Hart District not building enough smaller properties to meet the needs of local people

Hart District building too many large houses to meet the needs of local people

We have now received the data from Hart District Council to show how many properties have been built or permitted since 2011 by the number of bedrooms. This shows that we have built only about half of the number of 1-bed properties we need and we haven’t built enough 3-bed properties. We have built nearly twice as many 4+bed properties than we need.

Hart District Housing completions by number of bedrooms compared to target

Hart District Housing completions by number of bedrooms compared to target

Outstanding permissions show that we will continue to over-build 4+bed properties and under-build 3-bed properties, although we will build about the right proportion of 1 and 2-bed properties.

This shows that of the remaining homes we need to build to meet our overall target of 7,534 homes, we need to increase the proportion of smaller 1, 2 and 3-bed properties to meet the needs of local people.

Overall we think that Hart Council needs to get smarter about how it monitors planning permissions so the Hart Local Plan gets 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. It is also clear that we need to keep up the focus on brownfield development as that is much more likely to deliver more of smaller properties we need to help the younger generation on to the housing ladder.

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.

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor SHMA Figure 9.8

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor SHMA Figure 9.8

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:

Target Housing Need by number of bedrooms
Number of beds 1-bed 2-bed 3-bed 4+bed Total
% need  as affordable 40.8% 33.2% 23.5% 2.5% 100.0%
% need as market 6.7% 28.0% 44.4% 20.8% 100.0%
Affordable Need             1,230               1,001                708                    75               3,014
Market Need         304         1,267             2,008                 941              4,520
Total Need                  1,533                  2,268                  2,717                  1,016                  7,534
% Total Need 20.4% 30.1% 36.1% 13.5% 100.0%

We can compare these proportions to the dwellings that have been built since 2011:

Gross Completions by year and number of bedrooms
Year 1-bed 2-bed 3-bed 4+bed Grand Total
2010-11 35 43 14 25 117
2011-12 58 159 79 39 335
2012-13 5 42 92 96 235
2013-14 4 91 94 84 273
2014-15 22 94 121 103 340
Grand Total 124                     429                     400                     347                  1,300
% of Total 9.5% 33.0% 30.8% 26.7% 100.0%
Target % 20.4% 30.1% 36.1% 13.5%

This shows that we have built less than half of the proportion of 1-bed properties and have built nearly twice as many 4+bed properties compared to the target.

If we now look at the outstanding planning permissions, we can see there are over 3,000 dwellings permitted but not yet built as at 20 April 2016:

Gross Outstanding permissions by year of decision and number of bedrooms
Year 1-bed 2-bed 3-bed 4+bed Grand Total
2003-4 4 1 5
2004-5 1 1
2006-7 1 1
2008-9 1 1
2009-10 1 1 2
2010-11 1 3 5 5 14
2011-12 4 13 22 23 62
2012-13 68 115 234 176 593
2013-14 132 207 78 58 475
2014-15 140 302 274 242 958
2015-16 273 309 221 166 969
2016-17 -1 2 4 5
Grand Total 623 949 838 676 3,086
% of Total 20.2% 30.8% 27.2% 21.9% 100.0%
Target % 20.4% 30.1% 36.1% 13.5%  

This shows the outstanding permissions will deliver about the right proportion of 1 and 2-bed properties, but not enough to make up the shortfall of those already built and will continue to under-build 3-bed properties and over-build 4+bed properties.

The data does not show the proportion of open-market versus affordable housing, nor does it show the proportion of specialist homes for the elderly. 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.

Thanks to Hart Council for putting in the effort to dig the raw data out of their systems, which I know has been a difficult task.

 

Evidence shows developer ‘land-banking’ in Hart District

Crony capitalist builder banking planning permissions and not building houses

New data from Hart District Council shows that crony capitalist builders are banking their planning permissions and not building at a high enough rate to meet our housing needs. Surely, it is time for local councils to be given more powers to force developers to build out their sites on a timely basis or transfer them to another builder who can.

First, let’s take a look at the net completions each year since the planning period started in 2011.

Year Net Completions
2010-11 92
2011-12 106
2012-13 197
2013-14 264
2014-15 338
Grand Total 1,195

Note, that according to the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), we should be building at around 375 dwellings per annum to meet our housing needs, and in fact at a higher rate in the early years of the Local Plan period.

Now let’s take a look at the outstanding, uncompleted dwellings, by year of the decision to grant planning permission.

