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.
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’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,” 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.
Back in May we wrote about how housebuilders were not building enough smaller properties to meet local needs. We have now received the latest data for completions in 2015-16. The chart above shows that although there has been some improvement we are still not building enough 1 and 3-bed properties and are significantly over-building 4+bed properties.
The analysis to support these conclusions is shown below.
First, according to the current Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), Hart needs to build 7,534 dwellings in the plan period running from 2011-2032. The SHMA is also very clear on the sizes and types of housing that needs to be built, including the number of affordable homes for the young and specialist housing for the elderly.
Working through the arithmetic, and using Hart’s target of 40% affordable homes, we need to build in total the following number and proportion of properties by number of bedrooms:
We can compare these proportions to the dwellings that have been built since 2010-11:
This shows that we have built around 80% of 1-bed properties that we should have done and around three quarters of the targeted proportion of 3-bed properties. We have built nearly twice as many 4+bed properties compared to the target.
Overall we think this means that Hart needs to get smarter about how it monitors planning permissions so that we get as close as possible to meeting the needs of local people set out in the SHMA, as opposed to simply building houses that will maximise developer profits. However, it does seem clear that more redevelopment of vacant offices on brownfield sites would create more opportunities for more smaller properties to help young people get on the housing ladder.
A concerned resident has written to South West Trains asking a series of questions about the capacity of the mainline railway that travels through Hart District and the alternative strategies for increasing capacity. The answers are a significant cause for concern and call into question not only the viability of the proposed Winchfield new town, but also further large scale development across Hart District.
In summary the mainline up to London already is 20% over-crowded at peak times and is forecast to have a 60% capacity shortfall by 2043. There are no plans to have more trains stopping at Winchfield (and by implication no plans for more trains at Hook or Fleet). There are no plans to extend the station at Winchfield (and by implication Hook too) properly to accommodate 12-car trains. There are no plans to increase car-parking capacity at Winchfield. The mooted solution of double-decker trains is a non-starter because of the infrastructure requirements and increased dwell times. Network Rail would not be responsible for the costs of widening the three tunnels under the railway in Winchfield, nobody has estimated the cost, but it is known to be considerable.
All this leaves the proposal for a new town in Winchfield in tatters, but it also calls into question the viability of so many more houses across Hart as there simply is not the rail capacity to accommodate the increased population.
The answers to the questions were produced under the supervision of a senior executive in South West Trains and in consultation with Network Rail’s Wessex Route Strategy team and are reproduced below:
Q1: Is my assertion that the planning authorities should be considering the capacity of the whole Southampton to Waterloo line rather than the capacity of individual stations is correct?
A1: Network Rail would always look at the capacity of the whole line, particularly in relation to additional services. This is because the impact of increasing capacity through additional services does not just affect an individual station. Additional stops for existing services will have an impact on journey times owing to the time taken to accelerate/ decelerate and dwell time at the platform all adding in time. Those existing services may also be close to capacity and adding extra stops would impact upon the ability for passengers further down the line to get on to the train. Network Rail would encourage a joined up approach between local authorities to ensure that capacity is looked at across the whole line.
Q2: If I am correct, is the line under, at or over capacity? If it is over capacity by how much and when you plan to bring it down to safe levels?
A2: The Wessex Route Study, published in August 2015 (http://www.networkrail.co.uk/long-term-planning-process/wessex-route-study/), states that there is currently 20% overcrowding on Main Line services and that growth to 2043 will see an additional 40% capacity being required. Therefore in the period to 2043 we expect to be required to accommodate 60% extra capacity. The Wessex Route Study sets out the strategy for meeting this growth and mitigating overcrowding. Unfortunately there is no quick fix for what is needed and therefore there are a number of incremental steps that will be taken, including a flyover at Woking, track reconfiguration works between Clapham Junction and London Waterloo, and a major infrastructure such as Crossrail 2. The summary Chapter 6 sets out what is required and Chapter 5 has a bit more of the detail.
Q3: Do you have plans to increase the frequency of trains stopping at Winchfield to soak up additional passengers? It has been suggested that some of the fast trains from Southampton might stop there. If this is not the case are there impediments to so doing?
A3: There are presently no plans to increase the frequency of stopping trains at Winchfield as there is insufficient route capacity and no physical capacity on trains which would take the additional calls. Furthermore to have the faster services calling at Winchfield would be detrimental to journey time from longer distance locations to London such as Salisbury, Winchester and Southampton.
Q4. Are any plans to extend the station at Winchfield? If this did occur would this be the responsibility of SW Trains, Network Rail or the Local Council? Have you any indicative costs for such an activity?
A4: Network Rail currently have no plans to lengthen the platforms at Winchfield. Automatic Selective Door Opening (ASDO) is employed at some stations where the platforms are not long enough to accommodate all carriages of a train; Winchfield is an example. ASDO allows for only some of the doors to open at stations with short platforms negating the need for expensive platform extensions. This is only employed where it is deemed safe to do so. Where platform pedestrian capacity is a problem then ASDO may not be the correct solution because it wouldn’t allow passengers to spread along the platform to spread a crowd waiting for a train.
Q5. Are there any plans to increase the car parking capacity at Winchfield? Again, if this were to occur where would the costs lie and how much would they be?
A5: There are no plans in the present franchise to increase car park capacity at Winchfield.
Q6: Are double-decker trains a serious option to overcome the overcrowding on this line? If they are not please can you tell me if there are any single major obstacles that will preclude their adoption on this line?
A6: Double Decker Trains were investigated as part of the Wessex Route Study. The study looked at Waterloo to Basingstoke as the scope area. This was decided upon as there are relatively few limited clearance structures on this stretch of line and therefore if it wasn’t feasible here, then it wouldn’t work on other parts of the network such as between Basingstoke on Southampton where there are a number of tunnels. In short, the Route Study concluded that the combination of needing to operate bespoke rolling stock (as no rolling stock operated elsewhere in the world would work on our infrastructure), the cost of modifying the infrastructure to accommodate the trains (track lowering, bridge rebuilding, platform adjustments and lineside infrastructure moves and adjustments), the impact on dwell times and the fact that double deck services would only be necessary in the peak mean that the business case was not strong enough to warrant such investment.
Q7: There is an embankment running east of Winchfield Station pierced by three road tunnels. Should road widening be deemed necessary for any or all of these tunnels, what would your reaction be? Who would pay for such works? What would be the indicative costs please?
A7: Network Rail would need to assess the impact of widening the tunnels on the embankment and if it was deemed safe. The Network Rail Asset Protection team would need to be satisfied that Network Rail’s assets were not damaged or compromised in anyway. We do not have foresight of costs for such a scheme and this would not be a cost that Network Rail would expect to be accountable for.
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.
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.
Winchfield Parish Council have published their Neighbourhood Plan and Hart District Council have invited comments. The deadline for comments is 4 September 2016, and can be made by following the instructions here.
For those interested, a full copy of the Neighbourhood plan can be found on the download below.
Berkeley Homes (St Edward) have begun their consultation on the proposed Hartland Village at the brownfield Pyestock site, near Fleet in Hampshire. They held meetings on 14th and 16th July. The papers they discussed at those meetings can be found here.
They propose submitting a planning application in Spring 2017, and assuming permission is granted relatively speedily, construction could begin in late 2017 or early 2018. This shows how important this brownfield development can be in delivering significant contribution to Hart District’s housing needs up to 2032as part of the Local Plan.
We Heart Hart broadly supports this development, provided proper infrastructure is developed along side the housing especially schools, community facilities, cycle paths and roads.
If you would like to make a comment on this application, then Berkeley Homes have set a deadline of 5 August 2016. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or see the main consultation page here.
As we reported here, a number of developers have put forward the idea that Hart District’s Local Plan housing target should be double that in the current housing market assessment. We have been through Barratt Homes‘ document and come to the conclusion that it is a load of tendentious nonsense.
In this post we demolish their main arguments. Let us remember that Barratt Developments are behind the proposals for a new town at Winchfield and have a vested interest in putting forward the highest housing target they can. But as we shall see below, they really are simply thinking of a number and tripling it.
The Starting Point
They start innocuously enough, with the latest 2012-based population projections, leading to a starting point of 250 dwellings per annum, or a target of around 5,000 houses, somewhat less than the current SHMA figure of 7,534. Note that if this 5,000 number was used as our housing target, we would be able to meet our remaining housing target from windfalls and a few brownfield sites, and wouldn’t even need to redevelop Pyestock until after 2032.
However, they go on to say that the starting point should be ‘adjusted’ to allow for higher household formation rates (HFR) and more inward migration.
We would probably agree that some small adjustment needs to be made for HFR. However they argue that the 2008-based Government figures are somehow more accurate than the latest 2012-based figures. But the 2008-based forecasts were proven wrong by the actual census data in 2011, and even the 2011-based figures reverse the most recent trend towards slightly larger households.
But we really take issue with their logic on needing to take account of bigger inward migration to Hart from other districts. They appear to argue that because the 2012-based population projections are lower than the 2008-based projections, they simply must be wrong and need to be adjusted. They are arguing that because we built a lot of housing in the period 2003-2007, and created a great deal of housing supply, so inward migration increased, then we need to do that each and every year from 2011-2031. They also suggest that Government’s population projections don’t include enough allowance for immigration to the country. Let’s deal with their arguments:
First, the Government central projections already assume net immigration to the country of 185,000 per year out to 2039, nearly twice the Government’s target of 10’s of thousands, so we would argue that so migration from abroad is already in the starting point.
Second, by definition, migration from other parts of the UK, must be unmet need from other areas. But every area has to follow the National Planning Policy Framework and meet the needs of their local district, so where is this extra internal migration going to come from? As we have shown before, our analysis of five other housing needs assessments of planning authorities across Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Berkshire reveals an average housing uplift on the baseline population projections of around 42%. It simply cannot be right for every district to be assuming that they need to make an uplift to their housing targets because of inward migration from other districts, or we will end up with far more houses than we need.
Jobs Growth Adjustments
Barratts then go on to quote the average of three jobs forecasts that say that Hart District can and should produce jobs at a rate of 620 per annum, or 1,650 per annum across the whole Housing Market Area (HMA) that includes Rushmoor and Surrey Heath.
This job creation rate for the HMA is higher than in the current SHMA (1,130 jobs per annum), which represents a near doubling of the job creation rate achieved in the period 1998-2012 and significantly higher than the 414 jobs per annum created in the same period for Hart District.
They then conclude that we need to build 730 houses per annum to meet these jobs forecasts, nearly three times the starting point of the population projections. They have literally taken the official Government projections and tripled them for no sound reason.
Of course, they then go on to say that we will need to have an even higher population in Hart, created by even more net migration to do the jobs in the forecasts. But they don’t explain where this population is going to come from. Again, if overseas immigration is already factored into the Government population forecasts, and this even higher rate of population growth in Hart would have to be people from other districts, and those other districts are duty bound to meet the needs of their own people.
Elsewhere in the report, Barratts say that only 45% of Hart’s workforce work in Hart. Surely, if all these jobs were going to materialise in the district, more of the workforce would choose to work closer to where they live and we wouldn’t need more inward migration, and so our housing requirement would fall?
Their approach appears to be against the latest advice from the Planning Advisory Service which states that housing need should be “principally understood as a measure of future demand rather than aspiration”. Employment in the district should be a matter for consultation (see Peter Village QC opinion), and in any case a high level of jobs growth that requires more inward migration is by definition meeting the unmet needs of other districts and an ‘aspiration’ which is contrary to planning advice.
They then go on to claim that if we built 730 dwellings per annum, and affordable housing at the 40% rate in current policy we would deliver almost all of the affordable housing we need. But to support this claim, they say that Hart’s evidence base says we need 320 affordable houses per annum. This is four times the current SHMA (Figure 8.4) that says we need 79 affordable houses per annum, plus a few more intermediate houses.
All in all this report from Barratts is self serving, tendentious nonsense that should be dismissed out of hand.
We have taken a brief look at the submissions made by developers to the Hart Council Refined Housing Options Consultation, found some worrying results. Barratt Homes, Berkeley Homes and Martin Grant homes all call for Hart’s housing target to be increased, and some call for it to be doubled. It is important that everyone in Hart unites to challenge these ridiculous figures. We should also challenge the developers to build the houses that are already permitted and not ‘land-bank’.
According to the current Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), Hart must build 7,534 homes in the planning period up to 2032. This amounts to around 370 per annum. This number was arrived at by using the 2011-based population projections as a starting point. Since then the 2012-based population projections have been published and they show a lower population projection than the older numbers
However, Barratt Homes have come up with their own assessment of Hart’s housing need which is 730 homes per annum.
Berkeley Homes have also come up with their own housing target for Hart in the range of 540-685 dwellings per annum
Finally, Martin Grant Homes also say that Hart’s housing ‘need’ is 730 dwellings per annum, nearly double the currently assessed need.
What is particularly galling about these projections put forward by the developers is that they are not even building at anywhere near the 370 per annum rate required to meet the 7,534 target,
even though there are 1,075 homes that were granted permission in or before 2013, out of the over 3,000 outstanding permissions. It is ridiculous to suggest that these developers are going to double their build rate, because prices would collapse along with their profits. This is just a way for developers to try and gain more planning permissions and then sit on them and produce houses at a rate that suits them.
We hope that all campaigning groups in Hart unite to challenge these ridiculous notions of housing ‘need’ coming from the developers. If we don’t then there is a strong risk we will be forced to build even more houses for Rushmoor and Surrey Heath and end up having to build Pyestock (aka Hartland Village) and all three of the options in the consultation.
Hart Council have published the results of the recent Refined Housing Options consultation. The summary of the results can be found here, and a geographic analysis of the results of questions 4 and 5 can be found here.
There was strong first preference support for a new town at Winchfield, as can be seen in the table below:
However, there was strong second preference support for the dispersal and urban extension options. The geo-analysis of the responses to Approach 3 are shown in the image at the top of the page, where it is clear there was very strong support for a new town in Winchfield from Hook and Fleet. This is analogous to two wolves and a lamb getting together to vote on what to have for lunch, as there are clearly fewer people in Winchfield to vote against the new town proposal. However, there was clearly very strong opposition to the new town coming from Hartley Wintney.
There was a very mixed bag of opinion on how to combine the options.
As we have said before, these results are largely irrelevant now that the Pyestock (aka Hartland Village) brownfield site has come forward with capacity for around 1,500 homes. Hart Council have said that brownfield development will be the preferred strategy over any green field development. Not only that, the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) will be revised soon and we hope the overall numbers will be revised downwards. Although we must be vigilant, because at least three developers are arguing that our housing target should be revised upwards by a very significant amount – more on that soon.
Hart Council are playing down the results, saying:
…the outcome of the Refined Housing Options Consultation should not be seen as determining which strategy the Council should follow to deliver its need to deliver new homes. The Options are still being tested against the evidence base which will include a refreshed SHMA, unmet need in neighbour districts, a sustainability appraisal, transport assessment, water cycle study, Habitats Regulation Assessment, and Adams Hendry site assessment report that will also help inform suitability of sites. It will be this information, when assessed as a whole, that will be used to assess which is the appropriate strategy to follow.