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.

Hart Local Plan delayed again

Hart District Local Plan delayed again

Hart’s Local Plan has been delayed again. Councillors who were due to go to a Local Plan Steering Group meeting on 30 August have been told that the meeting has been deferred. The reason given is that they cannot decide the ‘spatial strategy’ until the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) has been agreed.

Apparently, Rushmoor are still holding out for Hart to build 1,600 Rushmoor’s allocation. This could be changed by the new SHMA, but the SHMA remains incomplete because they are changing the methodology is being changed and a new piece of work has been commissioned from the consultants, Wessex Economics. Readers may remember we were first promised the new SHMA in February, then May, and subsequently, Rushmoor have indicated the SHMA would be ready in July 2016. But now we don’t have a date for completion.

This is the latest in a long line of delays:

In October, 2013, when the earlier version of the plan was rejected by the planning inspector, the council said:

“Cllr Parker said that while the council operates under the interim strategy, it is working on an updated Local Plan.

“We expect to put this out for consultation early next year, and would look to submit it to an inspector next autumn[2014],” he added.”

In April 2014, the plan was to have a resubmission plan ready for consultation in October 2015.

In February 2015, the plan was to have a resubmission plan ready for Autumn 2015.

In April 2016, the plan was delayed yet again, with the timetable clearly stating that a draft version of the Local Plan would be published in September 2016. No revised date has yet been given for the draft to be published. The timetable they were working to was:

Full Draft Local Plan – September 2016 (Summer 2016, a couple of months slippage) [now slipped again]

Submission Plan – March 2017 (Autumn 2016, at least 3 months slippage)

Submit to Secretary of State – TBA (Winter 2016, unknown slippage)

Examination – TBA (Spring 2017, unknown slippage)

Adoption – TBA (Summer 2017, unknown slippage)

Of course, there is now a significant risk of the Government stepping in and doing the Local Plan for us.

In the light of the loss of the Moulsham Lane appeal, Hart are working hard on a revised set of policies. These will be discussed by councillors at a special meeting on 27 September, but in the meantime, developers will have a field day. because without a Local Plan and without up to date policies, Hart Council is essentially defenceless.

Don’t hold your breath.

 

Hart Council loses Moulsham Lane, Yateley Appeal Decision

Proposed development at Moulsham Lane Yateley Hart District Hampshire GU46 7RA

It has been announced that Hart Council have lost the developer’s appeal about the proposed development at Moulsham Lane in Yateley.

The significant part of the decision is that the inspector has decided that Hart’s five year land supply is not sufficient grounds to turn down the application.  This is contrary to the decision made by the inspector in last year’s Owens Farm, Hook appeal.

The other worrying aspect of the appeal is that the inspector has ruled that the council’s RUR2 policy which seeks to limit development in the countryside has been ruled to be out of date and partially inconsistent with the NPPF so will not offer significant protection until the new Local Plan is in place. This puts at risk place like Winchfield, Hares Lane in Hartley Wintney, Hook and Pale Lane Farm.

This decision shows the damage that can be done by the council not having a Local Plan in place. They have missed all of their self imposed deadlines as documented here. A new draft Local Plan is due to be published next month, but as we have not yet even seen the new SHMA, which was originally promised for February, then May, this timeline needs to be called into question.

We can only hope that they do get a plan published and that it focuses on the plentiful brownfield sites that will more than meet our requirement for decades to come.

Hart Council fights for survival in Hampshire local government reorganisation

Hart District Council fights for survival in Hampshire local government reorganisation

Hart District Council is fighting for its very survival in the Hampshire Local Government reorganisation. Hart has sent a desperate letter and copy of a leaflet to the Hart District Town and Parish Councils setting out the case for its proposals for a ‘Heart of Hampshire’ Combined Authority. This is in stark contrast to the competing Unitary Authority proposal from Hampshire County Council. Both proposals have been put forward in the Hampshire County Council consultation which closes on 20 September 2016.

