Hart Council launches important brownfield study

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

We are delighted to announce that Hart Council will today launch a study to give a strategic overview of the brownfield capacity in the District that can be used to meet our housing needs.  We Heart Hart has worked with Daryl Phillips to help set the terms of reference for the study, and the project will draw on some of the work carried out by Stonegate Homes, We Heart Hart and supporters like Gareth Price.

This news comes hot on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that M&G have entered into a joint venture with Berkeley Homes to redevelop Pyestock (aka Hartland Park).  Taken together with this new study, it should mean that we have sufficient capacity to meet our housing needs on brownfield sites alone for decades to come.

The purpose of the work is to ensure that the supply of deliverable brownfield land is boosted significantly by seeking a commercial market view as to what can be realistically expected to be delivered  over the Local Plan period.  This information can be used to demonstrate to the Planning Inspector that the resultant capacity is deliverable.

The work will also look to demonstrate through case study examples that higher density levels of development can be delivered in a pleasing environment compatible with surrounding development.  Hopefully, these concept schemes can be used to assuage the fears of some of the urban councillors about higher density development.

Hart has chosen to work on this project with three partners.  Eastleigh Borough Council’s urban regeneration unit will lead the work, supported by Hollis Hockley and Hurst Warne who will give commercial advice.

We warmly welcome this initiative and will work collaboratively with Hart Council and provide any assistance that we can. It shows that Hart is slowly accepting that there is much more brownfield capacity in the district than they previously thought and this project should help to unlock the barriers to delivery.  This should mean we can meet all of our remaining housing need from brownfield sites alone, so won’t need a new town, nor will we need any urban extensions.  Hopefully, all of the campaign groups across the district can get behind this project.

The detailed terms of reference of the study are:


The primary objective is to assess the extent to which Hart is able to meet its growth requirements through the use of Previously Developed Land (PDL).

Understanding the suitability and availability of PDL to accommodate growth will in turn help determine the requirement for the release of green field land. The identification of sites for development must also be founded on a robust and credible assessment of the suitability and availability of land for particular uses or a mix of uses and the probability that it will be developed. As a result of exploring this primary objective, the following objectives will also be addressed:

  • To identify the potential obstacles to delivery of PDL and outline strategies for overcoming these obstacles and levers that planning authorities can pull to encourage sites to come forwards
  • To produce high-level illustrative concept schemes for three of the identified sites covering town centre locations and vacant office blocks to demonstrate as examples that high density developments can be attractive places to live and add to the vitality of the district


  • Assess locations across the district with particular focus on the urban centres of Fleet, Hook, Yateley and Blackwater and the employment zones including Ancells Farm, Bartley Wood and Waterside.
  • Prepare high-level illustrative concept schemes for three sites including Ancells Farm, Fleet Road (between tackle shop and new McCarthy and Stone development) and the civic area including Flagship House, Admiral House, Hart’s Offices, Victoria Road Car Park and the Harlington Centre and Library. [We understand that since these terms of reference were written, the civic area has been changed to look instead at how Church Road car-park and the surrounding area could be redeveloped into mixed use, including an underground car-park].


  • Identify shortlist of partners and select appropriate architect/urban planner partner(s) to work with
  • Share existing material with partner(s), (New sites put forward as part of consultation (such as Gareth Price work), background reports from various sources including Stonegate report, existing SHLAA and sustainability assessments)
  • Desk-based study of broad locations to work up areas and capacities
  • Targeted contact with land-owners and commercial agents to identify obstacles to delivery
  • Create high-level illustrative concept schemes for three locations focusing on how high density development can be delivered in a pleasing environment whilst also meeting functional needs


  • Schedule of sites to include site name, location, size, capacity and type of housing and likely delivery timelines from which total PDL capacity can be derived
  • Three sample high-level schemes
  • Report of obstacles and strategies for overcoming the obstacles


  • 8-12 weeks after partner selection


Creative use of brownfield sites could yield up to 6,500 homes

Leeuwenveld, Amsterdam Netherlands - LEVS architects

Leeuwenveld, Amsterdam Netherlands – LEVS architects

Local architecture graduate, Gareth Price, has published an updated version of his work showing what could be done with brownfield sites in the district. His work shows that there could be capacity for 6,500 homes on brownfield land across the district.  These would include, for some sites, basement car-parks, ground floor commercial and upper floor residential, following a successful trend from the Continent.  This is in-line with what we have been suggesting for months and could create capacity for sufficient housing for decades to come.

The style of development he as put forward would mean that S106/CIL contributions would be required from developers.  It is likely that some of these homes could be affordable units that would generate a larger “new homes bonus” for the district from the Government.  Of course, this money could be used to improve infrastructure in existing settlements where we are facing a £78m funding deficit.  Schemes such as this are much more likely to meet our actual housing need of 60-70% 1 or 2-bed homes and over 2,000 specialist units for the elderly rather than building £750K detached houses in the country for Londoners who want to move here.  We understand the densities proposed are similar to some schemes already granted permission by Hart Council.

Whilst we welcome this work to demonstrate what could be done with a little creativity and ingenuity, we do not necessarily support the density put forward on each site by Gareth.  For instance, we do not believe that such high densities would be appropriate for the former Police College at Bramshill, even though we support the principle of some redevelopment of that site to prevent the Grade I listed building going to rack and ruin.

One has to ask why Hart Council has not taken up our 5-point plan that included inviting teams of architects to paint a vision of the art of the possible with our brownfield sites, as Gareth has shown it can be done. This certainly supports the case for a brownfield solution to our housing needs.

His full report can be downloaded from the link below:

A sustainable approach to brownfield development in Hart District

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

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes



Rushmoor can meet all of its housing needs (and more) from Wellesley alone

Wellesley - Aldershot Urban Extension - Planning Densities

Wellesley – Aldershot Urban Extension – Planning Densities

The centrepiece of Rushmoor’s development strategy in the draft Local Plan is the Wellesley development (formerly known as the Aldershot Urban Extension).

This is a 143 hectare development where they are planning to build 3,850 new houses.  This amounts to a pitiful density of only 26.9 dwellings per hectare (dph) across the whole area, even lower than Hart’s planning assumption of 30dph.  Across the plots digitised by Gareth Price, the density rises to 35.5dph whcih is still very low for an urban area.

If Rushmoor were to alter the plans for Wellesley to an easily achievable 68.7dph, they could meet the entire assessed housing need  of 9,822 up to 2032 without even touching the other sites in their SHLAA leaving additional capacity for future years or for neighbouring districts.

Modern planning techniques as outlined by Gareth Price, suggests that thriving, sustainable communities can be created in urban areas with planning densities in the range of 150-250dph.  Moving to around 152dph would give them capacity at Wellesley for over 21,500 units, giving sufficient capacity for Rushmoor for decades to come.

This analysis will form part of our response to Rushmoor’s draft Local Plan.


Hart District and Rushmoor can meet their housing needs from brownfield sites for 50 years or more

Hartland Park (Pyestock) near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire, warehouse development not started

Brownfield site: Hartland Park (Pyestock) near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

A new paper by young architecture graduate, Gareth Price shows that Hart District and Rushmoor Borough could build 49,000 homes on brownfield sites by shedding the old models of the past and adopting a more modern approach of building higher density developments in existing urban areas.  This would avoid urban sprawl and protect our green fields to act as amenity space for the enjoyment of all.

Gareth’s document goes through many of the brownfield sites in both Hart and Rushmoor and applies modern techniques to demonstrate how more can be made of existing land to build more affordable homes on brownfield sites in urban areas to meet the needs of younger people who are struggling to get on the housing ladder and the elderly who will more, smaller more manageable homes closer existing amenities and infrastructure.

The paper illustrates also illustrates where these techniques have been applied in London and on the continent to create vibrant, cohesive communities.

This paper is exactly the sort of thing that We Heart Hart had in mind when we put forward our 5-point plan for improving Hart’s approach to the Local Plan where we called for a competition to be held amongst architects to illustrate the art of the possible on our brownfield sites and provide a vision to guide the regeneration of our urban town centres as an alternative to endless urban sprawl across our green fields.

No doubt there will be some who will disagree with the level of development intensity Gareth proposes for some areas in Hart, where he concludes we could build 25,000 homes on them.  However, it is clear that the capacity of the brownfield sites he has studied is very much greater than the 700 dwellings Hart has said we could deliver over the period up to 2032.  Indeed, according to our brownfield monitor the capacity is already up to 2,360 units in just 6 months.  We must challenge Rushmoor to make more of their brownfield sites.

The paper can be downloaded below:


A sustainable approach to building on brownfield sites in Hart District and Rushmoor



Impact of Housing Density on Hart Local Plan

Impact of Housing Density on Hart District Local Plan

Impact of Housing Density on Land Required for Hart Local Plan

This diagram shows the impact of the area of land required to meet the housing need of 7,534 houses in the Hart Local Plan.  Hart District Council use a rule of thumb of approximately 30 dwellings per hectare (dph) for new housing density.  However, the study by Gareth Price showed that in urban areas it is quite possible to create vibrant communities with housing densities of 250 dph.

Using Hart’s metric of 30dph would mean we would have to find around 251 hectares (621 acres) of land to meet the housing need.  Whereas if we were to build at a higher density of 250 dph on brownfield sites we would only need to find around 30 hectares of land (around 75 acres).  These approximate areas are shown in the red squares on the map above.

Interestingly, Hartland Park (aka Pyestock), near Fleet is a brownfield site of 119 acres which is larger than we need to meet our total housing requirement.

We have already posted lots of other brownfield sites such as Sun Park near the M3, Ancell’s Farm and the derelict buildings at the end of Fleet Road in Fleet and Bartley Wood in Hook, Hampshire.

This shows that with vision, creativity, energy and political will, we can meet our housing needs for decades to come by properly utilising brownfield land and have no need to concrete over our beautiful green fields by building a new town.

If you would like to join the campaign to ask Hart District Council to think again, please sign our petition:


Go to Petition



Rushmoor could take all of Hart’s allocation and more

Example High Density Brownfield Development - Arundel Square, London

Example High Density Brownfield Development – Arundel Square, London


If we used our brownfield land better we could meet our existing housing needs and more without concreting over our green fields.  A study by trainee architect, Gareth Price shows that Rushmoor Borough Council is not making the most of its brownfield sites, and if it showed more vision, it could meet its own housing needs and those of Hart District using brownfield sites only.

If you would like to add to the pressure to Hart to change tack and take brownfield more seriously, then please sign our petition.

Typically, suburban developers and councils use a metric of around 30 dwelling per hectare (dph) as a rule of thumb for how many houses can be fit on to  any particular space. However, a study of London has shown that in central areas, densities of between 160-405 dph can be achieved and deliver viable, vibrant social communities with amenity space incorporated into the design.

This study has been used by Gareth Price, a final year architecture student, to propose an alternative set of schemes for Rushmoor (see download below).  His work shows that it is entirely possible for Rushmoor to not only build their own housing need, but could also take all of Hart’s requirement and more.

Of course, these concepts could equally be applied to Hart.  Bravehart has already found loads of brownfield sites that don’t even appear on the land database of Hart council. These include derelict buildings in the heart of Fleet and Hook.

Derelict Offices in Fleet

Derelict Offices in Fleet

Not only that, we know that Fleet town centre is dying with many vacant shops in the shopping centre and on the High Street. Surely the best way to rejuvenate our town centres is to build vibrant communities at their heart, rather than concreting over the countryside on their outskirts.  Using the same metrics, it is probable, that all of Hart’s housing need could be met by using brownfield sites.

Empty Shop in Hart Shopping Centre, Fleet

Empty Shop in Hart Shopping Centre, Fleet

Another advantage of the types of schemes that Gareth proposes is that on average, the dwellings are likely to be smaller and so more affordable for our young people.  We could also build mixed use developments with some schemes dedicated to specialist homes for older people.

Surely it is time we ask our councillors in Rushmoor Borough Council, Surrey Heath Borough Council and Hart District to break from the past, think out of the box, get more creative and take brownfield much more seriously instead of proposing endless urban sprawl across our countryside.

A Sustainable Approach to Housing on Brownfield