Creative use of brownfield sites could yield up to 6,500 homes

Leeuwenveld, Amsterdam Netherlands - LEVS architects

Leeuwenveld, Amsterdam Netherlands – LEVS architects

Local architecture graduate, Gareth Price, has published an updated version of his work showing what could be done with brownfield sites in the district. His work shows that there could be capacity for 6,500 homes on brownfield land across the district.  These would include, for some sites, basement car-parks, ground floor commercial and upper floor residential, following a successful trend from the Continent.  This is in-line with what we have been suggesting for months and could create capacity for sufficient housing for decades to come.

The style of development he as put forward would mean that S106/CIL contributions would be required from developers.  It is likely that some of these homes could be affordable units that would generate a larger “new homes bonus” for the district from the Government.  Of course, this money could be used to improve infrastructure in existing settlements where we are facing a £78m funding deficit.  Schemes such as this are much more likely to meet our actual housing need of 60-70% 1 or 2-bed homes and over 2,000 specialist units for the elderly rather than building £750K detached houses in the country for Londoners who want to move here.  We understand the densities proposed are similar to some schemes already granted permission by Hart Council.

Whilst we welcome this work to demonstrate what could be done with a little creativity and ingenuity, we do not necessarily support the density put forward on each site by Gareth.  For instance, we do not believe that such high densities would be appropriate for the former Police College at Bramshill, even though we support the principle of some redevelopment of that site to prevent the Grade I listed building going to rack and ruin.

One has to ask why Hart Council has not taken up our 5-point plan that included inviting teams of architects to paint a vision of the art of the possible with our brownfield sites, as Gareth has shown it can be done. This certainly supports the case for a brownfield solution to our housing needs.

His full report can be downloaded from the link below:

A sustainable approach to brownfield development in Hart District

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

 

link

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

 

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.

 

What’s changed since 2012?

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

Hart in the Heart of Hart, Winchfield

Back in 2012, Hart Council issues a press release explaining why it was not going to pursue a new town at Winchfield. Here’s what they said:

A whole set of fresh new studies would need to be commissioned, more land would need to be found,  infrastructure needs would have to be assessed, the viability of delivering a new settlement would need to be tested, and above all, the public would have to change its previous views. A new settlement option would need to be supported by a significant groundswell of opinion…. the council believes that residents’ interests are best served by continuing with its current strategy of spreading growth across the district coupled with new and improved infrastructure targeted to serve local communities.

We have to ask what has changed since then?

We have not been told the results of the testing so far, except that infrastructure is going to cost a lot of money (our estimate ~£300m), much of the planned area is covered by SSSIs, SINCs and TPOs, quite a lot of the area is subject to ground water flooding and is close to the M3, which could be damaging to the health of any children living in the new settlement.  We also know, a new town would open us up to 3,000 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.

There is certainly no groundswell of opinion in favour of a new town, other than a cabal of councillors intent on concreting over our green spaces.

So, why is this option even being presented in the forthcoming consultation? Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

Hart Council’s new consultation still likely to leave it in a hopeless position

Scales of Justice weigh against Hart District Council

Scales of Justice weigh against Hart District Council

It seems likely that Hart Council is about to launch a new consultation on housing options for the district as part of the Local Plan.  We are following this closely, and will publish some additional materials to help residents make up their mind once the full consultation has been made public.

But having reviewed the materials already on Hart’s website (cabinet meeting materials for 18 November 2015), it seems clear that the council have taken no notice of the legal opinion they received from top QC Peter Village, that described their position as “hopeless”.

That opinion said:

…there is no evidence that to date there has been any consideration by the Council of the “reasonable alternative[s]” of providing less than the OAN, on environmental grounds…

There has been no regulation 18 consultation at all on issues such as employment, retail, transport, infrastructure (or, indeed, anything other than housing distribution). It is inconceivable that a coherent and sound local plan could emerge without addressing most (at least) of these issues. Thus, the Council presently appears to be in a hopeless position if it maintains its current course. Either it will proceed with a plan that does not address fundamental matters (thereby exposing itself on the “soundness” issue), or it will incorporate matters which have indisputably not been the topic of any regulation 18 consultation.

