Council concedes that we could build at higher density on brownfield land

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

In a piece of good news on Thursday night, Hart District Council conceded that it would be possible to build at higher density than they previously planned on brownfield sites in the district.  The detailed questions and answers can be found here.

Hart District Council uses a rule of thumb of 30 dwellings per hectare (dph) for most sites in its database.  We Heart Hart put to them that it might be possible to plan for up to 250dph in urban areas and still create vibrant communities.  Hart rejected such high densities, but did concede that densities of 80-160dph might be possible.

Hart District Council answer to brownfield question March 2015

Hart District Council answer to brownfield question

This is a very significant move.  Currently Hart District Council have said the capacity of brownfield is around 700 dwellings, based on 30dph.  However, if the capacity was scaled up to an average of say 120dph, the capacity increases to 2,800 dwellings.  Moreover, there are a number of brownfield sites such as at Ancell’s Farm in Fleet and Bartley Wood in Hook that are not in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), and so there is even more capacity available.

This could take us within spitting distance of meeting the remaining 4,000 houses that have yet to be granted planning permission for the Local Plan, without concreting over our green fields.  This would mean we would not need a new town in Winchfield nor do we need more strategic urban extensions in Fleet, Church Crookham or Hook.  A further advantage would be that the centre of Fleet could be rejuvenated and could sustain more shops and amenities.

This is clearly good news, but it remains to be seen whether Hart District Council will take this opportunity seriously as there answer to the supplementary questions were not particularly encouraging.

Hart District Council gets its facts wrong on the Local Plan

Hart District Council Local Plan Update Spring-Summer 2015

Hart District Council Local Plan Update Spring-Summer 2015

Hart District Council has published an article in the latest copy of Hart News that gets its facts wrong on how many houses we have to build under the emerging Local Plan.

As can be seen from the above image, Hart Council is saying we only need to build 4,000 houses up to 2032.  However, this is in direct contradiction to the strategic housing market assessment and the evidence presented to Cabinet back in November 2014 that clearly states we need to build 7,534 houses in the period up to 2032.

Hart District Council Housing Requirement from Cabinet Meeting November 2014 or Local Plan; SHMA

Hart District Housing Requirement from Cabinet Meeting Nov 2014

Even 7,534 houses is probably an understatement, because Rushmoor Borough Council and Surrey Heath Borough Council have told Hart that they cannot build all of their allocation on their own patches and want Hart to build a further 3,100 houses for them.  This would give a total of 10,634 houses to be built in Hart up to 2032.

Hart District acts as sink for 3,100 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Housing Shortfall

Hart’s strategy of building a new settlement (option 4) in Winchfield creates additional capacity that makes it much more likely that we will have to take these additional houses.

The article in Hart News also further illustrates that Hart is not serious about its brownfield strategy as they are continuing to ignore the large number of vacant office blocks and sites such as Sun Park and Hartland Park and are still assuming only 30 dwellings per hectare. Furthermore, they make no mention of the need to build specialist housing for our ageing population which a new town won’t deliver.

Finally, Hart Council were supposed to be consulting on the draft plan now, with a view to modifying it during the Summer before publication of the actual plan for a further round of consultation in the Autumn.  But now they have skipped one of the consultations.

We can only speculate as to the motives behind this mistake and the skipping of one round of consultation. However, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Hart District Council are hiding the truth, and trying to push through a disastrous strategy without proper consultation.

If you would like to oppose Hart’s approach to the Local Plan, please sign and share our petition:


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Is Hart District Council Pushing Through the Local Plan without proper consultation?

Hart District Council has made changes to the way it is preparing the Local Plan and dropped one of the consultations it said it was going to carry out.  This leads to the suspicion that it is trying to force through a new settlement (Option 4), without adequately consulting the public or gaining proper support for its proposals.

If you would like to add your voice to those opposing the Council’s approach, please sign and share our petition:


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Back in April 2014, Hart published its Local Development Scheme (LDS), that set out the timetable for producing the local plan.  This clearly shows that there would be two “Regulation 18” consultations with the general public.  The first was to be the consultation on the housing development options paper and the second was to be a consultation on a draft plan, due to take place in March 2015.

Hart District Council Local Development Scheme 3rd Rev April 2014

Hart Council Local Development Scheme 3rd Rev April 2014

However, in a revised Local Development Scheme (LDS), published in February 2015, this second Regulation 18 consultation has been dropped.  The next time the public is going to be consulted is in Autumn 2015 when the Local Plan is complete and there is only six weeks before it is submitted for inspection.

Local Development Scheme Feb 2015

Hart Council Local Development Scheme 4th Rev Feb 2015

This means that Hart District Council is proposing to move from a very general consultation on where to put 7,500 houses to a complete document ready for submission without any further consultation with the public.  They barely raised the risk of Hart becoming a sink for 3,100 extra houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.

