Barratts claimed housing need is tendentious nonsense

Barratt Developments Logo

As we reported here, a number of developers have put forward the idea that Hart District’s Local Plan housing target should be double that in the current housing market assessment. We have been through Barratt Homes‘ document and come to the conclusion that it is a load of tendentious nonsense.

In this post we demolish their main arguments.  Let us remember that Barratt Developments are behind the proposals for a new town at Winchfield and have a vested interest in putting forward the highest housing target they can. But as we shall see below, they really are simply thinking of a number and tripling it.

The Starting Point

They start innocuously enough, with the latest 2012-based population projections, leading to a starting point of 250 dwellings per annum, or a target of around 5,000 houses, somewhat less than the current SHMA figure of 7,534. Note that if this 5,000 number was used as our housing target, we would be able to meet our remaining housing target from windfalls and a few brownfield sites, and wouldn’t even need to redevelop Pyestock until after 2032.

Barratts Starting Point for Housing Need

Demographic Adjustments

However, they go on to say that the starting point should be ‘adjusted’ to allow for higher household formation rates (HFR) and more inward migration.

Barratts Demographic Adjustments for Hart District Housing Need 2011-2032

Barratts Key to charts

We would probably agree that some small adjustment needs to be made for HFR. However they argue that the 2008-based Government figures are somehow more accurate than the latest 2012-based figures. But the 2008-based forecasts were proven wrong by the actual census data in 2011, and even the 2011-based figures reverse the most recent trend towards slightly larger households.

Average Houshold Size projections for Housing Market Area

Average Household Size projections for Housing Market Area

But we really take issue with their logic on needing to take account of bigger inward migration to Hart from other districts. They appear to argue that because the 2012-based population projections are lower than the 2008-based projections, they simply must be wrong and need to be adjusted. They are arguing that because we built a lot of housing in the period 2003-2007, and created a great deal of housing supply, so inward migration increased, then we need to do that each and every year from 2011-2031.  They also suggest that Government’s population projections don’t include enough allowance for immigration to the country.  Let’s deal with their arguments:

First, the Government central projections already assume net immigration to the country of 185,000 per year out to 2039, nearly twice the Government’s target of 10’s of thousands, so we would argue that so migration from abroad is already in the starting point.

Second, by definition, migration from other parts of the UK, must be unmet need from other areas. But every area has to follow the National Planning Policy Framework and meet the needs of their local district, so where is this extra internal migration going to come from? As we have shown before, our analysis of five other housing needs assessments of planning authorities across Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Berkshire reveals an average housing uplift on the baseline population projections of around 42%. It simply cannot be right for every district to be assuming that they need to make an uplift to their housing targets because of inward migration from other districts, or we will end up with far more houses than we need.

Jobs Growth Adjustments

Barratts then go on to quote the average of three jobs forecasts that say that Hart District can and should produce jobs at a rate of 620 per annum, or 1,650 per annum across the whole Housing Market Area (HMA) that includes Rushmoor and Surrey Heath.

Barratts Jobs Growth Adjustments for Hart District Housing Need 2011-2032

Barratts Key to charts

This job creation rate for the HMA is higher than in the current SHMA (1,130 jobs per annum), which represents a near doubling of the job creation rate achieved in the period 1998-2012 and significantly higher than the 414 jobs per annum created in the same period for Hart District.

They then conclude that we need to build 730 houses per annum to meet these jobs forecasts, nearly three times the starting point of the population projections. They have literally taken the official Government projections and tripled them for no sound reason.

Of course, they then go on to say that we will need to have an even higher population in Hart, created by even more net migration to do the jobs in the forecasts.  But they don’t explain where this population is going to come from. Again, if overseas immigration is already factored into the Government population forecasts, and this even higher rate of population growth in Hart would have to be people from other districts, and those other districts are duty bound to meet the needs of their own people.

Elsewhere in the report, Barratts say that only 45% of Hart’s workforce work in Hart. Surely, if all these jobs were going to materialise in the district, more of the workforce would choose to work closer to where they live and we wouldn’t need more inward migration, and so our housing requirement would fall?

Their approach appears to be against the latest advice from the Planning Advisory Service which states that housing need should be “principally understood as a measure of future demand rather than aspiration”. Employment in the district should be a matter for consultation (see Peter Village QC opinion), and in any case a high level of jobs growth that requires more inward migration is by definition meeting the unmet needs of other districts and an ‘aspiration’ which is contrary to planning advice.

Affordable Housing

They then go on to claim that if we built 730 dwellings per annum, and affordable housing at the 40% rate in current policy we would deliver almost all of the affordable housing we need. But to support this claim, they say that Hart’s evidence base says we need 320 affordable houses per annum. This is four times the current SHMA (Figure 8.4) that says we need 79 affordable houses per annum, plus a few more intermediate houses.

 

 

All in all this report from Barratts is self serving, tendentious nonsense that should be dismissed out of hand.

 

Developers call for Hart’s housing target to be doubled

The new age of crony capitalism

We have taken a brief look at the submissions made by developers to the Hart Council Refined Housing Options Consultation, found some worrying results. Barratt Homes, Berkeley Homes and Martin Grant homes all call for Hart’s housing target to be increased, and some call for it to be doubled. It is important that everyone in Hart unites to challenge these ridiculous figures. We should also challenge the developers to build the houses that are already permitted and not ‘land-bank’.

According to the current Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), Hart must build 7,534 homes in the planning period up to 2032. This amounts to around 370 per annum. This number was arrived at by using the 2011-based population projections as a starting point. Since then the 2012-based population projections have been published and they show a lower population projection than the older numbers

However, Barratt Homes have come up with their own assessment of Hart’s housing need which is 730 homes per annum.

Berkeley Homes have also come up with their own housing target for Hart in the range of 540-685 dwellings per annum

Finally, Martin Grant Homes also say that Hart’s housing ‘need’ is 730 dwellings per annum, nearly double the currently assessed need.

What is particularly galling about these projections put forward by the developers is that they are not even building at anywhere near the 370 per annum rate required to meet the 7,534 target,

Hart District Housing Completions by year

Hart District Housing Completions by year

even though there are 1,075 homes that were granted permission in or before 2013, out of the over 3,000 outstanding permissions. It is ridiculous to suggest that these developers are going to double their build rate, because prices would collapse along with their profits.  This is just a way for developers to try and gain more planning permissions and then sit on them and produce houses at a rate that suits them.

Outstanding permissions in Hart District as of 20 April 2016 by year of grant

Outstanding permissions in Hart District as of 20 April 2016 by year of grant

We hope that all campaigning groups in Hart unite to challenge these ridiculous notions of housing ‘need’ coming from the developers. If we don’t then there is a strong risk we will be forced to build even more houses for Rushmoor and Surrey Heath and end up having to build Pyestock (aka Hartland Village) and all three of the options in the consultation.

 

 

Two wolves and a lamb vote on what to have for lunch

1st preferences for new town by location Hart Housing Options consultation Q4

Hart Council have published the results of the recent Refined Housing Options consultation.  The summary of the results can be found here, and a geographic analysis of the results of questions 4 and 5 can be found here.

There was strong first preference support for a new town at Winchfield, as can be seen in the table below:

 

Responses to Hart Housing Options Consultation Q4

However, there was strong second preference support for the dispersal and urban extension options. The geo-analysis of the responses to Approach 3 are shown in the image at the top of the page, where it is clear there was very strong support for a new town in Winchfield from Hook and Fleet. This is analogous to two wolves and a lamb getting together to vote on what to have for lunch, as there are clearly fewer people in Winchfield to vote against the new town proposal. However, there was clearly very strong opposition to the new town coming from Hartley Wintney.

Responses to Hart Housing Options Consultation Q5

There was a very mixed bag of opinion on how to combine the options.

As we have said before, these results are largely irrelevant now that the Pyestock (aka Hartland Village) brownfield site has come forward with capacity for around 1,500 homes. Hart Council have said that brownfield development will be the preferred strategy over any green field development. Not only that, the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) will be revised soon and we hope the overall numbers will be revised downwards. Although we must be vigilant, because at least three developers are arguing that our housing target should be revised upwards by a very significant amount – more on that soon.

Hart Council are playing down the results, saying:

…the outcome of the Refined Housing Options Consultation should not be seen as determining which strategy the Council should follow to deliver its need to deliver new homes. The Options are still being tested against the evidence base which will include a refreshed SHMA, unmet need in neighbour districts, a sustainability appraisal, transport assessment, water cycle study, Habitats Regulation Assessment, and Adams Hendry site assessment report that will also help inform suitability of sites. It will be this information, when assessed as a whole, that will be used to assess which is the appropriate strategy to follow.

Evidence shows developer ‘land-banking’ in Hart District

Crony capitalist builder banking planning permissions and not building houses

New data from Hart District Council shows that crony capitalist builders are banking their planning permissions and not building at a high enough rate to meet our housing needs. Surely, it is time for local councils to be given more powers to force developers to build out their sites on a timely basis or transfer them to another builder who can.

First, let’s take a look at the net completions each year since the planning period started in 2011.

