Hart Cabinet plan for houses we don’t need
Hart Cabinet sold us down the river on Thursday night as they voted to plan for 10,000 houses to be built in Hart District in the period up to 2032.
Aside from vote on the paper some other interesting information was disclosed on a number of subjects:
- Hart Cabinet vote on the 10,000 houses?
- Do we need a secondary school?
- Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) update
- Hart Cabinet and Council politics
Hart Cabinet vote on the 10,000 houses?
Well, the short answer is we don’t. Our statement was received without challenge and was described as “informed” by the joint Chief Executive. There really is no answer to the points about double counting, nor the extra 1,200 houses on top of the alleged additional affordable housing requirement. To his credit, Ken Crookes asked some challenging questions. He didn’t really receive satisfactory answers.
The cabinet chose to plan for the extra 2,000 houses on top of those set out in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), even though Ken abstained.
The plan was supported by two cabinet members from Hook. They apparently favour a new settlement that will deliver more houses in Hook Parish. But they vehemently oppose the proposed new development to the west of Hook, that is outside the Thames Valley Heath SPA zone of influence.
There is a risk that Hart will no longer have a five year land supply, now it has agreed an uplift to 10,000 houses. Apparently, officers are working on a new document.
The leader and joint chief executive will now proceed to produce a draft Local Plan. A new consultation will be held on this draft will begin some time in March.
Do we need a new secondary school?
One of the justifications for the new settlement at Murrell Green is that the district needs a new secondary school. You may recall that the council voted on a resolution to include a secondary school in the Local Plan.
However, in his statement to cabinet, the joint chief executive said that although:
Hampshire County Council (HCC) welcome the principle of a new school site, the scale of growth envisaged in the Local Plan is not one that would require the delivery a new school in the planning period.
HCC is responsible for planning school places. But HCC is not responsible for delivering new schools as they will now be delivered as free schools, outside local authority control.
Apparently, Hart has also been offered secondary schools by the developers of Winchfield, West of Hook and Rye Common.
In other words, Hart has acted outside its responsibilities in resolving to deliver a site for a school and the authority responsible for planning school places don’t believe we need a new school. So, we are creating a new settlement to create capacity for houses we don’t need and a school we don’t need either.
Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) update
In conversation we found out more about the Grove Farm application. The developer has now appealed this case on the grounds of non-determination.
To re-cap, the Community Campaign Hart (CCH) chair the planning committee and failed to make a decision on the application at last December’s planning meeting. The council officers has recommended approval.
Hart is going to fight the appeal, probably on the grounds of wishing to maintain the Local Gap between Fleet and Crookham Village.
If Hart does lose its five year land supply, then this will make things difficult at appeal.
Apparently, the risk of losing £1.6m of New Homes Bonus has been mitigated because the indications from Government are that they are no longer going to push through those proposals.
However, there is still a significant risk that Hart will lose this appeal. The expectation is the appeal inquiry will be held in June, with a decision in August.
Hart Cabinet and Council Politics
We have now heard from several sources that one of the reasons Hart Cabinet appears to be so dysfunctional is that the ruling Conservative Party fears a vote of no confidence over the summer. This would entail CCH bidding to oust the Tories, presumably to be replaced by some sort of CCH/Lib Dem coalition. Maybe, the CCH coup is dependent upon the outcome of the Grove Farm appeal.
So, it appears as though we are planning for the extra houses to deliver a new settlement and secondary school we don’t need to appease CCH, who would prefer the new settlement at Winchfield.
It does seem very odd that we are having a new settlement forced upon us by dysfunctional politics.