Local Plan: Brownfield sites protected from redevelopment

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

Brownfield sites protected from redevelopment

The draft Local Plan put forward by Hart Council includes proposals to make brownfield sites protected from redevelopment. We think this proposal is bonkers and should be challenged in the consultation.

There are two different types of protection proposed in the Local Plan. The first identifies “Strategic Employment Areas”:

  • Bartley Wood, Hook
  • Bartley Point, Hook
  • Cody Park, Farnborough
  • Meadows Business Park, Blackwater
  • Osborne Way, Hook
  • Waterfront Business Park, Fleet

These sites are “given the highest protection and safeguarding against loss to non-B-class employment uses by protecting them for B-class uses”. We would agree that some of these sites should be given some protection. But some of the sites, particularly in Hook suffer from high vacancy rates. Indeed, some of the sites have already been converted to domestic use.  Recently the owners of the Virgin Media offices at Bartley Wood have sought advice on whether planning permission would be required to convert some of those buildings to housing. This demonstrates that there is little demand for offices on even the sites of alleged ‘strategic’ importance.

The trouble with this policy is that it cannot stop conversion of offices to apartments. These types of development require no planing permission. Nor do they bring any S106 or CIL contributions to infrastructure. Moreover, they don’t provide an attractive sense of place. By preventing proper redevelopment Hart is cutting off vital infrastructure funding. This makes no sense whatsoever.

The second type of protection is to “Locally Important Employment Areas”:

  • Ancells Business Park, Fleet
  • Blackbushe Business Park
  • Eversley Haulage Yard
  • Eversley Storage
  • Finn’s Business Park, Crondall
  • Fleet Business Park, Church Crookham
  • Grove Farm Barn, Crookham Village
  • Lodge Farm, North Warnborough
  • Murrell Green Business Park
  • Potters Industrial Park, Church Crookham
  • Rawlings Depot, Hook
  • Redfields Business Park, Church Crookham
  • Optrex Business Park, Rotherwick

These sites are offered a lower level of protection, but nevertheless the council is putting in place barriers to redevelopment.

Poor brownfield sites should not be protected from redevelopment

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

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

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

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

We believe this policy should be reversed, particularly as it is a direct contravention of a statement made by the council leader, who said there were no plans to restrict the development of brownfield sites at a council meeting in September 2016:

https://www.hart.gov.uk/sites/default/files/4_The_Council/Council_meetings/M_Archive/16%2009%20Council.pdf )

Please respond to the Local Plan Consultation

This is our chance to shape the draft Local Plan that is currently our for consultation. Our suggested comments can be found on the link below. Please do download and review them. Please do make amendments into your own words and submit it to planningpolicy@hart.gov.uk before the deadline of 5pm on 9th June 2017. All of the Council’s consultation documents can be found here.

Response to the Hart Draft Local Plan Consultation

Health and Safety Executive criticises Hart Council

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Logo

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Logo

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has criticised Hart District Council for not clearly marking on a map the Major Accident Hazard pipelines that pass through the district.

Regular readers will recall that the Master Plan for the proposed new settlement at Murrell Green does not refer at all to the high pressure gas main that runs through the site.

Murrell Green high pressure gas main

Murrell Green development with high pressure gas pipeline

We alerted the HSE to this and invited them to comment on the Draft Local Plan that is currently out for consultation. They have written to Hart Council and identified two further potential issues:

We have concluded that there is the potential for land allocated in your plan to encroach on consultations zones.  The land allocations that could be effected (sic) are as follows

Map 30 – Murrell Green (Proposed Strategic Housing-led Development Policies SC1-SC4)

This allocation encroaches on the Southern Gas Networks High Pressure Pipeline – HSE Reference: 7067 Gaston Wood/Murrell Green(PO65)

It also has the possibility to encroach on the Southern Gas Networks High Pressure Pipeline – HSE Reference 7069 Crockmore Farm/Bramshill(P067)

Map 7 – Eversley Centre – SC5

This allocation has the possibility to encroach on the Southern Gas Networks High Pressure Pipeline – HSE Reference 7083 Bramshill/The Devil’s Highway(P086)

The HSE then go on to spell out their recommendations for how local authorities should identify such hazards in their Local Plans (emphasis ours)

Identifying Consultation Zones in Local Plans

HSE recommends that where there are major hazard establishments and MAHPs within the area of your local plan, that you mark the associated consultation zones on a map. This is an effective way to identify the development proposals that could encroach on consultation zones, and the extent of any encroachment that could occur. The proposal maps in site allocation development planning documents may be suitable for presenting this information. We particularly recommend marking the zones associated with any MAHPs, and HSE advises that you contact the pipeline operator for up-to-date information on pipeline location, as pipelines can be diverted by operators from notified routes. Most incidents involving damage to buried pipelines occur because third parties are not aware of their presence.

Clearly Hart Council has failed to follow Health and Safety Executive Guidelines.

The full letter from the HSE can be found here.

Where is the draft Hart Local Plan?

Hart Local Plan - Keep Calm and Wait until 26 April

Hart Local Plan – Keep Calm and Wait until 26 April

Regular readers maybe wondering what has happened to the Hart Local Plan. On February 9th, Hart Cabinet agreed to a spatial strategy as part of the draft Local Plan that was due to go out to consultation in March. Obviously, there have been further delays. This is what we now understand to be the position:

Hart Local Plan timetable

The draft local plan will be released 26 April for a six-week Reg 18 consultation period after a briefing session with Parish Councillors on the 25th. There will be roadshows at the main settlements. Every house in the district will receive an A5 leaflet advising them of the consultation.

The Reg 19 process will follow in about November with submission of the full plan to the Secretary of State in mid-February 2018. All responses during the Reg 18 will be made public including the names of the individuals but with no contact details.

Hart Local Plan Headlines

Hart Council have decided to build 10,185 houses up to 2032 of which around 50% have already been built or granted permission. Please note that this number is far higher than 8,022 target the recently published Strategic Housing Market Assessment and more than double the requirement generated from demographic change. The numbers are now correct as of 31 January 17 and include all office conversions which have been approved.

Housing Numbers by area

  • Fleet 200 – mostly through office redevelopment
  • Hook was 200 now 10 from office redevelopment plus another 87. However, developers may chance their arm again with Owens Farm (750), and of course around half the Murrell Green site is in Hook Parish.
  • Sun Park 320
  • Hartland Park (Pyestock) 1500. Fleet town council have apparently made the point that the site offers only 20% affordable homes and the density per hectare is up to 97 in places which is equivalent to city centre densities which is of concern to them. OUr view would be to make the most of available brownfield sites.
  • Murrell Green 1800 but with challenges. There are 4 promoters and it will be some 3 to 4 years before planning permission is approved. It includes the site for a secondary school but there won’t be enough developer contributions to pay for it. New school funding rules mean that Hampshire can’t pay for it either.  It’ll probably be an Academy at a cost of circa £36 million. So we get a site for a school, but no money.
  • Crondall 66
  • Crookham Village 100 + 64 predominantly the care village
  • Eversley 124 on two sites
  • Heckfield 86
  • Long Sutton 10
  • Odiham 119 as per NP
  • Hartley Wintney 0. It seems odd that HW’s Neighbourhood Plan will be ignored. It should be noted that Murrell Green directly abuts Hartley Wintney Parish and about half of the proposed Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase) development is in HW parish.
  • South Warnborough 34 on two sites
  • Yateley 88
  • An additional 50 via rural exceptions and a further 290 from windfall.
  • Interestingly, no mention of Winchfield, or their Neighbourhood Plan, but roughly half of Murrell Green is in Winchfield Parish.
  • Apparently, Bramshill will be very difficult to develop because of all the complications with the Grade 1 listed site.

