MoD frees up more brownfield land in Rushmoor

Clayton Barracks, Aldershot in Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire

The Ministry of Defence has announced the closure of 91 sites across the country as part of the ongoing restructuring to free up more brownfield sites in Rushmoor Borough.

Five of these sites are in Aldershot, which of course is in the Borough of Rushmoor.  The sites are:

  • Fitzwygram House (Royal Army Veterinary Corps Centre), Aldershot
  • Thornhill barracks, Aldershot
  • Aldershot distribution outlet
  • Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Aldershot
  • Clayton barracks, Aldershot

We can understand that these closures will be alarming for those working there. However, the positive news is that more brownfield sites are being freed up in Rushmoor, meaning they have more capacity to meet their own housing needs in future planning periods. This should help Hart Council in the production of the Hart Local Plan.

CPRE find that more than 1 million homes can be built on brownfield sites

CPRE find more than 1 million homes can be built on brownfield land

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has conducted a new study and found that more than 1 million new homes can be built on brownfield sites across the country.

The CPRE has used the Government’s own pilot brownfield register scheme to calculate that suitable brownfield sites can provide between 1.1 and 1.4 million new homes.

CPRE studied the findings of 53 councils that have published their data on suitable sites, and found that these areas alone could provide 273,000 homes. Comparing this new data with the last available data from 2010-2012, CPRE noted an 11% increase in the number of homes that could be provided on suitable sites. Planning permissions for such sites has increased by 21%. The number of suitable sites being identified has gone up by 50%.

Applying the same 11% increase to the 2010-2012 figures for the whole country gives a new estimated minimum capacity of 1.1 million homes on suitable brownfield sites.

Hart District Council was a participant in the pilot brownfield register scheme, but missed out many brownfield sites from their register, so if anything the CPRE study will underestimate the brownfield capacity.

Let us hope Hart adopts its own brownfield first strategy to meet the remaining housing need in the forthcoming draft Hart Local Plan.

 

CCH bid to mandate a new settlement defeated at Council

Concrete Community Campaign Hart's bid to mandate a new settlement was defeated

Hart District Council Offices

There was a bad tempered meeting of Hart Council yesterday, where they debated a motion designed to give guidance to the planners as they seek to produce the draft Local Plan. Concrete Community Campaign Hart’s (CCH) attempt to mandate a new settlement in Hart was defeated by 19 votes to 13.

The original motion was passed with an amendment to include provisions for providing essential infrastructure and a new secondary school:

That the Council resolves that through its Local Plan it will seek to meet Hart’s full, objectively assessed need for new homes, subject to the inclusion of an appropriate contingency to allow for any delays or the non-delivery of sites, and that it will also seek to accommodate any demonstrated unmet need for new homes from its Housing Market Area partners and additionally provide for essential infrastructure including a site for a secondary school.

There was a second amendment proposed by Community Campaign Hart to mandate the planners to include a new settlement in the Hart Local Plan.  This proposed amendment was vigorously debated and defeated. This means that the planners will not be forced to include a new settlement in their proposals. However, it does not yet mean that a new settlement is entirely ruled out. This shows that support for a new settlement for Hart is losing support, compared to the vote two years ago where almost all councillors voted for Winchfield to be the only new settlement option to be tested. It was gratifying to see a number of Tories and long-standing Liberal Democrats changing their position from two years ago.

Claimed 1,500 housing reduction untrue

In other news, it was confirmed that Hart’s claimed reduction of 1,500 homes is not quite what it seems.  The 1,500 ‘reduction’ is the removal of the potential threat from Rushmoor, not a reduction on Hart’s allocation of 7,534 houses. It is understood that the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) has reduced Rushmoor’s housing allocation but kept Hart’s at about the same level as before. The council would not confirm precise numbers, but it is understood the contingency referred to above is around 120-150 homes, or 15% of the residual 850-1,000 requirement, after assuming Hartland Village (Pyestock) will go ahead.

There were some interesting questions from members of the public, including from representatives of Hook Action Against Over Development and Fleet and Church Crookham Society.

Hook Action were clearly pushing for a new settlement in their questions, which is a strange position to take. We believe that the proposed Winchfield New Town has failed testing. This would leave Murrell Green as a potential candidate for a new settlement which would see 1,850 new houses in Hook Parish.

 

Hart seeking to plan for more houses than we need

Hart District Council Offices, We Heart Hart. We Love Hart

It has come to light that Hart Council is seeking to plan for more houses than we actually need to build, contrary to the approach taken by neighbouring East Hampshire council.

The agenda for this week’s council meeting has been published and includes the following motion:

That the Council resolves that through its Local Plan it will seek to meet Hart’s full, objectively assessed need for new homes, subject to the inclusion of an appropriate contingency to allow for any delays or the non-delivery of sites, and that it will also seek to accommodate any demonstrated unmet need for new homes from its Housing Market Area partners.

