most appropriate strategy and timescale for meeting housing need across the HMA can only be identified once the update to the evidence base is in place. Moreover, until the implications of the conclusions in the updated evidence base are understood, it is not possible to comment on the detail of the housing options in isolation from other strategic cross boundary issues.

However, Rushmoor reserves the right to change its response, once the new evidence base is published:

It may be that once this evidence base is updated, some of Rushmoor’s comments may change or fall away, particularly when Hart publishes a complete version of its Local Plan for consultation, based on the most up to date evidence.

It seems to us that it would be poor strategy to commit to a new town now, when the evidence base is being reviewed. It may be that the threat to build 3,000 extra houses for Rushmoor and Surrey Heath falls away and Hart’s own alleged “need” also falls, in which case we will be able to build all of our remaining need on brownfield sites and have many sites left over for future planning periods. If we had a vision to keep our essential countryside, and not build a new town, then we would not need to meet Rushmoor’s need.

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town alternative and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

7 reasons to oppose a new town in Hart

Which would you rather preserve - derelict eyesore or our wildlife?

Which would you rather preserve – derelict eyesore or our wildlife?

As the consultation on the Hart District Local Plan draws to a close, it is worth reiterating the main reasons why you should oppose a new town and urban extensions in Hart.

  1. They would open us up to 3,000 extra houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor, and we would get the worst of all worlds, a new town, urban extensions and green field dispersal.
  2. The rate of building would then be used against us in the next planning period, so the problems we create today would be compounded into the future.
  3. It would be bad strategy to commit to a new town now, when we know that the housing needs assessment is being revised, and in all likelihood it will be revise down
  4. The proposed new town location is simply not suitable, in that there isn’t enough land to create the nirvana of a self contained new settlement promised by some HDC councillors, and would lead to a giant Hartley Winchook conurbation.
  5. The infrastructure costs are astronomical, and the developer contributions will not meet these costs, thus pushing up council taxes in the future
  6. There is an alternative brownfield solution that will meet the actual needs of Hart residents through providing specialist accommodation for the elderly and affordable starter homes for the young people struggling to get on the housing ladder.
  7. Brownfield development is a more sustainable, greener alternative that will be kinder to the environment and provide infrastructure funding for our existing communities.

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town alternative and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

 

Winchfield new town plan proposes 772 new houses on former landfill site

SHL 167 former landfill site Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

SHL 167 former landfill site Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

One of the sites proposed for the Winchfield new town is a former landfill site.  There are 772 new houses proposed for site SHL 167, also known as Beggars Corner.  However, a solar farm was recently turned down at this site and the environmental report shows that much of the site was once landfill, with unknown contents.

SHL167 SHLAA Map - Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

SHL167 SHLAA Map – Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

SHL 167 Landfill details Beggars Corner

SHL 167 Landfill details Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

Interestingly, Hart Council’s decision to refuse the solar farm application (ref: 15/01614/FUL) had nothing to do with the landfill issues, but was because the proposed site was:

“within the zone of theoretical visibility and the Odiham Conservation Area. The proposed development would seriously detract from the amenity and consequent recreational value of the nearby public right of ways”.

We find it difficult to believe that a former landfill site is a suitable location for the 772 new houses proposed in the same location.  And it is also hard to see how a planning application won’t face the same difficulties as the solar farm application, further undermining the questionable viability of the proposed Hartley Winchook new town.

If you would like to make your voice heard, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes