Hart Launches Fleet Civic Quarter Regeneration Consultation

Fleet Civic Quarter Regeneration Consultation

Fleet Civic Quarter Regeneration Consultation

Hart Council has launched a Fleet Civic Quarter Regeneration Consultation. The survey runs from Monday 23 May to Monday 4 July. They have created a specific page on their website giving more details. It can be found here.

There is a leaflet giving more details about what they are trying to achieve that can be found here. The Council is encouraging residents to read the leaflet before answering the questionnaire that can be found here.

We set out below some more details of the consultation followed by our view.

Fleet Civic Quarter Regeneration Consultation Details

The questionnaire asks respondents say how important 8 aspects of regeneration are:

  • A dynamic, active town square all year round
  • A better connected town centre
  • Enhancing the cultural scene in Hart
  • Encouraging increased footfall to support the high street
  • An Inclusive space for all generations
  • Creating places to meet, socialise and celebrate
  • Prioritising sustainable, healthy design
  • Upgraded, modernised community facilities

Residents are then asked to choose their top-3 uses to which the Civic Quarter space can be put. The fourth question is a bit fiddly. It asks respondents to rank the relative importance of 10 “critical success factors”. The final two questions are freeform and ask people to set out their hopes and concerns about regeneration of the area.

Our View

It is good to see some progress finally happening on this project which was given the go ahead nearly 3 years ago in August 2019.  However, the focus is very strongly on the Council owned assets including Hart’s offices, The Harlington and Gurkha Square.

Fleet Civic Quarter Regeneration Map

Fleet Civic Quarter Regeneration Map

We think the Council should think bigger and consider the whole of the area outlined in the map above, together with the Hart Shopping Centre and the area surrounding Church Road car park for a more comprehensive revitalisation on the whole town.  However, we have to start somewhere, so we think this project should be encouraged.

Given the recent controversy surrounding the proposed Gurkha Square redevelopment and other matters, we think they should set some principles for the redevelopment to allay people’s concerns. Examples would include:

  • Promise to not develop Gurkha Square itself – focus on keeping the square for the market, public performances and outdoor restaurant seating
  • Promise to retain the Views and enhance it as a public open space
  • Ensure that a healthcare centre (GP Surgery or Drop-In centre) is included as part of the development
  • Consider providing a gym and even potentially a primary school and/or nursery
  • Constrain any development to a maximum of 5 storeys
  • Utilise the work of groups like Create Streets, to ensure that the built environment is of human scale, the proportions are sensible, adequate green space is provided and the buildings are beautiful.
  • [Update from a user comment] Introduce free parking to encourage more visitors to the town centre and support businesses [/Update]

We encourage readers to have their say and complete the questionnaire using the links above.

Impact of Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill on Hart

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill - RIP Shapley Heath

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – RIP Shapley Heath

Earlier this week, the Government launched the long awaited Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. The full Bill, all 338 pages of it, can be found here. A summary of the proposed measures can be found here. The interviews carried out by Michael Gove and the Bill itself had a number of potential impacts on Hart.

  • National Housing Target
  • Five-Year Land Supply
  • Neighbourhood Plans
  • Duty to Cooperate
  • Enhanced Environment Protection
  • Mandatory Infrastructure Contributions
  • Regeneration

On first examination, these look to be positive proposals for Hart, particularly in that they appear to weaken the case for Shapley Heath. The proposals also strengthen powers to drive regeneration of town centres, which should be good news for Fleet and its businesses.

Let’s go through the detail.

National Housing Target

Michael Gove gave a number of interviews about the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. On BBC Radio 4, he was repeatedly asked about whether the Government was sticking to the national housing target of 300,000 new dwellings per year. He refused to give a clear answer each time he was asked, saying he didn’t want to be “tied to a Procrustean bed”. Yes, we had to look that up too. Essentially, it means an arbitrary target. He also said that that while “arithmetic is important”, he was not “bound by one criterion alone”.

On the face of it, the Government is backing away from this target, which means that Hart’s housing target should fall from the current 286dpa.  However, the Telegraph reported that a Downing Street spokesman stressed the target remained – while saying it was important to build the right sort of houses.

So, this is not something we can bank on yet. However, the current Local Plan calls for 423dpa. We are currently building far more than that. It seems unlikely to us that the current target of 286dpa will rise, so the upcoming Local Plan review ought to relieve pressure into the future. This will make the claims that Shapley Heath is required even more difficult to sustain.

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – Five-Year Land Supply

Related to the housing target, the new Bill proposes to scrap the requirement for Councils to maintain a five year land supply.

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill - Five-Year Land Supply Requirement scrapped

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – Five-Year Land Supply Requirement scrapped

However, this is conditional upon the Local Plan being up to date. By this they mean adopted in the past five years. To benefit from this proposal Hart will have to have an updated Local Plan in place by April 2025. Our current Local Plan is front-loaded, with completions falling below target beyond around 2026/27. This proposal should help with that problem.

At the very least, this Bill should scupper CCH’s “suicidal” plans to build Shapley Heath at a rate of 500dpa.

Neighbourhood Plans

The summary of the proposals says that neighbourhood plans will be strengthened to have equal weight with other planning documents.

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill - Neighbourhood Plans given equal weight

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – Neighbourhood Plans given equal weight

On the face of it, this is a positive development because is inconceivable that Winchfield Parish Council would include Shapley Heath in their Neighbourhood Plan. However, this must be tempered by statement in the full Bill that seems to prohibit Neighbourhood Plans reducing the amount of housing a Local Authority can deliver.

Neighbourhood Plans Cannot Cut Housing for the Authority

Neighbourhood Plans Cannot Cut Housing for the Authority

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – Duty to Cooperate

The current duty to cooperate requirement will be repealed and replaced with a more flexible alignment test.

Duty to Cooperate Repealed

Duty to Cooperate Repealed

This is a positive development, because the current Local Plan includes an allowance to build housing for Surrey Heath. This allowance was already under question because the housing target for both Surrey Heath and Rushmoor has been reduced. Rushmoor is building far more than it is now required to do and could easily take any unmet need from Surrey Heath. However, the requirement to build houses for neighbouring authorities appears to fall away. This is good news in that it reduces Hart’s housing target.

Enhanced Environment Protection

The Bill also seeks to enhance environmental protections.

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill - Enhanced Environmental Protection

Enhanced Environmental Protection

We know that parts of the Shapley Heath contain significant areas that are at risk of flooding. On the face of it, these proposals will make it harder to build in such an area. Moreover, the area contains SSSIs, SINCs and other protected areas. Enhanced environmental protections ought to help fend off proposals for Shapley Heath.

Mandatory Infrastructure Contributions

The Bill proposes changes to infrastructure funding. A new mandatory infrastructure levy is proposed to replace S106 contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy.

New Mandatory Infrastructure Charge

New Mandatory Infrastructure Charge

On the face of it, this seems to close the loophole where developers converting office blocks under permitted development rights were able to avoid infrastructure contributions. This should help the council adopt a better attitude to brownfield development.

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – Regeneration

New compulsory purchase powers are proposed in the Bill. These should help Councils rejuvenate town centres and regenerate brownfield land.

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill - Strong Support for Urban Regeneration

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – Strong Support for Urban Regeneration

Taken together, these proposals should finally end the ridiculous proposals for a new town at Shapley Heath. There will no longer be any excuses for Hart not to come up with bold new plans to regenerate Fleet, Blackwater and Yateley. These urban centres should be the focus of the updated Local Plan so we can make Hart an even greater place to live.

Shapley Heath Survey Results – Bin this development

Shapley Heath Survey Results - Bin This Development

Shapley Heath Survey Results – Bin This Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shapley Heath Survey Responses

Shapley Heath Survey Responses

Shapley Heath Survey Results – Most Entertaining Comments

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

Community Identity Section

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

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

Please don’t build the Shapley Heath Garden Community.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sustainable Community Section

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

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

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

We don’t want a garden “village”!!

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

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

Shapley Heath Survey Results: Community Connection Question

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

Yes, the green spaces that this development will destroy.

I strongly oppose SHGV and this survey is a farce.

Shapley Heath Survey Results: Governance Question

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

Certainly not Hart District Council.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone except the HDC!

There is a CLIMATE EMERGENCY abandon this project.

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

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

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

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

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

Shapley Heath Survey Results: Exercise Questions

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

Stupid question by a stupid council.

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

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

Dogging hotspots.

Resilience Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natural and Historic Environment

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

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

But others has their say too:

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

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

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

Don’t build this unwanted village.

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

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

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

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

Transport Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pandemic Travel Questions

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

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

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

Shapley Heath Survey Results: Pandemic Shopping Questions

An irrelevant question for this survey. Cancel Shapley Heath.

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

Cancel the project now.

Irrelevant question as pandemic will be over.

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

This is a waste of money.

School run questions

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

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

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

An irrelevant question for this survey. Cancel Shapley Heath.

Daft question. Cancel the project.

Quality of Life Questions

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

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

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

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

Leaving nature alone. This development is NOT NECESSARY.

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

Ecology and Biodiversity Questions

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

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

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

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

Shapley Heath Survey Results: Future Proofing Questions

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

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

I don’t want the garden community.

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

Don’t ruin the already existing communities.

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

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

Technological Opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shapley Heath Burning Money as Vital Services Cut

Hart Council Burning Money as Homeless Budget Cut.

Shapley Heath Burning Money as Homeless Budget Cut. We Heart Hart. We Love Hart.

Next week the Council will debate the budget for the next financial year. The draft budget for FY2021-22 has been published. It shows that they plan to burn £279K on the Shapley Heath project. Yet at the same time, they are cutting budgets for vital services:

  • The budget for Homelessness will be cut by over £100K compared to the current year
  • They are proposing to cut £600K from the grants given to voluntary organisations compared to pre-Covid spending. In prior years, these grants have typically gone to The Blue Lamp Trust and the YOU Trust that focus on Domestic Abuse, as well as Hart Voluntary Action.
  • The budget for Fleet Pond will be cut from £53K this year to £21K next. This compares to a budget of over £130K in FY19/20.

Meanwhile, the cost of the Leadership team rises from £578K this year (and £720K last year) to £830K next. Overall, they are forecasting a budget deficit of £381K.  Moreover, we can find no budget line to cover regeneration of Fleet or other urban centres. Not even the Civic Quarter regeneration is mentioned.

We need to put a stop to this madness at the ballot box.

Please sign and share the petition you can access from the button below.

Stop Shapley Heath to Balance the Budget

The detail is explained below, but you might be interested in this little 1 minute video.

Shapley Heath Burning Money 2021-22 Budget

The budget for Shapley Heath is buried on page 134 of the budget pack on the link above. It shows a total budget of £279,167.

Shapley Heath Burning Money: Budget 2021-22

Shapley Heath Burning Money: Budget 2021-22

This shows they plan to spend £128K on internal staff costs and a staggering £122K on internal recharges. These recharges include nearly £30K on IT, almost £26K on “Financial Services Recharges” and the best part of £24K on “Corporate Admin Support” charges. A further £18K will be spent on “Building Facilities”.

The Stakeholder Forum papers call for a myriad of studies and reports to be completed by October 2021. For instance, the Homes and Heritage Thematic Group needs to produce reports on Housing Type and Tenure, Urban Design, Heritage and Landscape/Gaps. The Sustainable Transport group has to commission reports on “Modal Shift” and “Transport Nodes”.  However, less than 10% of the budget will be spent on external help to produce all of the reports and studies that will be required. When preparing the Local Plan, most of these types of reports were commissioned externally, as the Council can’t employ all of the specialist skills required. So, they are spending a massive £250K on internal resources to manage an external spend of £25K.

We have no idea how they managed to get consultants to pay them £68K this year, as they have already spent over £27K on PR.

Interestingly, they are assuming that they will receive no further Government support grants for the project. Surely, without Government support the project is dead in the water, because it was struck out of the Local Plan as not required.

Cuts to Vital Services

Despite the largesse on Shapley Heath, they are proposing to cut over £100K from the Homelessness Budget compared to this year and over £600K from the Grants Budget compared to pre-Covid times.

Hart Cuts Budget for Homelessness and Grants for Volunteers

Hart Cuts Budget for Homelessness and Grants for Volunteers

This year, and in previous years, the money has been granted to organisations such as The You Trust and the Blue Lamp Trust that focus on Domestic abuse. In addition, Hart Voluntary Action has been the recipient of significant grants. How can they justify cutting vital services whilst splurging cash on Shapley Heath.

In addition, revenue spending on the much-loved Fleet Pond is being cut. However, there is a significant capital programme planned, funded from S106 payments.

Fleet Pond Budget Reduction

Fleet Pond Budget Reduction

This marks a long term decline in spending from over £169K in 2018/19 to just £21K in 2021/22.

Massive Increase in Leadership Team Costs

Against this backdrop, it’s surprising to see the cost of the Leadership Team rocketing. They are proposing to increase the budget from £578K this year to over £830K next. It might be argued that some of lower costs this year might be down to Covid. However, the budget has still increased by more than £100K over the level in 2019/20.

Hart Leadership Team Increased Spending

Hart Leadership Team Increased Spending

What great leadership. Spending more on yourselves, lots more on a project we don’t need while cutting vital services. We must put an end to this madness at the ballot box.

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Fleet BID call for Shared Vision

Fleet BID call for Shared Vision

Fleet BID call for Shared Vision

After the decision to scrap the controversial closure of Fleet Road, Fleet BID has called for a shared vision for the town. In a statement, they said:

Fleet Business Improvement District calls for all organisations and the wider community to come together to create and deliver a shared vision for regeneration of our town that meets the needs of the local community and enables businesses to thrive…

We had reservations about the scheme, particularly the speed with which it was announced and the lack of detail which would show the opportunity this presents for Fleet. In July and August we spoke to businesses in favour and against the scheme and decided to organise COVID safe activities and events to support the economic recovery of the town by encouraging people to come back into Fleet to enjoy the activities and support businesses. Feedback on these events has been overwhelmingly positive and the events have brought people into the town so that business had the opportunity to benefit from the increase in footfall. We have encouraged businesses to get involved and we know that businesses have benefited from these events.

With the country heading into a second lockdown and an uncertain period ahead, focusing on the economic recovery of the town is now more important than ever. Town centres are no longer shopping destinations and we believe that brave decisions need to be made and something needs to change or Fleet will continue to decline. For Fleet to thrive it needs to adapt and become a place that people want to visit and spend time, which in turn benefits shops and businesses. Towns need a broad mix of businesses including retail, cafes and restaurants, health, beauty, wellbeing, entertainment and leisure as well as events and activities to give people a reason to visit.

We Heart Hart welcomes this news. We have been in favour of regenerating Fleet for many years. We would like to offer our support to Fleet BID as they work with the community to build a new vision for Fleet.

Hart Urban Revitalisation is urgently required

Urban Revitalisation - Blackwater

Hart Urban revitalisation is required in Blackwater

We have already written extensively about why Shapley Heath is a bad idea. However we have to acknowledge that, even with the reduced housing requirement that could be delivered by an early review of the Hart Local Plan, we will need to build some extra housing between now and 2040. We strongly believe that much of this housing can be delivered by revitalising our urban centres in Fleet, Hook, Blackwater and Yateley. We support proportionate development in the other parishes.

There’s plenty of sites to consider:

Hook has already made a start. Its Neighbourhood Plan contains a master plan to revitalise the centre of the village. Overall, this will deliver a market square, better traffic management, much improved commercial premises and 8,916 sq m of residential accommodation, perhaps around 130-150 flats.

Hook Revitalisation Master Plan

Hart Urban Revitalisation in action in Hook

There is promising work starting to look at the civic quarter in Fleet. But CCH’s latest newsletter demonstrates that their heart isn’t in it. They claim Fleet isn’t that bad and offer no support for any sort of regeneration.

Hook Parish Council have done it. It’s time for the the other parish/town councils to follow their lead and shame Hart Council into action. Let’s look at the case for revitalising our town centres.

Rationale for Hart Urban Revitalisation

There are four main reasons to focus on urban revitalisation.

  • Enhance the built environment to enrich all of our lives
  • Address the infrastructure funding gaps
  • Hart in general and Fleet in particular is falling behind neighbouring areas
  • Fleet not valued by visitors and business confidence is low

Sensitive revitalisation, taking advice from companies like Create Streets can transform decaying urban centres into attractive places to live, work and play.

There are acknowledged infrastructure funding gaps in the district. These are concentrated in Hook, Fleet and Yateley and Blackwater.

Urban revitalisation Existing Hart Infrastructure Funding gaps

Existing Hart £78m Infrastructure Funding gap

Building a new town at Shapley Heath/ Winchfield won’t address these funding gaps. But, proper revitalisation will beging to address these issues.

Fleet is falling behind neighbouring towns. Farnham, Wokingham, Basingstoke, Aldershot and Farnborough are attracting hundreds of millions of pounds of investment. Hart Council’s curmudgeonly approach is delivering nothing for Fleet or the wider Hart community.

Urban revitalisation - Fleet falling behind neighbouring towns

Fleet falling behind neighbouring towns

And Hart’s own bid for Future High Streets funding found:

  • 88% say Fleet doesn’t meet their retail and leisure needs
  • 52% would not recommend a visit to the town centre
  • 67% think the poor retail offer reflects badly on the town
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • The confidence of local businesses is extremely low, with 44% reporting declining turnover
Urban revitalisation - Fleet not valued by residents and visitors

Fleet not valued by residents and visitors

If we are to address these issues, we must follow Hook’s lead and develop master plans for our other urban centres.

Benefits of Urban Revitalisation

The benefits of going ahead with these ideas would be large and far reaching:

  • Deliver infrastructure to the areas that need it. Budgets will be limited but we should aim for:
  • Improved Fleet station access and cycle paths connecting Fleet centre to the station and Hartland Park
  • Social facilities such as a multi-purpose venue including theatre/cinema and meeting space and an outdoor public event space
  • Improved Health facilities such as a drop-in health centre for physio, mental health and routine nursing
  • Improved leisure such as restaurants and bars to deliver a thriving night time economy
  • Open green spaces within the town centre
  • Commercial – better retail offer and modern offices
  • Housing that people can afford and social housing for those in need

This can be delivered by focusing on creating attractive places, with no more than 4 or 5 storey development.

 

Latest CCH newsletter released

Pinocchio writes Community Campaign Hart newsletter

Latest CCH newsletter released

CCH have released their latest newsletter. They follow their usual path of being economical with the truth.  There are some quite astonishing claims in there, that need to be answered.

False Pale Lane Claim

They claim:

The Local Plan has already demonstrated its value by being part of the successful defence against inappropriate urban extensions in Hook and most notably at Pale Lane, on farmland adjacent to Elvetham Heath. Even as a draft, it has significant weight when considered at a planning appeal.

But the inspector said that the emerging Local Plan only carried “moderate weight“. CCH don’t mention that the most important piece of evidence was the Hartley Wintney Neighbourhood Plan, whcih carried “significant weight”.

Housing Numbers Warning

They say:

The very calculation the government use to reach our `Objectively Assessed Housing Need’ is expected to be radically modified in the near future. Any material change in this calculation of our housing numbers would render the Local Plan `out of date‘ and require Hart to fundamentally review its Local Plan….

There is some truth in the claim that Hart will run short of housing around 2025/26, as we covered here. But there is no evidence that the new formula for calculating housing need is going to be “radically modified”. Indeed their implication that housing numbers will rise is false.  In fact, if Hart were to conduct an early review of the Local Plan, our annual housing target would be reduced from 423 dpa to 251 dpa. But, in Hart’s answer to our latest question, they have ruled out an early review.

Shapley Heath Justification

CCH then go on to justify the need for Shapley Heath:

That is why the Community Campaign support the approach of carefully evaluating the possibility of a new eco-friendly garden village within walking distance of Winchfield station. Only if needed, this development could be used to deliver the bulk of any additional housing that may be required by central government in the period from 2026 onwards. As such, it must be very carefully planned to deliver all the necessary infrastructure.

Note how Shapley Heath has now become “eco-friendly”, despite the fact it is entirely unnecessary and building it will likely emit 1m tonnes of CO2.