Year Net Completions
2010-11 92
2011-12 106
2012-13 197
2013-14 264
2014-15 338
Grand Total 1,195

Note, that according to the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), we should be building at around 375 dwellings per annum to meet our housing needs, and in fact at a higher rate in the early years of the Local Plan period.

Now let’s take a look at the outstanding, uncompleted dwellings, by year of the decision to grant planning permission.

Year of grant Net uncompleted dwellings
2003 5
2005 1
2006 0
2008 1
2009 2
2010 14
2011 58
2012 591
2013 402
2014 793
2015 1,066
2016 148
Grand Total 3,081

This shows there are 1,074 dwellings that were granted permission on or before 2013 and have yet to be built, nearly the entire amount of new homes built since 2011. It is well known that the construction industry has long lead times, but surely more than 3 years from granting permission to completion is simply too long.

It is surely not right that developers turn up to planning appeals and seek to blame Hart Council for not building enough houses and use that to try and justify why their pet project should be granted permission, when it is clear the builders are simply storing up these planning permissions and not getting on with building the houses we need.

Sadly, this is in-line with the House of Lords Select Committee that said:

We see the gap between planning permissions and housing completions as a fundamental one in respect of securing increased housing supply. In a climate where over 240,000 homes a year are being granted planning permission, it is a fundamental failure of the development system that over 100,000 fewer homes are actually being built. This situation must be addressed.

It is also in-line with our own research that shows how developers have taken control of the planning system for their own ends.

Thanks to Hart Council for putting in the effort to dig the raw data out of their systems, which I know has been a difficult task.

 

Busy time ahead for the Hart Local Plan

Keep Calm and Wait for news about the Hart Local Plan

News about the Hart Local Plan has been sparse lately, but we can expect a flurry of news over the coming weeks.

First, now that the council elections are over, we can expect the results of the recent consultation to be released over the next few weeks.  Of course, we don’t know the results, but whatever the outcome, the results will be of limited value given that Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), has emerged as an additional brownfield site with capacity of around 1,500 dwellings.

Second, the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), together with the related Employment Land Review (ELR) have been in gestation for a few months now and we should hear of the new housing numbers in the next few weeks.  We Heart Hart is hopeful the new SHMA will result in Hart being asked to build 1,000-1,500 fewer houses over the planning period.  Of course, the new SHMA should also reduce the allocation for Surrey Heath and Rushmoor and the new ELR should enable Rushmoor in particular to release more of the brownfield sites it is protecting. The net result should reduce the risk of Hart being asked to build 3,100 extra houses for those districts.

Third, the results of Hart’s brownfield study should be released in the next couple of months and will set out a more sensible view of the brownfield capacity of the district.

Finally, should also expect the revised timetable for the Hart Local Plan to be released, so we will know when we will be asked our views. Expectations are the draft Local Plan should be released in September or October.

Wates Developments seeks Environmental Assessment of Pale Lane site

SHL 52 SHLAA Site - Pale Lane, near Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney, Hart District Hampshire

Wates Developments has submitted an application for an Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report on the Pale Lane site (known as SHLAA site SHL 52 and strategic site STR009) that straddles Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney parishes.

Wates have made a presentation to Elvetham Heath Parish Council, and plan to make further presentations to interested groups.  A copy of the slides used can be found on the download below.

The site lies to the west of the existing Elvetham Heath development, and is bounded to the north by the M3 motorway and to the south by the main railway line to London.

Wates Homes Pale Lane Development Proposal, near Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney, Hart District, Hampshire.

As part of their submission, Wates have given an indicative layout of the final scheme (reproduced above), that will, if eventually approved, contain around 700 new houses, a local community centre, a new primary school and be called Elvetham Chase.

We don’t oppose an Environmental Assessment being carried out, but we would be very disappointed if this development went ahead because:

  1. Hart currently has a 6.7 year land supply, based on the existing inflated Strategic Housing Market Assessment
  2. The Housing Market Assessment is currently being reviewed, and the expectations are our housing allocation will be reduced
  3. Hart District Council is participating in a Government pilot scheme to create a register of brownfield sites,
  4. Hart has initiated a study to identify the brownfield capacity of the district and
  5. Our figures suggest there is capacity for around 4,000 homes on brownfield sites (including Pyestock aka Hartland Park) compared to only 2,500 further houses need to be permitted to meet our current housing target up to 2032.

So, we see no need to concrete over any more of our greenfields for decades to come.

