We Heart Hart petition is now twice as big as Hart District Council consultation

The We Heart Hart petition is now really taking off, now exceeding 1,200, adding more than 280 since Friday night. This is more than twice the number of valid responses (550) to the Hart District Council consultation that took place in Autumn 2014 and more than 5 times the number of people (220) of said they favoured a new settlement.

It seems that the people of Hart are waking up to the reality that the Council’s plans will:

  • Turn the northern part of Hart District will turn into a single urban sprawl when there is an alternative of building higher density in urban areas to help rejuvenate our high streets
  • Ignore many brownfield sites untouched all over the district where we could build housing
  • Destroy our environment and the very nature of Hart’s unique appeal – the reason we all love living here.

 

If you would like to join our campaign, please sign and share our petition:

 

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Surely it is now time for Hart Council to think again and listen to the people.

We Love Hart Campaign Logo

Signatories to We Heart Hart Petition go over 1,000

We Heart Hart is delighted to announce that the number of signatories to the petition has now broken through the 1,000 barrier.  Many thanks to all of our supporters.  If you haven’t signed it yet, the please sign and share with your friends.

 

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The signatories have been boosted this weekend with a coordinated leafleting campaign across the district.  Many thanks to al those who have been wearing out their shoe leather across the district.  Anecdotal feedback from our leafleters and those who were handing out leaflets in the street is that the overwhelming majority of people are opposed to a new town and would like Hart Council to focus on brownfield development instead.

Please ask your local council candidates to oppose a new town.

Where does your Hart District Council candidate stand on a new town?

We Love Hart Ballot Box

The Hart Council elections will take place on May 7 2015 and all of the candidates can be found here. We Heart Hart urges you to find out where your candidate stands on the issue of a new settlement in the district and ask them to oppose it. If they come an canvas you, then please raise the issue of the local plan with them.

Key issues are:

  • We are being asked to build too many houses, our housing allocation relies on us created nearly double the number of jobs than was created during the boom times of 1998-2008 and
  • Hart’s planning assumption of only 30 dwellings per hectare (dph) is too low, and even they have admitted they could go to 808-160dph.  If they increased density on brownfield, we would not need a new town
  • Hart already have a funding gap of £78m for infrastructure.  Building a new town is likely to mean this gap will get much worse because building on green fields requires much more infrastructure than brownfield development

We have compiled a list of all of the candidates standing, and where we know it, their position on a new town.  How many will endorse our new approach to the local plan?

 

Hart District Council Candidates May 2015

WardNamePartyPosition on New Settlement
Blackwater & HawleySteve Francis??
Mike GascoigneUKIP?
Vivienne GascoigneConservative?
Bob HarwardLiberal DemocratVoted in favour
Les LawrieLabour & Co-operative?
Crookham EastChris AxamCommunity Campaign HartVoted in favour
Helen ButlerConservative?
Dawn MoorsUKIP?
Ruth Ann WilliamsLabour?
Crookham West & EwshotDominic ArthurLabour?
Tony ClarkeCommunity Campaign HartVoted in favour
David Franklin OwensUKIP?
Christopher James SimmonsConservative?
Fleet CentralMatthew Cyril BennettGreen?
John BennisonCommunity Campaign HartVoted in favour
Alex GrayConservativeAgainst new town, favours brownfield development over building on green fields
Satdeep Kaur GrewalLabour?
Howling Laud HopeMonster Raving Loony?
Fleet EastPeter William DevonshireUKIP?
John Grant GawthorpeLabour?
Stephen George ParkerConservativeVoted in favour
Neil Christopher WaltonLiberal Democrat? But all Lib Dems voted in favour
Fleet WestStephen Robert CantleCommunity Campaign Hart? But, all CCH voted in favour
Paul Stephen Walter EinchcombLiberal Democrat? But all Lib Dems voted in favour
James Edwin HurstLabour?
Sara KinnellConservativeVoted against, but changed ward
Gordon SmithUKIP?
Hartley WintneyAltay AliUKIP?
Anne CramptonConservativeVoted against
Tony OverLiberal DemocratStated against, but all Lib Dems voted in favour
Andrew James RenshawConservativeAgainst
Alan WoolfordLiberal DemocratStated against, but all Lib Dems voted in favour
HookBrian Douglas BurchfieldConservativeVoted in favour
Ruth Stella HamiltonUKIP?
Verd NabbsLabour?
Jeffrey Robert SmithLiberal Democrat? But all Lib Dems voted in favour
OdihamRosalyn Jane GordonLiberal Democrat? But all Lib Dems voted in favour
Stephen Alexander GorysConservativeVoted in favour
Kevin OliverUKIP?
Yateley EastJohn Peter Simon BurtonConservative?
Dave NeighbourLiberal DemocratVoted in favour
Sue PerkinsUKIP?
Joyce StillLabour?
Yateley WestAndrew Shawn DickensConservative?
Claire ElhaggagiLiberal Democrat? But all Lib Dems voted in favour
John William HoweUKIP?
Alistair William SutherlandLabour?