There is no reason to argue with meeting the objectively assessed need. However, it is not clear how big the contingency will be, nor how the use of the contingency will be controlled. Indeed, given that earlier this year there were over 3,000 dwellings that had been granted permission, but not yet built, it is not clear why the council must give further ground to the developers by planning for any contingency at all.

We were curious whether the inclusion of a contingency was normal practice. We took a look at neighbouring East Hampshire who are producing the Local Plan for Hart and recently adopted their own Local Plan. It turns out that East Hampshire doesn’t have a contingency and the total of their allocated sites (9,146) doesn’t even appear to add up to the total housing target (10,370). So, the question remains, why does Hart need to plan for a contingency?

East Hampshire Analysis

East Hampshire have a SHMA that identifies a ‘need’ of between 520 and 610 dwellings per annum, or a total of between 8,840 to 10,370 houses in their plan period. See page viii of the non technical summary:

They also had a Joint Core Strategy (JCS) that has settled on an objective need of 10,060 houses, see section 6.7:

It appears as though the JCS was upgraded slightly upon examination to the highest figure in the SHMA of 10,370

Their actual Local Plan uses this 10,060 number as a minimum, states 10,370 as the target, but only allocates sites up to a total of 9,146. That is to say, less than the minimum target. See section 1.24 and Appendix 2:

Fleet News demands action on Local Plan as Hart comes under siege

Fleet News Hart must get a Local Plan in place now

Today’s Fleet News has run an important series of stories on the sorry state of the Local Plan in Hart District. Most importantly, they have run a comment piece demanding that Hart get the Local Plan in place now to protect us from the voracious developers who are putting Hart under siege by developing proposals for big green field developments we don’t need at places like Winchfield, Murrell Green, Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase), Grove Farm (Nether House Copse) and now the Rye Common new village proposal.

If one or more of these green field developments goes ahead before an application is made to redevelop the Pyestock (Hartland Village) site we may well end up with our green fields been ripped up whilst the derelict brownfield site is left undeveloped.

But without a new Local Plan and without up to date policies, Hart is essentially defenceless against the proposals. Moreover, the further delay to the Local Plan means that there is a real risk the Government will step in to do the Local Plan for us if the plan is not in place by early 2017.

The articles from Fleet News can be found on the links below:

Hart under siege from developers’ plans to build over Hart

Hart must get a Local Plan in place now

Hart District Council slashes number of new homes

 

Keep calm and count to 1,500: housing reduction may not be all that it seems

Keep Calm and Count to 1,500

After yesterday’s apparently good news from Hart Council saying that Hart would have to build 1,500 fewer homes, We Heart Hart sought some clarification on how the 1,500 fewer homes had been calculated. Sadly, the answer we received sheds no light at all on the problem and only adds to the confusion. In fact it does appear as though the claimed 1,500 reduction might be entirely made up. It seems that only one day after claiming a 1,500 reduction on housing numbers it is now “inappropriate to speculate about where we stand with regard to housing numbers”.

We asked:

I have just seen the press release about Hart being asked to build 1,500 fewer homes than previously thought.  However, the release is a bit ambiguous as to what the baseline is.

Going back to the previous SHMA, the housing requirement was 7,534.  Is the 1,500 reduction from this baseline, giving a new requirement of 6,034?

Or is the baseline 7,534 plus the potential 1,600-1,800 additional requirement from Rushmoor’s unmet need? If so, then the 1,500 reduction is in fact a net increase on the 7,534 figure.

Can you explain please?  Also, does this mean that the new SHMA is ready to be published, and can I have a copy?

The response we received is as follows (our emphasis):

In light of the unexpected good news from Rushmoor we are reworking all the figures. It now removes any immediate threat that Hart may have to take up to 3,000 overspill homes from either Rushmoor or Surrey Heath.

2014 SHMA is out of date and in our view analysis of the figures is not helpful. Our Planning Officers are concentrating their time on dealing with the nearly but not quite finished new one. In this regard, the new 2016 SHMA is close to sign off but the consultant is doing a last adjustment to reflect what is currently an informal agreement between the respective local authority officers over the approach to employment uplift. It will then require formal sign off at a Duty to Cooperate meeting between the lead councillors of all three Housing Market Area partners. At that point a decision will be have to be made by the three authorities to either publish it straight away or to await the forthcoming Hart Local Plan consultation and release it as part of the draft Local Plan evidence base so that it is not used out of context with its interpretation.

In the meantime, we just have received notification from the M3LEP that it will support our proposed purchase of Bramshott Farm to create a SANG.  Whilst it has no immediate effect it does allow the Planners to revisit the Brownfield Land Register to see if the purchase of the land allows us to include in our Local Plan sites currently in the Register but otherwise held back for lack of SANG reasons only.

At this stage therefore, it would not be appropriate to speculate about where we now stand with regard to housing numbers but I can assure you that the information will be published at the right time and that you will be able to comment on it though the proper consultation channels.

 

 

Breaking News: Hart needs to build 1,500 fewer houses as timeline slips again

Breaking News: Hart needs to build 1,500 fewer houses for the Local Plan

Hart Council has published a press release that suggests Hart will have to build 1,500 fewer houses than was previously thought. This should bring the overall requirement that was stated in the last SHMA down from 7,534 to 6,034. If this is confirmed it is brilliant news and vindicates the independent expert findings and what the We Heart Hart campaign has been saying for months – indeed our target was around 6,100 dwellings.

[Update: The Hart press release may not be all that it appears to be]

However, in other news, the council has also stated that the draft Local Plan will not now be ready for consultation until the New Year. Until today, it was expected that the draft plan would be approved by a special Cabinet on 19 October and endorsed by a special meeting of the Council the following day. This latest delay is just the latest slippage in a long list of missed deadlines. However, the delay in the publication of the draft Local Plan puts the Council at odds with the Government who have threatened to step in and produce Local Plans for Councils who do not have them in place by ‘early 2017’.

Andrew Renshaw, chairman of Winchfield Parish Council, and Hart Councillor for Hartley Wintney ward is delighted at the reduction in overall housing requirement. But he is angry that the draft Local Plan and associated papers have not been made available as promised today. He has been led to believe that the plans for a new town at Winchfield have failed testing, largely due to the significant risk of groundwater flooding amongst other issues. He believes the dark cloud of planning blight that has been hanging over Winchfield residents for over two years should now be lifted by Hart Council without delay.

The consequences of the reduction in housing need are many, including:

  1. We can now build our remaining housing need (less than 1,000 up to 2032) on brownfield sites – all that is required is for a planning application to be made and granted for at least 1,500 dwellings at Hartland Village (Pyestock), which will more than cover our remaining requirement.
  2. Further efforts should be made to identify further brownfield sites in the brownfield register to build up a backlog of unbuilt sites ready for future decades.
  3. The Council should make clear that it will turn down the existing and forthcoming planning permissions at Netherhouse (Nether House) Copse (Grove Farm), Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase), Rye Common and Murrell Green on the grounds that they are not required to meet our housing need.
  4. The 5-year land supply calculation should be revised without delay, because the reduction in overall housing requirement means we have over-built for the past few years and need to build fewer houses into the future, so the number of years of land supply will increase dramatically.

The full press release can be downloaded below:

Hart needs to build 1,500 fewer houses

Rushmoor says it won’t ask Hart to build extra houses

Time to celebrate we don't need so many houses

Time to celebrate we don’t need so many houses

We Heart Hart asked a number of questions at Hart Council’s 29 September meeting. We will come to those in a moment, but the most significant news came from the Leader’s announcement that he had received a letter from Rushmoor Borough Council stating that they would no longer be asking Hart to build extra houses for them.

This is good news in that it either shows that the overall housing numbers for the combined area has been reduced or Rushmoor have found extra capacity, or a combination of the two.

The significance for Hart is that there was a threat that Rushmoor may ask us to build an extra 1,800 houses, on top of our already large allocation of 7,534 houses.  We now know that our remaining requirement will not exceed the current number of around 2,350, and this number may in fact go down if the overall housing target in the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) reduces as we believe it should.

The other significant news from the meeting was that the council believes it will have a SANG capacity of 1,500 homes, over and above the SANG required to deliver Hartland Village (Pyestock). This means that there is now sufficient SANG capacity to bring forward more brownfield sites (of which there are plenty), so we shouldn’t need to grant permission to build on any more of our green fields before 2032 at least.

We also learned that Hart Council has no plans to introduce policy measures to restrict the redevelopment of brownfield sites in the district.

However, we share the council’s concern that if the brownfield sites are delivered as office conversions (as opposed to redevelopments), then there may be a shortage of infrastructure funding.

We await the publication of the revised SHMA, the new policies and the draft Local Plan with interest.

Hart outlines new timetable for the Local Plan

Hart District Local Plan delayed again

Hart Council has outlined a new timetable for delivery of the Local Plan after the most recent delays. The new timetable looks quite ambitious:

27 September2016 – There is to be a workshop to go through the draft overarching policies, but not the spatial distribution strategy itself.  The papers for the workshop are due to be published shortly.

17 October 2016 there will be a special meeting of the Local Plan Steering Group,  open to all councillors, to discuss the Spatial Distribution strategy and the final version of the draft Local Plan. It is not yet clear when the documents related to this meeting will be published. [Update: We now expect the spatial strategy to be released on 11 October].

19 October 2016 – Special Cabinet to decide to go to consultation on the draft Local Plan.

20 October 2016 – Special Council to endorse Cabinet decision to go to consultation.

The dates for the Special Cabinet and Council meetings have been added to the official meeting schedule on Hart’s website.

It is not yet clear when the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment will be published, nor is it clear what the process will be if there are disagreements about the draft plan at the LPSG on 17 October.

Frustration at Local Plan delay

frustration-at-local-plan-delay-fleet-nm-7-sept-2016

Fleet News and Mail have covered our story about the further delays in the Hart Local Plan. The full article can be found here.

It is good to see the leader of the council committing to producing a robust plan based on robust evidence.  We look forward to seeing the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) when it is produced.