We also note that Adams Hendry’s assessment determined that there were significant transport issues with the site and suggested that Pale Lane might have to be closed to vehicular traffic saying:

Primary vehicular site access would almost certainly be provided onto the A323, with a potential secondary access to the south on Pale Lane. However, the Pale Lane access is severely constrained by being a single track lane with a narrow single-track tunnel under the railway and single track bridge over the River Hart. If it were to provide an effective access point for development at the site, all of this infrastructure would need to be upgraded, not least to ensure effective and safe pedestrian and cycle access between the site and the Hitches Lane Country Park to the south of the railway. However widening the tunnel under the railway and the bridge over the river are likely to be very costly. Therefore, it would be sensible to test closing Pale Lane to all vehicular traffic as an alternative that would ensure safe pedestrian and cycle access could be achieved.

 

Wates presentation to Elvetham Heath PC about Pale Lane

link

 

CPRE Hampshire says Winchfield is a ‘poor option’ in response to consultation

CPRE Hampshire Logo

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England’s (CPRE) Hampshire branch have responded to Hart Council’s Local Plan consultation and condemned the whole idea of a new town at Winchfield. Their full response can be found here.

In it, they say that they do not accept that a new town is a valid approach and describe it as a ‘poor option’. They also challenge the housing need figures, pointing out that the (allegedly) Objectively Assessed Housing Need is 58.6% above the latest Government household projections.

This response, coupled with Winchfield Parish Council’s very strong response, really does call into question the whole idea of a new town in Winchfield.

 

 

 

Winchfield Parish Council demolishes the new town idea in their response to the Local Plan Consultation

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

Winchfield Parish Council (WPC) have submitted their response and covering letter (see downloads below) to Hart Council’s Local Plan consultation and effectively demolished all of the arguments supporting Hart’s new town idea.  The response was pulled together with the help of professional planners at John Boyd Planning Associates.

There are four main planks to WPC’s argument:

  1. Lack of evidence to justify the need for a new settlement
  2. Winchfield is not a suitable location for a new settlement
  3. A new settlement is not a viable approach
  4. There should be more of a focus on alternatives such as brownfield development and dispersal

The lack of evidence is demonstrated by the fact that Hart has not yet consulted upon the issues recommended by Peter Village QC namely, employment, retail, transport, and infrastructure. Moreover, it is premature and illogical to be conducting the consultation now when the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) is being revised and we don’t know what the Objectively Assessed Need is going to be. They also note the work done by Alan Wenban-Smith that seriously challenged the numbers in the existing SHMA.

The challenge to the suitability of Winchfield as a location is demonstrated by the significant barriers to delivery outlined by Hart themselves such as education, transport and foul water drainage. They also point out that the main argument used in favour of a settlement at Winchfield, the presence of a railway station, is undermined by the suggestion that the station would have to be relocated to support the new town. There are also significant doubts about the capacity of the available sites to accommodate a new settlement of sufficient size to be viable, especially when one considers the environmental constraints such as SSSIs and SINCs as well as the space that will have to be found for SANGs, shops, car-parks, schools and recreational facilities. Not only that, but the disparate nature of the sites will make it very difficult to plan a coherent and compact nuclear settlement.

WPC also challenge the viability of a new settlement by pointing out the massive costs of infrastructure with no evidence being presented to indicate how these costs would be met.  The NPPF (para 47 & 173) calls for housing and infrastructure to be planned together, so if it cannot be demonstrated that the right infrastructure can be funded and built, then the whole new town idea could be rejected by an inspector and the Local Plan found unsound.

WPC’s submission welcomes Hart’s belated focus on brownfield development, but criticises them for ignoring an important study by Stonegate Homes, the further opportunities presented by the changes to permitted development rights and the results of Hart’s own findings of new “Zones of Brownfield Opportunity”.  They also point out that Hart’s ‘Economic Development Strategy’ (2015) identifies that the District Council must direct its resources to urban regeneration, and that focusing growth in and adjacent to Hart’s main settlements would
boost investment in infrastructure and regeneration in the locations where it is needed most and help close the £78m funding gap.

Finally, they say that it would be inappropriate to try and meet the housing needs of our ageing population through a new town option.

All in all, this is an eloquent and devastating attack on the whole idea of a new town and is very much in-line with what We Heart Hart has been saying for months.  We can only hope that the councillors will take heed of such an important report from professional planning consultants and get the Local Plan back on track to being found sound at inspection.

 

Cover letter:

Winchfield Parish Council Cover Letter

Full response:

Winchfield Parish Council Local Plan Consultation response

response  covering letter

Please respond to the Hart Local Plan consultation by 18 March 2016

Hurry up, time is running out to respond to the Hart Council consultation about the Local Plan.

The consultation has now closed

The deadline for submissions to Hart Council’s Local Plan consultation is tomorrow, