Response to Hook Action Against Over Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page, updated our two guides to responding to the consultation and they are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

Urban Areas not taking their fair share of homes part 2

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town

Further to our post of yesterday, that showed the impact by parish of following a dispersal strategy, we have now created graphs to show the impact by parish of urban extensions and a new town.  In each case, it shows that the urban areas of the district are not taking their fair share of housing.

This demonstrates to us the need to step up efforts to follow a brownfield strategy and re-find the 1,400 units on brownfield sites that Hart lost after saying that 1,800 units on brownfield land could be readily quantified back in September 2015.

First, let’s take at the new town strategy.  The chart showing the %-age increase in dwellings by parish from 2011 to 2032 if we followed a new town strategy to meet the remaining need from now on is shown above.  The table showing how this has been calculated is shown below:

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town Table

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District New Town Table

Of course, only 2,000 of the full 5,000 will be delivered before 2032.  We have distributed these across Winchfield (in others) and Hook parish in the same ratio of the overall delivery shown in the SHLAA.  However, the secret plan from the Winchfield Consortium showed the Murrell Green sites would be developed first, so this may understate the impact on Hook.

Now, let’s take a look at the Urban Extension option.  he chart showing the %-age increase in dwellings by parish from 2011 to 2032 if we followed an urban extension strategy to meet the remaining need from now, together with the table showing how this has been calculated are shown below:

[Update: The West of Fleet urban extension is actually in Crookham Village Parish so chart and table updated to show that]

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions 201-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions 201-2032

 

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions Table 2001-2032

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District Urban Extensions Table 2001-2032

The urban extensions are at Pale Lane which is split across Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney parishes, west of Hook which is in Hook parish and west of Fleet (in Crookham Village Parish].

Finally, let’s re-look at the dispersal strategy, we covered in yesterday’s post:

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District - dispersal strategy

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District – dispersal strategy

Parish  2011 Census Dwellings 2011-2015 % of total  2011-2015 Number 2011-2015 % increase  Dispersal Proposal 2011-2032 % Increase
Crookham Village 1,630 7% 322 19.8% 177 31%
Elvetham Heath, Fleet, Church Crookham, Ewshot 14,879 45% 2,070 13.9% 466 17%
Hartley Wintney 2,222 10% 460 20.7% 290 34%
Hook 3,111 19% 874 28.1% 204 35%
Odiham/Long Sutton/ South Warnborough 3,142 5% 230 7.3% 583 26%
Yateley/ Blackwater 9,826 11% 506 5.1% 480 10%
Others 2,526 3% 138 5.5% 1,027 46%
Total 37,336 100% 4,600 12.3% 3,227 21%

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and updated our two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes

 

Fleet, Elvetham Heath, Crookham Village, Yateley, Blackwater and Ewshot not taking their fair share of housing

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District

Proposed percentage increase in dwellings by parish in Hart District.

Hart Council has published a lot of data related to the new consultation.  We have taken a look at it, come to the conclusion that the combination of the houses built or permitted since 2011, plus the proposals for dispersal show that our urban areas are not taking their fair share of housing. We think that Hart District should be trying harder to find brownfield sites in Fleet, Yateley and Blackwater to redress the balance and save our countryside (see slider of sites below).

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

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

The chart above shows the %-age increase in dwellings by parish by combining the data shown in the table in para 30 of the main consultation document. This gives the distribution of dwellings built or permitted since 2011:

Split of dwellings built or permitted since 2011 by Parish

Split of dwellings built or permitted since 2011 by Parish

It did look odd to us that the parishes of Elvetham Heath, Fleet, Church Crookham and Ewshot should be grouped together like they were to give the impression that these parishes had already taken a lot of housing.  Of course if you combine a number of parishes together, then it is obvious that their combined contribution is going to be larger than the individual parishes to which they are compared.

So, we started with the census data for the number of dwellings by parish, and combined them together in the same way Hart had, then added on the number of houses implied by the figure above, then added the number of houses proposed by the dispersal option and expressed the result as a %-age increase on the number of dwellings that were there in 2011:

Parish  2011 Census Dwellings 2011-2015 % of total  2011-2015 Number 2011-2015 % increase  Dispersal Proposal 2011-2032 % Increase
Crookham Village 1,630 7% 322 19.8% 177 31%
Elvetham Heath, Fleet, Church Crookham, Ewshot 14,879 45% 2,070 13.9% 466 17%
Hartley Wintney 2,222 10% 460 20.7% 290 34%
Hook 3,111 19% 874 28.1% 204 35%
Odiham/Long Sutton/ South Warnborough 3,142 5% 230 7.3% 583 26%
Yateley/ Blackwater 9,826 11% 506 5.1% 480 10%
Others 2,526 3% 138 5.5% 1,027 46%
Total 37,336 100% 4,600 12.3% 3,227 21%

This shows that the urban areas that include Fleet, Yateley and Blackwater will take the lowest %-age increase in housing. Whereas, places like Hook, Hartley Wintney and the other rural parishes  are going to take massive %-age increases in housing.