 

If you are a candidate and want to update your position, please get in touch, and we will update the table.

The declared positions of the North East Hampshire parliamentary candidates can be found here.

We Heart Hart and Winchfield Action Group are delivering leaflets all across the district and engaging with people in the street.  The overwhelming number of people we have spoken to are against a new town in Hart when they understand the facts.  This is in line with the findings of the Get Hampshire survey of Hampshire residents.  It is time our councillors and candidates started listening to the people.  Copies of the leaflet can be found here.

If you would like to join our campaign, please sign and share our petition:

 

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Hart District Council not serious about catering for the ageing population

We Heart Hart - Older People

Hart District Council fails to consider the needs of the ageing population

In a piece of further news from the last Hart District Council meeting on 26 March, the Council demonstrated that it has not properly considered how they were going to cater for the needs of the ageing population in the Local Plan, as we posted earlier. The detailed questions and answers can be found here.

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

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In our question we estimated that the council would have to ensure there were around 2,200 further specialist dwellings built for the elderly in the plan period.  Our calculations were dismissed as “speculative” and that the council would rely on more detailed analysis in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).

Hart District Council fail to properly consider the needs of the ageing population

Hart District dismissed We Heart Hart’s calculations.

However, having now gone back to look at the final version of the SHMA in more detail, it is clear that the SHMA requires even more specialist units than we originally thought.

 

Hart District Requirements for the Ageing Population

Hart District Requirements for the Ageing Population

We found that between 2012 and 2030, Hart needs to provide 1,390 specialist units for the elderly and infirm.  Extending this back to 2011, and out to 2032 at the 80 dwellings per annum rate identified in the report would give 1,630 units.  To this must be added the further 940 registered care places in the graphic above.  This gives a total of 2,590 additional units for the ageing population, which is around 300 more than we estimated.

In addition, the SHMA says:

“There is the potential opportunity therefore to reduce under-occupation and free up family sized dwellings for overcrowded households; although to achieve this it would very likely be necessary to provide attractive options in areas where households currently live and where they have social and community ties”

This clearly states that we should build this specialist accommodation where people currently have ties and can be close to amenities, which is in line with the land buying policies of specialist companies like McCarthy & Stone and Churchill. This seems to us to rule out building specialist accommodation for the elderly in a new town at Winchfield.

Building a new town at Winchfield will effectively crowd out most of the other development in the district.  As there are around a further 4,000 units left to grant planning permission to, then building up to 2,400 houses in Winchfield will mean there isn’t sufficient remaining capacity to meet the need of 2,590 units for the ageing population. This runs the risk of the plan being found unsound and could even lead to the inspector adding this on to our overall requirement.

Of course, if the council were to focus on higher density development on brownfield closer to the centre of existing settlements then our duty to the elderly could be met more easily.

 

Brandon Lewis supports the value of the countryside

Our Countryside

Countryside: minister says decisions should recognise intrinsic character and beauty

 

In a letter to Simon Ridley of the Planning Inspectorate, planning minister Brandon Lewis has drawn attention to the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside.  Will Hart Council heed this message when preparing the Local Plan?

A quote from the letter is shown below:

Landscape character and prematurity in planning decisions

I have become aware of several recent appeal cases in which harm to landscape character has been an important consideration in the appeal being dismissed.

These cases are a reminder of one of the twelve core principles at paragraph 17 of the National Planning Policy Framework – that plans and decisions should take into account the different roles and character of different areas, and recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside – to ensure that development is suitable for the local context.

The full letter can be found here.

This is an important development, and so far it looks like Hart District Council is ignoring this advice as it continues to test a new town at Winchfield, whilst ignoring the potential of brownfield development.  Government guidance suggests that it inappropriate to use old documents, but the only one can find for Hart is dated 1997.  We understand Hart District is going to commission a new study, but don’t yet know the terms of reference.

If you would like to add to pressure to Hart to change tack, remove Option 4 and focus on brownfield instead, then please sign and share our petition:

 

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Hampshire residents say protecting our towns and villages is a key election issue

Election demands from Hampshire residents

Election demands from Hampshire residents according to Get Hampshire

A survey of Hampshire residents by Get Hampshire has shown the protection of our green and pleasant land and historic towns and villages is a key election issue.  This issue ranked third behind controlling immigration and  helping our small businesses.

Looking at the questions and answers in more detail, a staggering 77.7% of people thought either that our green and pleasant land was of paramount importance or there were other legitimate sites available for development that councils should look at rather than using green space.

