Independent Expert says we are being asked to build too many houses

Time to celebrate we don't need so many houses

Time to celebrate: Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath don’t need so many houses

An independent expert, Alan Wenban-Smith has taken a look at our housing needs assessment and concluded that Hart District is being asked to build too many houses.  He says that the overall house-building rate for the combined area of Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor should more than halve from 1,180 dwellings per annum (dpa) to 558 dpa, and that for Hart should fall from 370 to 268dpa.  This would reduce the overall housing need for the housing market area from 23,600 to 11,160 and that for Hart from 7,500 to around 5,500.  This calls into question the validity of carrying out a new “Housing Options” consultation now when there is serious doubt about the accuracy of the housing numbers we need to deliver. Please do get involved with this consultation and respond to it using our guide on our dedicated page about this consultation here.

This is very good news in that if this analysis is upheld at inspection it should lead to the following conclusions:

  • We can meet all of our remaining housing need from brownfield sites alone.
  • We definitely would not need a new town in Winchfield or anywhere in Hart, nor would we need any urban extensions.
  • The risk of needing to build 3,000 houses to cater for the unmet needs of Surrey Heath and Rushmoor should fall away.
  • There may be an opportunity to ask Surrey Heath and Rushmoor to build more houses for Hart, so we could keep our beautiful countryside.

Mr Wenban-Smith’s full report was commissioned by We Heart Hart and Winchfield Action Group can be downloaded here:

Critique of Hart SHMA

Critique of the Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA by Alan Wenban-Smith

The summary of his argument, together with the implications is discussed below:

The starting point for assessing housing need in Hart used the 2011-based population projections from the Government and then made a series of changes to extend those projections out to 2031; adjust for higher inward migration estimates and for smaller average household size.  These 2011-based projections have been superseded by more recent 2012-based figures that already make projections to 2031 and already include the adjustments made above.  The effect of this is to reduce the start-point considerably.

Hart has already commissioned a review of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) to take account of these latest Government figures and so should include this reduction.  We should know the results of this work early in 2016.  However, this does call into question the validity of conducting a new consultation now when the numbers are subject to such a large degree of change.

Then Mr Wenban-Smith challenges the jobs forecasts in the SHMA, concluding that the level of jobs growth we achieved in the period 1998-2008 would be a “good result” and the increases in jobs and houses needed to support economic growth should be reduced.

Finally, he then goes on to say that the level of house need shown in the SHMA cannot be delivered by the market.  If the amount of land required to meet the need is allocated by the council, then this will lead to housebuilders cherry picking the best sites and building at a rate that gives them most profit,  not at the rate required to meet the needs. So, he concludes that the level of housing proposed is unsustainable, and therefore contrary to the NPPF and should be reduced.  This is in-line with current guidance about SHMAs from the Planning Advisory service that says:

Based on these reasons, we conclude that the OAN should be principally understood as a measure of future demand rather than aspiration. Accordingly we propose a working definition as follows:

‘The housing that households are willing and able to buy or rent, either from their own resources or with assistance from the State’.

Housing allocation for Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath should reduce by 6,560 according to new DCLG figures

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

The housing allocation for the combined Housing Market Area (HMA) of Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath should be reduced by by 27.7% or 6,560 houses, taking away the risk that Rushmoor and Surrey Heath will ask Hart to build 3,000 houses for them and ensuring Hart’s own requirement can be built on brownfield sites only according to new population projections that have been released by the DCLG.

Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix F Figure 2

Figure 1: Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix F

The SHMA worked by taking as a starting point earlier Government figures that showed the combined population of the HMA would be 307K (PROJ 2 circled in Figure 1 above) and this was inflated by increasing the assumptions on inward migration, average household size and jobs growth to arrive at a final figure of 322K (PROJ 5 circled in Figure 1 above).

Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix G Figure 1

Figure 2: Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix G

Interestingly, revised population forecasts were published by the Government as the SHMA was being finalised that showed that the start point population forecast should be reduced to 295K (circled in Figure 2 above), but amazingly these changes were not used to reduce the assessed housing need.  If they had been used, the total amount of housing that would be required for the HMA would have reduced by 208 per annum (see Figure 3 below), or a total of 4,160 dwellings out of a total objectively assessed housing need (OAHN) of 23,600.

Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix G Figure 2

Figure 3: Hart Rushmoor and Surrey Heath SHMA Appendix G

Now the latest DCLG figures (Table 426) have reduced the population forecast for 2031 for the whole HMA down to only 289K, a reduction of 6,000 people, which equates to a reduction of a further ~2,400 houses (@2.5 people per property).

Taken together these reductions in population forecasts would reduce the whole housing need for the HMA by 6,560 houses of the 23,600 or a reduction of a stunning 27.7%.

We wonder when Hart Council, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath councils will take these new figures into account in the Local Plan.

 

Hart household projections fall according to new figures from DCLG

Cows in Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

Do we want to lose our cows to concrete?

In a piece of good news, revised population projections published by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show that Hart will have fewer households in 2031 than were assumed in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).  This should have the effect of reducing the housing requirement being imposed on Hart District as part of the Local Plan.  This might reduce the remaining 2,900 houses left to grant permission for and make it more likely we can meet all of the remaining need from brownfield sites.

 

Local Authority2011 householdsSHMA start point for 2031 using 2011-based population projectionNew projection for 2031 using 2012-based population projectionChange between 2011-based and 2012-based projectionsSHMA end-point for 2031
Hart357574222040618-160243291
Rushmoor365594083042362153246381
Surrey Heath33632381703832115140689
Total10594812122012130181130361

 

However in other news, the same new figures for Rushmoor and Surrey Heath show higher projections for households up to 2031 than were assumed in the SHMA.  This might increase the housing requirement for Surrey Heath and Rushmoor and they may ask that Hart builds those houses for them.

What is clear is that the SHMA then makes several dubious adjustments to the baseline DCLG projections that add a further 9,000 or so houses to the total for the housing market area that need to be challenged.

The DCLG figures can be found here and here.  The SHMA can be found here.

Latest jobs growth figures well short of SHMA estimates

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Jobs Growth rates 1998 to 2013 compared to SHMA

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Jobs Growth rates 1998 to 2013 compared to SHMA

The Government have released the revised BRES job numbers for 2013 and these show that the jobs growth rate we have achieved since the recession ended in 2009 is still much lower than the jobs growth rate assumed in the SHMA for the period 2011-2031, during which period it is inevitable we will experience at least one more recession.  This comes at a time when the UK is creating more jobs than the rest of the EU put together, so can hardly be described as a normal set of circumstances.

The flawed jobs growth rate in the SHMA adds 5,100 extra houses to to the overall housing allocation to the combined Housing Market Area of Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.  The impact of this is that it pushes up Hart’s own allocation and forces Surrey Heath and Rushmoor to ask Hart to become a sink for 3,000 extra houses for them. Furthermore, these jobs forecasts lead to over-estimates of the amount of employment land we need and so constrains the amount of land that might be made available for housing.

Hart becomes Housing Sink for Surrey Heath and Rushmor

Hart becomes sink for 3,100 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

If these errors in the SHMA growth rate were corrected the threat from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor would evaporate and Hart’s own housing allocation for the Local Plan would come down from 7,534 to around 6,750, which would definitely mean the remaining requirement could be made from brownfield sites alone.

How long before the penny drops with Hart District Council and the other Hampshire boroughs that they need to revise the SHMA to a more realistic number?

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.

 

Hart Council rejects opinion of 2,130 people who signed the We Heart Hart petition

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

Hart in the Heart of Hart, Winchfield, Hampshire

We went to the Cabinet meeting last night armed with a draft of Hart Council’s response to the petition and unfortunately, the council rejected the three main elements of petition to reduce the overall housing allocation for Hart and our demand that the remaining housing allocation is met from brownfield sites alone.  The council also refused to stop planning to build a new town that would act as a sink for 3,100 houses from Rushmoor and Surrey Heath.

It is outrageous that Hart Council should dismiss the opinion of 2,130 people.  Hart’s own consultation only received 750 replies and only 202 of those expressed a preference for a new town. Given the earlier failure of the Local Plan at inspection, it is simply astonishing that Hart should be basing their planning policy on a “guesstimate” of brownfield capacity. It is unbelievable that they refuse to set up a proper register of brownfield sites and can’t be bothered to track which brownfield sites have been granted planning permission.

We have produced a press release about this that can be downloaded from the link below:

 

We Heart Hart Press Release 2 October 2015

 

Hart becomes Housing Sink for Surrey Heath and Rushmor

Hart becomes sink for 3,100 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

On a more positive note, the council did say they would consider the vision we put forwards and will include a new vision in the forthcoming consultation.  The council did also say they would try to accommodate the needs of the elderly, but implied they could only do so if they built a new town at Winchfield. It is clear the council has no means of measuring its performance against the SHMA requirement to build 2,500 specialist units for the elderly.

The debate at council raised a number of interesting points, but Cabinet did not resolve to alter anything in the draft response they had put forward and clearly had not fully considered our suggested response to the petition.  In effect, the council are ignoring the views of 2,130 people on several of the key issues raised by the petition.  We will have to mobilise our supporters to put forward their views in the forthcoming consultation.

The detail of the discussion covered a number of topics:

Challenging the SHMA.  The council did concede that they would need to re-visit the SHMA in due course and update the employment forecasts.  We did point out that the jobs forecasts assume a growth rate nearly double that we achieved in the period 1998-2012, and that Cambridge employment forecasts for the South East used in a challenge to the Vale of White Horse Local Plan are similar to historic average growth rates we beleive should be used in the SHMA.

The council refused to undertake a study to quantify the value of Hart’s environment and ecology.  This is a blow as it could enable the council to use environmental constraints as an argument for not building the full housing allocation.

Brownfield sites.  Despite putting evidence in front of council that there is brownfield capacity for at least 2,438 dwellings and possibly over 3,600 units, Hart is still sticking by its current “guesstimate” of only 1,800 units on brownfield sites.  It is quite astonishing that Hart is basing its planning policy on a “guesstimate”. Last week Hart Council did admit that there was a residual requirement of only 2,900 houses.  It is clear to us, that meeting the the remaining need from brownfield only is well within reach.

Some councillors were concerned about our proposed densities in urban areas until we pointed out that they have already approved and are delivering developments at even higher densities.  Other concerns raised were about using up too much employment land until we pointed out that there’s over 500,000 sq m of vacant employment land across the housing market area, and we are in no danger of running out any time soon.

Overall I am afraid I got the impression that they listened, but they had already made their mind up that a new town was the answer to the Local Plan no matter what contrary evidence was put to them.

We must gird our loins for a long campaign to fight against these proposals.

 

 

Petition Response: We don’t need a new town

Cows in Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

Do we want to lose our cows to concrete?

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.

If the council implements all of the ideas we have put forward, there will simply be no need for a new town, in Winchfield or anywhere else. Especially if you consider the following:

 

We Heart Hart to present to Odiham Parish Council

Odiham High Street, Hart District Hampshire

Odiham High Street, Hampshire

We Heart Hart has been asked to present to Odiham Parish Council about the Rushmoor and Hart Local Plans on Monday 7 September at 7:30pm at The Bury, Odiham. RG29 1NB. The presentation we will give is available for download below:

We Heart Hart presentation to Odiham Parish Council

link

Petition response: Reduce the housing allocation

Discontinuity between ABI and BRES jobs data for Housing Market Area

Discontinuity between ABI and BRES jobs data for Housing Market Area

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 first suggestions relate to challenging the overall housing numbers Hart have to build.

First, challenge the SHMA to reduce the overall housing allocation for the whole HMA.  There is a strong risk that Hart will be asked to build the highest number of houses in the Housing Market Area if we don’t challenge the numbers.

 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

If this is successful, then it will have a two-fold effect of reducing Hart’s own need and also reduce the risk of overflow from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.  We 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.

Data Point2011 (Census)2011 (BRES)2031 (PROJ 2)2031 (PROJ 5)
SHMA Population (a) 272,394 272,394 307,578 322,278
People in employment (b) 122,300 125,000 162,233 170,223
Overall % in employment (b/a)44.9%45.9%52.7%52.8%
People over 70 (c) 28,559 28,559 51,164 51,164
People 5-19 (d) 67,375 67,375 73,206 73,206
People of working age (a-c-d)=e 176,460 176,460 183,208 197,908
% working age in employment (b/e)69.3%70.8%88.6%86.0%

We 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, we do recognise it is difficult for the council to challenge its own document and await Rushmoor’s response to my strong challenge, but we 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, we 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 we 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?  We 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. 

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.