CCH calling the shots on Hart SANG plan to obstruct brownfield development
Hart Council has published a new report recommending that its own SANG land should not be used to enable brownfield development. This effectively renders the council’s SANG useless and calls into question the council’s ability to fund the repayments on the loan it has taken out to buy the SANG.
The document is sponsored by Community Campaign Hart (CCH) Deputy Leader, James Radley and not the portfolio holder for Planning, Lib Dem Graham Cockarill. This indicates that CCH is pulling the strings on important planning matters. The Hart SANG plan will be discussed at Cabinet tomorrow.
Hart SANG plan
Hart has bought its own SANG land at Bramshot Farm which lies between Ancells Farm and the link road between Hartland Village and the M3. The site has capacity to support 1,745 new houses. The new report proposes that no SANG land is allocated to the sites set out below unless signed off by both the Services Portfolio Holder (James Radley) and the chair of the Planning Committee (Graham Cockarill).
Brownfield sites affected
The following brownfield sites will effectively be blocked from development by the Hart SANG plan:
- Bartley Wood, Hook, RG27, 9UP
- Bartley Point, Hook, RG27 9EX
- Cody Park, Farnborough, GU14 0LX
- Meadows Business Park, Blackwater, GU17 9AB
- Osborne Way, Hook, RG27 9HY
- Waterfront Business Park, Fleet, GU51 3OT
- Ancells Business Park, Fleet, GU51 2UJ (right next door to Bramshot Farm)
- Blackbushe Business Park, GU46 6GA
- Eversley Haulage Yard, RG27 0PZ
- Eversley Storage, RG27 0PY
- Finn’s Business Park, Crondall, GU10 5HP
- Fleet Business Park, Church Crookham, GU52 8BF
- Grove Farm Barn, Crookham Village, GU51 5RX
- Lodge Farm, North Warnborough, RG29 1HA
- Murrell Green Business Park, RG27 9GR
- Potters Industrial Park, Church Crookham, GU52 6EU
- Rawlings Depot, Hook, RG27 9HU
- Redfields Business Park, Church Crookham, GU52 0RD
- Optrex Business Park, Rotherwick, RG27 9AY
Essentially, development on every significant potential brownfield site other than Hartland Park and Sun Park (which already have SANG earmarked), will be hindered by this new proposal.
This new proposal runs contrary to the Vision outlined in the draft Local Plan which says:
The priority will have been given to the effective use of previously developed land (‘brownfield land’) so that ‘greenfield’ development will have been limited,
It also runs contrary to paras 105 and 107:
Our preference is still to deliver as much of our New Homes Left to Plan as possible on previously developed land.
many new homes will be built on brownfield sites (where possible and if they are viable)
Their new approach also goes against policy MG2 that says:
Policy MG2: Previously Developed Land
The Council will encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value.
Of course, this plan also goes against stated Government policy to encourage brownfield development. See here and here.
Financial impact of Hart SANG plan
However, all the large, controversial green field developments are being proposed with their own SANG. This includes Murrell Green, Winchfield, Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase), Rye Common and Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse). Most of these sites are probably outside the 5km catchment area of this SANG anyway or closer to Crookham Park SANG. Of course, the new Government consultation has reduced Hart’s housing target by ~4,000 houses compared to the draft Local Plan. If this new target (plus a few extra to help out Surrey Heath) was adopted, our remaining housing target could be more than met by Sun Park and Hartland Park alone.
So, if the main brownfield sites are excluded from using the council SANG, the other brownfield sites have their own SANG and the major greenfield sites are not needed, or have their own SANG, we have to ask what it will be used for.
Apparently, the council is about to sign an agreement with Rushmoor to use the SANG to support the delivery of approximately 1,500 new homes in Rushmoor. However, the latest Government housing target consultation has reduced Rushmoor’s allocation by ~3,000 dwellings and Surrey Heath’s by 630 houses. This calls into question whether Rushmoor will need this SANG at all.
The council is strapped for cash, and has borrowed £5.3m to fund the purchase of this SANG. It must payback this loan in instalments up to 2023/24:
These new developments call into question the immediate demand for this SANG, and of course, Hart’s ability to repay the loan.
It is a scandal that Hart is using its powers to obstruct brownfield development. The major greenfield developments come with their own SANG, and probably aren’t required anyway. Rushmoor and Surrey Heath’s housing targets will probably be reduced. This calls into question the financial sustainability of the council’s purchase of this SANG land.