CCH Newsletter: Fact Checking the myth busting

CCH’s newletter includes a section on “myth-busting” Shapley Heath.

First on housing need.

A new settlement is not needed as part of the new Local Plan. This is all about funding (with government grant support) a project to see what is possible. If the future government housing targets do not require such housing to be built – it will not be built. This is an insurance policy against Hart having to take on a higher housing quota in a few years’ time.

If they really wanted an insurance policy they would be conducting a immediate review of the Local Plan to take advantage of the lower housing target from the latest Government methodology.

Then on the size of Shapley Heath.  They claim that they are only considering a development of 5,000 houses. But the bid they submitted to Government was for up to 10,000. The flawed viability assessment was for 5,300 houses.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Summary

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Summary

So, they are wrong again. They then go on to make some false claims about infrastructure.

Bolt-on urban extensions don’t deliver infrastructure. They don’t present the economies of scale to permit major road improvements, nor building a new secondary school, or doctors surgeries.

The flawed viability assessment for Shapley Heath pointedly does not include provision for healthcare.

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Assessment Infrastructure Costs

Their plans simply do not stack up to even cursory scrutiny. They go on to make extraordinary claims about the features of Shapley Heath.

Shapley Heath’ is being investigated using government grant funding designed to promote eco-friendly garden villages. This is about learning from the disasters of the past and building semi-rural communities which are sympathetic to and supportive of, the local and wider ecology and climate. There will be integrated transport, rainwater harvesting, centralised heat and power plants, carbon efficient housing design, an emphasis on renewables and truly sustainable living.

Let’s for a moment ignore the fact that this isn’t needed, so the 1m tonnes of CO2 produced during construction will also be an unnecessary. But even the Planning Inspector criticised the claims for a district heating system.

Option 1b has been ranked the highest under the category climate change. This is as a result of the potential for the proposed new settlement to deliver a district heating system. However, there is little evidence to suggest that this is a feasible or realistic option that is being actively pursued by the site promoters. I consider this raises doubt about the appropriateness of such a ranking.

The viability study only made allowance for standard build costs. No allowance was made for the additional costs of “carbon efficient housing design”. Their claims are simply marketing fluff that aren’t backed up by anything.

Ostrich approach to Fleet Revitalisation

The CCH newsletter then goes on to discuss Fleet. They claim that Fleet “isn’t all that bad”. This is despite the council’s own bid for Future High Street funding saying:

  • The council quotes a prior report that says a “do nothing scenario would not be viable in Fleet”.
  • Fleet faces a number of key challenges.
  • 88% of people say Fleet doesn’t meet their retail and leisure needs.
  • 52% of people would not recommend a visit to the town centre.
  • 67% think the poor retail offer reflects badly on the town centre.
  • The confidence of local businesses is extremely low.
  • Fleet unable to compete with neighbouring towns.
  • Major retailers identify Fleet as an investment risk.
  • Lack of affordable housing is identified as a key issue by 27%

Fleet is falling behind its local competitors. Most of the surrounding towns are attracting hundreds of millions of pounds of investment. Fleet isn’t getting anything.

CCH newsletter ignores Fleet falling behind neighbouring towns

Fleet falling behind neighbouring towns

CCH Newsletter – Regeneration untruths

CCH then go onto claim that revitalising our town centres must mean “high-rise” flats. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed high-rise developments do not deliver good places to live, and we oppose them. They offer no vision on how to address the issues facing Fleet. We will give further details on our ideas in further posts.

 

In the meantime, please do challenge CCH to come clean on their mendacious claims.

 

 

Shapley Heath Controversy Erupts at Hustings

Shapley Heath controversy: where each NE Hampshire candidate stands.

Shapley Heath controversy: where each NE Hampshire candidate stands.

The Shapley Heath controversy erupted at the recent North East Hampshire hustings. The Basingstoke Gazette covered the story here. In summary, Conservative candidate Ranil Jayawardena opposes the Shapley Heath proposal. He believes that our future housing needs can be met by redeveloping brownfield land and revitalising our urban centres. Liberal Democrat candidate, Graham Cockarill supports the proposal. Indeed in his role as Cabinet member for Place on Hart Council he is the sponsor of the programme. Labour’s Barry Jones admitted he knew little about the proposals but would reluctantly support the plan.

Three candidates were not invited to the hustings. The local Green party confirmed on Twitter that their candidate Culann Walsh opposes the scheme. Independent candidate Tony Durrant also opposes the plan. Monster Raving Loony, Screaming Laud Hope has not yet responded to our question. We have summarised the positions of the candidates in the graphic above.

[Update]: Screaming Laud Hope was interviewed by For Fleet’s Sake and came out against Shapley Heath, so the graphic has been updated. [/Update]

Shapley Heath Controversy – Details of the hustings

Apparently, candidate Cockarill challenged the notion of Shapley Heath being up to 10,000 houses. We were told that Mr Jayawardena brandished the vision document clearly showing the 10,000 ambition in the Vision Document.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses.

Shapley Heath Controversy: Vision Document 10,000 houses

We understand from others at the hustings that candidate Cockarill stated brownfield development was desirable. However, he thought landowners in Fleet aren’t interesting in selling. We know from the work carried out by the Rural Hart Association that the owners of the Hart Shopping Centre are interested in redevelopment. Indeed, they supported the Future High Streets bid (see final letter in the appendices) to regenerate Fleet. Moreover, some of the other prime regeneration sites are owned by either Hart District Council or Hampshire County Council. For instance, much of the Civic Quarter, including the Harlington Centre, plus Victoria Road car park and Church Road car park are in public ownership.

Creative thinking in three dimensions could preserve parking space; deliver better leisure and cultural facilities; housing that people can afford and infrastructure spending. It does seem odd that our local councils prefer to concrete over our green fields, rather than provide better facilities for their residents.

Of course, planning is a local rather than a national matter. However, our MP can ‘set the tone’ for the area; lobby Government to cut off further funding to Shapley Heath; call on Government to provide regeneration investment and vote more generally for brownfield first policies. Many people will of course be more concerned about national matters. Please bear Shapley Heath in mind when casting your vote on December 12th.

CCH Rhetoric Machine Goes Into Overdrive

CCH's Shapley Heath Rhetoric Machine Goes Into Overdrive

CCH Rhetoric Machine Goes Into Overdrive

The CCH Rhetoric Machine went into overdrive at Thursday’s Cabinet. After claiming their untrue statements about Shapley Heath were just rhetoric, they went on to make more spurious claims in the Cabinet meeting (report here). We have produced a short video to tackle the main claims:

Since then , they have produced a defence of their position on Facebook. Below is their post, together with the RHA response in red.

CCH rhetoric machine goes into overdrive

This post is in response to accusations made against CCH Councillors on certain fb pages.

Do they mean us? Surely not.

If you would like to see for yourself what was said and how it was said, please see the link below for HDC’s live streaming of last night’s cabinet meeting and, Paper H relating to the Garden Community that was to be discussed.

Please take the video to 37 minutes to begin at the start of the Garden Community debate.

https://fb.me/HDCLiveStreaming (We believe this link will expire in a few days).

https://www.hart.gov.uk/…/19%2011%2007%20Garden%20village%2…

Alternatively, you can read our post, with edited highlights from the meeting here.

CCH have been accused of:

– being rude to members of the public.

Not by us. There are many words we could use to describe CCH’s attitude, but on the night they weren’t particularly rude to anybody.

– being prejudicial towards a new settlement.

Not true. Prejudicial has no meaning in this context. The accusation in the QC opinion is of CCH being of ‘closed mind’ and thus having a predetermined attitude to matters relating to Shapley Heath.

– wanting to build houses Hart doesn’t need.

Well, this is true. Their own Local Plan said that the new town wasn’t required. The inspector agreed and threw out Policy SS3. The Garden Village bid document said the same thing. Yet, they still bid for Government money for an unnecessary Garden Village. Now they have agreed to spend up to £650K to flesh out the plans for it having committed to Government that it would deliver 5,000 homes above local requirements with an indication that there is capacity “…for a development of 10,000 homes…”.

– wanting to build 10,000 new homes.

Up to 10,000 houses is stated both in the bid and the accompanying Vision Document.