Hart’s proposal would lead to the introduction of an additional tier of local Government and a directly elected mayor along with a claimed extra £30m per year to be split amongst the participating authorities including Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Hart District Council, New Forest District Council, Rushmoor Borough Council, Test Valley Borough Council and Winchester City Council. Hampshire County Council and the M3 Enterprise LEP would also be involved. In return the COmbined Authority would gain extra powers although it isn’t clear just what these extra powers would be.

Hampshire County are proposing a Unitary Authority approach which would mean the abolition of district councils like Hart and Hampshire County Council and their replacement by new Unitary Councils who would provide all services. These proposals would lead to savings of up to £40m in senior management and councillor costs, optimising services and reduced property costs.

More detail on the pros and cons can be found here and here.

Hart’s letter to the town and parish councils and a copy of the leaflet to be sent to all households can be found on the downloads below.

Hart leaflet to residents
Hart letter to parishes

Hart have set our their own devolution web page here and Hampshire County Council have set up a local government reorganisation web page here.

 

Hart now has 6.3 years land supply

Hart District Council Logo

Hart Council has published a new land supply calculation that shows we have 6.3 years land supply.  The document can be found here.

This is good news as it shows that Hart can still retain a degree of control over granting planning permission to voracious developers up to the point it finally gets a Local Plan in place.

However, there are a number of interesting points coming out of the new calculation:

  1. In the most recent year 2015-16, 705 new dwellings were completed, nearly double the annual requirement expressed in the current SHMA
  2. Hart are using 382 dwelling per annum, for a total of 8,022 houses over the planning period compared to the 7,534 agreed figure for the SHMA.  They say this is to respond to some criticism made in the Hop Garden Road appeal, but we are concerned about it, especially as the new SHMA should reduce the overall requirement.
  3. A total of 4,473 houses have been built or permitted since 2011.

 

Council Leader misleads the public on brownfield register

Brownfield site: vacant offices at Ancells Farm Business Park, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire.

Fleet News and Mail have picked up on our story about Hart Council botching the new brownfield register. They have obtained a quote from Hart Council leader, Stephen Parker (our emphasis):

“One of the pilot requirements is for sites to be ‘deliverable’. The Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds is currently a real barrier to development in Hart.

“The council is working hard with our partners, including Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, to deliver a big area of SPA mitigation land which, once in place, will allow additional sites to come forward.”

However, the manual for the pilot scheme says that to be regarded as suitable for housing our proposed criteria are that sites must be:

Available. This means that sites should be either deliverable or developable. Sites that are deliverable should be available and offer a suitable location for development now and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years and in particular that development of the site is viable. To be considered developable, sites are likely to come forward later on (e.g. between six and ten years). They should be in a suitable location for housing development and there should be a reasonable prospect the site will be available and that it could be viably developed at the point envisaged.

The terms deliverable and  developable have specific meanings in the NPPF. It appears as though there is a requirement on the council to include sites that meet the less onerous ‘developable’ criteria, which they have failed to do. The manual also says that sites that are entered on the register should be free of constraints that cannot be mitigated. We Heart Hart recognises that the provision of SANG land is a significant constraint, but the council is in the process of purchasing over 30 Ha of land, capable of supporting 1,600 new dwellings. We might add that most of the sites on the pilot register have already been delivered so are not within the spirit of the brownfield register project.

There is also provision for councils to include sites in the register that it doesn’t think are suitable to ensure transparency in the decisions taken by the authority.

We think there’s around 2,500 extra units that can be built on brownfield sites that do not appear in the register. It is time that Hart Council started doing as much as it can to support the brownfield strategy and not as little as it thinks it can get away with.

Hart’s Brownfield Register fails to meet expectations

 

Brownfield site: vacant offices at Ancells Farm Business Park, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire.

Brownfield site: vacant offices at Ancells Farm Business Park, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire.

Hart District Council has at last published its register of brownfield sites in the district. Sadly, the register has failed to live up to expectations. The full register can be downloaded on the link below.

The purpose of the brownfield register is to provide house builders with up-to-date and publicly available information on all brownfield sites available for housing locally. The register is supposed to help housebuilders identify suitable sites quickly, speeding up the construction of new homes. Hart Council was one of the pilot local authorities participating in the national brownfield register scheme as announced back in March 2016.

At first glance, the register identifies 3,542 potential units on brownfield sites, which might be considered good news.  However, closer inspection of the register reveals:

  • All but two of the sites already have planning permission, indeed a number of them have already been built (e.g. Queen Elizabeth Barracks at Church Crookham, Landata House in Hook, and Monachus House in Hartley Wintney).
  • Some of the sites are not even brownfield sites, for example Rifle Range Farm in Hartley Wintney.
  • None of the sites that Hart Council itself identified as brownfield sites in the recent consultation are recorded in the register.
  • None of the other potential sites that have not yet been permitted on Ancells Farm or along Fleet Road have made it on to the register.
  • Very few, if any, of the brownfield sites in the SHLAA that we identified in our brownfield solution, most particularly sites like the former police college at Bramshill have made it into the register.
  • Over 2,000 of the units in the register have already been granted planning permission, with 1,500 units at Hartland Village (aka Pyestock) and 16 at another site yet to be granted permission.

We have contacted the council to find out the reasons why this important opportunity has been botched. We have been told this is a temporary blip due to lack of SANG capacity.  We are far from convinced of this reason as the register itself has a column for constraints.  The purpose of the register should be to identify all of the sites and not miss some out because SANG capacity is not yet available.

We do hope that Hart Council gets to grips with this, because a robust brownfield register will be a significant piece of evidence, as part of the Local Plan, to help fend off the proposals to build at Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase) and Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse). The register of brownfield sites  becomes a statutory obligation next year.

Hart Council Brownfield Register

Hart Council proposes to buy Bramshot Farm for SANG

Proposed SANGs at Bramshot Farm and MoD land near Fleet Hampshire for Sun Park and Pyestock (Hartland Village).

At their meeting on 16 July, Hart Council Cabinet resolved to grant authority to the Chief Executive to:

  • To secure an interest free loan from the LEP to cover the cost of procuring Bramshot Farm to set up and administer a Strategic SANG [currently owned by RSPB]
  • Subject to securing an interest free loan from the LEP to complete the purchase of Bramshot Farm for the purposes of delivering a SANG.
  • To invite the developers of Sun Park to contribute towards the procurement and setting out of Bramshot Farm as SPA mitigation for their potential residential development at Sun Park.
  • To facilitate the procurement of land to the north of Pyestock (Hartland Park) at no cost to the Council to provide SANG mitigation for the potential Pyestock/Hartland Park development opportunity

This means that there will now be more than enough SANG land to support the development of Pyestock and Sun Park, with maybe some left over to support development within Rushmoor Borough boundaries. This is an important step in demonstrating that the forthcoming Local Plan is deliverable.

The council paper can be found here, and a map of the proposed SANG sites is shown here and in the image above.

Hartland Village SANG provided by MoD

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

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

It was announced at Hart Council that some Army training land adjacent to Pyestock is to be released to provide SANG for the proposed 1,500 home Hartland Village development.  This is a big step forward in securing this important new development for the Hart Local Plan.

Stephen Parker was quoted as saying:

Finally, after my meetings in the Spring with the Secretary of State for Defence and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and following correspondence, yesterday I met along with officers the Commander of the Army training organisation in the South East.  The objective was to seek the release of some of the Army training estate to facilitate development at Pyestock and elsewhere.  I am pleased to announce that they have indicated an area adjacent to the Pyestock site, next to other Army training land which in turn adjoins Fleet Pond, which a preliminary estimates will be sufficient for the Pyestock site.  It still needs senior approvals, but as the training organisation has made it clear that they can spare this from their operational requirements, I do not anticipate a problem.

We now have a better understanding of the military utilisation of these areas, and there may be scope for future conversations

This is excellent news.