Questions to Hart Council 28 January 2016

Hart District Council Offices, We Heart Hart. We Love Hart

Hart District Council Offices in Fleet, Hampshire.

After the Local Plan consultation debacle, we have put a series of questions to Hart Council that will be answered at their meeting on 28 January 2016.  Please do come along if you can.

The full questions can be found on the download below, and cover whether Hart Council has a project plan we can believe in; the progress (or otherwise) made in testing the Winchfield new town proposals; what happened to the 1,800 dwellings that Hart said in September could be built on brownfield sites; discrepancies between the consultation documents and the official SHLAA; how well we are meeting the needs of the young and elderly; the risks of re-running the consultation now, given the housing target (SHMA) is about to change and of course, seeking clarity on who instigated and authorised the fateful changes to the consultation materials part way through.

Questions for Council 28 Jan 16

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Consultation ends in farce

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the omnishambles Consultation.

Consultation ends in farce

Fleet News and Mail has carried the story of the Hart Local Plan consultation omnishambles in its 20 January 2016 edition.  The full article can be found on this large image here. Now also online.

They cover our call for significant change in the Local Plan project, including replacing the Local Plan Steering Group who have presided over this sorry mess. We cannot continue to have a situation where with each year that goes by, the project slips by another year. They also cover our call for a proper brownfield solution to be included as one of the options.

Dermot Smith of Hook Action Against Over Development also criticises the council for wasting our time and money. Although he wrongly accuses We Heart Hart of having a vested interest in undermining the process.

To be clear, we want the process to be solid, we want a good Local Plan and quickly.  We first highlighted the project management and governance issues last April and called for change.  However, Hart Council ignored us, and all Hart residents are now paying the price.

Hart Consultation ends in farce Fleet News and Mail 20 Jan 2016

Hart Consultation ends in farce.

Update 2 includes clip – We Heart Hart interviewed on Eagle Radio

We Heart Hart interviewed on Eagle Radio

We Heart Hart interviewed on Eagle Radio.

We Heart Hart has been interviewed today by Eagle Radio about Hart Council’s (HDC) astonishing decision to abandon the Local Plan consultation.  The clip will be broadcast on news bulletins on the hour between 6 am and 10am tomorrow, Wednesday 20 January 2016. You can tune-in on 96.4FM, DAB or online.

If and when we get a copy of the clip, we will post it below:

 

This has now been broadcast on Eagle news and they are running a story on their website, here.  The clip can be found below:

 

 

 

We Heart Hart response to the decision to abandon the consultation

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the omnishambles Consultation.

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices.

After a period of reflection, we have now had time to compose a response to Hart’s astonishing decision to abandon the Local Plan consultation and set out what we think should happen to bring the Local Plan back on track. This has been sent to all councillors.

Readers may wish to copy a link to this page and send it to their ward councillor and add their own ideas on what should be done.  A list of councillor contact details can be found here.

What should we think about Hart Council’s decision to call off the Local Plan consultation with only a day to go before it was due to close?  Well, to misquote Churchill, this consultation has been a farce in a fiasco inside an omnishambles.  Never has so little been achieved by so many with so much of our money.

This is but the latest entry in a catalogue of mismanagement and misjudgement.

Back in April 2015, Peter Village QC described Hart’s position as “hopeless” and precious little has changed since then.  This abandoned consultation has not even covered the areas that he said should have been covered, namely, employment, retail, transport and infrastructure.

Now, let’s look at the timeline:

  • In October, 2013, when the earlier version of the plan was rejected by the Planning Inspector, the council said:

“that while the council operates under the interim strategy, it is working on an updated Local Plan…. We expect to put this out for consultation early next year, and would look to submit it to an inspector next autumn [2014],”

  • 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.
  • As late as April last year, the council was insisting that they were still on track to deliver a Resubmission Plan by Autumn 2015, despite our warnings that the project was slipping.
  • We are now in a position, according to the latest schedule, where the Resubmission plan is due in Autumn 2016, but this has to be in serious doubt given the failure of this consultation and the fact that the evidence base won’t be revised until Spring 2016 and Hart have to hold a Regulation 18 consultation on the draft Local Plan, and heaven knows why it is planned for the Summer, when many people will be on holiday.

It is difficult to come to a conclusion other than the project management is woeful.

We need also to look at the governance of the project.  Power on the Local Plan Steering Group (LPSG) is concentrated in the hands of urban councillors who have presided over this mess.