Other news

Apparently East Hants have done such a stellar job on the Local Plan, the Planning Policy team is now back in house at Hart, reduced in size from 8 to 2.

There is a risk that developers will continue to pursue Pale Lane and take it to appeal before the Local Plan is adopted.

We await the results of the Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) appeal in June.

Lib Dems come out against Winchfield New Town

Liberal Democrat Focus Hartley Wintney + Eversley Spring 2016

The local Liberal Democrats have published a newsletter for Hartley Wintney and Eversley (also covering Bramshill, Heckfield, Mattingley and Winchfield) strongly condemning the idea of a new town at Winchfield.  A full image of the newsletter can be found here. This is an important issue for the Hart Local Elections 2016.

They are silent on their position on the new brownfield site at Pyestock (aka Hartland Park).  It isn’t clear whether this is a unified position of all Lib Dems across the district, or just the position of those standing in Hartley Wintney ward. In particular, it isn’t clear whether this represents a reversal in the position of those Lib Dems who voted in favour of the new town in November 2014.

We have contacted the NE Hants Lib Dems to ask for a full position of the current candidates on both the new town and Pyestock, but have yet to receive a reply.  Nevertheless, we have updated our summary page to update the position of the Hartley Wintney candidate. We will update the other candidates once we hear from the NE Hants Lib Dems or if anyone sends us leaflets from other wards outlining the Lib Dem position.

[Update] The Lib Dems have issued a leaflet, supporting Pyestock [/Update]

Which parishes have seen most development Hart District?

Elvetham Heath near Fleet, Hampshire

Elvetham Heath near Fleet, Hampshire

There has been much controversy about how much development there has been in Hart District over the past few years, so inspired by a post on the Winchfield Action Group site, we thought we’d take a closer look at the data.

We have compiled a list by parish and ward of the number of dwellings in each area in 2001 and 2011, according to the census and the results are shown in the table below:

ParishWard2001 Census (Dwellings)2011 Census (Dwellings)% Increase
Total34170373369.3
Blackwater & Hawley177218675.4
Bramshill9863-35.7
Church Crookham330933280.6
Crondall6887387.2
Crookham Village156316304.3
Dogmersfield1241283.2
Eversley5996508.5
Ewshot2292352.6
FleetCentral2235256514.8
FleetCourtmoor188819282.1
FleetNorth (inc Elvetham Heath)13602947116.7
FleetPondtail182018984.3
FleetWest185719786.5
Fleet Total91601131623.5
Greywell1041040
Hartley Wintney212622224.5
Heckfield137135-1.5
Hook2718311114.5
Mattingley2322382.6
Odiham & Long Sutton271228806.2
Rotherwick2052123.4
South Warnborough21326223
Winchfield2392587.9
Yateley79427959.2

It should be noted that the data only runs up to 2011 and so misses out most or all of certain developments such as QEB in Church Crookham, Dilly Lane and Rifle Range Farm in Hartley Wintney, Edenbrook and the planned new developments at Hawley Park Farm, new development to the North East of Hook and at Watery Lane.

It does show that the area with the largest increase is what was known as Fleet North, which has now been split after incorporating Elvetham Heath.

It is not really for us to point fingers at different areas of the district.  We will let readers make up their own mind and draw their own conclusions from the data.

If anyone finds an error in any of the data, then please do get in touch and we will make any corrections that are needed.

[Update]

I was asked to provide updated data of the permissions and completions since 2011.  There is no easy way to get this data.  This is a copy of what I received:

The majority of the information (with details of location and parish) on housing completions and permissions for the next few years can be found in the following two published documents :

Appendix 2&3
http://www.hart.gov.uk/sites/default/files/4_The_Council/Policies_and_published_documents/Planning_policy/Hart%205%20yr%20supply%20statement%20at%201st%20October%202015.pdf

And http://www.hart.gov.uk/sites/default/files/4_The_Council/Policies_and_published_documents/Planning_policy/Final%20Dwelling%20Completion%20Figures%202014-15_for%20website.xlsx

It’s regrettable  that you only used figures from the superseded five year land supply (2001-2011) calculation in the Interim Housing Delivery Strategy which was superseded by the Five Year Land Supply Position Statement:
Five Year Housing Land Supply Position Statement, 1st October 2015
2014-15, and the Completions list from Hampshire County Council (1st April 2015) both of which were linked on the  council website “Current planning policy and guidance” referring to the local plan consultation, and also discussed at a council meeting.