Of course, a new town would disproportionately impact Winchfield, but would also lead to 1,800 further houses in Hook and effectively join those parishes to Hartley Wintney, into a giant Hartley WInchook conurbation.  Even the proposed urban extensions will further increase the pressure on Hartley Wintney and Hook.

One of the proposed extensions, the so-called Pale Lane extension (SHL 52) is largely in Hartley Wintney Parish, and another of the extensions is to the west of Hook (SHL 173).

If you would like to ask Hart to abandon the new town and urban extension ideas and create a brownfield solution to our housing needs, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and updated our 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

 

Would a new town be safe for our children?

500m M3 exclusion zone near Winchfield Hampshire

Proposed new town in Winchfield and Hook, Hampshire with 500m exclusion zone around the M3

Many councillors are doing their utmost to promote the supposed benefits of a new town – Hartley Winchook, but it is clear that the plans have not been properly thought through.  For instance, what is the impact on  the health and well-being of our children?

First let’s take a look at site of the proposed new town in the image above or on this link.

As can be clearly seen the M3 and the railway go straight through the middle of the proposed sites.  However, a number of medical studies have been carried out in a number of countries such as the US, Germany and Holland that highlight the dangers to children’s health of living close to major highways such as motorways.  Examples can be found here, here and here. The highlighted risks include cardiac and pulmonary risks, wheeziness in children, shorter lifespans, premature births, asthma and cancer.  It is worth noting that a new school is proposed just north of site 83 on the map above, meaning the children living in the new town would both live and go to school very close to the motorway.  In the light of these studies, Councillor Dr. Anne Crampton has proposed that there should be a 500m exclusion zone for new housing around the M3 (shown in yellow hatching on the map).  The implication of this, as can be seen from the map, is that many of the proposed sites would be rendered unsuitable if Dr. Crampton’s proposal was adopted and in fact, the whole new town proposal would fail.  So, it seems we have  choice: protect our children or concrete over the green fields.

There’s another issue too.  The proposed site of the secondary school is between the motorway and the Mildmay Oaks hospital that was housing child sex offenders (one of whom escaped) and other patients who were violent towards staff. Originally, this school site was proposed in the Barratts Vision document that some councillors have since  disowned. But, amazingly, this location is still proposed for the secondary school in the site assessments from Hart District Council (HDC) – see image from this document below – Mildmay Oaks is inside the pink blob towards the middle of the image and the boundary for the school is shown in blue.

Potential school next to MIldmay Oaks Hospital Winchfield Hampshire

Potential school next to Mildmay Oaks Hospital Winchfield Hampshire

It is clear that this new town proposal has not been well thought through at all and if this is no longer the proposed site for a school, then the council should say where the school would go.  Would it be within the proposed 500m exclusion zone?

It is worth noting also, that if this 500m exclusion zone were applied, it would also reduce the brownfield capacity at Ancells Farm, so we would have to seek out some additional sites and the urban extension at Pale Lane would also be deemed an unsuitable site.

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

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.

Petition Response: Make the most of brownfield land

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Old Police Station in Fleet, Hampshire

As we posted earlier, we have submitted the We  Hart petition with 2,130 responses 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.  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 and please e-mail your councillors to ask them to support these proposals and incorporate them into the forthcoming consultation about the Local Plan.

The full set of suggestions can be found here.

The suggestions in this post relate to making the most of the brownfield opportunity.

Last November, the council’s estimate of brownfield capacity over the entire plan period was around 750 units (taken from parts 1 and 3 of the SHLAA as per the FOI request we made) out of the then remaining 4,000 units to build (or grant permission for) up to 2032.  Since then 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, we welcome the paper that has been put before Cabinet, signalling the more positive approach that the council proposes towards building housing on previously developed land.

We would ask though, that you consider some further steps from our 5-point plan:

  • 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, 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.

 

 Employment Space (sq m)
Overall Requirement to 2032 (a)266,368
Current vacant space (b)527,840
Sites with planning permission (c)338,187
Surplus in 2032 (b+c-a)599,659

 

 

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.

Please help Hart fend off an extra 1,600 houses from Rushmoor

Is this what we want Hart to turn into?

Is this what we want Hart to turn into?

Rushmoor Borough Council has published a draft Local Plan where it proposes to build only 8,200 of its assessed need of 9,822 houses over the plan period.  It is clear that Rushmoor is seeking to offload the remaining 1,622 houses on to Hart District.

We need to oppose this move and We Heart Heart have produced some materials to help you do this easily.  Our voice will have greater weight if we can get more Hart residents to comment on Rushmoor’s plan than Rushmoor residents. Please follow the simple process below:

  1. Download the Local Plan response form from the link below.
  2. On page 3, fill in your name and contact details and type your name and date in the boxes at the bottom of the page.
  3. Review the comments made and feel free to add, amend or delete as you see fit.
  4. Save the document, attach it to an email and send to plan@rushmoor.gov.uk
  5. Share a link to this page to all your friends and family as well as any sports clubs or community groups you belong to via word of mouth, email, Facebook and Twitter and ask them to put in a response and share this page again.
  6. If you have not already done so, please sign and share our petition too.
Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

A summary of the arguments we are putting forwards is outlined below.

Slippery slope to taking more housing than the other districts

The proposal to take an additional 1,622 houses from Rushmoor puts us on the slippery slope to accepting a further 1,400 houses from Surrey Heath such that Hart District ends up having to build the most houses in the Housing Market Area.

 

 Hart DistrictSurrey Heath BoroughRushmoor BoroughTotal Housing Market Area
Original SHMA7,5347,0579,82224,413
Proposed Transfers3,022(1,400)(1,622)0
New Total10,5565,6578,20024,413

 

This will impact all of our districts including Blackwater and Hawley; Bramshill;  Church Crookham; Crondall; Crookham Village; Dogmersfield; Elvetham Heath; Eversley; Ewshot; Fleet; Greywell; Hartley Wintney; Heckfield; Hook; Mattingley; North Warnborough; Odiham; Rotherwick; South Warnborough; Winchfield; and Yateley adding additional pressure to an already difficult situation and make it more likely we have to accept both a new town and urban extensions on our beautiful green fields and countryside.

Hart and the rest of Housing Market Area are being asked to build too many houses

The whole Housing Market Area (HMA) should reduce the assessed need by 7,800 units which would reduce the pressure on Hart directly and remove the need for Surrey Heath and Rushmoor to ask us to build >3,000 houses for them. This is discussed in more detail here.

Rushmoor isn’t making best use of its brownfield sites

This is discussed in more detail here and here. As can be seen, if Rushmoor gets more creative with Wellesley and plans to build on the sites it has already identified, there is potential capacity for over 30,000 dwellings, more than three times its (overblown) assessed need.   It surely cannot be too much to expect them to find the 1,600 houses they say they can’t build out of this wealth of opportunity.  Rushmoor Borough Council should re-visit its planned densities and seek to meet all of its assessed need within in its own boundaries.  It could then make some sites available for neighbouring rural districts in line with a recent survey of Hampshire residents seeking to protect rural areas.  Neighbouring districts could be approached to provide SANG capacity if required.  Rushmoor should also take a closer look at all the vacant sites in the district and seek to convert them to residential use.

Rushmoor’s Employment Land Review is overblown and seeks to protect more employment land than is necessary.

This is discussed here.  It is also clear that past forecasts got it wrong as evidenced by the large number of vacant office blocks and empty shops across Hart District.  If the ELR was reduced to more sensible levels they could free up more land for housing.

Indeed, even if you accept the overblown employment forecasts, there will be a surplus of nearly 600K sq m of employment space at the end of the plan period, covering around 195 Ha.  Yet Rushmoor seeking to protect 96 Ha of land whilst asking Hart to build 1,600 houses on green fields.

Rushmoor’s infrastructure plans are not credible

We posted here that Hampshire as a whole has a £1.9bn infrastructure funding deficit, with Rushmoor’s share of that being £80m.  Rushmoor makes no mention of this deficit in its draft Local Plan.  Hart’s own numbers show an infrastructure deficit of £78m.  All of these numbers are probably an under-statement given they were all produced before the scale of development now proposed was known.  This is in contravention of 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”

Finally, they don’t even attempt to quantify the extra infrastructure Hart would need to build the extra 1,600 houses nor do they make any offer to fund any of that extra cost.

Rushmoor not planning to meet the needs of the ageing population

Figure 10.15 of the SHMA sets out the need for specialist housing and registered care places for the HMA and Rushmoor.  This states Rushmoor must build 710 sheltered and extra care units as well as provide an extra 600 registered care places. Their draft Local Plan makes no mention of the extra registered care places and sets no target for the sheltered and extra care units.  This is in contravention of NPPF para 50 which states:

“local planning authorities should…plan for a mix of housing based on current and future demographic trends, market trends and the needs of different groups in the community (such as, but not limited to, families with children, older people, people with disabilities, service families and people wishing to build their own homes)”

Therefore the Rushmoor draft Local Plan runs the risk of being found unsound and should be revised.

 

In conclusion, the Rushmoor draft Local Plan contains many serious flaws and needs to be revised.

Link

 

Please tell Hart Council how much you value our countryside

Hart District Council is running a consultation about the quantity and quality of open space provision within Hart District. This is a great opportunity for you to express your support for the countryside and open spaces within Hart and request that they are maintained as havens for exercise, quiet contemplation, for viewing wildlife – or whatever you use them for.

This has surely got to be better than handing over our countryside over to developers and filling them with concrete.

The survey can be found here and more details on Hart’s website here.

If you would like to join our campaign please sign and share our petition:

 

Go to Petition