Year of grant Net uncompleted dwellings
2003 5
2005 1
2006 0
2008 1
2009 2
2010 14
2011 58
2012 591
2013 402
2014 793
2015 1,066
2016 148
Grand Total 3,081

This shows there are 1,074 dwellings that were granted permission on or before 2013 and have yet to be built, nearly the entire amount of new homes built since 2011. It is well known that the construction industry has long lead times, but surely more than 3 years from granting permission to completion is simply too long.

It is surely not right that developers turn up to planning appeals and seek to blame Hart Council for not building enough houses and use that to try and justify why their pet project should be granted permission, when it is clear the builders are simply storing up these planning permissions and not getting on with building the houses we need.

Sadly, this is in-line with the House of Lords Select Committee that said:

We see the gap between planning permissions and housing completions as a fundamental one in respect of securing increased housing supply. In a climate where over 240,000 homes a year are being granted planning permission, it is a fundamental failure of the development system that over 100,000 fewer homes are actually being built. This situation must be addressed.

It is also in-line with our own research that shows how developers have taken control of the planning system for their own ends.

Thanks to Hart Council for putting in the effort to dig the raw data out of their systems, which I know has been a difficult task.

 

Berkeley Homes launches Hartland Village consultation website

Berkeley Homes (St Edward) launches consultation site for new development at Hartland Village, aka Pyestock and Hartland Park

Proposed location of the new Hartland Village development at the former Pyestock NGTE site, near Fleet Hampshire

Berkeley Homes has launched a consultation website about its proposed Hartland Village development of 1,500 new homes at Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), near Fleet, Hampshire.  Its subsidiary St Edward Homes has now named the new development Hartland Village.

The consultation site can be found here.

They have published an email address to which local residents can register for further updates: hartlandvillage@glhearn.com

Berkeley Homes’ representatives, GL Hearn have also sent letters to local businesses asking for their comments.  A copy of such a letter can be found here.

In the letter they say:

St Edward is now in the process of developing proposals for a residential development of the site, which would make a significant contribution towards meeting the need for new homes in the area. As a brownfield (already developed) site, Hartland Village will be an ideal location for delivery of new homes in a development with a distinctive character of its own with village shops and community facilities.

St Edward is committed to thorough public consultation on all of its projects and it is anticipated that the first round of engagement with local people will take place in the next few months. Further details of these public events and initial proposals for the site will be publicised in due course.

We Heart Hart encourages everyone to participate in this initial consultation, and would suggest that the proposed development is welcomed, but also make clear that this new development should take account of the following points:

  1. The proposed site is large at 135 acres.  It is essential we make the best use of this previously developed land, and we would encourage Berkeley Homes to consider building at a higher density than that proposed.  1,500 homes on 135 acres amounts to only around 27.5 dwellings per hectare – densities of double that should be considered.
  2. The area is short of truly affordable homes for local people, so the development should include a fair provision of smaller, starter homes for those struggling to get on the housing ladder. Remember just calling homes ‘affordable’ does not make them so and due note should be given to understanding what is genuinely affordable to those households on median incomes in the district
  3. It is essential that proper infrastructure is delivered alongside this development such as schools as well as shops and community facilities. Some of this land should be set aside to meet the educational needs of the area.
  4. We should also take a properly strategic view of transport and use this opportunity to build new roads and/or modify the existing road network to improve traffic flow in and around Fleet.
  5. It will be important to deliver proper SANG provision for recreation and sports facilities.
  6. Fleet Pond and its immediate surroundings should be protected.
  7. Decontamination of the land should be done properly, so there is no risk to future residents

 

Busy time ahead for the Hart Local Plan

Keep Calm and Wait for news about the Hart Local Plan

News about the Hart Local Plan has been sparse lately, but we can expect a flurry of news over the coming weeks.

First, now that the council elections are over, we can expect the results of the recent consultation to be released over the next few weeks.  Of course, we don’t know the results, but whatever the outcome, the results will be of limited value given that Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), has emerged as an additional brownfield site with capacity of around 1,500 dwellings.

Second, the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), together with the related Employment Land Review (ELR) have been in gestation for a few months now and we should hear of the new housing numbers in the next few weeks.  We Heart Hart is hopeful the new SHMA will result in Hart being asked to build 1,000-1,500 fewer houses over the planning period.  Of course, the new SHMA should also reduce the allocation for Surrey Heath and Rushmoor and the new ELR should enable Rushmoor in particular to release more of the brownfield sites it is protecting. The net result should reduce the risk of Hart being asked to build 3,100 extra houses for those districts.

Third, the results of Hart’s brownfield study should be released in the next couple of months and will set out a more sensible view of the brownfield capacity of the district.

Finally, should also expect the revised timetable for the Hart Local Plan to be released, so we will know when we will be asked our views. Expectations are the draft Local Plan should be released in September or October.

Greens set out their position on Winchfield, Pyestock and housing policy

Green Party Logo

The local Green Party have been in touch, setting out their position on the key planning issues impacting the Hart Local Plan and some ideas on broader housing policy.  In short, all of the candidates oppose Winchfield New Town and support redeveloping the brownfield site at Pyestock (aka Hartland Park). This is an important issue for the Hart Local Elections 2016.

We have updated our summary page, and table of candidates accordingly.  The detail of their response is reproduced below.

In brief I can confirm that the local [Green] party, and all its candidates in these elections are opposed to the Winchfield new town, but support the latest proposal for redevelopment of housing in Pyestock.
1. Winchfield – No. It is not required to meet Hart’s own housing targets and  by concreting over such swathes of green space, would be the destruction of Hart as we know it for generations to come. In addition, Winchfield simply does not have the infrastructure to support a New Town – it would put strain on GPs, schools, roads and quality of life – not just in Winchfield but also in Hook, Fleet, Hartley Wintney, etc.
2. Pyestock for housing – Yes. By developing brownfield sites such as Pyestock, Hart’s housing targets can be met through dispersal of home building, and lessen the burden on roads and facilities in a concentrated area. Additionally, such developments are eligible for central Government grants towards infrastructure and do not leave HDC at the mercy of council tax hikes and s106-shy developers.
Our more detailed response will include demands for any new housing to be zero- or negative-carbon and high density, and any new roads to incorporate cycle lanes. But more importantly, we don’t see this as being just about whether or not to build the Winchfield development and need to address the broader policy – how the housing need projections are worked out and allocated. If this area continues to be put under pressure to build new houses, taking in allocations from outside the area, other beautiful rural areas will be hit.
We need to emphasise the importance of rural, countryside for everyone, not just those of us lucky enough to live in villages/ rural areas. There are genuine benefits for non residents too – loads of research on mental health benefits, conservation, getting children engaged with nature, air quality etc.
And we  need to be offering alternatives, and to acknowledge the problems lots of people have in getting onto the property ladder. Is continuing to build in the over-developed South East really the answer? Should we be pushing for a more equal distribution of investment, for example, promoting business growth and sustainable development in northern England?
Consequently we are developing a vision starting with what the area should look like in 2030, and then how to get there.
We Heart Hart welcomes the stance of the Green Party on the local development issues in Hart and broadly accept many of their ideas on wider housing policy.

Ranil supports redevelopment of Pyestock (Hartland Park)

Ranil Jayawardena Stephen Parker and Michael Fallon at Pyestock (Hartland Park)

Our local MP, Ranil Jayawardena has published an article on his website showing his support for the redevelopment of the brownfield Hartland Park (formerly the Pyestock, National Gas Turbine Establishment (NGTE) site, near Fleet in Hart District, Hampshire. Readers will remember, that it is proposed to build 1,500 new homes on this site.

He is pictured with the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon and leader of Hart District Council, Stephen Parker.

Ranil Jayawardena, M.P., said: “Pyestock is exactly the sort of brownfield regeneration that should be supported. I am pleased that Hart are working together with HM Government to deliver homes on brownfield sites wherever possible, rather than building on green fields.”

Secretary of State, Michael Fallon, M.P., said: “It’s good to see sites like Pyestock being put forward for development. HM Government is ensuring that brownfield regeneration is central to local areas building new homes. A new ‘brownfield register’ is included in the Housing and Planning Bill, which will ensure that development is prioritised on brownfield sites rather than at the expense of the countryside.

We Heart Hart warmly welcomes Ranil’s support for this project. We understand that a site for Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG), needs to be found before the redevelopment can go ahead.  Let us hope that Michael Fallon can help find some redundant MoD land to help with this, so it can be included in the Hart Local Plan.

 

Prices of new homes out of reach of Hart residents

Bewley Homes 3-bed semi detached Hartley Row Park Hartley Wintney Hampshire

Bewley Homes has released the prices of the new houses it is building at Hartley Row Park, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, also known as Rifle Range Farm.

The lowest price for a 3-bed semi-detached home is set at £465,000. The lowest anticipated price of the 2-bed homes due to be released later in 2016 is £370,000.

This compares to the median incomes in Hart set out in Figure 4.8 of the SHMA, which is £40,200.

Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath Median Incomes Figure 4.8 of SHMA

This means that the cheapest 3-bed house is 11.5 times median income, and the cheapest 2-bed home will be 9.2 times median incomes.  The cheapest new properties will be totally out of reach of middle-income families in the district.

We have argued for some time that these types of new developments such as Hartley Row Park, Edenbrook (in Fleet), the proposed new town at Winchfield and the newly proposed urban extension at Pale Lane deliver the wrong type of housing to meet the needs of local people.

We need more smaller, more affordable properties and more specialist accommodation for the elderly. Development of brownfield sites for the remainder of our Local Plan period are much more likely to deliver more cheaper properties that will give our young people more chance of getting on the housing ladder.

Planning Inspector’s Trimmers Farm decision could scupper Winchfield new town plan

Solar Farm at Trimmers Farm, Hook, Hampshire turned down by planning inspectorate

Trimmers Farm solar farm turned down by inspector

The Planning Inspectorate has decided not to allow a solar farm to be built at Trimmers Farm, near Beggars Corner, on a site that straddles Hook and Winchfield parishes.  The implication of this decision is that it also likely scuppers the proposed Hartley Winchook new town. The full decision can be downloaded from the button below.

The main reason given by the planning inspector was that the solar farm “would cause substantial harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding landscape”. Although the inspector did also say that ” the proposal would make a valuable contribution to the cutting of greenhouse gas emissions. It would also assist in securing the ongoing viability of the farm enterprise”. The more detailed assessment of the harm said:

From my own observations and having regard to the appellants’ photomontages and Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV), the solar farm would have an adverse visual impact which would significantly detract from the visual amenity of the area. Having taken into account the presence of the railway, motorway and pylons I consider that the proposal would consolidate the spread of man-made features across the skyline and add to the creeping urbanising effect on the area, thereby exacerbating the resultant harm to the landscape character and visual amenity. In conclusion the level of harm to the character and appearance of the landscape would be significant and would conflict with LP saved Policies GEN10, GEN1, GEN3, CON23, RUR2 and RUR3.

SHL167 SHLAA Map - Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

SHL167 SHLAA Map – Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

The implications of this could be quite interesting as the same Beggars Corner site is contained in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment as SHL 167, and is included in the proposals for the proposed new town at Winchfield. We have written before that 772 houses were proposed to be built on the former land fill site.

SHL 167 Landfill details Beggars Corner

SHL 167 Landfill details Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

However, we find it difficult to believe that 772 houses, many of which might have solar panels on their roofs, would have a lower visual impact or create less creeping urbanisation than a solar farm.  Of course, the challenges of building houses on landfill would be much greater than installing solar panels.

As can be seen from the image below, the removal of SHL167 from the new town plan would effectively isolate two halves of the proposed new town, with the Murrell Green sites being disconnected from the other sites.  This will compromise sustainability and will also reduce the housing capacity.

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

We have previously challenged the viability of the new town plan, as have Winchfield Parish Council. However, to re-cap, the SHLAA suggests that the housing capacity of the new town sites is in the range 6,500-7,500. But not enough space has been set aside for SANG, or for sports facilities, schools, shops, car-parks or community facilities. Making allowance for these elements would reduce capacity to 4,000-5,000. Removing the 772 houses from SHL167 would further reduce the capacity to 3,228-4,228, which is well below the minimum viability threshold of 5,000 dwellings.

 

Trimmers Farm Solar Farm Planning Inspector’s Appeal Decision

link

Wates Developments seeks Environmental Assessment of Pale Lane site

SHL 52 SHLAA Site - Pale Lane, near Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney, Hart District Hampshire

Wates Developments has submitted an application for an Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report on the Pale Lane site (known as SHLAA site SHL 52 and strategic site STR009) that straddles Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney parishes.

Wates have made a presentation to Elvetham Heath Parish Council, and plan to make further presentations to interested groups.  A copy of the slides used can be found on the download below.

The site lies to the west of the existing Elvetham Heath development, and is bounded to the north by the M3 motorway and to the south by the main railway line to London.

Wates Homes Pale Lane Development Proposal, near Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney, Hart District, Hampshire.

As part of their submission, Wates have given an indicative layout of the final scheme (reproduced above), that will, if eventually approved, contain around 700 new houses, a local community centre, a new primary school and be called Elvetham Chase.