Get Hampshire Housing Crisis Questions and Answers

Get Hampshire Housing Crisis Questions and Answers

This shows an overwhelming majority in favour of protecting our historic towns and villages and protecting our green fields from over-development.

How to tackle the housing crisis from Get Hampshire

How to tackle the housing crisis from Get Hampshire

Only 12.3% of people wanted us to build thousands of houses in new towns and garden cities, whilst 36.4% of people wanted tax breaks to encourage building on brownfield sites.

Surely it is time for Hart District Council to think again about a new town at Winchfield, reject Option 4 and focus instead on creative use of the many brownfield sites in the district.  Time also for Ranil Jayawardena and Gerald Howarth to take a message back to Conservative Central Office (and Parliament if they are elected) about changing the National Planning Policy Framework to reduce the pressure on local councils.

Focusing on brownfield and regeneration of our town centres will make better use of that land and build more critical mass to support the local retailers so would help with meeting two of the top 3 election issues.

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

 

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As an addendum, protection of greenbelt by building on brownfield sites is a key issue for Surrey residents too.

Surrey Election Demands from Get Surrey

Surrey Election Demands from Get Surrey

We can win this campaign – County Durham SHMA rejected because of too many houses

We Love Hart Campaign Logo

We Love Hart Campaign Logo

A recent highly critical interim report from the inspector of County Durham’s local plan demonstrates we can win the We Heart Hart campaign against Hart District Council’s Local Plan.

The Durham report has a number of interesting points:

  • The Objectively Assessed Need (OAHN) has been found too high because it was based on unrealistic jobs growth and inward migration assumptions.  This finding is relevant to Hart District, Hampshire because our Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) relies upon inward migration numbers from the time we were building the most and on jobs growth assumptions that are nearly double those achieved in the boom times of 1998-2008.
  • County Durham carried out a very extensive consultation process, but they were criticised for demonstrating “little evidence of willingness to respond positively to contrary views or to simplify the process to encourage genuine public engagement”.  It seems that despite having a wide ranging consultation process, the Local Plan failed.  Given that Hart is carrying out less consultation than Durham, even less than it originally said it would, and seems impervious to suggestions of focusing more strongly on brownfield sites, then this would seem to be a significant risk to the current Hart District Local Plan.
  • Finally one consultee  said “that a comparison should have been made with alternatives such as a ‘moderate growth’ alternative accommodated on brownfield sites….The Council has dismissed such an alternative which seems to me to have significantly diminished the credibility of the SA”.  Again the significance for Hart is obvious in that Hart has refused to consider seriously an alternative solution of building higher density developments on the many vacant brownfield sites in the district.

If you would like to join our campaign to get Hart to think again, then please sign and share our petition:

 

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Hart District Council in disarray over infrastructure costs and funding

Hart Existing Infrastructure Funding Gap

£78m Funding Gap

In a piece of bad news from last Thursday’s council meeting, Hart District Council admitted that it had no idea how much the infrastructure for the local plan would cost, nor how much it would raise from developers to pay for it, despite sitting on an existing funding gap of £78m. The detailed questions and answers can be found here.  This comes alongside the revelation that Hampshire County Council has a £1.9bn infrastructure funding deficit, and Rushmoor Borough Council, £80m.

If you would like to ask Hart to think again, please sign and share our petition:

 

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We have posted before our estimate of an £150m cost of infrastructure for a new town at Winchfield, which would lead to the existing £78m funding gap being extended to £188m.  We asked questions about this at the council meeting on 26 March and received some staggeringly vague answers.  New analysis from Hart indicates that infrastructure costs could escalate to £300m.

First we asked how much money would be raised from developers.  Answer: we don’t know.  And they also didn’t know how much the funding would vary according to the development strategy adopted.

Hart doesn't know how much cash it will raise from developers

Hart doesn’t know how much cash it will raise from developers

We also asked about how the infrastructure costs would vary according to the development strategy adopted.  Answer: no idea.

Hart District Council does not know how much it will cost to deliver the infrastructure required

Hart doesn’t know how much it will cost to deliver the infrastructure

Finally, we asked if Hart understood the impact on our infrastructure of the massive development due to take place in neighbouring districts.  Answer: We don’t know.

Hart District Council does not know the impact of development in neighbouring districts

Hart doesn’t not know the impact of development in neighbouring districts

We find it quite staggering that Hart as got as far as settling upon a preferred development strategy without understanding what infrastructure will be required, how much it will cost nor how it will be funded, especially as there is already a £78m funding gap.

It is fairly self evident that the infrastructure required for brownfield development will be very much less than that required for a new town.

It has now transpired that Hampshire as a whole has an infrastructure funding deficit of £1.9bn and Rushmoor has an £80m shortfall.

 

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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