Response to Hook Action Against Over Development

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

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

Hook Action Against Over Development have written an article on their website which has been shared on Facebook, criticising both our support of a brownfield solution to our housing needs and the statement from the CPRE saying that the Winchfield New Town proposal was the worst site and the worst option for development.

We re-produce their article below, together with our responses in blue:

There has been a lot of talk about brownfield development and some claims that a new settlement is not necessary because brownfield housing development can provide for all of Hart’s housing needs. Brownfield housing development is the reuse of property or land for residential use where it was previously used for something else, for example office space, industrial land, military use or farm buildings.

Yes, we do believe that all of Hart’s remaining housing need can be met from brownfield sites, and we have set out the case and our plan here and here.  This draws on sites in the SHLAA at only ~26 dwellings per hectare (dph) and the work of the Stonegate Report, plus we have added the civic area that Fleet Future recommended for redevelopment and Fleet Town Council have raised their council tax to fund the costs of preparing a redevelopment plan.

One group in particular from outside of Hook is putting forward the suggestion that the Hart consultation is a simple choice between brownfield and greenfield development. But no matter how much they repeat it does not make it any more true. The CPRE, an organisation with laudable aims, appears to have now fallen for this fiction and hijacking of the term “sustainable development”.

We believe they are referring to We Heart Hart.  We believe the CPRE have not put forward an actual plan, but have clearly stated that they think that a new town at Winchfield is the worst site and worst option for development in Hart.  Sustainable development was defined by the Sustainable Development Commission as:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The concept of sustainable development can be interpreted in many different ways, but at its core is an approach to development that looks to balance different, and often competing, needs against an awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations we face as a society.

We believe that sustainable development does not include concreting over the equivalent of 25 football pitches per year of green fields and leaving untouched, vacant, decaying office blocks. A new settlement would compromise future generations by needlessly concreting over hundreds of hectares of green fields, depriving future generations of the health benefits of the countryside. The economics of the proposals don’t stack up, requiring ~£350m of infrastructure spending, money that neither Hart nor Hampshire County Council have, especially now that HCC is facing an £81m per annum funding deficit. 

Hart’s housing strategy is brownfield first, but Hart cannot propose development on sites that are in commercial use or that have not been put forward for housing. If they were to do so then the Local Plan would fail inspection again at the first hurdle and this would be a disaster. Even hypothetically utilising these unavailable brownfield sites would demand construction at inner city density in order to meet Hart’s objectively assessed housing need. We cannot believe that CPRE are promoting building at such a density in Hart. That would not be sustainable.

We agree that sites need to be developable and eventually deliverable and nobody wants to see the Local Plan fail. Back in September, Hart Council said that they thought the brownfield capacity was 1,800 units.  Miraculously, this has fallen by 75% to only 450 units in the consultation. However, as described above, most of the sites we have put forward are in the SHLAA and in no worse state of deliverability than those put forward for consultation. The other sites are in the Stonegate report and we understand Stonegate are working hard to secure these sites.  The average density for the SHLAA sites is less than Hart’s planning rule of thumb at 26dph, and the Stonegate sites are at no higher density than developments that Hart has granted permission for such as the McCarthy & Stone’s recent development on Fleet Road which many people think is an attractive building.

Hart are actually consulting on which of Hart’s green fields should be selected for housing in the event that there is insufficient brownfield land to meet the housing need. Given the vast expansion of the existing towns and villages in Hart already, with Hook alone having a 25% expansion approved for this Local Plan period, the only suitable and truly sustainable option is a new settlement to allow for a planned increase in infrastructure. Just expanding existing towns and villages either piecemeal or with “urban extensions” is still building on green fields, but in a way that will not provide the opportunity to build extra schools, roads and health facilities that the thousands of new Hart residents will require. That would not be sustainable.

The proposed new town will in fact deliver over 1,800 houses in Hook Parish, which is more than the proposed urban extension and more than the undeveloped brownfield sites.  To be clear, we do not support urban extensions either because we believe all of the remaining need can be met on brownfield sites. The infrastructure costs for a new town do not stack up and a new town will do nothing to close the large £12.2m existing infrastructure funding gap in Hook, and £20.7m gap in Fleet and Church Crookham. No evidence has been presented that we need a new secondary school and the funding for a new town will not address existing road bottlenecks, nor will there be sufficient funding to address the roads requirements of a new town. We repeat, we do not believe concreting over 25 football pitches each year is at all sustainable.

Elimination of all potential commercial property space in Hart is in fact extremely short-sighted. Even the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership which is urging more housing would not want to see commercial space becoming rare and expensive. There is already an acknowledged shortage within Hart of small business units and light industrial space. Larger available office space provides options for small local businesses to grow without leaving the area. A thriving local economy needs a balance of housing and business to provide employment opportunities locally and avoid all of these new residents having to take to the roads and railways to commute out of the area for work on already busy transport links. That would not be sustainable.

Nobody is saying that all of the vacant commercial space be handed over to housing.  But even the Employment Land Review, based as it is on the inflated Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and the inflated jobs forecasts, suggests that there will be around 600,000 sq m of vacant employment space across the Housing Market Area at the end of the plan period and Rushmoor was planning to “protect” 96 Ha of vacant brownfield sites that simply are not needed. If there was such a shortage of offices or of light industrial space, places like the Murrell Green Estate would not have the big vacancies they currently have. Of course it would be more sustainable to free up some of these spaces and redevelop them for residential use rather than leave them to rot and decay.

There is very little brownfield land in Hart but there is an amusing “brownfield site slideshow”, made available by campaigners whose aim is to push development away from their village, to supposedly “demonstrate” how much brownfield land is available for housing. If you happen to see it, do bear in mind that:

  • Several of the sites are already being developed for housing (and therefore counted in existing housing build numbers!) such as Landata House and Greenwell in Hook, Sun Park and others.
  • Several of the sites are being converted to other commercial uses, e.g. Warehousing at Pyestock and retail development on Fleet Road where M&S are looking to move to an expanded new store.
  • Several of the sites are in fact just one vacant floor(or even a partial floor) in an otherwise occupied office building!

Now perhaps the future really is an office building with some adjacent floorspace being residential, but can anyone imagine this being attractive to either residential or commercial tenants?!

The fact that some of the sites have already been taken up for redevelopment simply proves our case and shows it can be done.  Our brownfield solution has taken account of the sites that are already underway. Work at Hartland Park (aka Pyestock) stopped years ago, and there is no sign of it re-starting.  The owners will not wish to keep an expensive site forever generating no returns. Of course if M&S moves into another Fleet Road site, then they will leave behind a different vacant block to go with the many other vacant units in the Hart Centre.

There are plenty of examples of mixed residential and commercial use, both in this country and on the continent.  Nobody is suggesting this should happen without comprehensive redevelopment.

This current consultation is clearly not about a choice between brownfield and greenfield development, it is about the best way to provide Hart’s required housing with essential supporting infrastructure and only a new settlement can achieve that. For more, please refer to our previous article hookdevaction.org.uk/hart-housing-consultation-restarted-your-action-needed.

The Hartley Winchook new town is not required, it not viable because of the flood risks and the massive, unfunded infrastructure costs, and will not be sustainable in any sense of the word. There is a brownfield alternative, and we should seize that opportunity.

 

 

Here are the slideshows of vacant brownfield sites we have found in Hart and Rushmoor:

 

  • We Heart Hart's Mascot - Bravehart
    We Heart Hart's Mascot - Bravehart

 

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

Hart Council starts to identify brownfield opportunities

Hart District Council (HDC) starts the process of identifying brownfield opportunities

Hart Council starts the process of identifying brownfield opportunities

In a welcome development, it appears as though Hart Council has started the process of identifying brownfield opportunity areas.

These include Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), Ancells Farm and part of Redfields Business Park.  This is an important development as Hart had previously ruled out Pyestock as a location.

They also identify a wide range of other brownfield sites, from the SHLAA that were deemed to have a capacity of 592 units, at an average density of 32.5 dwellings per hectare.

Parish/Ref Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (High) Sum of Size (Ha.) Average of Low Density (dpa)
Blackwater and Hawley 320 320 12.00 26.7
SHL100 320 320 12.00 26.7
Church Crookham 6 6 0.42 14.3
SHL28 6 6 0.42 14.3
Elvetham Heath 45 45 2.25 20.0
SHL104 45 45 2.25 20.0
Fleet 221 221 3.56 62.1
SHL113 12 12 0.68 17.6
SHL245 8 8 0.18 44.4
SHL320 150 150 1.80 83.3
SHL322 37 37 0.61 60.7
SHL41 6 6 0.05 120.0
SHL42 8 8 0.24 33.3
Grand Total 592 592 18.23 32.5

Whilst this is a welcome development, it is clear that work is yet to start on the rest of the district outside the environs of Fleet and Church Crookham.

We do call into question the assertions in the consultation that there is only capacity for 450 units on brownfield sites and the timing of the consultation, as it seems clear that brownfield capacity is going to rise significantly, so we will not need a new town, nor urban extensions.

If you would like to ask Hart to redouble its efforts to build the case for 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

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

Impact of a new town on Fleet and Church Crookham

Fleet and Church Crookham

Impact of new town on Fleet and Church Crookham

I have a great deal of sympathy for residents of Fleet and Church Crookham who have suffered a great deal of development in recent years with insufficient investment in infrastructure.  However, a new town in Winchfield, Hook and Hartley Wintney parishes is not the panacea for Fleet residents that that many of the Hart Councillors would have you believe.
There will be negative impacts in 4 main ways:

  • Starvation of infrastructure funding
  • Extra traffic and congestion
  • Lack of affordable homes
  • Destruction of amenity space

Infrastructure Funding

Hart Council currently has a £78m infrastructure funding deficit, much of it in Fleet, Church Crookham and Hook. This does not include healthcare where there is a forecast £47m funding deficit in five years time.  A new town will need about £300m of infrastructure spending to make it work, but a realistic assessment of developer contributions is £40-50m.  This leaves a further gap of ~£250m.  There are already complaints about long waiting lists at doctors and lack of other amenities.  It is clear that a new town will be under-funded with consequent impact on other parts of Hart District, where there will be no spare money to address the deficit that already exists in all areas of Hart including Fleet and Church Crookham.

 

Congestion

Where Hart Residents Work

Where Hart Residents Work, SHMA Figure 13

Let’s have a look at where Hart residents work, using the evidence of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).

A bit less than half of them work in Hart – 45%. So of the 12,500 new people in a new town, 45% of those of working age will work in Hart. The biggest employment centres are in Fleet and Hook. So a significant proportion of the new town workers will go to work in Fleet. They are not all going to work in a new supermarket in the new town.

A significant proportion will also work in Rushmoor (Farnborough and Aldershot), Surrey Heath (Camberley) and Waverley (Farnham) – some 18% in total.

The most obvious travel to work route for many of these people will be along Pale Lane, through Elvetham Heath/Fleet or along Chatter Alley, through Dogmersfield, Crookham Village and Church Crookham.  But these roads are narrow and a difficult to upgrade due to bridge constraints, so maybe a new road out of the new town on to Hitches Lane will be required.

A big portion – 6.2%, will use the train to go up to London from a station that is already full, on a line that is operating at or above design capacity.

Another group will go to Hook directly, or through Hook and/or Hartley Wintney to get to Reading or Bracknell adding to existing peak time congestion on the A30.

Pretending a new town will have no impact on congestion in Fleet and the Crookhams is plainly wrong.

Surely much better and more sustainable to direct housing development to the east of Fleet at Ancells Farm, Bramshott Farm and Pyestock (some of them brownfield sites) with a cycle route to Fleet station and a cycle route to the Cody Tech centre or the Farnborough airport complex.

Affordable Housing

 

Vacant Office Admiral House, Harlington Way, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Admiral House, Harlington Way, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

As of 26/11/15, the cheapest 1-bed and 2-bed new homes available within 1 mile of Fleet are available at prices of £215,000 and £235,000 (Rightmove). Median household incomes for Hart are £40,200 per Figure 4.8 of the SHMA. This means that the cheapest new homes are between 5.3 and 5.8 times median incomes and out of reach for the average household, so something should be done.

The SHMA calls for 60-70% of new build to be 1 and 2-bed properties across the Housing Market Area.  The developers are going to want to do what they always do, that is to build 3-5 bedroom detached houses in the new town which will be no doubt attractive to those moving from London, but will do nothing to meet the needs of ordinary people living in Hart.

Surely, it would be better to build smaller, starter properties on brownfield sites such as Ancells Farm, Fleet Road, Harlington Way in Fleet and Bartley Wood in Hook to give younger people a more affordable first step on the housing ladder.  This iwll do far more to meet the actual need outlined in the SHMA, and be more sustainable for our environment.

Destruction of amenity space

The Heart of Hart, the area around Winchfield, is used as an amenity area for walking, cycling, watching wildlife and other recreation. Concreting it over and joining together Hartley Wintney, Winchfield and Hook into a giant Hartley Winchook conurbation will lead to lack of amenity for everyone.  Hart Council is yet to report on the consultation it ran earlier this year on how we value our amenity space.

If you are concerned about the impact of a new town, we have created 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

There is a brownfield solution to Hart’s housing needs

Vacant brownfield Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Office at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

We have done some further analysis on Hart’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) and come to the conclusion that Hart’s housing needs can be met from brownfield sites alone.  We believe this is a potentially viable solution that should form part of the forthcoming Housing Options consultation as part of the Local Plan.  Instead Hart Council have ignored the wishes of 2,130 people who signed the WeHeartHart petition and only put forward solutions that involve concreting over vast swathes of our countryside.

Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/donation-thermometer/.2,350Hart District Brownfield Development Target3,993Hart District Brownfield Development Target170%

[Updated 2 March 2016 to add in the new brownfield SHLAA sites as described here]

[Updated 31 March 2016 to include Pyestock (aka Hartland Park)]

[Updated 30 August 2016 to re-set target to 2,350 now that Moulsham Lane, Yateley has been given the go ahead]

So, how have we arrived at our conclusion?

Brownfield sites in the SHLAA

We have been through the SHLAA and identified those sites that are mostly or wholly brownfield in nature, and added up total capacity as recorded in the SHLAA.  Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), is now also an official SHLAA site.  In total, these sites amount to between 3,208 and 3,250 homes at an average density of a relatively modest 28 dwellings per hectare (dph). The detail is shown in the table below:

ParishRef.NameBrownfield Capacity in Table 1 in DLPSite Assessment Capacity (Low)Site Assessment Capacity (High)Size (Ha.)Low Density (dpa)
Blackwater and HawleySHL21Linkwater Cottages, Blackwater12120.6418.75
Blackwater and HawleySHL100Sun Park, Guillemont Park North3003203201226.66
BramshillSHL106Bramshill (Police Training Centre)2502501025
Church CrookhamSHL2826/32 Bowenhurst Road8660.4214.28
Crookham VillageSHL158Crondall House, Fleet27271.1323.89
DogmersfieldSHL39Fermoy, Farnham Road5102.232.24
DogmersfieldSHL55Land at Church Lane, Dogmersfield20200.8224.39
Elvetham HeathSHL104Land at Elvetham Heath4545452.2520
EversleySHL127Land at Paul’s Field, Eversley70702.825
EversleySHL140Land off Warbrook Lane53531.7630.11
EwshotSHL36Dachs Lodge, Redfields, Church Crookham29291.224.16
EwshotSHL80Tanglewood, Ewshot770.3122.58
EwshotSHL174Peacocks Nursery Garden Centre1051053.530
EwshotSHL235Land at Willow Croft, Church Crookham50502.7518.18
FleetSHL41Imac Systems, Fleet6660.05120
FleetSHL42Camden Walk, Fleet9880.2433.33
FleetSHL50Waterfront Business Park, Fleet60601.4641.09
FleetSHL6918 Church Road, Fleet10100.07142.85
FleetSHL102Land at Bramshot Lane45451.825
FleetSHL113Thurlston House1712120.6817.64
FleetSHL245Land at 154-158 Albert Street & Fleet Road14880.1844.44
FleetSHL275Land at Little Mead, Fleet12171.0611.32
FleetSHL320Fleet Town Centre Zone 2201501501.883.33
FleetSHL322Fleet Town Centre Police Station1737370.6160.65
FleetSHL357Land at Sankey Lane, Fleet20200.6431.25
FleetTBAPyestock (aka Hartland Park)1,5001,50048.238.1
Hartley WintneySHL95Nero Brewery, Hartley Wintney660.1540
Hartley WintneySHL216Land adj. to James Farm Cottages, Hartley
Wintney
660.2920.68
HookSHL111Hook Garden Centre, Reading Road, Nr. Hook57574.4712.75
Long SuttonSHL296Old Dairy, Long Sutton550.225
OdihamSHL29Land at Butts End660.415
OdihamSHL66Rear garden of 4 Western Lane, Odiham16160.6425
OdihamSHL119Land at the rear of Longwood, Odiham990.3129.03
South WarnboroughSHL70Stables at Lees Cottage, South
Warnborough
550.2520
South WarnboroughSHL172Granary Court, South Warnborough16160.6923.18
WinchfieldSHL34Land adjoining Winchfield Court18251.0616.98
WinchfieldSHL84Land at Winchfield Lodge60603.815.78
WinchfieldSHL114Trimmers Cottage, Winchfield Hurst12120.4924.48
Church CrookhamSHL81Vertu, Beacon Hill Road, Church Crookham65701.7636.93
Blackwater and HawleySHL176Hawley House, Hawley8100.326.66
CrondallSHL178Broden Stables & Stable Yard, Crondall14271.410
CrondallSHL179Bowenhurst Lane, Crondall30351.520
Hartley WintneySHL189Land at James Farm, Hartley Wintney880.3125.8
Total3,2083,25011727.9