As we have already documented, Hart has admitted it has no vision for the district, so it certainly has not consulted us on what we would like Hart to look like in 20 years time.  Moreover, Hart is continuing to test a new settlement at Winchfield without consulting the public on whether they want the northern part of Hart to descend into a single urban sprawl.  In addition, more people have signed our petition opposing its approach than responded to its own, inadequate consultation.

It is difficult to come to a conclusion other than Hart District Council is trying to force through a new town without proper consultation.

We would like to humbly suggest that Hart District Council thinks again and alters its approach to better engage the public in these very important decisions.


Questions for Hart District Council from We Heart Hart

There’s another Hart District Council meeting next week on 26 March at 7pm.  We Heart Hart has tabled some questions about the planned housing density, planning for an ageing population and infrastructure costs.

Deadline for submission of your own questions is tomorrow at noon.

Please feel free to use the download below as inspiration for your own questions.

Questions for Hart District Council Meeting Mar 26 2015

Answers to our previous questions have now been published on here and here on Hart District Council’s website.

Answers to the questions we put have now been published in draft minutes on the Hart Council website.

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:


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NE Hants Greens find more potential brownfield sites in Hart

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hampshire


The Greens from North East Hampshire have been busy today taking pictures of a number of sites across the district. Like We Heart Hart, they think it is madness to be focusing the Hart Local Plan on building a new town on our beautiful green fields in Winchfield when there is so much under-utilised brownfield land.

However, some of the sites identified are quite probably not suitable as for example, Tweseldown and Hawley Lake are in or near the Thames Valley Basin SPA and the site near Basingstoke Canal is an SSSI.

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


Go to Petition


Nevertheless it is important we stretch every sinew to find brownfield sites and make the most of them.  Hart assume a meagre 30 dwelling per hectare on brownfield land, when studies have shown that it is possible to create thriving communities with densities nearly 10x that level.

Thank you to Andrew Johnston from the North East Hampshire Green Party for the images.  He has posted them on his Twitter feed.

What is your manifesto for North East Hampshire?

We Love Hart Ballot Box

The website of the Fleet News and Mail is running an on-line questionnaire to find out what is important to the people of North East Hampshire (and Hart District) at the forthcoming general and local elections.  The questionnaire is open until tomorrow, Sunday 15 March 2015.

There are a number of questions in there about planning (including the Local Plan)  and housing.

Please make your voice heard and ask our politicians to think again an focus on building fewer houses and building them on brownfield sites by signing our petition:


Go to Petition


We Heart Hart will be increasing its coverage as we run up to the election.

Hart set to fail on duty to cater for ageing population

We Heart Hart - Older People

Hart District Council’s preferred housing strategy is running the risk of failing to meet the needs of the ageing population and so might be found unsound at inspection.

If you would like to ask the council to think again, please sign our petition.

At the Hart District Council cabinet meeting on Thursday 5 March, an interesting question was raise by councillor Adrian Collett.  He asked if the council had enough powers to ensure that the Local Plan met the needs of the local people.

I did make a comment that not only does it have the power to do so, it also has a duty to meet the needs of many groups in society.  Para 50 of the NPPF 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)”

Over the course of the plan period up to 2032, there will be an extra 10,000 people over 60, including more than 6,850 over 75, expected to be living in the district and an extra 3,620 people who will be suffering from dementia or have some sort of mobility problem.

Let’s work through some numbers.

First, how many more specialist dwellings might we need to house the extra older people we will have in the district?  Well, let’s say on average there’s 1.5 older people per dwelling because so many live on their own.  That would be 6,850/1.5 = 4,566 units.  Not all of them will want to leave their existing homes and some may go and live with family.  So, let’s say we need half that number of new dwellings.  That’s in round numbers 2,280 units.  This assumes that all of the extra people with a mobility problem are also aged over 75.

Now let’s look at supply.  Of the 7,500 houses we need to build up to 2032, around 3,500 have already been given planning permission, which leaves a balance of around 4,000.  Of the 3,500 some are specialist units for the elderly – I know of a Churchill and McCarthy and Stone development in Fleet which will total around 100 units.  This leaves around 2,180 units to find for the elderly.

If we were to build a new town and deliver around 2,000 units (this is much lower than the Barratts vision document) in the plan period, then this would leave around 2,000 units still left to grant planning permission for elsewhere.

As can be seen, if we build the new town, we will not meet the needs of the ageing population unless all of the remaining units are specialist units for the elderly and there is no sign of the council taking this seriously.

This runs the risk of the Hart Local Plan being found unsound. Surely it is time for Hart District Council to think again.

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.


We Heart Hart Press Coverage

We are delighted to see that the We Heart Hart (We Love Hart) campaign has been covered in the Basingstoke Gazette, “It’s time for Hart to think again”, p20 and online at “We Heart Hart petition get 600 signatures“.

We Heart Hart in Basingstoke Gazette

Also covered in the Fleet News and Mail, “Number against building more homes in Hart swells”, p3, and online at “Petition attracts hundreds of signatures opposing more homes in Hart

We Love Hart in Fleet News and Mail

This shows support is growing across Hart District for a change of tack on the Local Plan