I’m glad got said you’d incorporate the latest numbers, and look forward to seeing this. I believe you’ll find disproportionate housing allocation to the North and East of the region whilst minimal development in the centre, West or south.

I can confirm that I used neither of the Housing Land Supply documents to produce the table above.  As the original post says, the source for the above is the census.

The link to the pdf just gives a long list of sites in a form that it is impossible to analyse in any meaningful way, least of all by parish.  The spreadsheet contains a list of starts, completions and losses for 2014-2015, a summary of which by Parish is shown below.

Dwellings started completed and lost in Hart District 2014-15

[/Update]

Hartley Wintney and Eversley Lib Dems oppose Winchfield New Town

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

Hart in the Heart of Hart, Winchfield

In a very welcome move, the latest edition of the Liberal Democrats’ Focus newsletter for Hartley Wintney and Eversley includes an article strongly opposing a new town in Winchfield.

The article is authored by David Simpson, the Hampshire County Councillor for the area.  In it he says:

I have said, right from the start, that Winchfield is the wrong place for a major development as it is in the middle of the country lanes.  To work it would need massive spending on new roads and infrastructure that will devastate the rural heart of Hart”…

“What is needed is proper planning of where new houses should go and how infrastructure is provided to ensure a good quality of life for local residents.

That means ensuring we can get to where we need to go without traffic jams; it means making sure we have all the services we need, and it means accommodating development without ruining our beautiful district.

Make sure you stand up to be counted be letting Hart know your views.  We are at crisis point. If we don’t make sure they get it right, our children and grandchildren could regret these decisions for generations to come.”

We Heart Hart completely endorses this view.  It is to be hoped that these views are shared by the Lib Dem councillors on Hart District Council and they now vote against the proposals for a new town and exert pressure to improve the Hart Local Plan.

Images of the newsletter are shown below:

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 1 of 2

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 1 of 2

 

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 2 of 2

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 2 of 2

Full size images here and here.

Update: One Lib Dem councillor we spoke to last night at council denies having seen the article.  So, this page has been sent to a number of Lib Dem councillors and we have asked them what their current position is on the Winchfield New Town.

Please help Hart fend off an extra 1,600 houses from Rushmoor

Is this what we want Hart to turn into?

Is this what we want Hart to turn into?

Rushmoor Borough Council has published a draft Local Plan where it proposes to build only 8,200 of its assessed need of 9,822 houses over the plan period.  It is clear that Rushmoor is seeking to offload the remaining 1,622 houses on to Hart District.

We need to oppose this move and We Heart Heart have produced some materials to help you do this easily.  Our voice will have greater weight if we can get more Hart residents to comment on Rushmoor’s plan than Rushmoor residents. Please follow the simple process below:

  1. Download the Local Plan response form from the link below.
  2. On page 3, fill in your name and contact details and type your name and date in the boxes at the bottom of the page.
  3. Review the comments made and feel free to add, amend or delete as you see fit.
  4. Save the document, attach it to an email and send to plan@rushmoor.gov.uk
  5. Share a link to this page to all your friends and family as well as any sports clubs or community groups you belong to via word of mouth, email, Facebook and Twitter and ask them to put in a response and share this page again.
  6. If you have not already done so, please sign and share our petition too.
Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

A summary of the arguments we are putting forwards is outlined below.

Slippery slope to taking more housing than the other districts

The proposal to take an additional 1,622 houses from Rushmoor puts us on the slippery slope to accepting a further 1,400 houses from Surrey Heath such that Hart District ends up having to build the most houses in the Housing Market Area.

 

 Hart DistrictSurrey Heath BoroughRushmoor BoroughTotal Housing Market Area
Original SHMA7,5347,0579,82224,413
Proposed Transfers3,022(1,400)(1,622)0
New Total10,5565,6578,20024,413

 

This will impact all of our districts including Blackwater and Hawley; Bramshill;  Church Crookham; Crondall; Crookham Village; Dogmersfield; Elvetham Heath; Eversley; Ewshot; Fleet; Greywell; Hartley Wintney; Heckfield; Hook; Mattingley; North Warnborough; Odiham; Rotherwick; South Warnborough; Winchfield; and Yateley adding additional pressure to an already difficult situation and make it more likely we have to accept both a new town and urban extensions on our beautiful green fields and countryside.

Hart and the rest of Housing Market Area are being asked to build too many houses

The whole Housing Market Area (HMA) should reduce the assessed need by 7,800 units which would reduce the pressure on Hart directly and remove the need for Surrey Heath and Rushmoor to ask us to build >3,000 houses for them. This is discussed in more detail here.

Rushmoor isn’t making best use of its brownfield sites

This is discussed in more detail here and here. As can be seen, if Rushmoor gets more creative with Wellesley and plans to build on the sites it has already identified, there is potential capacity for over 30,000 dwellings, more than three times its (overblown) assessed need.   It surely cannot be too much to expect them to find the 1,600 houses they say they can’t build out of this wealth of opportunity.  Rushmoor Borough Council should re-visit its planned densities and seek to meet all of its assessed need within in its own boundaries.  It could then make some sites available for neighbouring rural districts in line with a recent survey of Hampshire residents seeking to protect rural areas.  Neighbouring districts could be approached to provide SANG capacity if required.  Rushmoor should also take a closer look at all the vacant sites in the district and seek to convert them to residential use.

Rushmoor’s Employment Land Review is overblown and seeks to protect more employment land than is necessary.

This is discussed here.  It is also clear that past forecasts got it wrong as evidenced by the large number of vacant office blocks and empty shops across Hart District.  If the ELR was reduced to more sensible levels they could free up more land for housing.

Indeed, even if you accept the overblown employment forecasts, there will be a surplus of nearly 600K sq m of employment space at the end of the plan period, covering around 195 Ha.  Yet Rushmoor seeking to protect 96 Ha of land whilst asking Hart to build 1,600 houses on green fields.

Rushmoor’s infrastructure plans are not credible

We posted here that Hampshire as a whole has a £1.9bn infrastructure funding deficit, with Rushmoor’s share of that being £80m.  Rushmoor makes no mention of this deficit in its draft Local Plan.  Hart’s own numbers show an infrastructure deficit of £78m.  All of these numbers are probably an under-statement given they were all produced before the scale of development now proposed was known.  This is in contravention of NPPF para 177 that says there must be a “reasonable prospect” of delivering the required infrastructure alongside housing:

“It is equally important to ensure that there is a reasonable prospect that planned infrastructure is deliverable in a timely fashion. To facilitate this, it is important that local planning authorities understand district-wide development costs at the time Local Plans are drawn up. For this reason, infrastructure and development policies should be planned at the same time, in the Local Plan”

Finally, they don’t even attempt to quantify the extra infrastructure Hart would need to build the extra 1,600 houses nor do they make any offer to fund any of that extra cost.

Rushmoor not planning to meet the needs of the ageing population

Figure 10.15 of the SHMA sets out the need for specialist housing and registered care places for the HMA and Rushmoor.  This states Rushmoor must build 710 sheltered and extra care units as well as provide an extra 600 registered care places. Their draft Local Plan makes no mention of the extra registered care places and sets no target for the sheltered and extra care units.  This is in contravention of NPPF para 50 which states:

“local planning authorities should…plan for a mix of housing based on current and future demographic trends, market trends and the needs of different groups in the community (such as, but not limited to, families with children, older people, people with disabilities, service families and people wishing to build their own homes)”

Therefore the Rushmoor draft Local Plan runs the risk of being found unsound and should be revised.

 

In conclusion, the Rushmoor draft Local Plan contains many serious flaws and needs to be revised.

Link

 

Please help with the leafleting campaign

The We Heart Hart campaign is going very well.  We are now stepping up the campaign, with a series of articles being published in Parish Magazines and a leafleting campaign.  We need your help to distribute the leaflets.

We have had 30,000 leaflets printed, and a large number of them will be distributed to houses in Hart District, Hampshire, by the post office.  However, we would like to supplement this by handing out leaflets in the main towns – Fleet, Hartley Wintney, Hook, Yateley, Eversley, Church Crookham, Blackwater, Crondall, Odiham and South Warnborough. We hope to get the press involved too to further publicise the events.

We are planning doing the face to face leafleting on the two weekends of 11/12 April and 18/19 April.  Could you please join the events on Facebook or e-mail wehearthart@gmail.com to indicate that you are willing to take part.

Thank you in advance for all of your help.

If you haven’t already, please join the 800+ people who have already signed and shared our petition:

 

Go to Petition

 

We Love Hart Campaign Update

We haven’t been posting too much for a couple of weeks, but there’s been plenty going on behind the scenes.

We are working up plans to enhance the campaign by mounting a face to face leafleting campaign in the major settlements of Fleet, Crondall, Church Crookham, Hartley Wintney, Hook, Odiham and North Warnborough, Yateley and Blackwater)  to raise awareness of how much housing we are being asked to deliver and the devastation a new town will bring.  We will need “boots on the ground” to help with this, so please do get in touch if you can help.  We are provisionally targeting the weekend of 28/29 March for this.

On top of that, we are raising money to do a leaflet drop across the district during April to add further weight to the campaign and to ask all residents to challenge those councillors who are up for re-election to oppose Option 4: New Settlement because it will result in massive urban sprawl and open Hart up to 3,100 extra houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.  We will publish the names, wards, parties and contact details of all those contesting the election to make it easy for you to make your voice heard.

One supporter has also taken a look at the plans for building in Rushmoor.  He is horrified at how brownfield land is being wasted at the proposed Aldershot Barracks site.  We will be posting more about that in the next few days.

 

Hart District

Hart is a beautiful district made up of a mixture of large urban settlements such as Fleet and smaller village type settlements such as Odiham. The space around these settlements is largely made up of green fields and woodland which give Hart its essential rural feel.

In December 2014, for the fourth year running, Hart was named the best place to live in the country in a survey by the Halifax. Each settlement has a distinctive community feel; the quality of the schools is excellent and the 84 square miles of green fields and wooded landscape are a perfect example of England’s green and pleasant land that is excellent for wildlife, cycling and walking.

This essential nature of Hart is now being put under pressure by the National Planning Policy Framework and Hart Council’s response to it. In the years up to 2031, Hart has to build another 7,500 homes. Hart Council is proposing to meet the bulk of this need by building a new settlement in the heart of Hart at Winchfield destroying over 700 acres of green fields and woodland in the process.

We are mounting a campaign against these proposals because we believe the Strategic Housing Market Assessment that gave rise to the need for 7,534 extra houses (not to mention the extra 3,100 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor) is flawed and Hart’s response to this is inappropriate.

This is putting all of the parishes of Hart District at risk including:

Blackwater and Hawley; Bramshill;  Church Crookham; Crondall; Crookham Village; Dogmersfield; Elvetham Heath; Eversley; Ewshot; Fleet; Greywell; Hartley Wintney; Heckfield; Hook; Mattingley; North Warnborough; Odiham; Rotherwick; South Warnborough; Winchfield; and Yateley.