We have been through the consultation materials in some detail, and we can find no reference to the council considering providing fewer houses on environmental grounds, and no sign of consulting us residents on employment, retail, transport or infrastructure.

Coupled with the issues we raised to the council on Friday, it is looking like this consultation is going to be an expensive waste of time and taxpayers’ money because we are still not being offered a proper consultation on all the issues that matter. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

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:

link

Winchfield Action Group and We Heart Hart submit objections to Hart’s consultation process

Designated area of outstanding natural profitability

Designated area of outstanding natural profitability

As you may know, Hart Council is about to embark upon a new consultation about our housing options as part of the Local Plan process.  We Heart Heart and Winchfield Action Group (WAG) have significant concerns about the way this consultation has been constructed and submitted a number of detailed points to the council.  In addition, WAG will be making a statement at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

The main thrust of the objections is as follows:

  • Overall the consultation is too complicated and the instructions are not clear.  Given that a large number of submissions to the last consultation were invalid, this is a serious concern that needs to be addressed.
  • The Council have not explained why they have reduced the brownfield capacity of the district to 400 units when they said there was 1,800 as recently as October. The consultation also makes no reference to the fact that the Council is currently seeking more brownfield sites across the district.
  • The consultation unfairly biases its whole analysis towards the conclusion that we must build a new town in Winchfield.

There are also a number of other points made in the detail.

The statement and the detailed point can be found on the downloads below.

Statement to Hart Cabinet
 
Detailed feedback on Housing Options Consultation

Hart Council missing out key information about housing options

Hart District Council Offices

Hart District Council issuing misleading information about housing options

Hart Council has just published its new Housing Options paper in relation to the Local Plan, in preparation for running a consultation from November 23 2015 to January 15 2016. We believe the information contained in that paper is misleading for a number of reasons and have some suggestions on how you might respond to the consultation.  In summary the issues are:

  1. The SHMA is currently being revised and likely to reduce the housing need, so why are we being consulted on a housing requirement that is no longer valid?
  2. The SHMA has been challenged by an independent expert who says we don’t need so many houses.
  3. Hart’s estimate of brownfield capacity is way too low, and far lower than they said as recently as October 1 2015.
  4. Government rules have been changed to encourage more brownfield development and this paper makes no mention of this.
  5. The infrastructure costs of a new town are enormous, but the paper doesn’t clearly set out the economic consequences of the choices we make on housing options.

Housing allocation out of date

The housing need assessment is based on the current version of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), and they do not mention in the paper that the SHMA is currently being revised to take account of new Government population and household projections.  These new projections show a big reduction in forecast population from 322K used in the SHMA to 289K for the whole housing market area and a reduction of 1,602 in Hart household projections.  It seems reasonable to assume that Hart’s housing allocation will therefore fall, but this is not mentioned at all in the consultation paper.

SHMA is invalid

The Housing Options paper does not take account of the opinion of independent expert, Alan Wenban-Smith that the SHMA says we are being asked to build too many houses.  This means that the paper is asking us to consider how we might build houses that aren’t needed and is therefore invalid.

Estimate of brownfield capacity is too low

Back in November 2014, Hart Council said we had capacity for 750 dwellings on brownfield sites. Very few or none of those sites have been granted permission since then. At cabinet on October 1 2015, the joint-CEO of Hart Council said that he thought the brownfield capacity had increased to around 1,800 units. We said at the time we thought this was a low estimate and it could be in the range of 2,400-3,688. However, the new paper says that brownfield capacity is now only 400 units.  The paper pours cold water on the notion that the former police college at Bramshill can be re-developed, but who in their right mind would want to see a Grade 1 listed building start to decay, and who would want to preserve the hideous 1970’s accommodation blocks?  This is clearly a site ripe for redevelopment, and the environmental impacts should be low compared to the prior use of the site.  So, the question remains, what has happened to the other 1,400+ units and why aren’t Hart taking account of them?

Government has made brownfield development more attractive

The Government has also just relaxed the rules about building on brownfield sites to make it more attractive.  This makes it more likely that the brownfield capacity identified in the Stonegate report can be delivered.  The Hart paper fails to mention this. The paper also fails to mention that Hart has kicked off a process to identify even more brownfield sites across the district, but the results of that study won’t be known for some time.  It does seem odd to be so definitive about the so-called lack of brownfield capacity when there are so many positive developments underway.

Astronomical Infrastructure Costs

Hart have published some analysis to show the infrastructure requirements of a new settlement.  They haven’t been definitive about how much this would cost, but it would include a new motorway junction, significant changes to existing roads and bridges, a new sewage works, 4 new schools and a new railway station.  Our estimate of the cost of this infrastructure is £300m+.  A realistic expectation of the developer contribution for 4,000-5,000 houses would be £40-50m.  Hart already have an infrastructure funding deficit of £78m.  It is clear that we cannot afford the infrastructure costs of a new town, and that existing settlements would be starved of investment if it went ahead. The new housing options paper makes very little reference to the economics of development for any of the approaches it identifies.  Surely, we should know about the economic consequences of the housing options choices we make?

It is becoming increasingly clear that the housing options paper and the associated consultation is a pig-in-a-poke, but nevertheless as it is there we must respond to it.  It looks increasingly like a faction of the council is hellbent on concreting over large swathes of our countryside, despite all the evidence that we don’t need to.

We urge you to Vote against Approach 3 (a new settlement at Winchfield).  But when asked for any other comments, use this article to ask them to think again about brownfield. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

Ranil emphasises the need for infrastructure alongside housing

Ranil Jayawardena at a brownfield site

Ranil Jayawardena at a brownfield site in Hampshire

Local MP, Ranil Jayawardena has published a new article re-stating his preference for brownfield regeneration and emphasising the need for proper infrastructure to be delivered alongside housing and calling on local councils to take a more active approach.

This is the key passage from his article:

This is an important point. It is clear to me that infrastructure improvements are an absolute necessity for any development – and Government has a role in this part of the equation.

Whether brownfield or greenfield, infrastructure is critical to ensure that these developments not only provides homes for our friends and children, but are taken as opportunities to improve the way of life for existing residents. Whether brownfield or greenfield, development should not come before infrastructure.

I welcome the Hampshire Combined Authority proposal, specifically a ten-year Transport Investment Fund to be used to significantly improve our roads and public transport. This is a good start, but to plan our future, we must consider the past. We should be thinking about the existing infrastructure deficit also and how this can now be mitigated, so that existing residents end up with a better deal.

It is only right that infrastructure is delivered alongside any new development, rather than leaving communities hoping for improvements in the future, when our roads are already jammed and our trains are already crammed.

Ranil also calls on Local Authorities to take a more active role in developing their areas, by actively considering Compulsory Purchase Orders and using development profits to fund additional infrastructure:

There is another way to fund infrastructure, of course. If regeneration is led by local government, through its ownership of the land (whether by private treaty or CPO), the profit that local government makes from the redevelopment can be invested in infrastructure or for the benefit of taxpayers. This is particularly important with brownfield sites, since sites may not be viable – after taking into account a developer’s profit – if they are also required to pay CIL/s106 at the normal level and it would not be good to see large-scale brownfield regeneration without any infrastructure improvements.

Through this vision of active local government, brownfield regeneration genuinely benefits local people, rather than shareholders of a developer, through improved infrastructure and lower Council Tax.

I should probably say that I accept, often, brownfield sites are not in common ownership and, even if they are, the landowner doesn’t wish to develop them. To my mind, however, that is not a reason for brownfield to be put in the ‘too difficult’ pile. Rather, I believe local government has a role to outline how it wishes to comprehensively improve the existing built environment, through purchasing and redeveloping land if not already in its ownership

We wholeheartedly welcome Ranil’s new intervention and we can only hope that Hart District Council are listening. We urge you to sign Ranil’s petition using the button below.

 

Sign Ranil's Petition

 

 

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.