Ranil says no to Winchfield new town and yes to brownfield

Ranil says no to Winchfield new town and yes to brownfield development

Ranil Jayawardena says no to Winchfield new town and yes to brownfield development

In a very welcome move, local MP for Hampshire North East, Ranil Jayawardena has come down strongly against proposed large scale green field developments such as Winchfield New Town, and asked Hart Council to produce a register of brownfield sites and be more active in using Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) on brownfield sites that are suitable for housing.

In a week where Conservative MP’s have been spat at on the streets of Manchester, I think the only risk to Ranil after publishing his article is that he will be showered with kisses from his local constituents.

In response to questions from his constituents, Ranil has set out his views on planning and development.  Ranil has also set up a petition  saying brownfield development must be more strongly prioritised by Local Planning Authorities and Neighbourhood Plans must continue to be respected, both in the absence of Local Plans and by Local Planning Authorities when devising Local Plans.

Sign Ranil's Petition

The key passage from Ranil’s article is re-produced below:

I believe unused and redundant commercial buildings should be brought forward for regeneration before any more greenfield sites are allocated anywhere in North East Hampshire. That includes Grove Farm, Hop Garden, Winchfield, the Urnfield – and any other greenfield site for that matter – unless a locally-led Neighbourhood Plan wants to build homes to meet local needs.

I’ll go further. I’m against these developments – indeed, this sort of large-scale top-down volume-led development generally – as I do not believe they are necessary to deliver the housing we need in our area. Looking at Hart District specifically for a moment, as the largest part of the constituency, I believe that the local housing demand can be met on brownfield sites. This has the massive advantage of, often, improving an area; instead of vacant office buildings on Fleet Road, for instance, why not have modern apartments for young professionals who can’t otherwise buy a home in our area?

In July 2015, the Chancellor set out in the budget that, to reinforce our commitment to making best use of brownfield land, legislation will grant permission in principle for housing on suitable sites identified in the new statutory brownfield register. (Interested folk might recall that Hart District Council was previously asked to create a register, but chose not to. There will now be one.) Brownfield redevelopment will also be supported by strengthened advice for authorities on the release of land earmarked for employment purposes where it is no longer needed. Whatever your politics, I hope you’d agree that the Government – while still protecting the rights of local Councils to determine the future of their own area – is being clearer than ever that brownfield land must be prioritised.

I’d even suggest, perhaps unusually for a Conservative, that Councils should be more active in their use of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) where brownfield sites exist and it is clear that it would be a good site for housing, but the landowner is standing in the way of development, or the site as a whole is currently in multiple ownership. Not only would this deliver properly thought through regeneration, maximising the potential of brownfield land but, done right, it would also be good for local taxpayers, as the receipts from such a scheme on the eventual sale or rental of properties would help to keep Council Tax low in future…

Of course, the National Planning Policy Framework has always made clear that “planning policies and decisions should encourage the effective use of land by re-using land that has been previously developed (brownfield land)” and that local Councils “may continue to consider the case for setting a locally appropriate target for the use of brownfield land”. I’ve spoken with Government Ministers and others about this policy, which applies across the country. I was pleased that the Prime Minister included a £1billion ‘brownfield regeneration fund’ in the Conservative Party manifesto, which will help make more brownfield regeneration happen, while now requiring Councils to bring forward 90% of suitable brownfield sites for housing by 2020, both of which will help protect our countryside.

Needless to say, We Heart Hart is delighted by Ranil’s article as it reiterates many of the points we have been making for some time about brownfield capacity and the need to establish a proper database of brownfield sites as part of a different approach to the local plan.

It remains to be seen whether Hart District Council’s Conservative administration will heed the advice of its local Conservative MP and the express wishes of the Conservative Government when preparing the forthcoming coming consultation paper on housing options for the Local Plan.

Of course, Ranil’s intervention also increases the pressure on Rushmoor Borough Council who are needlessly protecting 96 hectares of brownfield land when there is a massive surplus of employment land whilst at the same time asking Hart to build 1,600 houses for them.

 

Local NHS budget gap of £47m per year adds extra pressure to infrastructure funding

Frimley Park Hospital

Frimley Park Hospital

Get Hampshire has reported that Leaders of the North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the body responsible for the NHS in our area, have said that demand for services is rising much faster than their budgets and that in five years time there will be a funding gap of £47m per year.

This comes on top of Hampshire County Council’s £1.9bn infrastructure funding gap and Hart’s own £78m budget shortfall.  We have estimated the costs of the infrastructure required for a new town at £300m, based on Hart’s own ideas of what new infrastructure will be required compared to around £40m that might be expected as developer contributions.

It is simply astonishing that as part of the Local Plan, Hart District is being asked to build over 7,500 houses and Rushmoor Borough Council over 9,800 houses (Rushmoor itself has an £80m funding gap) to increase congestion and add even more pressure on infrastructure and health services when it is clear that there simply isn’t enough money to fund even current demand let alone the new demands from the extra housing.

This is contrary to NPPF para 177 that says there must be a “reasonable prospect” of delivering the required infrastructure alongside housing:

“It is equally important to ensure that there is a reasonable prospect that planned infrastructure is deliverable in a timely fashion. To facilitate this, it is important that local planning authorities understand district-wide development costs at the time Local Plans are drawn up. For this reason, infrastructure and development policies should be planned at the same time, in the Local Plan”

Surely it is time to put a moratorium on any further major developments unless and until the infrastructure funding issues are resolved.

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

Hart Council persists with Winchfield New Town idea despite petition from 2,130 people

Example of Urban Sprawl

Example of Urban Sprawl

Hart District Council’s Planning Department are persisting with plans for a new town in Winchfield, despite receiving a petition from 2,130 people asking that it does not include a new town in its new Local Plan. In its latest edition of Hart News, it has included a number of articles about the Local Plan which contain many controversial statements as outlined below.

Why we need 3,500 new homes in Hart

Why we need 3,500 new homes in Hart

In its first article, Hart Council say the “Council is reluctant to see ever more growth in existing towns and villages so the preference is to explore a new settlement at Winchfield”.  This is in direct contradiction to the 5th objective of the petition which says:

To demand the council and government do not plan for any new settlement in Hart that will act as a sink for the unmet housing need in neighbouring areas.

Moreover, they say that brownfield capacity is only 1,800 units when we have already demonstrated that since last October, their original estimate of only 750 units is now in the range of 2,438-3,688, demonstrating that the remaining allocation of 3,500 is within reach with a bit of extra effort.

Hart Council also conveniently gloss over the fact that there is already a £78m infrastructure funding gap that can only get worse if they go for a new town, because the £300m infrastructure costs will far outweigh any developer contributions (c. £40m).

Communities have a say on shaping area's future. Council wins Hop Garden appeal to halt urban sprawl

Communities have a say on shaping area’s future. Council wins Hop Garden appeal to halt urban sprawl

In their second and third articles, they emphasise that they turned down the proposed development at Hop Garden Road, Hook to stop unwanted sprawl and to protect the environment, local residents and protected species.  The very same arguments could be advanced to protect Winchfield, which unlike Hop Garden Road is inside the zone of influence of the Thames Valley Heath SPA and contains 3 SSSI’s and many SINCs.

Hart Council laud Neighbourhood Plans as a chance for residents to play a much stronger role in shaping the areas in which they live and work whilst at the same time rather ominously suggesting that Neighbourhood Plans must conform to Hart Council’s assessment of their housing needs.  It remains to be seen how Winchfield’s Neighbourhood Plan, which WeHeartHart understands will propose significant development, will be treated by Hart Council when it is submitted.

Hart is going to give its formal response to the petition at the Cabinet meeting on 1 October.  After seeing today’s articles, that debate is going to be interesting…..

How Hart Council should respond to the We Heart Hart petition

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

Vacant Office at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

As we posted earlier, we have submitted the We  Hart petition to Hart District Council and the council have set out the process by which they will consider the petition.

We have drafted some suggestions as to how the council should respond  and sent them to Council leader, Stephen Parker and they are shown below.  We have a chance to put these ideas to Cabinet on 1 October at 7pm.  Please tell us if you are coming along to give us your support.

Please e-mail your councillors to ask them to support these proposals.

 

Dear Stephen,

Thank you very much for your email.

As you know the petition is from 2,130 signatories, nearly four times the number that responded to Hart Council’s consultation last year and more than ten times the number of people who expressed a first preference for a new town and is therefore a very significant expression of local opinion.

I welcome your approach to treat the petition seriously.  My understanding is that a petition of over 1,000 signatories would trigger an automatic debate at full council.  However, I do believe a debate at Cabinet is more likely to be more productive, so I support the approach you suggest.

As you might expect, I have my own suggestions as to what the appropriate responses to the petition should be and I set them out below for your consideration, interwoven with the petition objectives:

  1. To reduce the overall housing allocation for Hart District

 I think there are two broad approaches to this.  First, challenge the SHMA to reduce the overall housing allocation for the whole HMA.  If this is successful, then it will have a two-fold effect of reducing Hart’s own need and also reducing the risk of overflow from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.  I believe the key arguments are around inward migration assumptions; average household size and in particular jobs growth assumptions which are at a rate nearly double what was achieved over the economic cycle from 1998-2012 and will result in unprecedented levels of participation in the labour market (rising from around 70% to around 86%) for those of employment age.  I gave more detail on these arguments at both the Hop Garden Road appeal and in my response to the Rushmoor Local Plan.  More detail can be found here. However, I do recognise it is difficult for the council to challenge its own document and I await Rushmoor’s response to my strong challenge, but I do understand that the SHMA may be re-visited and it would be helpful if the council would commit to challenging the assumptions set out above as part of that process.

Second, in conversation with a number of professionals in the planning sector, I have been told a number of times, that it is uncommon for councils to explore fully their “policy on” options with regard to environmental and other constraints.  One of the main attractions of Hart as a district is its rural environment with associated SPA, SSSI’s, SINCs, green space and wildlife.  May I suggest that a proper environmental study is carried out to set out the value of Hart’s environment and ecology to build an argument for not meeting the full requirement of the SHMA?  I know that WAG is working on some proposals in this area with some of the rural parishes and would be keen to discuss the matter with you and offer to share the costs of preparation. 

  1. Demand that the Council develops a vision and strategy for Hart that retains its role as a rural, green hinterland for NE Hampshire that respects the separate character and identity of Hart’s settlements and landscapes and preserves the green spaces as amenity space for the urban settlements.

You may recognise the words above as taken from the withdrawn 2013 Core Strategy.  This was, and remains a good vision.  I would ask that as a minimum, the forthcoming Regulation 18 consultation sets out at least one potential “vision” for the district, and that one of the “vision” options includes words to this effect.

  1. To require that the housing need is met by building on brownfield sites and increasing density in our existing urban areas

Last November, the council’s estimate of brownfield capacity over the entire plan period was around 750 units (taken from parts 1 and 3 of the SHLAA as per the FOI request I made) out of the then remaining 4,000 units to build (or grant permission for) up to 2032.  Since then considerable progress has been made in identifying and in some cases granting permission on additional brownfield sites:

LocationNumber of Dwellings
Guillemont Park Phase 1 (not included as brownfield site in SHLAA) 150
Guillemont Park Phase 2320
Ancells Farm, Fleet370
Bartley Wood, Hook200
Fleet Road, Fleet220
Bramshill House350
Fleet Police Station50
Extra dwellings at Landata House28
Total1,688

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

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

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

It is clear that with some creativity and energy, the gap between the remaining allocation of 3,574 and the currently identified brownfield capacity can be closed by working on a combination of reducing the overall allocation by reducing the SHMA or applying environmental “policy on” considerations, increasing density and finding more brownfield sites.

In the light of this, I welcome the paper that is to be put before Cabinet next week, signalling the more positive approach that the council proposes towards building housing on previously developed land.

I would ask though, that you consider some further steps:

  • Creating a new, formal “reasonable suitable alternative” option of meeting the remaining housing allocation solely through brownfield development.  This option should appear in the consultation paper.
  • Creating a complete database of all of the potential brownfield sites in the district, including those not in the October 2014 SHLAA and those not yet formally promoted to the council, including sites such as Bramshill House, Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), Sun Park, Ancells Farm, Bartley Wood, Fleet High St, Fleet Police Station and all of the run down town centres (e.g. Fleet, Yateley, Blackwater and Hook).
  • Inviting leading architects to compete to produce some visionary outline schemes of what a “brownfield solution” might look like for the district, taking into account changing demographics, changing shopping habits driven by the internet and achievable housing densities.
  • Organising a conference with the architects, land owners, developers and local community representatives with the objective of identifying the art of the possible for brownfield development amongst the competing solutions from the architects.
  • This could be done in conjunction with the neighbouring authorities of Surrey Heath and Rushmoor, particularly given the massive amount of current and forecast vacant employment land and Rushmoor seeking to protect 96 Ha.
  1. To request that future housing stock reflects the needs of the changing demographics of the district.

I set out in a question to council earlier this year that Hart will need to deliver around 2,500 housing units to meet the needs of the ageing population.  I contend that a new town will simply build the wrong type of accommodation in the wrong place to meet those needs.  It would be far better if these were built on brownfield sites in more urban areas, close to amenities such as doctors, post offices, shops and so on.  When the elderly move into these types of development, their well-being improves and of course, they free up conventional housing stock for families.  Could I therefore ask that the forthcoming consultation paper contains specific proposals on how the needs of the ageing population will be met?

  1. To demand the council and government do not plan for any new settlement in Hart that will act as a sink for the unmet housing need in neighbouring areas.

Addressing points 1, 2, 3 & 4 will render a new town unnecessary particularly when you consider the:

I do hope you find these suggestions helpful.  I would be grateful if you could circulate them to planning officers and Cabinet members for their consideration.

Hart Council starts to take brownfield development more seriously

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Derelict Offices in Fleet, Hampshire

Hart District Council is due to consider a new paper designed to encourage development of brownfield land at the next meeting of the Cabinet on 3 September.

The paper contains some interesting proposals in preparation for the Local Plan including:

  • The Portfolio Holder for Planning be delegated authority to identify suitable “zones of residential opportunity areas” on sites or areas where there are vacant offices, including areas where planning permission has been granted for employment use but the development is not proceeding.  We presume this would include sites such as Bartley Wood, Sun Park, Ancells Farm and Pyestock.
  • Suspending policy RUR5, essentially lifting restrictions on converting agricultural buildings to residential use because the policy contravenes the NPPF.
  • Simplifying the administrative burden of converting offices to residential use.
  • Being more flexible on developer contributions whilst continuing to insist upon infrastructure funding and mitigation measures such as Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANGs) when close to the Thames Valley Heath SPA.

We Heart Hart welcomes these proposals as a step in the right direction, however, when we submit our suggestions for appropriate responses to the petition, we will be suggesting some additional measures.

Of course, given Hart’s recent history of dismissing the brownfield development opportunities, we will have to satisfy ourselves that this paper is not simply paying lip-service to the Government agenda and ensure that real action follows.

New houses near Winchfield station will increase congestion

New houses lead to traffic congestion in Hart District

Example of traffic congestion that could happen in Winchfield

A new study by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), has shown that adding houses near railway stations in country areas could see a massive increase in car journeys each week to create additional congestion and delays on roads that are already overloaded.  Of course there is a direct read across from the RTPI analysis to Hart Council’s proposals for a new town at Winchfield, that would inevitably impact Hartley Wintney, Hook, Odiham, Dogmersfield, Crookham Village, Church Crookham and Fleet.

We can estimate how many extra traffic movements there might be from a 5,000 house new town at Winchfield by looking at the Hampshire County Council transport contributions policy.  They estimate 7 trips per average dwelling per day, which would lead to an extra 7 x 5,000 = 35,000 trips per day or 12.8m extra trips per annum on both minor country roads and our already congested wider road network.

Janet Askew, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), said:

“Quite apart from other good reasons why building in the green belt on such a scale might be opposed, these figures demonstrate a fundamental flaw in the reasoning that there is a quick fix and a sustainable solution to the housing crisis by putting large numbers of new homes close to railway stations.”

The RTPI press release went on to say:

“The view of the RTPI is that brownfield sites should be looked at as a priority for housing but not all brownfield sites will be suitable. The housing crisis is complex and will require a number of different policy solutions, such as increasing access to mortgage finance, improving transport and infrastructure, encouraging the house builders to build more homes, and a strong, delivery focussed planning system. Major proposals for new homes, whether they are in the green belt or on brownfield sites, must be preceded by adequate investment in schools, health, transport and other infrastructure, and planned in a strategic and holistic way, with up to date local plans being critical.”

Of course this is consistent with what We Heart Hart has been saying for many months, but Hart Council will not consider adding a brownfield development option into the Local Plan process; won’t look at our alternative 5-point plan and won’t even establish a register of brownfield sites.

The full text of the RTPI press release is shown below:

Using commuting data from  the 2011 Census the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), has today published analysis which finds that adding 1 million homes near railway stations in the Metropolitan London green belt area could see 3.9-7.5 million car journeys each week added to roads which are already struggling with congestion and delays. These findings – Building in the green belt? A report into commuting in the Metropolitan green belt challenge the assumption that building in the green belt around railway stations would see the majority of new residents using the train to get to jobs in London and could therefore be easily accommodated.

Over the past year various think tanks, academics and policy commentators have considered whether green belt boundaries around London should be relaxed in order to ease the housing crisis. These proposals often suggest the release of green belt land within easy walking or cycling distance of key railway stations, land which could provide space for figures upwards of 1 million homes. The assumption behind these proposals is that the majority of new residents will commute by rail to jobs in central London, enabling sustainable housing growth in the wider Metropolitan region without placing excessive strain on existing roads. However the implications of growth on commuting patterns is difficult to predict without looking at those already living in the green belt. Where are these residents travelling for work, and what methods of transport are they using to get there?

The RTPI examined commuting data for five medium-sized towns within the existing Metropolitan green belt, towns which are centred around railway stations and have direct connections to central London. We found that in these five towns, only 7.4% of commuters actually travel to inner London by train on a regular basis, despite living within easy walking or cycling distance of a station. The majority of commuters (72%) instead travel by private vehicle, mostly driving to jobs within their hometown and to other places not in London.

Janet Askew, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), said:
“If 1 million new homes were built in the green belt in this way, this is likely to result in a huge increase in the number of car journeys being made across the green belt to work, and between schools health facilities and stations”.
“Quite apart from other good reasons why building in the green belt on such a scale might be opposed, these figures demonstrate a fundamental flaw in the reasoning that there is a quick fix and a sustainable solution to the housing crisis by putting large numbers of new homes close to railway stations. While it is difficult to predict exactly future commuting patterns, the overwhelming evidence is that people will use their cars and this will result in vastly increased numbers of car journeys in and through the green belt.”

Trudi Elliott, Chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), said:
“The outcome of the analysis was surprising given the range of voices calling for housing around railway stations in the green belt. Our data shows, using one region of the green belt, just how complex the issue of commuting patterns is and how unpredictable they are likely to be in the future. The green belt is an important planning tool. Our findings demonstrate that it is vital to have an evidence base before you make major policy.”

The view of the RTPI is that brownfield sites should be looked at as a priority for housing but not all brownfield sites will be suitable. The housing crisis is complex and will require a number of different policy solutions, such as increasing access to mortgage finance, improving transport and infrastructure, encouraging the house builders to build more homes, and a strong, delivery focussed planning system. Major proposals for new homes, whether they are in the green belt or on brownfield sites, must be preceded by adequate investment in schools, health, transport and other infrastructure, and planned in a strategic and holistic way, with up to date local plans being critical. Any development in the green belt continues to need rigorous justification under the planning system and there are many checks and balances in place.

The five towns in the RTPI analysis were: Hemel Hempstead, High Wycombe, Watford, Maidenhead and Bracknell.

The RTPI is also publishing today a short YouTube film and a new public information note explaining the history, background and purpose of the green belt. A recent Ipsos Mori poll found 71% of all age groups knew just a little/ heard of but know nothing/never heard of green belt land. Among the under 34s this was 85% and among the under 24s the figure was 92%.

Will the Government have to write the Hart Local Plan?

Hart District Local Plan Project Behind Schedule

Hart District Local Plan Project Behind Schedule

Government minister Brandon Lewis has said that Local Authorities may have their Local Plans written for them if they are not in place by early 2017.

This must be a concern for Hart Councillors because at questions last week, the Council could only give a vague indication of when the draft of the Local Plan would be published, but also acknowledged that the project plan to create the Local Plan was a “work in progress” and could not give a date by when the project plan would be completed.  It is clear we don’t even have a plan for creating the Local Plan, despite Hart Council insisting the project was “on track”.

However, Brandon Lewis has also gone on record calling for councils to build on brownfield land first to protect the countryside and more recent guidance suggesting councils should plan to build higher density housing around commuter hubs.  If the Government were to take over the process then they may well force Hart to drop the ridiculous plan for a new town in Winchfield which has a massive infrastructure requirement for which there appears to be no funding, as well as concreting over hundreds of acres of green fields.

 

Hart Council in denial about the Local Plan

Hart Council refuse to acknowledge failings in the Local Plan

Hart Council refuse to acknowledge failings in the Local Plan

Hart Council’s answers to questions put at the council meeting on 30 July reveal a staggering level denial about the status of the Local Plan.  We put some questions to council, but many more questions were put by Winchfield Action Group members.  A lot can be learned from the answers, and in some cases non-answers to the questions put.  The detailed answers can be found here and here, and are summarised below:

  • Hart Council have ruled out again the creation of a register of brownfield sites and have refused to establish a formal “brownfield” option for consideration as part of the Local Plan process.  Hart also refused to consider our proposals for an alternative approach to the Local Plan.
  • They are still working on the project plan for the Local Plan project, and can’t say when the project plan will be available for public scrutiny. Despite not having a project plan, they are hoping the new draft Local Plan will be available by the end of the year.  It is clear that the plan is in some disarray, despite the council insisting as recently as the April meeting that the project was on track.
  • The council is continuing to insist that “many” people in Hart support the new town plan, despite only around 200 people supporting that as their first preference in Hart’s consultation, and over 2,000 people signing the We Heart Hart petition opposing the new town idea.
  • Both Hart and Hampshire Councils have not done any planning for the supply and demand for school places beyond 2018.
  • Hart has no “Plan B” if the new town proposal doesn’t pass testing.
  • The council may allow a further round of consultation on the new draft Local Plan, but have not yet taken a decision on that.

Taken together this is a staggering number of failings and they appear to have no plan to bring the project back on track, even though they still insist that it is imperative the Local Plan is produced quickly.

Fleet News and Mail covers infrastructure costs story

Fleet News and Mail - £300m cost risk to 5000 houses July 16 2015

Fleet News and Mail – £300m cost risk to 5000 houses July 16 2015

We are delighted that Fleet News and Mail has latched on to our story about the massive infrastructure costs of the Local Plan and in particular of a new town in Winchfield.  It is interesting that Hart District Council declined to comment on the story, which appears to mean they don’t dispute any of the figures we put forward, so they must acknowledge that the Local Plan project is in a bit of a hole.

The story was covered in the July 16 issue of Fleet N&M, and an image of the full story can be found here (caution large file).  Hopefully the story will be placed online soon.