We Heart Hart Petition submitted to Hart District Council

We Heart Hart Campaign Logo

We Heart Hart Campaign Logo

Last Saturday, we submitted the We Heart Hart petition to Hart District Council.  We chose this time so that the petition would be considered before the new proposed restrictions on petitions were able to come into force.  They have now acknowledged receipt of the petition and Council Leader, Stephen Parker will consult we me in due course.

Council rules state that petitions with more than 1,000 signatories will trigger a debate of the full Council.  At the time the petition was submitted there were 2,130 signatories.  This is nearly four times the number of people who responded to Hart’s consultation and more than 10 times the number of people who expressed a preference for a new town.  According to the Council Petition Scheme, the petition may also be debated by Cabinet.

The aims of the petition that all signatories signed up for were:

  • 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.

Please comment on this post or on our Facebook page or Twitter feed with your ideas on what we should say at the consultation and for content of the motion to be debated at Council.

Call for Hart Council to work with Winchfield Action Group and We Heart Hart

Cooperation between Hart District Council and We Heart Hart and Winchfield Action Group

Call for Hart District Council to work with We Heart Hart and Winchfield Action Group

Tristram Cary, spokesperson for Winchfield Action Group (WAG) has called for Hart District Council to work with groups like We Heart Hart and WAG in the preparation of the Local Plan instead of refusing to meet and seeking to suppress questions.

Tristram’s call came in an excellent email to the Standards Committee of Hart District Council, asking them to reject the proposals that seek to restrict the questions that can be put and limiting the petitions that can be served upon the Council.  We Heart Hart fully endorse Tristram’s stance which is re-produced in full below:

I wish to register my very strong objection to the proposal to restrict questions and petitions which are to be debated at the Standards Committee on Thursday.

I can understand that it is tiresome for Hart to have to deal with so many questions from the public, and I can understand the view that the questions are being used as a platform to state opinions of groups such as WAG and WeHeartHart. But so what? Isn’t the point of public participation at Council Meetings to allow opinions to be heard, and questions to be asked? Surely an hour a month isn’t a big price to pay for public involvement in the debate?

I would also like to point out that Mr Parker has said in his proposal that “the proper way to deal with such matters [ie planning matters] is to participate in the consultation exercise”. But Hart has decided (illegally in the view of Peter Village QC) to remove the Public Consultation on the Local Plan from the planning process.

As well as objecting to the proposal to restrict questions, I would like to make a more general point.I think that Hart’s attitude to the work of WAG and WeHeartHart has been dismissive. For instance Hart refuses to have a meeting with us to discuss the legal opinion, and the answers given to our questions and suggestions have been on the whole incomplete and unhelpful. Hart’s message appears to be “we have decided what we want to do and we are going to ignore your views to the greatest extent possible”. I suggest that Hart would do well to regard WAG and WeHeartHart as allies in the attempt to arrive at the best possible Local Plan for Hart, backed up by the strongest possible evidence base. WAG and WeHeartHart have got access to funds and expertise, and I see no reason why these resources should not be used in collaboration with Hart DC to do work that is in the common interest of the whole community. I am thinking of work packages such as a study of Brownfield site capacity in Hart and Rushmoor and an ecological/environmental study of Hart to better understand the value of the countryside.

The NPPF (para 155) requires councils to “engage in early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with neighbourhoods, local organisations and businesses…A wide section of the community should be proactively engaged, so that Local Plans, as far as possible, reflect a collective vision and a set of agreed priorities for the sustainable development of the area, including those contained in any neighbourhood plans that have been made”. I think that Hart has so far failed dismally to live up to the spirit of the NPPF. Hart’s engagement with WAG and WeHeartHart has been the exact opposite of proactive, and I think that a change of attitude is long overdue.

I would welcome a meeting between Hart DC and WAG/WeHeartHart to discuss how we might engage together in a more productive way.

Let us hope that Hart Council respond positively to this suggestion and build on the work we did to support the council with the Hop Garden Road (Owens Farm) Hook, appeal and the response to the Rushmoor Local Plan.

Hart Council censors questions about the Local Plan

Hart Council so ronery it has to censor questions

Hart Council so ronery it has to censor questions

In an astonishing move reminiscent of North Korea or Stalinist Russia, Hart Council have decided to censor questions saying they “do not publish speculative views from the public” and that they will “prepare and publish guidelines on the format of questions that will be accepted”.

This arose because we asked three questions about school places, brownfield sites and whether Hart would consider an alternative approach to delivering the Local Plan.  Each question had a preamble to set the context before the short question was asked.  Hart have decided to censor the preamble part of each question so that members of the public can’t see them, although they did say they circulated the full text to councillors.

There is a saying that the flak gets heaviest when you are over the target, so I guess this means that the council are finding the questions we are asking uncomfortable.  But we are astonished by their attempt to stifle democracy and how they seek to infantilise the debate about the best approach to the Local Plan.

We think the Planning Inspector will take a dim view of this approach as NPPF Para 155 says:

“Early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with neighbourhoods, local organisations and businesses is essential. A wide section of the community should be pro-actively engaged, so that Local Plans, as far as possible, reflect a collective vision and a set of agreed priorities for the sustainable development of the area, including those contained in any neighbourhood plans that have been made.”

This clearly places an obligation on Hart Council to consult widely and they seem to be afraid to engage, even though they asked us to make a submission to the Hop Garden Road (Owens Farm) appeal and were pleased to receive our criticism of the Rushmoor Local Plan.

 

 

 

Hart Council Responds to Rushmoor’s Local Plan

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Hart Council has responded to Rushmoor’s Draft Local Plan.  In summary their points are:

  • Rushmoor should look again at the SHLAA to seek out new sites and increase densities
  • Rushmoor should reconsider the scope for using surplus employment sites for housing and also releasing some surplus retail space.
  • Rushmoor should alter its housing target to better reflect its delivery trajectory so that it clarifies that the alleged unmet need comes after 2024, and then commit to a review of the plan to investigate the potential housing shortfall nearer the time.

Hart also suggests that much more dialogue is required between the councils and with the service providers to resolve infrastructure issues.

We Heart Hart broadly welcomes this feedback from Hart Council but believes they could have gone further by asking that the densities on Wellesley be reviewed and even more of the protected 96 Ha of employment land could be released for housing.  Even so, if Rushmoor takes on board Hart’s observations, then Rushmoor will not need to ask Hart to build 1,600 houses for them. This would probably mean a new town at Winchfield is not required.

 

Additional response to Rushmoor Local Plan

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

We have made an additional submission to the Rushmoor Borough Council Local Plan consultation pointing out the absurdity of seeking to protect 96 Ha of employment land when there’s going to be a surplus of 195 Ha of employment land across the Housing Market Area of Hart District, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Boroughs at the end of the plan period.

This is available as a download for those wishing to add their voice to the consultation.

 

Additional Response to Rushmoor Local Plan

 

Our first submission and reasoning can be found here and here.

Link

Why is it important for Hart residents to oppose the Rushmoor Local Plan?

 

Example of Urban Sprawl

Example of Urban Sprawl

We have received some feedback questioning why Hart District residents should contribute to Rushmoor Borough Council’s consultation on its Draft Local Plan.

The main reasons are:

  1. Help fend off the extra 1,600 houses Rushmoor wants Hart to build for them and avoid urban sprawl like that shown above.
  2. Challenge the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) that has led to the combined Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor housing requirement being set so high.  If we are successful in this, then Surrey Heath and Rushmoor don’t need to foist houses on Hart and the whole need for a new town at Winchfield or anywhere else goes away
  3. Push for more of the housing requirement to be built on the 196 hectares of surplus brownfield employment land.
  4. Point out the fundamental flaw of the combined £158m infrastructure funding deficit across Rushmoor and Hart (and £1.9bn funding deficit across Hampshire) that will mean we will get all of the houses but none of the infrastructure spending we need to build the healthcare facilities, expand rail capacity, fix broken roads and build the schools we need.

Please download the pre-prepared feedback forms, fill in your details and send off to plan@rushmoor.gov.uk.  The consultation closes on 20 July 2015.

 

Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

 

Additional Response to Rushmoor Local Plan

link link

Rushmoor seeking to protect 96 hectares of brownfield sites but asking Hart to concrete over green fields

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Rushmoor have released more details about their Land Assessment (SHLAA) that reveal they are seeking to protect over 96 hectares of brownfield sites for employment use even though there is a massive glut of employment space across Hart, Rushmoor, Surrey Heath and surrounding districts.

Rushmoor Protected Employment Sites

Rushmoor Protected Employment Sites

If even half of this was used for housing at 100 dwelling per hectare, it would yield 4,800 houses for people in Rushmoor and would mean that Rushmoor could meet its own housing need and even take some of Hart and Surrey Heath’s allocation.

If you would like to ask Rushmoor to revise their Local Plan and make better use of the brownfield sites they have, then 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

 

Massive surplus of brownfield employment land but Rushmoor wants Hart to concrete over green fields

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

The Employment Land Review (ELR) shows there is a massive surplus of around 600K sq m employment space occupying around 195 Ha of land across the combined area of Hart District, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Boroughs. Yet, Rushmoor is seeking to protect 96 hectares of this land whilst at the same time trying to force Hart to build 1,600 houses for them on our beautiful green fields.

 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

If you would like to ask Rushmoor to revise its draft local plan, please download our pre-prepared response form and send it to plan@rushmoor.gov.uk.

 

Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

 

The analysis to support the conclusion is shown below.  We posted earlier that the ELR is based on the same flawed jobs forecasts as the housing market assessment that predict a near doubling of the job creation rate we achieved in the period 1998-2012.  However, even if you accept these flawed forecasts and the unnecessary increase in housing it will lead to, the requirement for employment land in the combined economic area is 266K sq m using Rushmoor’s preferred Scenario 3.

Employment Land Requirements for Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Employment Land Requirements for Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

However, as of December 2014, over 527K sq m of employment floorspace was lying vacant.

Vacant Employment Space in Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Vacant Employment Space in Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Moreover, there is a glut of employment space all across neighbouring districts with very high levels of vacant office space (note that there are also high vacancy rates on industrial land):

Office vacancy rates in neighbouring districts

Office vacancy rates in neighbouring districts

In addition to the vacant units shown above, there is currently 388K sq m of floorspace on 110 Ha of land that currently has planning permission but is not yet being built:

Unimplemented planning permission in Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Unimplemented planning permission in Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Drawing this together, there is a need for 266,000 sq m of space to meet the inflated employment forecasts, there’s currently 527,000 sq m lying vacant, with a further 338,000 sq m with planning permission, but not yet built.  This would leave a surplus of nearly 600,000 sq m of employment space that might occupy around 195 Ha of land, using the same ratio of employment space to land use as the existing planning permissions.

It is clearly ridiculous for all of this land to be protected when even if say 100 Ha is made available, at 100 dwellings per hectare there could be room for 10,000 dwellings, a very large proportion of the overall 24,413 houses that have been allocated to Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.

Rushmoor protecting acres of vacant offices and asking Hart to build 1,600 houses for them

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Rushmoor Borough Council is seeking to protect acres of empty, brownfield office sites, but at the same time it is asking Hart to build 1,600 houses for them because Rushmoor says it can’t meet its own need.  If Hart is forced to take all these houses it makes it more likely we will have to build a new town and concrete over our beautiful green fields and countryside.

Bravehart has been out and about again and taken photos of 15 vacant employment sites across Rushmoor.  This is far from a comprehensive assessment of all of the vacant sites in Rushmoor, but it does illustrate the scale of the opportunity available. It has subsequently emerged that Rushmoor want to protect 96 Ha of brownfield land even though their own Employment Land Review predicted a massive surplus at the end of the plan period.

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

Rushmoor has recently published its draft Local Plan and has asked for comments from the public.  If you are a Hart District resident and you would like them to re-visit their plan and build all of their own need on their own patch, then you can use the pre-prepared from on the link below.  All you need to do is:

  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

 

More detail here.

 

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Vacant Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Cody Technology Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Cody Technology Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Vacant Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at near Aldershot, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at near Aldershot, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

 

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