We don’t oppose an Environmental Assessment being carried out, but we would be very disappointed if this development went ahead because:

  1. Hart currently has a 6.7 year land supply, based on the existing inflated Strategic Housing Market Assessment
  2. The Housing Market Assessment is currently being reviewed, and the expectations are our housing allocation will be reduced
  3. Hart District Council is participating in a Government pilot scheme to create a register of brownfield sites,
  4. Hart has initiated a study to identify the brownfield capacity of the district and
  5. Our figures suggest there is capacity for around 4,000 homes on brownfield sites (including Pyestock aka Hartland Park) compared to only 2,500 further houses need to be permitted to meet our current housing target up to 2032.

So, we see no need to concrete over any more of our greenfields for decades to come.

We also note that Adams Hendry’s assessment determined that there were significant transport issues with the site and suggested that Pale Lane might have to be closed to vehicular traffic saying:

Primary vehicular site access would almost certainly be provided onto the A323, with a potential secondary access to the south on Pale Lane. However, the Pale Lane access is severely constrained by being a single track lane with a narrow single-track tunnel under the railway and single track bridge over the River Hart. If it were to provide an effective access point for development at the site, all of this infrastructure would need to be upgraded, not least to ensure effective and safe pedestrian and cycle access between the site and the Hitches Lane Country Park to the south of the railway. However widening the tunnel under the railway and the bridge over the river are likely to be very costly. Therefore, it would be sensible to test closing Pale Lane to all vehicular traffic as an alternative that would ensure safe pedestrian and cycle access could be achieved.

 

Wates presentation to Elvetham Heath PC about Pale Lane

link

 

Local Labour Party set out their position on Pyestock

North East Hampshire Labour Party set out their position on Pyestock

The North East Hampshire Labour Party have responded to our request for them to set out their position on developing a new sustainable village at the Pyestock (aka Hartland Park) site. This is an important issue for the Hart Local Elections 2016.

Their response can be found here. They say they support the redevelopment of Pyestock, but still support the idea of a new town at Winchfield.

There are a number of points in their post that We Heart Hart disagrees with and a number of inaccuracies that are addressed below:

Not building enough to meet housing targets

First, it is true that taken as a whole, the country is not building enough to meet its overall housing targets. However, not all of the blame can be pinned on Local Authorities or Government. A recent report form the Communities and Local Government select committee, chaired by Labour MP Clive Betts has said:

The real problem isn’t local authorities failing to give planning permission but developers getting planning permission and then, possibly as a way to maximise profits, taking a long to time to fully develop sites. We are calling on the government to review these proposals, and to identify the powers local authorities need in order to require or encourage developers to build out sites in their areas.

We support the development of brownfield sites for housing where it contributes to meeting local housing needs.

This chimes with our research and that of Alan Wenban-Smith. There is also evidence that housing targets across our area are over-stating the real need, being on average 41.9% higher than the official population projections would suggest.

Inaccurate assessment of the remaining housing need and infrastructure funding

Second, the local Labour party say:

Due to this national under-development, Central Government has given Hart a fairly high building target to reach by 2032 of around 7,500 homes. Somewhere in the region of 3,500 homes have had [sic] been granted planning permission, some of which being on brownfield sites. These developments are simply extensions to our existing towns and villages, but crucially don’t come with any money to pay for improvement to our infrastructure, be it our schools or surgeries.

We agree the target is 7,534 new homes are said to be our ‘need’ in the planning period up to 2032. But, they are inaccurate in their inference that 4,000 homes are yet to be granted planning permission for Hart’s Local Plan. Hart Council’s own figures in the recent consultation stated that only 2,500 still needed to be permitted (see here, para 21). Their claim about infrastructure funding is also untrue in that all developments (with the narrow exception of office conversions) attract S106 or CIL payments.

Due to their insistence that 4,000 more homes need to be granted permission, they say it is inevitable we have to build more housing in the countryside. However, as we have shown above, their claim is inaccurate, but even if it were true, our analysis has shown that there is capacity for around 4,000 homes on brownfield sites. It seems rather perverse to on the one hand support brownfield development, but at the same time be in favour of more green field development.

We have done our own analysis to show that the infrastructure costs of a new town will far exceed developer contributions and Winchfield Parish Council commissioned a report from professional planners, John Boyd Associates, into the new town idea and they concluded that:

  1. There is a lack of evidence to justify the need for a new settlement
  2. Winchfield is not a suitable location for a new settlement
  3. A new settlement is not a viable approach
  4. There should be more of a focus on alternatives such as brownfield development and dispersal

All in all it appears as though the local Labour Party has come to the wrong conclusions based on some dodgy data and inaccurate assumptions.  So, We Heart Hart does not support their position. A summary of all of the local candidates’ positions on this can be found here.