Role Member
Cabinet Member for Planning (Chairman) Stephen Parker (Con Fleet East)
The Leader of Council Stephen Parker (Con Fleet East)
Cabinet Member for Housing Stephen Gorys (Con – Odiham)
Chairman of Planning Committee Simon Ambler (CCH – Crookham West and Ewshot)
Political Group Leaders David Neighbour (Lib Dem – Yateley East)

James Radley (CCH – Crookham East)

Stephen Parker (Con – Fleet East)

 

Not only that, the quality of the deliverables to date is poor.  By way of example, in January last year Hart commissioned a piece of work to test the new settlement and urban extension options.  The published results of this work have not met the objectives set at the outset.

I have had many people send me Facebook messages, tweets and emails saying what a farce the process has been a shambles and a waste of time and money.  One correspondent has even been moved to write a poem, saying they thought our leader has led us up the garden path and couldn’t even run a bath. In short the council is a laughing stock. Many people have also come to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that the reason the consultation has been called off is that the people were giving the ‘wrong answer’. There is no confidence in the council, the credibility of the whole Local Plan process is subterranean, with some complaining of “consultation fatigue”.

If the consultation is re-run at the end of January, it is extremely likely that parts of the new evidence base will be released during the consultation, thus meaning that the consultation will be run on the wrong evidence base, invalidating the results.

The Local Plan process is so far behind schedule that we are running the risk of Central Government stepping in and doing the Local Plan for us.  Moreover, the Government is currently consulting on plans to remove the New Homes Bonus from councils that do not have a Local Plan, so this further failure may result in a hit to services or increases in council tax. So, it is clear we need a good Local Plan and quickly.

But before we can move forwards it is imperative that we fix the management and governance failings that have led us to this unhappy place. It is simply untenable for the current incumbents to carry on as if nothing has happened.

The changes we need are:

  • Resignation of the entire LPSG from their positions to be replaced by a new group of senior councillors from a balance of rural and urban wards.
  • I’m sorry to say it, but the cabinet member for planning and leader’s position is untenable after presiding over such a comedy of errors.
  • Whoever authorised the change to the questions mid-way through the consultation within the “officer” side must at least be severely reprimanded.
  • Hart need to appoint an experienced project manager to run the Local Plan project who should immediately review it and put together a realistic scope, objectives, deliverables, resource requirements, costs and timelines, publish it, and offer it for scrutiny by a recognised project assurance organisation
  • Only when the revised evidence base (SHMA and Employment Land Review) has been published, should Hart run a new Regulation 18 consultation covering employment, retail, transport, infrastructure as well as housing distribution as per the advice from Peter Village QC. The consultation should be put together and run by a competent third party organisation.
  • A standalone brownfield approach, covering all current brownfield sites in the SHLAA, the Stonegate Report and any new zones of opportunity identified in the call for sites should be added to the consultation as per the request of the 2,130 signatories of the WHH petition. It is simply not credible to set a “deliverable” criterion for brownfield sites when almost all of the green field sites subject to consultation were “not currently developable”.  The council can’t have it one way for brownfield and another for greenfield sites. Many brownfield sites in the SHLAA/New Homes Booklet were “rejected” for apparently arbitrary reasons, they certainly did not appear to have more onerous constraints on them compared to those selected for consultation in Q6.
  • The differences between the site capacities shown in the New Homes Booklet compared to those in the official evidence base in the SHLAA (see point 4 in this letter to councillors, dated 20 November 2015 and Appendix) need to be rectified.
  • The process of the consultation needs to be simplified and improved, with the weighting system being resolved and published before the consultation starts.
  • The risks of a new town and urban extensions should be properly laid out (including creating capacity to take 3,000 houses from Rushmoor and Surrey Heath and the infrastructure costs).
  • All of the SHLAA sites should be offered for consultation in Q6, and the ranking approach changed to something more objective and able to be analysed across parishes such as “strongly oppose, oppose, support, strongly support”. It should be possible to pass comment without ranking sites that you don’t agree should be developed. It was particularly odd to see that the NHB rejected sites that had appeared in Neighbourhood plans.
  • You might do well to review my suggested 5-point plan that I tried to put to council in the Summer, but my question was censored.
  • The different infrastructure contribution regimes for different styles of development should be properly explained: a certain cabinet member was spreading misleading information about this during the recent consultation. My understanding is that only office conversions attract no S106/CIL whereas brownfield redevelopment is subject to the same contribution regime as green field development. It should also be explained that new homes in vacant office blocks attract council tax (and new homes bonus), which HDC retains, rather than business rates much of which is surrendered to the Government.
  • There also needs to be more robust processes for verifying the identity of all those participating in the consultation, and proper rules set on who can and cannot comment: theoretically the consultation just abandoned could have been answered by babes in arms in Aberdeen which is clearly ridiculous.

Only root and branch change of process and personnel will restore confidence and give enough credibility to create a sporting chance of getting a good Local Plan on time.

Press release is available for download below, together with a carousel of pictures of our shot demo outside Hart Offices.

Response to Hart’s decision to abandon the consultation

 

 

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the consultation shambles

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices about the consultation shambles.

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the omnishambles Consultation

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices about the omnishambles Consultation

Protest at Hart's Offices about the Consultation farce

Protest at Hart’s Offices about the Consultation farce

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the consultation fiasco

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices about the consultation fiasco

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the Consultation farce

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices about the omnishambles Consultation.

Protest at Hart Council's Offices about the Consultation shambles

Protest at Hart Council’s Offices about the omnishambles Consultation

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Rushmoor calls for new town, urban extensions and dispersal in Hart

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Earlier this week Rushmoor cabinet considered its response to Hart’s Local Plan consultation and has come up with some controversial proposals.

First, their response says:

Rushmoor Borough Council supports the strategy of prioritising development on brownfield land, and on land outside the zone of influence for the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. Rushmoor expects that in addition to this, the first full consultation version of the Hart Local Plan will be based on a strategy to meet housing needs that requires a combination of the options set out in in the consultation paper. This will include dispersed development, strategic urban extensions and a new settlement at Winchfield in order to help deliver the housing need identified in the SHMA.

And in a veiled criticism of Hart’s strategy of holding the consultation now, when the evidence base is under review it says:

At this stage in the plan preparation process, Rushmoor Borough Council considers that the most appropriate strategy and timescale for meeting housing need across the HMA can only be identified once the update to the evidence base is in place. Moreover, until the implications of the conclusions in the updated evidence base are understood, it is not possible to comment on the detail of the housing options in isolation from other strategic cross boundary issues.

However, Rushmoor reserves the right to change its response, once the new evidence base is published:

It may be that once this evidence base is updated, some of Rushmoor’s comments may change or fall away, particularly when Hart publishes a complete version of its Local Plan for consultation, based on the most up to date evidence.

It seems to us that it would be poor strategy to commit to a new town now, when the evidence base is being reviewed. It may be that the threat to build 3,000 extra houses for Rushmoor and Surrey Heath falls away and Hart’s own alleged “need” also falls, in which case we will be able to build all of our remaining need on brownfield sites and have many sites left over for future planning periods. If we had a vision to keep our essential countryside, and not build a new town, then we would not need to meet Rushmoor’s need.

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town alternative 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 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

7 reasons to oppose a new town in Hart

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

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

As the consultation on the Hart District Local Plan draws to a close, it is worth reiterating the main reasons why you should oppose a new town and urban extensions in Hart.

  1. They would open us up to 3,000 extra houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor, and we would get the worst of all worlds, a new town, urban extensions and green field dispersal.
  2. The rate of building would then be used against us in the next planning period, so the problems we create today would be compounded into the future.
  3. It would be bad strategy to commit to a new town now, when we know that the housing needs assessment is being revised, and in all likelihood it will be revise down
  4. The proposed new town location is simply not suitable, in that there isn’t enough land to create the nirvana of a self contained new settlement promised by some HDC councillors, and would lead to a giant Hartley Winchook conurbation.
  5. The infrastructure costs are astronomical, and the developer contributions will not meet these costs, thus pushing up council taxes in the future
  6. There is an alternative brownfield solution that will meet the actual needs of Hart residents through providing specialist accommodation for the elderly and affordable starter homes for the young people struggling to get on the housing ladder.
  7. Brownfield development is a more sustainable, greener alternative that will be kinder to the environment and provide infrastructure funding for our existing communities.

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town alternative 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 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

 

 

Hartley Wintney residents turn out to oppose Winchfield new town

Hartley Wintney residents turn out to oppose WInchfield new town

Hartley Wintney residents turn out to oppose Winchfield new town

About 150 concerned Hartley Wintney residents came out to hear about Hart Council’s Local Plan consultation this morning at Victoria Hall.  It was very pleasing to see such a large number of people opposing the plans for a new town at Winchfield.

We Heart Hart is very grateful to Hartley Wintney Parish Council for organising the event, and for letting us speak. We had many messages of support and encouragement, before. during and after the meeting.  We only ask that these messages of support are converted into actual votes in the consultation.

We reiterated our main points that:

Hart is being asked to build too many houses. Hart councillors should be thorough in their analysis of the revised Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), and be robust in challenging the housing numbers and in asking Rushmoor and Surrey Heath to meet their own needs.

Second, there is a brownfield solution to our housing needs, even if we accept the current housing numbers.  We showed how a combination of the brownfield SHLAA sites and the disused offices identified by Stonegate, can be used to meet our remaining housing need in full.

Third, there is a lot of misinformation being spread about the supposed infrastructure benefits of a new town.  We currently have a £78m infrastructure funding deficit which a new town will do nothing to address, and of course, Hart Council have not been able to explain how they will fund the £300m costs of a new town.

Finally, a new town won’t meet the needs of the elderly and won’t deliver starter homes for the young.

Councillor Steve Forster did turn up to speak as well, but was politely asked to sit down again after alienating most of the people in the room.  Some interesting insight and support for We Heart Hart ideas was also given by COunty Councillor David Simpson and district councillor Andrew Renshaw.  Tristram Cary of Winchfield Action Group also spoke, setting out four key reasons to oppose the new town, in line with our thinking.

If you would like to join these Hartley Wintney residents in objecting to the new town idea, 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 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 resident describes Winchfield new town as “monstrous”

Development proposals around M3 J4a and Bramshott Farm

Development proposals around M3 J4a and Bramshott Farm

A resident of Fleet has written to We Heart Hart and described the proposals for a new town at Winchfield as “monstrous” and proposed a number of brownfield sites around the district as alternatives to meet our housing needs. He also points out that “our MP, Mr Ranil Jayawardena, is against coalescence in the Winchfield area as it will introduce hideous and wanton destruction of a large chunk of rural Hampshire by HDC civic vandals and philistines”.

His full report that has been sent to Hart District Council can be downloaded on the link below.

The alternative brownfield sites he proposes for development include Bramshott Farm, Minley and Guillemont Park, shown in the image above.

He goes on to propose a number of other sites including land near Runabout and Iveley Road (see below),

Development proposals Norris Bridge Gyratory

Development proposals Norris Bridge Gyratory

Additional brownfield land near Pyestock (see below),

Development proposals around Kennels Lane

Development proposals around Kennels Lane near Pyestock

and the worked out gravel pits near Bramshill and Blackbushe airport (see below).

Development proposals on brownfield gravel pit sites at Bramshill

Development proposals on brownfield gravel pit sites near Blackbushe

We welcome these ideas from a Fleet resident, as it shows that opposition to a new town comes from many people, not just those living in or near Winchfield. If you would like to make your voice heard and object to the new town idea, 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 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

 

Full report from the Fleet resident:

Fleet resident brownfield site ideas

Link

Winchfield floods again

Winchfield flooded again Taplins Farm Lane

Winchfield flooded again Taplins Farm Lane

Bravehart was out and about again this afternoon and shot a video of another flood on Taplins Farm Lane in Winchfield again, for the second time in a week.

How long will it take for the message to get through a new town of 5,000 houses is simply not viable on these sites and these roads?

If you would like to make your voice heard and object to the new town idea, 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 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

 

Whitewater Valley Preservation Society Oppose Winchfield/Hook new town

River Whitewater Preservation Society 300x222

River Whitewater

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society (WVPS) have struck a blow for common sense and advised their members to vote against the proposed Hartley Winchook new settlement in Winchfield and Hook parishes.

Their full advice can be found here.  The key quotes from their document are:

“The potential impact of 5,000 houses said to be at Winchfield, but especially those either side of the A30 at Murrell Green, upon the river and its valley will be significant. One other site which will have a significant impact on the river and valley is in Odiham parish at North Warnborough / Greywell”…

…”If, on looking at the table above, you are not convinced of the benefits of a new town, then in question 4 you
should rank Approach 3 last; and in question 5 you should rank Approach 4 first (this being the only one which
excludes the Winchfield new town)”…

…”The Hook sites at Murrell Green listed in the table above are all in the proposed Winchfield new settlement, and the Odiham site “COM004” would see the open fields between Greywell and North Warnborough developed with houses and sports pitches”…

…”And the second pair of questions asks to what extent you agree with the draft vision and whether you have any comments on the Vision. You may wish to point out, in response to either of these two pairs of questions that the level and location of the developments proposed will clearly make it very difficult to realise the vision.”

If you agree with WVPS and would like to make your voice heard and object to the new town idea, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask Hart to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and 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 and our rivers.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes