The case for a brownfield solution to Hart’s housing needs

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

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

As you know, Hart Council has begun a new consultation asking us where we would prefer to build the remaining 2,500 houses we are being asked to build as part of the Local Plan. This has generated some lively debate with some councillors and community groups favouring a new town. Whilst We Hart has a lot of sympathy with the residents of Fleet and Church Crookham, who have suffered from some poor planning decisions over the past years, we aim to show why it would be wrong to consider a new town or urban extension now and make a bad situation even worse.

We have to deliver over 370 houses per year up to 2032.  If these were to be built on green field sites it would mean we would be concreting over the equivalent of 25 football pitches each and every year for 20 years.  This is simply not sustainable, and it is clear something needs to change.

Eminent architects such as Richard Rogers, academics such as Professor Dieter Helm and journalists such as Simon Jenkins have called for our green spaces to be protected and for more building on brownfield land.  The Government is also actively encouraging brownfield development.

The benefits are clear, in that less infrastructure investment is required to support this type of development, urban living makes better use of scarce resources, so is kinder to the environment and town and city dwellers use their cars less and so don’t cause as much congestion.

So, having established the general case for brownfield over green field development, what about the specifics of the proposals before us in Hart?

First, it can be done. We have gone through Hart Council’s data and shown that there are sufficient sites to meet our remaining needs on brownfield site alone, and if we can bring Pyestock into play and Hart are successful in their quest to find even more sites, we will have a surplus of brownfield sites.

Supporters of a new town point to the supposed infrastructure benefits, but we believe this argument is flawed.  There is no doubt that there is a need for more infrastructure investment in our existing towns and villages, as is shown by the current £78m funding deficit.  Even Hart Council acknowledge that new schools would cost £80-100m, but then when you add up the costs of new and improved roads, roundabouts, bridges, sewage works, and railway station, it is clear that a new town will require over £300m of infrastructure spending before you even get to providing new sports and community facilities. But a reasonable expectation of developer contributions is only around £50m.  So, it is clear that a new town, or indeed an urban extension, could not get the infrastructure it needs and more importantly, would not do anything to address the problems in our existing communities .

By contrast, properly designed brownfield redevelopments (not office conversions) would generate developer contributions for local communities and if Hart Council followed Ranil Jayawardena’s advice, they could use compulsory purchase powers to buy up some of these sites and use the profits from development to fund even more local infrastructure.

When you look at travel to work patterns of Hart residents, it is clear that many people work in Fleet, Surrey Heath, Rushmoor and Waverley.  So, residents of a new town will need to travel through Fleet, Church Crookham and Hartley Wintney adding to congestion.  Other workers will travel through Hook to get to work in places like Basingstoke.  Dispersal throughout the district will ease the congestion problem, and brownfield development to the east of Fleet will place workers closer to their jobs and offer greener transport alternatives.

Our housing needs assessment calls for 60-70% of new build properties to be 1 or 2-bedroomed and also calls for over 2,000 units of specialist accommodation for the elderly to be built up to 2031.  A new town or urban extension is likely to continue to build predominantly larger properties at prices of over £500,000 which will no doubt be attractive to those who want to move from London, but will be out of reach of middle income households in Hart and so do nothing for local people.  Well planned development of smaller properties on brownfield sites will do more to help our young people to get on the housing ladder and help older people when they want to down-size to free up their larger properties for growing families.

Of course planning for a new town or urban extension would also open us up to building 3,000 houses for Rushmoor and Surrey Heath.  Whereas a vision and strategy to protect our green lungs in the heart of Hart would offer us some protection.

We also have to challenge the viability of the new town and urban extension plans.  The new town would coalesce our villages into a massive urban sprawl that would effectively become Hartley Winchook.  The proposed urban extensions would add further unwelcome development outside existing settlement boundaries. The professionals who have looked at the new town proposal have said “it would be challenging to plan a compact nuclear settlement on this site”, and of course there are other significant constraints such as lack of mains gas or sewage, flood risk and environmental damage.  All of the new town and urban extension sites have been classed as “not currently developable” by Hart Council.

It is time to make a break from the past mistakes and change to a more sustainable strategy, with a planning horizon of 50 years ahead and realise that more and more housing estates in the countryside are simply not sustainable.  We need to go for dispersal of our housing needs on brownfield sites across the district to build more affordable homes for our young people, create better specialist accommodation for the elderly and generate much needed infrastructure funding for local communities.

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

 

Winchfield Action Group covered in Fleet News and Mail

New town is Hartley Winchook say Winchfield Action Group

New town is Hartley Winchook say Winchfield Action Group

We are pleased to note that Winchfield Action Group were covered in Fleet News and Mail yesterday.  A large image of the article can be found here.

The article notes the big risk of effectively coalescing Hartley Wintney, Winchfield and Hook into a giant conurbation that we have termed Hartley Winchook, leading to a massive increase in congestion and strain on public services as well destruction of habitat and our environment.

It is worth noting again that the proposed new town will be roughly three times the size of Elvetham Heath, more than twice the size of Hartley Wintney and about twice the size of Hook.  We don’t need a new town when there is a brownfield solution.

Show me the money – how will new town infrastructure be funded?

Show me the infrastructure money

Show me the infrastructure money

Hart District Council have made much of the supposed infrastructure benefits of  a new town in Hartley Wintney, Winchfield and Hook parishes to create a new Hartley Winchook conurbation.  But they have so far failed to spell out the infrastructure costs and not disclosed where the money would come from.  It is our belief that these alleged infrastructure benefits are a mirage and would not solve the acknowledged infrastructure issues in Fleet and Church Crookham. Any infrastructure money we get would be better spent regenerating our town centres and this can only be achieved with properly planned redevelopment of the numerous brownfield sites in our town centres.

Our estimate of infrastructure costs is over £300m, with the potential developer contributions of around £50m for a 5,000 house new town.  On its own, this delivers a funding gap of at least £250m, on top of the existing £78m infrastructure funding deficit.  The detail of our workings is shown below.  It is clear that despite two years of work since the last Local Plan failed, the proposals for a new town simply have not been thought through, so it would be madness to vote for a new town in the consultation.

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

Cost estimate:

Infrastructure item Number requiredCost per unit (£m)Cost (£m)
Total359.8
Roundabouts
Roundabout (A30/B3016)144
Roundabout (A287/B3016)144
Roundabout (B3016/New Town)22.55
Roundabout (Pale Lane/A323)12.52.5
Roundabout (A287/Crondall Road)12.52.5
Roundabout (Pilcot Road/Hitches Lane)12.52.5
New Motorway Junction1100100
New roundabout on to A30 for SHL sites 126,136 & 169144
Sub-Total Roundabouts124.5
Bridges
Bridge widening/strenghening River Hart at Queens Head11.51.5
Bridge widening/strenghening River Hart Pale Lane11.51.5
Railway bridges widening and strengthening3515
Sub-Total Bridges18
Roads
New roads into new town (1.5km)1.52.13.15
Widening Bagwell Lane from new road to Station Road (1.5km)1.52.13.15
Widening Taplins Farm Lane/Church Lane to Barley Mow (2 km)22.14.2
Widening Station Road to the Hurst (2km)22.14.2
Widen Pale lane from Barley Mow to A323 (2km)22.14.2
Widen Chatter Alley/Pilcot Rd from Barley Mow to Hitches Lane (2km)22.14.2
Access road improvements to new station around Totters Lane22.14.2
Sub-Total Roads27.3
Schools
Secondary School16060
Primary schools31030
Sub-Total Schools90
Sewage Works
New Sewage works off Pale Lane to west of Edenbrook12525
Sub-Total Sewage Works25
Electricity Pylons
Bury cables underground2.52050
Sub-total Electricity pylons50
Railway Station
New Railway Station at Murrell Green12525
Sub-Total Railway Station25

The sources for these numbers are as follows, with some references to HDC’s Infrastructure Delivery Update:

  • Roundabouts.  Cost of A30 improvements at Blackbushe is around £4m.  Roundabouts at either end of the B3016 will cross a dual carriageway and will likely require some element of approach road improvement, so reasonable to assume the cost of each change will be about the same.  There will also no doubt need to be a new roundabout on to the A30 at Murrell Green. I have scaled down this number for the additional roundabouts needed as they are simpler.
  • Bridge improvements estimated.  Both bridges over the river Hart (at the Queens Head pub and on Pale Lane) will need to be completely replaced and widened to cope with two way traffic and probably some road adjustments too.  The work on the railway bridges will be considerable to widen them to cater for two way traffic underneath, and potentially to strengthen them for double decker trains.  Plus the Barratts new town plan for Winchfield shows a new footbridge over the motorway that hasn’t been individually costed. The bridge on Totters Lane over the railway will also need improvement, but we understand it is listed, so that will be difficult.
  • Road costs estimated from this  2006 report from Imperial College London give a cost of £2.13m/km  of new single carriageway road.  Road lengths above taken from Google Maps.  The infrastructure delivery update indicated that a new M3 junction may be required, although it is unclear where that would be located, nor is it clear where they would build the access roads.   It is difficult to see how a brand new junction will give much change from £100m (despite Hart’s estimate of only £30m in the consultation papers), given a new junction at Birmingham airport will cost £250m.
  • Schools.  Hart Council have quoted £80-100m for new schools.  I have chosen the mid-point of that estimate in the figures above. Note that the secondary school (according to both the Barratts vision document and the Hart strategic assessment of the Winchfield site) is within a couple of hundred metres of the M3 and next door to Mildmay Oaks hospital where a convicted sex offender escaped earlier this year and one of the primary schools is located between the M3 and the railway, hardly a suitable environment for children to grow up in.
  • Electricity Pylons.  No-one is going to want to live underneath high voltage electricity pylons, and two lots of high voltage pylons cross the planned area for the new town.  Presumably they were put there originally because they weren’t near where people live.  It costs £1.6m/km to lay new pylon runs and £20m/km to bury cables.  The infrastructure delivery update indicated that burying the cables may be required “if these sites are to be developed optimally”, so I have used that figure in the calculations.
  • Railway Station.  It cost  over £8m to upgrade the facilities and car-park at Fleet, and even more expensive works would be required at Winchfield: it also cost £4m to extend the platforms at Bedford station.  But the infrastructure delivery update indicated that Winchfield station may be relocated and expanded, most likely to the west (north of the M3). The potential advantages of this approach would be that the existing station could continue to operate until the replacement station opened.  We have therefore estimated a cost of £25m for a new station and believe that this may well be an understatement, because the land will also need to be purchased and big road improvements would be needed on say Totters Lane to allow access to the new station.

Contribution estimate

We might expect around £50m from developing 5,000 new houses that have not yet received planning permission in the local plan.  This is based on only 3,000 houses being eligible for a CIL charge as 40% of what is built has to be “affordable” and does not attract a CIL charge.  If each house is 95 sq m, and the charge per sq m is £175, then this results in CIL funding of ~£50m.  If they use S106 instead of CIL, the yield can be expected to be broadly similar.

If anyone wishes to put forward an alternative or better estimate, with sources, we will gladly update our estimates accordingly.

 

Is the ‘tin-man’ new town plan viable?

Tin Man new town has no heart

Tin Man new town has no heart

The new town, which might be termed Hartley Winchook is Hart District Council’s preferred option to meet our housing needs, but it is not clear whether the proposals are at all viable.

First, if you look at the sites put forward to make up the new town (see below), it is clear they are a mish-mash of disconnected sites bisected by the M3 and the railway, with no clear heart from which to build a successful community. This is recognised by HDC’s planning consultants who have said “It would be challenging to plan a compact nuclear settlement on this site”. In short, this is a ‘tin-man’ proposal for a new town, that Hart Council themselves ruled out back in 2012 and we urge you to oppose it in the consultation.

 

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

Second, there are a large number of significant constraints, many of which will be very difficult to overcome. We have set these out below, pulling the quotes from the official HDC evidence base.

Finally, both Hart and the Government have said that new towns need to be at least 5,000 dwellings. We have taken a look at the housing capacity below, and conclude that it is going to be a struggle to achieve this goal because HDC has not yet taken proper account of the need for SANG, schools, sports facilities, roads, car parks and shops.

We do wonder quite what has been going on inside Hart Planning Department, when last year the new town proposal was the preferred option ‘subject to testing’.  Where are the results of the testing?

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

 

 

Constraints to housing

The first point to note is that each and every site put forward to be part of the new town is listed as “not currently developable” in all of the SHLAA documentation.  There are many constraints noted for the sites, including:

  • The road infrastructure  has limited capacity for additional traffic.
  • There are a number of significant nature conservation features and designations either adjacent or in close proximity to the site.
  • Some part of the site are subject to area based TPOs, particularly to the north of the site, near to Winchfield House.
  • The Hampshire Minerals and Waste Plan Policies Map indicates that parts of the site contain areas subject to minerals safeguarding
  • Characterised as attractive rolling countryside… The potential for new development within this area to negatively impact on landscape character is considered to be significant.”
  • Potential to cause considerable harm to landscape character.
  • It is possible that the site contains some ʻbest and most versatileʼ (BMV) agricultural land
  • There are a variety of Listed Buildings within and adjacent to the site
  • Significant parts of the site are subject to the risk of groundwater flooding at the surface”.
  • The nature of the site, split, with substantial areas of farmland, as well as Winchfield Station between the two halves is considered to significantly influence how a new settlement could be planned.
  • Development at the north of the site risks leading to settlement coalescence with Hartley Wintney”.
  • Overhead power lines traverse the site and may represent a constraint”.
  • The extent to which environmental noise from the motorway and railway impacts on the site should be ascertained.

Housing Capacity

The capacity put forward for each site by Hart Council for the sites in Winchfield, Hook and Hartley Wintney Parishes is shown below.

Parish/Ref Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Site Assessment Capacity (High)
Hook 1,458 1,458
SHL126 450 450
SHL136 663 663
SHL169 345 345
Winchfield 5,039 6,039
SHL124 500 1,500
SHL133 396 396
SHL135 55 55
SHL167 772 772
SHL168 46 46
SHL182 600 600
SHL183 150 150
SHL184 850 850
SHL185 450 450
SHL186 350 350
SHL187 600 600
SHL188 200 200
SHL83 10 10
SHL84 60 60
Grand Total 6,497 7,497

HDC and the Government have said that the minimum size for a new eco-town is 5,000 dwellings. However, many of these sites have not yet been fully assessed by officers to verify the housing capacity claimed by developers.  Of particular note is that only ~50Ha of land has been assigned to SANG (part of SHL183).  A development of 5,000 houses would require 100Ha of land (minimum of 8Ha per 1,000 people), so a further 50Ha at least is required.  At Hart’s usual planning rule of thumb of 30 dwellings per hectare, this would reduce the available capacity by 1,500 units.

A new settlement would also require space for sports facilities.  Hartley Wintney has three football pitches and a cricket pitch, and it is less than half the size of the proposed new town. So, let’s assume a new town would need 6 football pitches and 2 cricket pitches.  Hartley Wintney FC (with three pitches covers some 3Ha and the cricket pitch some 1.5 Ha) – together say 9 Ha.

HDC say the new town would also need 4 new schools, one secondary and three primary.  Robert Mays’ site is around 5 Ha (measured on Google Maps) and the site of Greenfields School at Hartley Wintney is around 2.5Ha, so the four schools would need around 12Ha between them.

Then of course, there would need to be a new supermarket and other shops, medical facilities and other employment space. Tesco in Hook takes up about 1 Ha, but the new town is to be around twice the size of Hook, so a bigger store would be needed. So let’s say a conservative 10Ha in total for supermarkets, shops, surgeries and car parks.

Then of course, we need space for new roads, a sewage works and the new railway station.  Fleet station is around 2 Ha, and the old sewage works at Branshott Farm was around 2 Ha.  New roads and a motorway junction will further reduce capacity.

That brings the total up to around 35 Ha.  That takes off space for a further 1,050 dwellings.

As can be seen, when you take into account the need for SANG, schools, shops, sports facilities, new station and sewage works, the available capacity drops by around 2,550 units, taking the low end estimate of housing capacity to ~4,000, well below the minimum 5,000 and the high end just below the boundary of viability.

A number of the sites are unlikely to ever be suitable for housing, and other sites have very real issues with the potential for groundwater flooding which would further reduce capacity. For example, site SHL167 has just been refused permission for even a solar farm, and SHL133 is borders two SSSI’s and a significant part of it is subject to flooding. And sites such as SHL182, 184, 186, 187 and 188 do not yet appear to have had their capacities factored down by officers to take account of the constraints.

And of course, Dr Anne Crampton has called for a 500m exclusion zone around the motorway, which would render the whole scheme unviable.

 

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

New town plan transforms Winchfield into a concrete jungle

Winchfield SHLAA Sites in Hart District Hampshire

Winchfield SHLAA Sites in Hart District Hampshire

The combination of the sites put forward for the Winchfield new town will put more than half of the beautiful countryside at the Heart of Hart under concrete with devastating impacts on the ecology and environment.  But readers should also note that around a quarter of the planned houses will be in Hook parish, with some of it in Hartley Wintney next to the Dilly Lane development, many houses on the boundary with Odiham Parish and of course the eastern boundary of the site will directly abut Fleet and be very close to the Edenbrook estate.

The notion that this is in any way “sustainable development” is total nonsense and the notion that there will be limited impact on other areas of the district is also nonsense.

If you want to protect our countryside you must vote for Approach 1, a dispersal strategy in the Local Plan consultation and ask Hart Council to find again the 1,400 sites they lost.  Our remaining needs can be met from brownfield sites alone.

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

Do we really want to create a giant Hartley Winchook conurbation?

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

Hartley Winchook New Town proposal for Hart District in Hampshire

As you may know, Hart District Council has embarked on a new consultation about the Hart Local Plan.  One of the approaches put forward is for a “new settlement at Winchfield”.  However, this is misleading because a number of the sites that form part of the proposal are in the Hook and Hartley Wintney parishes.  This new town proposal is really a plan to create a single conurbation of Hartley Winchook that will damage the distinct identity if each of the existing settlements.

Moreover, there are also sites in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment that further encroach on the parishes of Hartley Wintney and Hook.

Let’s take a look at Hartley Wintney parish first:

Hartley Wintney SHLAA sites in Hart District

Hartley Wintney SHLAA sites in Hart District, Hampshire

As can be seen, many of the proposed new town sites adjoin the Hartley Wintney parish boundary and site SHL 124 actually adjoins what will become phase 2 of the St Mary’s Park Dilly Lane development.  Moreover, the pink rectangle that is bisected by the Hart Parish boundary where it adjoins Fleet and Elvetham Heath is the site of a proposed urban extension to the Elvetham Heath community.

Now, let’s take a look at Hook:

Hook SHLAA sites in Hart District

Hook SHLAA sites in Hart District, Hampshire

As you can see, sites 126, 136 and 169 already make up part of the proposed new town and they are in the Hook Parish and 1,458 houses are proposed.  More than half of SHL167 is also in Hook Parish, delivering a further 400 houses to Hook, giving a total of around 1,850 dwellings.  These are very close to sites 1&2 where Hart Council has already resolved to grant planning permission and to sites SHL 3 & 4, which so far have been rejected, but the capacity is between 1,000 and 2,800 houses.  It is surely only a matter of time before voracious developers start to lobby for sites 3 and 4 to be included in the package to make the whole thing “more sustainable”, as if concreting over our green fields is in any way sustainable.

The only way to combat this urbanisation of our countryside is to vote for Approach 1, dispersal in the current consultation about the Hart Local Plan, and make comments saying you want Hart Council to find again the brownfield sites they said were “readily quantifiable”.

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

Lock, stock and two smoking barrels

lock stock and two smoking barrels

Lock, stock and two smoking barrels

I present without further comment the contents of a letter I sent to Hart District Council yesterday (Friday 20 November 2015). Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

Errors, omissions and anomalies in the (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment) SHLAA and consultation materials

Dear Messrs Daryl Phillips and Stephen Parker,

It is clear that Hart Council has been very busy, publishing a vast array of new material about the SHLAA and the materials to be used in the forthcoming consultation about Housing Options.  I have burned a considerable amount of midnight oil going through those materials in some detail, and I have identified material errors, omissions and anomalies that give me serious cause for concern that I would like to share with you.  The Excel workbook containing the amalgamation of the SHLAA Master List, the NHB data and the SHLAA detail is attached for reference. These fall into several broad categories:

  • Assessment of brownfield site capacity and delivery
  • Deliverable and developable sites not included in the Developing a Local Plan for Hart paper (DLP) nor the New Homes Sites Booklet (NHB)
  • Sites missing from NHB but in the SHLAA
  • Discrepancies between capacity shown in NHB compared to SHLAA detail
  • Sites shown in detailed assessment but not in master list
  • Sites assessed as “not currently developable”, but have been granted planning permission
  • Range of meanings of “not currently developable”
  • Lack of consideration of the economic aspects of housing options 
  1. Assessment of brownfield site capacity and delivery.

There are a number of components to this:

In Hart News in September, and again at cabinet on 1 October, it was said that brownfield capacity had increased to 1,800 units. Now, this has miraculously fallen by 75% to 450 units on some dubious grounds. First, para 41 of the DLP states correctly that years 6-10 need only “developable” sites to be included, beyond that you can be more vague about sites.  We are already 4 years into the plan period and, according to the land supply calculation based on the current inflated SHMA, we have 5.7 years of land supply.  Yet, you are only selecting sites to be included in your calculations that meet the most onerous criterion of being “deliverable”.  As you know I have two FOI requests outstanding with you, the first is inquiring about the disposition of the 750 brownfield units that we were told were achievable back on November 2014, and the second asking for the analysis to support the 1,800 figure.  It seems to me you have inappropriately applied criteria that are too onerous in order to artificially reduce the potential brownfield capacity.  An example of this would be excluding Bramshill, when everyone knows it will be preferable for this site to undergo some sort of redevelopment to stop the Grade 1 listed building decaying and of course the hideous 1970’s accommodation blocks need replacing too.

You have under-stated the brownfield capacity in the DLP, compared to the assessed capacity in the SHLAA documents. This is shown in the table below:

Parish/Ref Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (High) Sum of Brownfield Capacity in Table 1 in DLP doc
Blackwater and Hawley 320 320 300
SHL100 320 320 300
Church Crookham 6 6 8
SHL28 6 6 8
Elvetham Heath 45 45 45
SHL104 45 45 45
Fleet 221 221 83
SHL113 12 12 17
SHL245 8 8 14
SHL320 150 150 20
SHL322 37 37 17
SHL41 6 6 6
SHL42 8 8 9
Grand Total 592 592 436

 

This shows that the capacity shown in the DLP (excluding the 20 units from the sites with planning permission) is some 156 units lower than your own assessments in the SHLAA documents with most of the discrepancy arising from sites SHL320 & 322.  Correcting this would reduce the net requirement by 156 units.

In Figure 2 of the DLP, you assert that 52% of the development completed or where permission has been granted since 2011 is on brownfield sites. Yet at September Council, a question was asked along similar lines and the response was “these figures exclude brownfield sites that require planning permission, because those are not currently split between greenfield and brownfield developments”.  This leads one to conclude either that you have simply made up the figures in the DLP, or you knowingly misled the Council and the public in September.  Which is it?

  1. Deliverable and developable sites not included

[updated with this note]

There’s a large number of deliverable and developable sites that are in the SHLAA but not apparently referred to in the DLP or the NHB.  A list if these is shown in the table below (some of which are in the NHB):

Parish/Ref Sum of NHB Capacity Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (High)
Blackwater and Hawley 320 320
SHL100 320 320
Church Crookham 6 6
SHL28 6 6
Elvetham Heath 45 45
SHL104 45 45
Fleet 25 243 248
SHL113 12 12
SHL245 8 8
SHL275 25 12 17
SHL320 150 150
SHL322 37 37
SHL41 6 6
SHL42 8 8
SHL69 10 10
Hartley Wintney 6 6
SHL95 6 6
Hook 550 550
SHL1&2 550 550
South Warnborough 16 16 16
SHL172 16 16 16
Grand Total 41 1,186 1,191

The land supply document shows a total of 3,878 units built, permitted or deliverable up until 1 April 2015, some 722 below the 4,600 figure you assert in the DLP.  I accept that 340 units from SHL1 & 2 and 10 from SHL69 are included in the land supply.  But the land supply does not include 300 units from Watery Lane.  Netting all of this off, then there are around 5,000 units already accounted for by being completed, permitted or deliverable, which would reduce the current net requirement by ~400 units compared to what you assert in the DLP.

  1. Sites missing from NHB but in the SHLAA

There are 76 units on sites in the SHLAA that are not already on the brownfield list and not strategic sites that do not appear in the NHB.  These are shown in the table below:

Parish/Ref Sum of NHB Capacity Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (High)
Fleet 10 10
SHL69 10 10
Hartley Wintney 6 6
SHL95 6 6
Heckfield 5 5
SHL157 5 5
Mattingley 48 48
SHL160 48 48
Yateley 7 7
SHL18 7 7
Grand Total 76 76

 

This raises the question as to why these sites have not been included in the NHB process either as selected or rejected sites.

 

  1. Discrepancies between capacity in NHB and SHLAA

There are material discrepancies between the site capacities shown in the NHB and those in the SHLAA.  Sometimes the NHB can be above the SHLAA figures and sometimes below.  But overall, adding up all of the sites where the NHB capacity is outside the range of SHLAA lower and upper limits, the NHB shows a lower capacity of some 1,500 units.  This demonstrates that the potential capacity of dispersal sites is being materially under-stated.  These sites are shown in the table in Appendix 1.

 

  1. Sites present in the detail of the SHLAA but not on the master list, and hence not in the NHB, nor mentioned in the DLP.

There are three sites, SHL167, 168 and 169 appear in the detailed assessments of sites, but not on the master list.

  1. Sites shown as “not currently developable” but have in fact been granted planning permission

Sites SHL68 and SHL117 are listed in the detail SHLAA documents as “not currently developable”, but according to the master list of sites have been granted planning permission.

  1. Range of meanings of “not currently developable”

It is clear from the above that the term “not currently developable” is a somewhat elastic phrase that can include sites that are just an administrative stroke of the pen away from deliverability as well as sites that face very significant challenges.  Many sites in the NHB and of course many of the strategic sites face very significant challenges that it is difficult to see how they can be remedied, such as proximity to flood zones, SSSI’s, SINCs, TPOs and the SPA and lack of proximity to existing settlements whereas others are much closer to deliverability.

However, the main materials being circulated for the consultation do not make this distinction clear.

  1. Lack of discussion about economics

The discussion about infrastructure costs in the DLP, with the only mention of costs being the woefully [inadequate] £30m for a new motorway junction – I would think there is little chance of change out of £100m.  But even so this misses out other important infrastructure items like the local road system, new or upgraded railway station, widening of the railway bridges over the local roads, new sewage farm, burying overhead power lines, new schools and new healthcare facilities to name but a few.  Hart currently has a £78m infrastructure funding deficit, Hampshire as a whole £1.9bn and the local NHS is predicted to have a large annual funding deficit.

These issues associated with a new town should be spelled out in detail, and I would think many of the same issues will arise with urban extensions.

It is certainly true that these issues will need to be resolved before the Local Plan can be found sound at examination.

So, what are we to conclude from the above?  First, the discrepancies outlined above, once corrected will make a very material difference to the calculation of how many more houses we need to build on green field sites (if any) and the capacity of each parish to deliver them.  I do not wish to subscribe to conspiracy theories.  However, the sum-total of the above, coupled with the obvious single-minded desire on the part of some members to push through a new town at all costs, leads me to conclude that either the people who created these consultation documents were incompetent or they are by their omission or intent about to mislead the public.   It is also clear that whatever systems and processes you are using to plan, manage, monitor and control the SHLAA are completely inadequate with such large discrepancies between different views of the same data.

It is clear to me that the forthcoming consultation should be postponed until these discrepancies are ironed out.

I would like you to treat this letter as a formal complaint and respond according to LGO guidelines.  I might also add that I will copy this letter to the chairman of the Standards Committee to ask him to set up an investigation and to our Local MP.  You might expect this letter and your response to be presented as evidence in any examination of the Local Plan.

Yours sincerely,

 

cc:           Peter Kern, Chairman of Hart DC Standards Committee

Ranil Jayawardena, MP

 

Appendix 1:

Parish/Ref Sum of NHB Capacity Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (Low) Sum of Site Assessment Capacity (High)
Blackwater and Hawley 15 12 12
SHL21 15 12 12
Bramshill 300 250 250
SHL106 300 250 250
Crondall 112 130 130
SHL159 65 100 100
SHL72 16 18 18
SHL76 31 12 12
Crookham Village 70 100 100
SHL53 70 100 100
Dogmersfield 40 5 10
SHL39 40 5 10
Eversley 91 123 123
SHL127 50 70 70
SHL140 41 53 53
Ewshot 120 187 187
SHL174 63 105 105
SHL355 48 75 75
SHL80 9 7 7
Fleet 706 881 886
SHL102 43 45 45
SHL275 25 12 17
SHL333 500 750 750
SHL50 46 60 60
SHL51 92 14 14
Hartley Wintney 208 287 301
SHL155 117 194 194
SHL216 8 6 6
SHL35 34 3 17
SHL45 25 51 51
SHL91 10 11 11
SHL97 12 10 10
SHL99 2 12 12
Heckfield 169 45 65
SHL109 44 5 5
SHL257 62 20 30
SHL259 63 20 30
Hook 2,090 3,849 3,849
SHL123 13 20 20
SHL3 543 1,000 1,000
SHL4 458 1,800 1,800
SHL5 1,065 1,000 1,000
SHL6 11 29 29
Long Sutton 63 65 65
SHL296 6 5 5
SHL335 34 35 35
SHL336 23 25 25
Mattingley 130 40 60
SHL239 55 20 30
SHL240 75 20 30
Odiham 3,308 2,894 2,904
SHL108 387 160 160
SHL110 2,160 1,900 1,900
SHL138 204 261 261
SHL228 48 75 75
SHL29 10 6 6
SHL328 25 30 30
SHL329 44 30 30
SHL57 47 75 75
SHL59 115 175 175
SHL60 11 12 12
SHL65 36 50 50
SHL67 53 80 80
SHL78 168 40 50
Rotherwick 130 200 200
SHL86 130 200 200
South Warnborough 36 20 25
SHL70 7 5 5
SHL75 29 15 20
Winchfield 119 32 42
SHL114 11 12 12
SHL262 108 20 30
Yateley 9 60 60
SHL13 0 8 8
SHL149 0 10 10
SHL17 0 30 30
SHL303 9 12 12
Grand Total 7,716 9,180 9,269

See more at our consultation page:

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Hartley Wintney councillors furious over Hart Council news ‘propaganda’

Fury over council news propaganda Fleet News and Mail

Fury over council news propaganda

Councillors for Hartley Wintney ward, Anne Crampton, Andrew Renshaw and Tim Southern have expressed their fury to the Fleet News and Mail about the way Hart  District Council expressed a preference for a new town in Winchfield in the latest edition of Hart News, even though the testing process is not yet complete.

Hart Council said in their article about the Local Plan:

[Winchfield] has an existing station, and it is relatively free of environmental contraints. It is also close to the motorway which could also possibly allow for a new junction onto the M3.

Clearly major infrastructure improvements would be needed and it would be a large scale project that would fundamentally change that part of Hart

The councillors think that edition of Hart News should be pulped because they think it inappropriate for the council to be putting out only one side of the story when they are preparing to engage the public in another round of consultation about housing options.

Not only that, Hart have done very little work to quantify the infrastructure costs of such a development, but our estimate of £300m, taken together with the existing funding deficit of £78m would mean a new town is simply undeliverable.

This comes hot on the heels of the article by Hampshire County Councillor David Simpson in the local Liberal Democrat newsletter where he says “Winchfield is the wrong place for major development”

Hart Council cabinet is due to debate their response to the We Heart Hart petition tomorrow night at Hart Offices at 7pm.  Please do come along and support us.  Facebook invitation here.

Large image of the article here.

UPDATE: Same story now covered in GetHampshire

Hartley Wintney and Eversley Lib Dems oppose Winchfield New Town

Hart in Heart of Hart, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

Hart in the Heart of Hart, Winchfield

In a very welcome move, the latest edition of the Liberal Democrats’ Focus newsletter for Hartley Wintney and Eversley includes an article strongly opposing a new town in Winchfield.

The article is authored by David Simpson, the Hampshire County Councillor for the area.  In it he says:

I have said, right from the start, that Winchfield is the wrong place for a major development as it is in the middle of the country lanes.  To work it would need massive spending on new roads and infrastructure that will devastate the rural heart of Hart”…

“What is needed is proper planning of where new houses should go and how infrastructure is provided to ensure a good quality of life for local residents.

That means ensuring we can get to where we need to go without traffic jams; it means making sure we have all the services we need, and it means accommodating development without ruining our beautiful district.

Make sure you stand up to be counted be letting Hart know your views.  We are at crisis point. If we don’t make sure they get it right, our children and grandchildren could regret these decisions for generations to come.”

We Heart Hart completely endorses this view.  It is to be hoped that these views are shared by the Lib Dem councillors on Hart District Council and they now vote against the proposals for a new town and exert pressure to improve the Hart Local Plan.

Images of the newsletter are shown below:

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 1 of 2

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 1 of 2

 

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 2 of 2

Lib Dem Focus Sept 2015 2 of 2

Full size images here and here.

Update: One Lib Dem councillor we spoke to last night at council denies having seen the article.  So, this page has been sent to a number of Lib Dem councillors and we have asked them what their current position is on the Winchfield New Town.