We say, we were assertive in demonstrating our reasoning, were reactive to correct misinformation and were defensive, when necessary, of ourselves and, the people we represent.

As you decide for yourself, we would like to draw your attention (see below) to just one member of the public’s statement as it has bearing on one of the accusations made against us (We believe this refers to the RHA statement):-

Rural Hart Association (RHA, made up of 3 predominately Winchfield groups),

Not true. WAG is based in Winchfield. We Heart Hart is based in Hartley Wintney and NE Hants Greens are district-wide. In addition, other Hart-wide groups support RHA. 

state they want to regenerate Fleet Town Centre and, have ‘given developers the Hart Centre’.

True. RHA does want to regenerate Fleet and the other urban centres to keep up with neighbouring towns like Camberley, Aldershot, Farnham and Wokingham. RHA came up with several options for regeneration of Fleet. Hart Shopping Centre was put forward as one of these options to developers by RSH.

They then state that their developers will not carry out any work on this ‘regeneration’ scheme ‘unless HDC takes the Garden Village off the table’.

Not true. The developers won’t invest time and money in urban regeneration when the Council has such an obvious bias towards the new town and clearly no interest in looking at urban regeneration.

Is this prejudicial by residents of Winchfield wanting future development away from them and for it to continue in and around Fleet?

Again ‘prejudicial’ has no legal meaning. Residents aren’t the people who actually make planning decisions, so they can’t be predetermined. Of course, they can oppose proposals they disagree with. The Local Plan itself identifies the decline of Fleet as a key issue, yet the policies to address this are feeble. It is the interests of all Hart residents for the countryside to be preserved and for all of the urban centres of Fleet, Hook, Blackwater and Yateley to thrive. Private money is clearly available to support such schemes as evidenced by the regeneration of Camberley, Farnham, Aldershot and Wokingham.

If you live in Fleet, Church Crookham, Crookham Village, Elvetham Heath and Hook, you will know they’ve seen the majority of urban expansion over the last decade.

Compared to their size, Hartley Wintney and Odiham have also seen big new developments. In addition, Fleet has fallen behind its neighbours in terms of retail, leisure and public amenities. 

Do you ‘really’ want more development tagged on, using existing infrastructure… roads, schools, doctors, station that already cannot cope?

No. A masterplan for all of our urban centres will address these issues and should also deliver infrastructure funding in the places that need it. Remember the infrastructure plans for the new settlement were described by the Inspector as “not of any great substance”. Plus, a new town won’t deliver any new infrastructure for existing settlements. At least urban regeneration would deliver funds for infrastructure in the areas that are already creaking under the strain.

Do you want to live in town where it’s centre is high rise apartment blocks offering no outdoor space for families?

The LSH proposal for the Hart Shopping Centre utilised existing sightlines and in no sense was it “high rise”. Additional regeneration opportunities such as the Civic Campus could also deliver outdoor spaces.

That’s what RHA are proposing for you.

More rhetoric that you shouldn’t take too seriously.

We will look at all options open to us but, CCH want to deliver our future housing needs in a way that is high quality, sustainable and right for the majority of Hart not, just for the few.

But you clearly aren’t looking at anything other than a new settlement. The Paper explicitly rules out looking at alternatives. There is nothing ‘high quality’ about any of the new town proposals delivered so far. For instance, three locations for a secondary school have been proposed. One was next to a mental health unit housing sex offenders, the second was directly on top of a high-pressure gas main and the third was under electricity pylons. And of course, the Inspector threw out the last proposal because he wasn’t convinced it was deliverable.

And, as we have said many times before, reiterated by Councillor “it’s only rhetoric” Radley last night, if we don’t ‘need’ to build more houses then we ‘won’t build any more houses.

The CCH Rhetoric machine is up and running again. The bid to Government committed you to building over and above the local requirement. The new town isn’t needed to meet requirements. So, why are you spending £650K of taxpayers money?

Ranil demands bold Hart Regeneration Plans

Ranil Jayawardena MP demands bold Hart regeneration plans

Ranil demands bold Hart regeneration plans

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

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

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

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

Ranil demands bold Hart regeneration plans