Hart Council calls for Pyestock to be released for housing

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

Brownfield site: Hartland Park (Pyestock) near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire could be released for housing.

Joint-CEO of Hart District Council, Daryl Phillips has called for Hartland Park (Pyestock) to be released for housing in an article in Fleet News and Mail. The article claims the site is on the market, and this appears to be confirmed by its presence on the Jones Lang Lasalle website here and here.

Hart Council believes that the 119-acre (48 Hectare) site could yield over 1,000 dwellings.  That would equate to an undemanding density of around 20 dwellings per hectare.  We think that opportunities for increasing density should be explored, taking account of the environmental sensitivity.  Who knows, there might even be sufficient space for new schools if it were shown that a new secondary school was required.  The old Bramshott Farm site across the road may well be earmarked as SANG.

The advantage of Pyestock as a site is that it is close to Fleet railway station and could be reached by bicycle or on foot and it is close to existing employment sites in Fleet and around Farnborough airport.  The site is very close to the M3 and the road system has already been improved in anticipation of thousands of lorry movements.

If the owners could be persuaded to release this site for housing, then it is certain that we would have sufficient brownfield capacity to meet or housing needs up to 2031 and beyond, as it would take our capacity up to over 3,500, when our remaining need to be permitted is 2,500. We definitely would not need a new town, nor would we need an urban extension.

If you would like to give Hart Council more encouragement to persist in getting Pyestock released and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page, updated our two guides to responding to the consultation and they are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

 

 

James Farm Nursery Hartley Wintney, Hart District, Hampshire

New SHLAA sites mean our remaining housing need can be met from brownfield sites alone

James Farm Nursery Hartley Wintney, Hart District, Hampshire

James Farm Nursery Hartley Wintney

Hart Council has added a number of new sites to its SHLAA evidence base.  There is a mix of brownfield and green field sites, as we explore below, but the overall impact is to increase the brownfield capacity  to 2,493-2,535 units which is now enough to meet the remaining need of 2,500.

The sites are:

SHL25 Land attached to Brook House, Crondall, green field
SHL81 Vertu, Beacon Hill Road, Church Crookham, brownfield site, 65-70 units
SHL176 Hawley House, Hawley, in Blackwater and Hawley Parish, brownfield site, WHH estimate 8-10 units
SHL177 Land at Croft Lane, Hartley Wintney, green field site, WHH estimate
SHL178 Broden Stables & Stable Yard, Crondall, brownfield site 14-27 units
SHL179 Bowenhurst Lane, Crondall, brownfield site, 30-35 units
SHL180 Crondall Bee Farm, green field site
SHL181 Land south of Little Rye Farm, greenfield site
SHL189 Land at James Farm, Hartley Wintney, brownfield site, 8 units

We have been through each document and some have not yet been fully assessed by Hart’s Planners, so we have had to estimate the size of sites SHL176 and SHL177 using Google Maps and the capacity. Hart Council have not estimated the size of SHL180 either, but that site looks so remote and so close to Basingstoke Canal, that we feel it unlikely ever to be permitted so we have not bothered to estimate a size or capacity for it.

The total capacity of these new brownfield sites is 125-150 units, bringing our total estimate of brownfield capacity up to 2,493-2,535 units.

We have updated our table of brownfield sites and our brownfield thermometer accordingly.

Hart District Brownfield Development Target

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page, updated our two guides to responding to the consultation and they are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

Through the infrastructure looking glass

Comparison of infrastructure costs and contributions of different development scenarios

Comparison of infrastructure costs and contributions of different development scenarios

We had a surreal moment today debating with one of our district councillors revealed that she was strongly in favour of a new town because it would deliver some infrastructure funding, and other development approaches would deliver no funding.  Here is the Facebook post in question:

Wendy Makepeace-Brown No infrastructure from infill

There are a number of issues with this.

First, it is factually incorrect to state that either urban extensions or brownfield development will deliver no funding, as is described here.

Second, it seems very odd to us that councillors are ignoring basic economics and clearly are not looking at the big picture.  Surely the best way to look at this is to compare the incremental infrastructure costs of any particular development approach and the expected incremental developer contributions and, given we have an existing £78m infrastructure funding deficit, seek to minimise the gap.

In questions to the council last March we asked about the level of funding that might be attached to each development option and what the expected level of spending might be. There were no answers of substance.

It is very troubling that a councillor should seek to promote the idea of a new town because of the alleged funding contributions it might deliver, but ignore the overall costs that would be involved.

In the image above, we have shown our estimates of the impact of a new town on the infrastructure funding gap – the £78m deficit increases to £378m.  The costs are so high because the road network in Winchfield was designed for a small settlement, currently only 250 houses, which is clearly very different to that required for a settlement of 5,000 houses, plus there is no mains sewage or mains gas, overhead power lines will need to be moved or buried and a new sewage works will be needed. There is no reliable data on dispersal, brownfield or urban extensions, but we have created two hypothetical scenarios.

Scenario A looks at what the overall gap might be if, for sake of argument, £250m of funding was required to create infrastructure on brownfield sites that were converted, rather than properly redeveloped, so no S106/CIL funding was forthcoming from developers.  We would still be better off than with a new town. And remember it is self evident that the infrastructure requirement for a brownfield solution will be very much lower than for a brand new settlement.

Scenario B looks at what the overall gap might be if, for sake of argument, there was mixed brownfield development, with a more realistic infrastructure estimate of £150m and developer contributions of £40m.  The overall funding gap would be £188m.

Of course, a £188m funding gap would be bad news, but it would be much better news than the new town idea, especially as most of the existing gap is in Fleet, Church Crookham and Hook.

Estimated Infrastructure costs by area March 2013

Hart District Estimated Infrastructure costs by area March 2013

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page, updated our two guides to responding to the consultation and they are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

Urban areas not taking their fair share of development 2001-2032 Part 3

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Dispersal 2001-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Dispersal 2001-2032

Our previous posts (here and here) about the level of development that will be faced by the different parishes under the different development proposals put forward by Hart District have been criticised for two reasons:

  1. That the parishes are grouped in to clusters and,
  2. That the analysis does not go back far enough in time

The answer to the first point is that unfortunately, Hart have only provided the development from 2011-2015 in the parish groupings shown, so there is no other way of presenting the data and still maintaining accuracy.

In answer to the second point, we have now incorporated the census data from 2001 into the calculations, so now it is possible to see the percentage increase in the same parish clusters from 2001-2032 and from 2011-2032.  The results in graphical and tabular form are shown above and below. This data for dispersal shows that Fleet, Church Crookham and Crookham Village will not take more proportionate development than many other areas of Hart such as Hook, Hartley Wintney and the “Other” rural districts.  But it does show that Yateley and Blackwater have taken least proportionate development over both time periods and the smaller rural districts would take a very large proportionate increase if this strategy were pursued to the fullest extent.

First, the dispersal approach, the graph is shown above, and the table below:

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Dispersal Table 2001-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Dispersal Table 2001-2032

Second, the urban extension approach below. This shows that Hook will take the largest proportionate development using this approach over both time periods and Crookham Village will also see a very large proportionate increase in housing. Again Yateley and Blackwater are relatively unscathed, with the smaller rural districts taking relatively little proportionate development.  This would point towards a need for some more dispersal towards those districts, but not to the full extent described above:

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions 2001-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions 2001-2032

 

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions Table 2001-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions Table 2001-2032

And finally, the new town approach. This shows again that Hook parish would bear a large proportionate increase in housing, plus the Winchfield part of “Others” would also bear a massive increase in housing, with Winchfield enduring a 6-fold increase during the plan period, with much more thereafter.

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town 2001-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town 2001-2032

 

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town Table 2001-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town Table 2001-2032

To us, this points to the need to redouble efforts to rebalance the housing proposals and redouble efforts to find a brownfield solution.

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and updated our two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

Urban Areas not taking their fair share of homes part 2

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town

Further to our post of yesterday, that showed the impact by parish of following a dispersal strategy, we have now created graphs to show the impact by parish of urban extensions and a new town.  In each case, it shows that the urban areas of the district are not taking their fair share of housing.

This demonstrates to us the need to step up efforts to follow a brownfield strategy and re-find the 1,400 units on brownfield sites that Hart lost after saying that 1,800 units on brownfield land could be readily quantified back in September 2015.

First, let’s take at the new town strategy.  The chart showing the %-age increase in dwellings by parish from 2011 to 2032 if we followed a new town strategy to meet the remaining need from now on is shown above.  The table showing how this has been calculated is shown below:

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town Table

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town Table

Of course, only 2,000 of the full 5,000 will be delivered before 2032.  We have distributed these across Winchfield (in others) and Hook parish in the same ratio of the overall delivery shown in the SHLAA.  However, the secret plan from the Winchfield Consortium showed the Murrell Green sites would be developed first, so this may understate the impact on Hook.

Now, let’s take a look at the Urban Extension option.  he chart showing the %-age increase in dwellings by parish from 2011 to 2032 if we followed an urban extension strategy to meet the remaining need from now, together with the table showing how this has been calculated are shown below:

[Update: The West of Fleet urban extension is actually in Crookham Village Parish so chart and table updated to show that]

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions 201-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions 201-2032

 

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions Table 2001-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions Table 2001-2032

The urban extensions are at Pale Lane which is split across Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney parishes, west of Hook which is in Hook parish and west of Fleet (in Crookham Village Parish].

Finally, let’s re-look at the dispersal strategy, we covered in yesterday’s post:

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District - dispersal strategy

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District – dispersal strategy

Parish  2011 Census Dwellings 2011-2015 % of total  2011-2015 Number 2011-2015 % increase  Dispersal Proposal 2011-2032 % Increase
Crookham Village 1,630 7% 322 19.8% 177 31%
Elvetham Heath, Fleet, Church Crookham, Ewshot 14,879 45% 2,070 13.9% 466 17%
Hartley Wintney 2,222 10% 460 20.7% 290 34%
Hook 3,111 19% 874 28.1% 204 35%
Odiham/Long Sutton/ South Warnborough 3,142 5% 230 7.3% 583 26%
Yateley/ Blackwater 9,826 11% 506 5.1% 480 10%
Others 2,526 3% 138 5.5% 1,027 46%
Total 37,336 100% 4,600 12.3% 3,227 21%

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and updated our two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

Fleet, Elvetham Heath, Crookham Village, Yateley, Blackwater and Ewshot not taking their fair share of housing

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District.

Hart Council has published a lot of data related to the new consultation.  We have taken a look at it, come to the conclusion that the combination of the houses built or permitted since 2011, plus the proposals for dispersal show that our urban areas are not taking their fair share of housing. We think that Hart District should be trying harder to find brownfield sites in Fleet, Yateley and Blackwater to redress the balance and save our countryside (see slider of sites below).

Which would you rather preserve - derelict eyesore or our wildlife?

Which would you rather preserve – derelict eyesore or our wildlife?

The chart above shows the %-age increase in dwellings by parish by combining the data shown in the table in para 30 of the main consultation document. This gives the distribution of dwellings built or permitted since 2011:

Split of dwellings built or permitted since 2011 by Parish

Split of dwellings built or permitted since 2011 by Parish

It did look odd to us that the parishes of Elvetham Heath, Fleet, Church Crookham and Ewshot should be grouped together like they were to give the impression that these parishes had already taken a lot of housing.  Of course if you combine a number of parishes together, then it is obvious that their combined contribution is going to be larger than the individual parishes to which they are compared.

So, we started with the census data for the number of dwellings by parish, and combined them together in the same way Hart had, then added on the number of houses implied by the figure above, then added the number of houses proposed by the dispersal option and expressed the result as a %-age increase on the number of dwellings that were there in 2011:

Parish  2011 Census Dwellings 2011-2015 % of total  2011-2015 Number 2011-2015 % increase  Dispersal Proposal 2011-2032 % Increase
Crookham Village 1,630 7% 322 19.8% 177 31%
Elvetham Heath, Fleet, Church Crookham, Ewshot 14,879 45% 2,070 13.9% 466 17%
Hartley Wintney 2,222 10% 460 20.7% 290 34%
Hook 3,111 19% 874 28.1% 204 35%
Odiham/Long Sutton/ South Warnborough 3,142 5% 230 7.3% 583 26%
Yateley/ Blackwater 9,826 11% 506 5.1% 480 10%
Others 2,526 3% 138 5.5% 1,027 46%
Total 37,336 100% 4,600 12.3% 3,227 21%

This shows that the urban areas that include Fleet, Yateley and Blackwater will take the lowest %-age increase in housing. Whereas, places like Hook, Hartley Wintney and the other rural parishes  are going to take massive %-age increases in housing.

Of course, a new town would disproportionately impact Winchfield, but would also lead to 1,800 further houses in Hook and effectively join those parishes to Hartley Wintney, into a giant Hartley WInchook conurbation.  Even the proposed urban extensions will further increase the pressure on Hartley Wintney and Hook.

One of the proposed extensions, the so-called Pale Lane extension (SHL 52) is largely in Hartley Wintney Parish, and another of the extensions is to the west of Hook (SHL 173).

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and updated our two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

How to respond to the new consultation

How to respond to Hart District Council's (HDC) new consultation on the Local Plan

How to respond to the new consultation

Hart Council’s new consultation on the Local Plan is now live, is open until 18 March 2016 and can be found here.

If you responded to the previous consultation and gave your email address, you should have been contacted by the council asking you whether you want to re-submit your response to the new consultation.  If you have received that e-mail, we recommend you re-submit your prior submission.  This can be done here.

If either you did not respond to the last consultation, or you did not give your email address before, then you will need to submit a brand new response here. We have set out some guidance below, to help you make up your mind.

You might want to wait until we have received the results of our FOI requests related to the number of 1 & 2-bed properties we need to build and the amount of specialist accommodation we need to build for the elderly before responding.

The consultation is split into three parts:

The first asks about our attitudes to meeting the needs of specialist groups such as those needing affordable and starter homes; specialist housing for older people and sites for the travelling community.  It then goes on to ask if we are happy with the settlement hierarchy and the main questions about how we would prioritise the different approaches they put forward to meeting our housing need.  Hart DC have not included an approach to meet our remaining needs from brownfield sites alone, which we believe is achievable.  Neither a new town nor an urban extension are needed and there is a brownfield solution.  It is invidious to force people to rank approaches that simply are not needed.  However, we have to respond to the questions put in front of us, so for Question 4, we urge you to put Approach 1 – Dispersal as your first preference, Approach 2 – Urban extensions as your second preference and Approach 3 – new settlement as your last preference. You might wish to add in the comments that you want to see a stronger focus on brownfield development and that you would like to see the council meet the needs of the young by building more affordable 1 and 2-bed properties (around 3,800) and build the full allocation of specialist accommodation for the elderly (around 2,500 units).

For Question 5, we suggest you rank the approaches as follows: Approach 4: 1, Approach 5: 4, Approach 6: 3, Approach 7: 2.

The second part shows a number of selected sites for each parish and asks us to rank them according to preference and make comments. Unbelievably, you have to rank a site even if you don’t want it to be developed and the site list presented misses out those sites the council has for unknown reasons discounted and inexplicably misses out other (some brownfield) sites from the SHLAA.  We have set out the brownfield sites you may wish to suggest are developed instead or alongside those presented and some comments about what this consultation is not covering.

The third part asks us about the key issues we see across the district, Hart Council’s proposed vision and key objectives.  Again this doesn’t cover redevelopment of the massive surplus of employment land on brownfield sites adequately and glosses over the massive infrastructure issues we face.  We have set out some comments you might like to make about the issues, the vision and the objectives.

We have updated our two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided.  It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside. Please respond to the consultation and ask your friends and family to join in too.

Quick guide for those with not much time:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

Full guide for a more complete response to all questions:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

Hart Council: Keep Calm and Hide the Facts

Hart District Council (HDC) Keep Calm and Hide the Facts 2

Hart Council Keep Calm and Hide the Facts

Readers will recall that at the Hart Council Meeting last week, senior councillors refused to answer some questions and gave vague and unsatisfactory answers to those questions.  The council has now published the full exchange on their website.  We give our view on what they really meant below.  We ask readers to bear in mind Hart’s Code of Corporate Governance which has as its four key principles:

  • Openness: openness is required to ensure stakeholders can have confidence in the decision making and management processes of the Council.
  • Inclusiveness: an inclusive approach ensures that all stakeholders and have the opportunity to engage effectively in the decision-making processes and actions of the Council.
  • Integrity: is based upon honesty, selflessness and objectivity, and high standards of propriety and probity in the stewardship of public funds and management of the Council’s affairs.
  • Accountability: accountability is the process whereby the Council, members and staff are responsible for their decisions and actions regarding all aspects of the Council’s work

Here is the full set of questions and answers, abridged and with our interpretation below in blue:

Question 1: Given that a) in October 2013, you were quoted as saying we would submit a new version of the Local Plan to the Inspector in Autumn 2014 and b) in each subsequent year this has slipped by a further year, with the current LDS indicating a local plan ready for submission in Winter 2016, will you now publish the detailed project plan to support this target, so we can be assured that project management processes have improved?

Answer: It was our intention to proceed with a revised Core Strategy after the withdrawal of the 2013 version. However, as many will well know, the Government changed the nature of Local Plans and we also had to address the issue of a new SHMA to overcome the defects blah….blah….blah…

Blah…blah..blah…The Local Development Scheme is the council’s three-year project plan that identifies which local development documents will be produced, in what order, and when. We do not propose to publish more background information on internal workings because that offers no practical advantage to anyone. There is already proper scrutiny of the Local Plan progress with all members of the Council having the opportunity to be actively engaged.

We also last summer enlisted the support of Chris Dorn to lend project management support. His work has been invaluable and he gave positive and independent feedback to the Hart District Association of Parish and Town Councils.

Finally, we have now full project management arrangements from our neighbours at East Hampshire District Council, who have recent and relevant experience of bringing a local plan through Examination to adoption.

What they really meant: Here’s some blather and vague implausible excuses why we haven’t been able to publish a Local Plan when 82% of Local Councils have managed to do it. There’s no way that we are going to publish the project plan, because we don’t want to be held accountable for any future slippage.

Question 2: Given that in January 2015, HDC commissioned work to test the proposed new settlement and urban extensions with the objectives to test the “deliverability of a new settlement and/or urban extension (ie [sic] suitability, availability and achievability)”, including a land use budget; provide “indicative costing of the major infrastructure items needed”; and consider viability including the “infrastructure requirements of sites to identify likely infrastructure impacts, subsequent costs and potential funding sources”, can you explain if these objectives have been met, and say when the results will be published?

Answer: The current position on testing is set out in the Refined Housing Options Paper. It specifically highlights and comments on where we have got to with the issue of testing. As paragraph 12 we say:

“The testing we decided to undertake is still ongoing as is the testing of all other options. The testing will go on in some form or other right up until we finalise the submission Local Plan. There is still much work to be done, but we have reached a point where we can now ask you if we are on the right track”.

We then go on to summarise on pages 9 and 10 what outcomes have been received from the testing that we have carried out so far.

The outcome of the testing will therefore, inform both the draft Local Plan and will inform the submitted Local Plan in that it will comprise part of the evidence base. All these documents will be published at the appropriate time and everyone will have the right to comment upon them when the Local Plan is independently examined by an Inspector appropriated by the Secretary of State.

What they really meant: No, we haven’t met the objectives.  If we actually finished the testing, it would likely show that a new town in Winchfield is not viable and we wouldn’t want to be transparent about that would we?

Supplementary Question: All of the sites identified to make up the new town and urban extensions are listed in the SHLAA as “Not currently developable”, we have no costing of roads, bridges, railway improvements, sewage, sports or community facilities and we have no land use budget that includes SANG, so why are you consulting on a new town that is not deliverable, as well as excluding brownfield sites for the same reason?

Answer: This is part of the consultation. Brownfield sites are only deliverable if the landowner puts them forward for development. Brownfield sites may not be deliverable for other reasons, but once they are put forward as a SHLAA site they can be considered. [Note:  Although not recorded in the minutes Cllr Parker did go on to say words to the effect that many of the green field sites put forward were not currently developable because to do develop them would be contrary to current policies and they would look to change their policies as part of the Local Plan]

What they really meant: How dare you ask me for facts? Of course, we will change our policies to get a new town at all costs, just like we changed the questions in the consultation.

Question 3: Given that an FOI request to elicit the evidence to support the assertion made at cabinet (Paper E 5.2) in September 2015, and in Hart news (p2), that brownfield capacity for the district was 1,800 units has failed, are we to conclude that the council and public were misled in September, or will you now produce the evidence and ensure that any new consultation includes a proper stand-alone option for brownfield sites?

Answer: Nobody was misled by this council. The FOI request did not fail.

The Freedom of Information requests were dealt with blah…blah.blah…

Blah..blah..One key point that seems to be missed in the question is that there can be no standalone option for “brownfield sites” because the evidence suggests that there is not enough deliverable ‘brownfield land’ available to meet all our need for new homes because too few suitable sites are being promoted as being available by developers or landowners. Blah…blah…

[Note: Here is the answer given to the FOI request: “With regards to the first request, we do not hold that information.” and also note that none of the other options put forward were able to meet the remaining needs on their own either.]

What they really meant: Of course, it was a mistake to publish the real brownfield capacity, but we’re not going to publish how we arrived at the figure. We are doing our best to erase that from history and push on for a new town. 

Question 4: You will recall that I wrote to you on 20 November 2015, highlighting discrepancies between the consultation materials and SHLAA, the most important point being point 4 (and appendix) showing the very different site capacities in the New Homes Booklet compared to the official evidence base, the SHLAA; can you now give an explanation of those discrepancies and will they be corrected before any new consultation is carried out?

Answer: I understand from the Council’s Planning Policy Manager that you have already received
an explanation about the differences between the SHLAA and the New Homes Sites Booklet regarding site capacities (email from the Planning Policy Manager sent on 23rd December 2015).

That response explained that:

“In preparing the consultation papers we drew on not only the SHLAA but also more recent information where it was available. Such information includes the high level site assessments prepared by Adams Hendry and the shortlisting exercise work (available at http://www.hart.gov.uk/Evidence-base ), pre-application plans, recent planning permissions, and any recent changes to site boundaries. These can all influence the sites that are shown in the documents. The SHLAA itself will be updated next year.”

The plan is to publish an updated SHLAA in the summer of 2016 to reflect the best information available at that time including data on annual completions which becomes available around June each year. [Note:  I did point out that I had written back to them on 12 January making clear that Point 4, amongst others, had not been answered].

What they really meant: We deliberately make it all very confusing, and who cares if the material we send out to the electorate doesn’t match the official evidence we spent loads of your money to produce and published at the same time as the consultation.

Question 5: Given that the SHMA (section 9.33) calls for 60-70% of our 7,534 housing need (or around 4,900) to be met from 1 & 2-bed properties, can you give a breakdown by number of bedrooms, of the 4,500 or so dwellings built or permitted since 2011 and tell us how many more 1 & 2 bed homes need to be built out of the remaining ~3,000 to be permitted to meet the need expressed in the SHMA? [Note: is has subsequently emerged that the preamble to this question did contain a mistake, and the need for 1 & 2-bed properties is ~3,800 units, but that doesn’t take away the need for Hart Council to measure how well it is meeting the need, nor does it stop the question being answered].

Answer by Chairman: This is a technical research question and does not form part of any current Council workstream. This is not the proper forum to be used to elicit the use of Council resources in pursuit of your own personal research. I say this because the information that you seek is already published.

You can obtain the information by accessing all the planning application details of applications submitted and determined which is published on the online Public Access system.

I would also point out that section 9.33 of the SHMA relates to affordable housing and not general housing mix. It may be you have missed out a few words which fundamentally alters the meaning of your question. [Note: I asked by email immediately after the meeting where this information can be found and have received no response].

What they really meant: You just don’t get it do you?  This isn’t about facts or meeting the needs of Hart residents it’s about getting a new town. Of course we’re not going to tell you how well or badly we are meeting the needs of local residents nor information that might suggest that a new town is not the right answer.  Where would we be if we were transparent?

Question 6: Given that the SHMA (Figure 10.15) calls for around 2,500 specialist units for the elderly, split into various categories to be built in Hart under the Local Plan, can you tell us how many of these units have been built or permitted since 2011, how many remain to be permitted and what you consider to be the best types of location for these types of accommodation?

Answer: The part of the question seeking statistics is appropriate to an FOI request and thus specifically outside the scope of a question at council. I have therefore asked that this request is handled under FOI rules. You will thus receive a formal response under that protocol. Blah…blah…

Blah…blah…This approach is exactly in accordance with government policy as set out in Paragraph: 003 Reference ID: 12-003-20140306 of the updated September 2015 National Planning Policy Guidance.

What they really meant: Meeting the needs of the elderly is not our priority and you must be joking if you think we are going to publish any information that shows we’re not meeting their needs.  We want loads more detached houses in the countryside from a new town and urban extensions.

Supplementary: How can the young who need the affordable 1 & 2-bed dwellings and elderly have confidence in the Local Plan process when the leader doesn’t know what we need to build to meet their needs?

Answer: This will be dealt with under the FOI request.

What they really meant: How many more times do we have to explain, we don’t do facts? This isn’t about meeting the needs of local people.  It’s all about getting a new town at all costs.

Question 7: What are the risks that a second consultation “anticipated to be run again from late January”, will be a further waste of Hart residents’ money, when the revised SHMA is due “early in 2016” and a revised employment land review is also being prepared, thus meaning that the evidence base is likely to change significantly during the consultation, leading to a further consultation being required?

Answer: It would be premature to speculate on the outcome of the refresh of the SHMA. Data sets change all the time and all we are looking at is one single snap shot of a combination of changing data sets…blah…blah…

What they really meant: I don’t care about risks and I don’t care about your money, I want a new town. The new SHMA will likely show a big reduction in the housing need so we won’t need to build 3,000 houses for Surrey Heath and Rushmoor and we’ll be able to meet all Hart’s remaining needs from brownfield sites. If that were put to residents they wouldn’t vote for a new town or urban extensions and where would that leave us?

Question 8: Who instigated, who authorised and who will take responsibility for each decision to repeatedly change the materials in the recent consultation part way through?

Answer by Chairman: I am directing that this question is not to be answered. This is because, as Mr Turver knows, it forms the basis of a separate investigation by Overview and Scrutiny and indeed, Mr Turver has been party to representations made pursuant to that investigation. It would therefore be wholly inappropriate to enter into discussions in public without all the facts surrounding the events that resulted in the early curtailment of the Refined Housing Options consultation having first been investigated by Overview and Scrutiny Committee. [Note: Cllr Bailey did make the point that the O&S work is a review, not an investigation and he did not intend that review to act as block on members of the public asking questions].

What they really meant: How dare you ask us to be open, transparent and accountable for our actions? 

Supplementary: We’ve heard tonight that you have failed with the last consultation, haven’t got a grip on the timeline, project management or the quality and content of the outputs, isn’t it time that you and the rest of the Local Plan Steering Group did the decent thing and resigned?

Answer: I do intend to do the decent thing and deliver the local plan.

What they really meant: We can’t have someone in charge who might actually look at the evidence and try and meet the real needs of Hart residents can we?  

 

Hart misses another deadline

This is where the miracle occurs

This is where the miracle occurs

In the immediate aftermath of the consultation debacle, Hart Council said that the consultation was “anticipated to be run again from late January“.  Of course, the last working day of January has now passed and there is no sign of the revised consultation and their website has been updated to say the consultation will run “from early Feb into mid March 2016”.

This now makes it a racing certainty that the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) will be released during the proposed new consultation period.  We believe that the new SHMA will reduce the housing need for the whole Housing Market Area, thus heading off the risk that we will have to build extra 3,000 houses for Rushmoor and Surrey Heath as well as reducing Hart’s own allocation.  This would of course render the whole consultation irrelevant as it would have been run on the wrong evidence base.

As we have written before, it would be better to wait until the new SHMA is released and run the consultation using the revised housing need numbers.  Due to the purdah rules, the results of the revised consultation could even be released at about the same time as if the consultation were started next week.

Hart District Council (HDC) Local Plan Consultation Time Lines

Local Plan Consultation Time Lines

It is time Hart Council too a leaf out of Rushmoor’s book and waited for the new SHMA before carrying on with the consultation.

 

 

Hart Council refuses to answer questions about the Local Plan

Dad's Army Hart District Council (HDC) refuse to answer questions and don't like it up 'em

Dad’s Army Hart Council don’t like it up ’em

In a quite astonishing development Hart Council refused to answer most of the questions I put to them last night. Most worrying was they refused to answer the questions about how well we are meeting the housing needs expressed in the SHMA.

I was told it was inappropriate use of council resources to further my own research into how well we are meeting the needs of the young with 1 and 2-bed dwellings and was told I should submit an FOI request to find out how many specialist units for the elderly we had built or permitted since 2011 (see SHMA figures 9.8 and 10.15 below). This is despite the SHMA itself (para 9.28) calling for the councils to use the data in the SHMA to monitor their own performance and ensure that future delivery is not unbalanced.

We think this obfuscation is outrageous and we are most concerned that the council refused to answer the questions about how well they are meeting the needs of Hart residents.  So we think it is time for some people power. I ask everyone to help me find out by downloading the suggested text below and emailing it to their councillor and copying in leader, Stephen Parker and chairman, Alan Oliver. You can find your own councillors here, and the email addresses of Stephen Parker and Alan Oliver are stephen.parker@hart.gov.uk and alan.oliver@hart.gov.uk respectively.

How well are we meeting the SHMA requirements?

In, addition, they said they would not publish the new project plan for the Local Plan, nor would they say how they arrived at the conclusion that brownfield capacity for the district was 1,800 units as they said at cabinet in September and in Hart News.

They refused to say who would take responsibility for the consultation debacle, saying it might interfere with the review being carried out by Overview and Scrutiny Committee (O&S).  I have to thank Stuart Bailey, chairman of O&S, who said that he did not intend his review to act as a block to the public asking questions, but this did not alter the view of chairman Alan Oliver that they were not going to answer.

We also learned that apparently the discrepancies between the site capacities shown in the New Homes Booklet and the official evidence base of the SHLAA, don’t matter. They were also very cagey on laying out the risks that the consultation may have to be run a third time when the new SHMA is released next month.

We did find out that the costs of re-running the consultation will be £13,000, although we didn’t find out how much the failed one cost us. We also learned that East Hampshire Council planners will effectively be running the Local Plan on Hart’s behalf now.

Leader Stephen Parker refused to resign when called upon to do so, after presiding over this unholy mess.

We will publish the full text of the questions and answers once they are available on Hart’s website.

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor SHMA Figure 9.8

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor SHMA Figure 9.8

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor SHMA Figure 10.15

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor SHMA Figure 10.15