A number of these sites are “not currently developable” according to Hart.  But most of the green field sites they have put forward are also not currently developable.  We believe that the issues surrounding brownfield sites should capable of being resolved more easily than those for green field sites.

Sites not in the SHLAA

There are a number of sites not in the SHLAA that nevertheless should be considered that amount to around 785 additional homes.  These include the parts of Ancells Farm, Bartley Wood and Fleet High Street that have not already been permitted or counted elsewhere. We have also counted the complex of under-utilised offices that include Admiral House, Flagship House, Hart Offices and Harlington centre in Fleet.  Much of this site was recommended by Fleet Future, but for some reason Hart Council have ignored it.  But we can think of no reason why a council that was truly committed to a brownfield first strategy would not offer up its own under-utilised offices to be part of new, mixed use development and move to one of the other vacant office blocks in the district.  These sites, with an allowance for parts of sites that have already been permitted, are shown in the table below.

ParishSite DescriptionEstimated capacityNote
FleetAdmiral House, Flagship House, Hart Offices and Harlington centre350Paper by Gareth Price identified 775 units on a larger site incorporating much of this area
FleetAncells Farm370From Stonegate report
FleetFleet vacant offices220From Stonegate report
HookBartley Wood200From Stonegate report
Less units already granted permission or already counted-355Part of Ancells Farm and Barley Wood already granted. SHL 320 already counted
Total785

Conclusions

Drawing this together, there’s capacity for between 3,993 and 4,035 units on brownfield sites, without increasing the density on any of the SHLAA sites.

Now, according to Hart, we have to find space for a further 2,350 homes (now that 150 houses have been approved at Moulsham Lane, Yateley), according to the current Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).  This shows that we have now more than met our remaining needs from brownfield sites alone. We certainly do not need a new town at Winchfield or any new urban extensions in Hook, Fleet or Elvetham Heath.

However, we also know that Alan Wenban-Smith has challenged the SHMA and said that we need around 2,000 fewer houses.  If this were accepted by the inspector, we would have an even bigger surplus of brownfield capacity to take into the next planning period.

We also know that the SHMA is being revised, and the Government has published revised population and household forecasts earlier this year and these showed much lower figures for Hart.  Again, this should result in a lower housing allocation, and we would end up with a surplus of brownfield sites until the next planning period.

This begs the question why Hart Council is not including a formal brownfield option in its forthcoming consultation, when that was the clear view of the 2,130 people who signed the WeHeartHart petition.  Persisting with new town and urban extension solutions is untenable.  Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

Is housing capacity in Fleet really only 30 dwellings?

Housing Capacity of 30 units in Fleet Hampshire

Housing Capacity of 30 units in Fleet Hampshire

Hart Council has published a booklet as part of its forthcoming consultation setting out its estimate of housing capacity for each parish in the district.  There are a number of strange anomalies in that booklet, including stating the capacity of Bramshill to be zero, when there is the old Police College ripe for redevelopment and Elvetham Heath, again set to zero when Hart even identify a capacity of 45 homes in their main consultation document.

But the most egregious anomaly is the estimate of only 30 units in Fleet itself.  This misses out many brownfield sites that are ripe for redevelopment such as:

  1. The complex of offices that includes Admiral House, Flagship House, Hart Council Offices and the Harlington Centre that were identified and promoted by Fleet Future:
Vacant Office Admiral House, Harlington Way, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Admiral House, Harlington Way, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Harlington Centre, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Harlington Centre, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Office Flagship House, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Office Flagship House, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Hart District Council Offices

Hart District Council Offices

2. The derelict offices on Fleet Road, again identified by Fleet Future:

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices on Fleet Road in Fleet, Hampshire

3. Fleet Police Station:

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hampshire

4. The still vacant units on Ancells Farm that have not yet been taken up by Stonegate:

Vacant brownfield Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Office at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

5. The 119-acre Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), which has capacity for thousands of homes and where development of a new warehouse has stalled:

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

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

 

It is ridiculous, and some might say negligent, that Hart Council should be promoting a new town at Winchfield and/or urban extensions in Fleet or Hook for the Local Plan when there is plenty of vacant and derelict land that could form a more sustainable solution. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

Community Campaign Hart takes aim at the Heart of Hart

Hart District Council takes aim at the Heart of Hart

Community Campaign Hart takes aim at the Heart of Hart

Community Campaign Hart (CCH) have published a new newsletter on their website that calls for a new settlement to destroy the Heart of Hart in Winchfield.

In their article they make criticism of We Heart Hart and the good residents of Winchfield, and come to the conclusion that the only viable option for delivering the housing we need is a new settlement of 3,000-5,000 houses in Winchfield.  In their article they make a number of assertions that we believe are false, and will now seek to correct them, point by point.  But first, it is important that we start with the areas where we agree with CCH.

Points of Agreement

CCH say:

Until Hart have an LDP which meets the approval of a Government-appointed inspector, developers are in effect able to build on almost any greenfield site they choose

We broadly agree with this, although as in the case of Hop Garden Road in Hook, sometimes common sense can prevail especially now that Hart has more than 5 years of land supply.  However, if CCH are so concerned about the lack of a Local Plan, they should work more closely with We Heart Hart and others to ensure that Hart Council takes proper steps to improve the management of the Local Plan project that has slipped its timescale by two years within two years.  They would do better to use their time at council meetings to ask questions about the local plan rather than seek to stifle difficult questions.

Points of Difference

1. CCH say:

There just isn’t enough brownfield land available to accommodate that number of new homes, unless we are going to build high-rise tenement blocks along the length of Fleet Road.

This is simply not true on a number of levels.  First, the council hasn’t even created a proper register of brownfield sites so it hasn’t properly assessed capacity.  Second, our own work has shown there’s capacity for between 2,438 and 3,688 units, compared to the remaining unsatisfied “need” of 2,900 given at the last cabinet.

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices on Fleet Road in Fleet, Hampshire

Third, parts of Fleet Road are a disgrace to the district and should be redeveloped, not with tenements, but with mid-rise (say 3-4 storey) high quality apartments to help young people get on the housing ladder.  Finally, there is brownfield capacity all over the district including Ancell’s Farm, Bartley Wood, Pyestock, Bramshill and Guillemont Park.  They really should get out more and see all of the vacant offices around the district.

2. CCH say:

With a mainline railway station far closer to it than to any other new development in Fleet; with the option to integrate new roads onto the A30 and through to the M3; together with sufficient scale to fund three new primary schools and a new secondary school, Winchfield strikes many as being the best compromise

This is economic incompetence of the highest order.  The council’s own assessment of infrastructure needs points to costs of over £300m for a new town including the schools, but not including improvements to healthcare.  The ballpark estimate for developer contributions made by a senior Hart Councillor is around £40m.  There’s already a £78m infrastructure funding deficit in the district and £1.9bn across Hampshire.  Not only would a new town at Winchfield destroy green fields, it would destroy ancient hedgerows and put at risk SSSI’s and SINCs, but it would no doubt further increase congestion in Fleet and Church Crookham.

3, CCH say:

Consequently they have resorted to social media and other marketing techniques to promote the ‘wehearthart’ message.

However, their messaging is incomplete. They point to the council wishing to build a new town at Winchfield and seek to demonize anyone who may have reached the conclusion, however reluctantly, that a new town at Winchfield is the least worst solution out of an abhorrent set of options. They do not explain what the alternatives are, as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) mandates that this level of housing must go somewhere within Hart’s borders

We do not see what is wrong with communicating with the public using social media on the serious issue of the Local Plan, particularly when the council gets its own facts wrong.  However, We Heart Hart has explained what the alternatives are at some length, and the CCH Chairman of the council sought to have questions that we raised to indicate a different path censored at council meetings.  The alternatives are:

a) Reduce the alleged housing need by challenging the SHMA, particularly taking into account the latest DCLG population forecasts that indicate a lower population in 2031 than assumed in the SHMA and the reducing ridiculous jobs forecasts.  CCH would do well to engage with this debate instead of seeking to censor it.

b) Explore the options for reducing the assessed housing need by exploring so called “policy on” options to protect the environment and ecology.  Note that Winchfield is beautiful countryside in its own right, but is also within the 5km zone of influence of the Thames Valley Heath SPA.

c) Properly get to grips with brownfield options by establishing a brownfield register, actively encouraging landlords to redevelop their derelict sites and exploring the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders on sites that have sat vacant for years with no apparent signs of progress (e.g. Hartland Park aka Pyestock).

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

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

CCH need to wake up, smell the coffee, listen to Ranil Jaywardena and use their talents to establish a different vision to protect the countryside they profess to love rather than coming out with incomplete, inaccurate nonsense.  Be careful who you vote for in next year’s local elections.

This story now covered in the local press, see here.

Remaining Hart District housing target can be met from brownfield sites alone

Vacant block at Bartley Wood in Hook, Hampshire

Bartley Wood Estate in Hook

New facts have come to light since Hart Council planning department put together their estimate of brownfield capacity which show that Hart’s remaining housing target can be met from brownfield development alone. Please support us in getting a brownfield only option included in the forthcoming consultation by attending the Hart Cabinet on 1 October where Hart’s response to the We Heart Hart petition will be agreed.

Last November, the council’s estimate of brownfield capacity over the entire plan period was around 750 units (taken from parts 1 and 3 of the SHLAA as per the FOI request we made) out of the then remaining 4,000 units to build (or grant permission for) up to 2032.

Since then, a number of interesting things have happened:

  • An important study by Stonegate Homes has shown that brownfield capacity is much larger
  • Planning permission has been applied for or granted on other sites that were either not in the SHLAA or were not counted as brownfield sites.
  • New potential sites have come to light that were not included in the SHLAA
LocationNumber of Dwellings
Guillemont Park Phase 1 (not included as brownfield site in SHLAA) 150
Guillemont Park Phase 2320
Ancells Farm, Fleet370
Bartley Wood, Hook200
Fleet Road, Fleet220
Bramshill House350
Fleet Police Station50
Extra dwellings at Landata House28
Total1,688

All of the dwellings above were not included as brownfield sites in the SHLAA.  Guillemont Park (Sun Park) was in the SHLAA but for a smaller number of units, and was shown in Part 2, which was not considered to include brownfield locations.  Since last November revised permission has been granted at Landata House, Hook for 28 more dwellings than were included in the 5 year land supply calculation.

The Bramshill House and Fleet Police station sites were not included in the SHLAA.

The Stonegate report identified 370 units at Ancell’s Farm in Fleet, 200 units at Bartley Wood in Hook and a further 220 units on Fleet Road in Fleet.

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

However, the proposals for Ancells Farm cover only 7 of the 23 office buildings in the business park which shows that there is additional capacity there.  Moreover, there are even more vacant office blocks in Hook so there is more capacity there too.  Of course, across Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor, there is currently 500,000 sq m of vacant office space, and forecasts for even more vacancies, so there is no danger of restricting jobs growth by redeveloping offices.

If the original 750 units were to be added to the 1,688 units identified above, then that amounts to a total of 2,438 potential units on brownfield.  If it were possible to increase the density (from 30dph to a still reasonable 80dph in urban areas) on the original 750 units, the total identified capacity would rise to some 3,688 units.

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

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

Moreover, these figures do not include the massive potential of the 119 acre Hartland Park (or Pyestock) site where planning permission for a big warehouse was given years ago, but no activity is visible.  Surely, the developers of this site want to earn some return on their investment and would change to residential.

The remaining requirement of 4,000 has of course been reduced by the unfortunate decisions to allow development at Watery Lane (300 units) and Hawley Park Farm (126 units) leaving the remaining allocation of at most 3,574.

