A number of the local Conservative Party candidates for the Hart District Council local election have been in touch and set out their current positions on the proposed Winchfield new town and the redevelopment of the 135-acre brownfield Hartland Park (aka Pyestock) site into 1,500 homes.
We contacted the local North East Conservative Party office and have had responses from some of the candidates and we contacted directly those candidates who are already sitting councillors. We have not yet had responses from all candidates.
As a reminder the questions we asked were:
- Do you support the new town proposed at Winchfield?
- Do you support the recently announced redevelopment of Pyestock for housing?
First we have Jane Dickens, standing for the ward of Blackwater and Hawley who is keeping her views to herself on both issues. We find this to be a strange position, given that planning is one of the biggest issues that Hart councillors have to get to grips with, and of course the Local Plan has to be submitted to the Inspector within the next 12 months.
Then we have Helen Butler, standing in Crookham East ward who said in answer to each question:
It’s important when building new houses to consider all the facilities and amenities that those new families will need – for example, education, health, leisure and transport. A new town at Winchfield will put huge pressure on the existing services, and it’s not clear whether the facilities that will be built as part of a new town would actually meet the needs of the people moving in. I don’t think it is the right way forward.
Building housing at Pyestock ticks many of the boxes. As a brownfield site, it makes a lot of sense to put that piece of land to good use, rather than leaving it derelict. A lot of work will need to be done to make the ground ready, but its location is much more suitable than Winchfield. I hope the history of the site can be reflected in the new road names.
Chris Simmons, standing in Crookham West and Ewshot doesn’t support either the Winchfield new town proposal or the redevelopment of Pyestock. He didn’t say where he would want to see new housing to be built.
[Update] We have now had feedback from Jonathan Wright, standing in Fleet East, whose brief answers to the questions above are ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’, so it appears as though he supports both the Winchfield new town and the redevelopment of Pyestock. [/Update]
Steve Forster (never one to use 1 word when 10 will do 😉 ), standing in Fleet West said in answer to each question:
1) I support building on brownfield as a first preference. As regards any development after brownfield is used, or where it is not available, then greenfield may have to be used. I would prefer that Hart builds the minimum number of houses to meet government requirements, and I lobby government and our local MP so that the number Hart is required to build by central government will be as low as possible, yet still meets the needs of local residents. I am against accommodating any overspill from adjoining districts, as they should be required to meet all of their own housing needs. I feel Hampshire already has enough new housing planned in the South of the County, and near Basingstoke, so that high numbers of new homes on Hart can be avoided.
I do not support urban extensions as a preference, as these contribute without sufficient infrastructure, therefore I do support in the longer term the selection of a new settlement at Winchfield but only if this is instead of urban extensions to Fleet, Church Crookham, Hook, Hartley Wintney, and Odiham. These urban extensions would still use greenfield, without the benefit that would be secured if a new settlement at Winchfield were part of the Local Plan for the longer term needs. In particular I am against developing Pale Lane andGrove Farm on the edges of Fleet, and yet more extensions to Church Crookham. Winchfield is potentially a suitable site for a well designed new settlement centred on the railway station, but would only be suitable if sufficient infrastructure (roads, surgery, schools. recreation, community facilities, retail, transport etc) were provided before build,and if strategic green gaps were retained between any new settlement and existing conurbations. It would need to have bus links as well to neighbouring areas.
Ideally I would like to see no building on greenfield but that is unlikely to be a practical approach for the future. I would stress that any new brownfield housing, which is my personal preference, needs to be well designed, provide a mix of types of housing, and much the existing housing in terms of density and style, so as not to be overbearing, and not to overburden existing infrastructure. I do not support extensive office conversions, preferring well designed buildings and areas (i.e. demolish and rebuild, providing better design, layout, features, and infrastructure contribution).
2) Yes. I advocated this for some years and formally raised it at both Fleet Town Council and Hart District Council as something to be promoted actively, and I am really glad that it looks as though it will become a viable option, having been driven by the Conservative led team at HDC. Its good that the developers feel that it is viable, despite the decontamination costs of the land that will be required. Pyestock is brownfield, and we should always look to build on brownfield where this is possible, without losing existing major current employment sites. I think it far preferable to distribution and will cause less damage to the environment and surrounding towns. I feel it essential that the design is well thought through, so as to improve traffic in the neighbouring areas (i.e. possibly providing a through route from Crookham to M3 Jn4a avoiding Fleet town and not using Kennels Lane due to its dangerous bends), as well as having a long term regular bus link to Farnborough and Fleet station and town centres, Frimley Park Hospital, and having its own school, recreation and retail facilities. It should also provide a good mix of affordable & social housing, retirement homes, and homes for families, and should be as ‘green’ as possible.
Of course Anne Crampton, standing in Hartley Wintney ward, has maintained her opposition to Winchfield new town throughout and does support the redevelopment of Hartland Park.
[Update] Mike Morris, standing in Hook Parish
I joined the council because of the 550 houses that were proposed at NE Hook and out of choice became part of the planning team that is processing that site and others around Hook. As you know none of which I welcomed and said so in front of all that attended the Basingstoke Hotel Hook residents meeting.
I do not support urban extensions as they do not bring forward sufficient new infrastructure capacity but just overload current capacity. Nor do some Brownfield sites under permitted development! However I welcome the proposed development at Hartlands (sic) Park (Pyestock) with its 1000 plus housing which will reduce the housing numbers Hart has to deliver. Nevertheless this hasn’t changed my mind regarding the need for a large settlement site at Winchfield which I support as its deemed the only sustainable and developable site in the district to deliver sufficient housing numbers for the current ( impending ) plan and the future.
As you would expect every District Councillor defends his Ward and therefore some of my Conservative colleagues particularly those serving Wards in and adjacent to Winchfield would naturally be against the proposed Winchfield development. I fully understand their position and I would do the same if it applied to Hook or Rotherwick.
I’m unaware of a party line to vote one way or another on any future development and always intended to vote for and on behalf of Hook and Rotherwick residents within best practice in terms of planning policy.
- Hart Council has said Hartland Park has capacity for 1,500 homes, not 1,000. And of course it will not reduce the number of houses Hart has to deliver, but will make a significant contribution to meeting the alleged ‘need’.
- All of the sites proposed for the Winchfield new town are classified as “not currently developable” in the SHLAA, so it is misleading to suggest otherwise. No evidence has been presented to demonstrate that a new town at Winchfield is ‘sustainable’.
- Hook is adjacent to Winchfield, and indeed around 1,850 of the proposed 5,000 new houses in the Hartley Winchook new town are actually in Hook parish. One might hope that Hook councillors would acknowledge this fact and look more closely at our brownfield proposal that would result in fewer new houses in Hook than any of the other proposals. Now that Pyestock is on the table, this is now self-evident.
John Kennet, standing for Odiham, was concerned about being seen to be pre-determining the outcome of any planning decisions, but did say:
As you know councillors have to be wary of being deemed to have pre-determined an issue. My answers to your questions are that on the basis of information currently before us I am not convinced that a new town is necessary at Winchfield. In fact it has been rendered even less necessary by the very welcome bringing forward of the 135 acre brownfield site at Pyestock, or Hartland as we should now call it. I have always thought it sensible to focus on brownfield sites first.
We have still not heard the up to date views of Max Bobetsky, John Burton or Peter Hall.
We have updated our table of all candidates and our summary page setting out the views of all candidates here.