It is clear that it is easily possible to meet the entire remaining of 3,574 from brownfield alone.  It will take some creativity and energy, but a combination of increasing density and allocating more vacant offices is easily within reach, so we don’t need a new town and can protect our countryside.

We have put proposals to Hart Council to include a formal brownfield option in their forthcoming consultation on the Hart Local Plan.  Please support us by coming along to the Hart Cabinet on 1 October where Hart’s response to the We Heart Hart petition will be agreed.

Hart District and Rushmoor can meet their housing needs from brownfield sites for 50 years or more

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

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

A new paper by young architecture graduate, Gareth Price shows that Hart District and Rushmoor Borough could build 49,000 homes on brownfield sites by shedding the old models of the past and adopting a more modern approach of building higher density developments in existing urban areas.  This would avoid urban sprawl and protect our green fields to act as amenity space for the enjoyment of all.

Gareth’s document goes through many of the brownfield sites in both Hart and Rushmoor and applies modern techniques to demonstrate how more can be made of existing land to build more affordable homes on brownfield sites in urban areas to meet the needs of younger people who are struggling to get on the housing ladder and the elderly who will more, smaller more manageable homes closer existing amenities and infrastructure.

The paper illustrates also illustrates where these techniques have been applied in London and on the continent to create vibrant, cohesive communities.

This paper is exactly the sort of thing that We Heart Hart had in mind when we put forward our 5-point plan for improving Hart’s approach to the Local Plan where we called for a competition to be held amongst architects to illustrate the art of the possible on our brownfield sites and provide a vision to guide the regeneration of our urban town centres as an alternative to endless urban sprawl across our green fields.

No doubt there will be some who will disagree with the level of development intensity Gareth proposes for some areas in Hart, where he concludes we could build 25,000 homes on them.  However, it is clear that the capacity of the brownfield sites he has studied is very much greater than the 700 dwellings Hart has said we could deliver over the period up to 2032.  Indeed, according to our brownfield monitor the capacity is already up to 2,360 units in just 6 months.  We must challenge Rushmoor to make more of their brownfield sites.

The paper can be downloaded below:

 

A sustainable approach to building on brownfield sites in Hart District and Rushmoor

 

Link

Hart District Council gets its facts wrong on the Local Plan

Hart District Council Local Plan Update Spring-Summer 2015

Hart District Council Local Plan Update Spring-Summer 2015

Hart District Council has published an article in the latest copy of Hart News that gets its facts wrong on how many houses we have to build under the emerging Local Plan.

As can be seen from the above image, Hart Council is saying we only need to build 4,000 houses up to 2032.  However, this is in direct contradiction to the strategic housing market assessment and the evidence presented to Cabinet back in November 2014 that clearly states we need to build 7,534 houses in the period up to 2032.

Hart District Council Housing Requirement from Cabinet Meeting November 2014 or Local Plan; SHMA

Hart District Housing Requirement from Cabinet Meeting Nov 2014

Even 7,534 houses is probably an understatement, because Rushmoor Borough Council and Surrey Heath Borough Council have told Hart that they cannot build all of their allocation on their own patches and want Hart to build a further 3,100 houses for them.  This would give a total of 10,634 houses to be built in Hart up to 2032.

Hart District acts as sink for 3,100 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Housing Shortfall

Hart’s strategy of building a new settlement (option 4) in Winchfield creates additional capacity that makes it much more likely that we will have to take these additional houses.

The article in Hart News also further illustrates that Hart is not serious about its brownfield strategy as they are continuing to ignore the large number of vacant office blocks and sites such as Sun Park and Hartland Park and are still assuming only 30 dwellings per hectare. Furthermore, they make no mention of the need to build specialist housing for our ageing population which a new town won’t deliver.

Finally, Hart Council were supposed to be consulting on the draft plan now, with a view to modifying it during the Summer before publication of the actual plan for a further round of consultation in the Autumn.  But now they have skipped one of the consultations.

We can only speculate as to the motives behind this mistake and the skipping of one round of consultation. However, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Hart District Council are hiding the truth, and trying to push through a disastrous strategy without proper consultation.

If you would like to oppose Hart’s approach to the Local Plan, please sign and share our petition:

 

Go to Petition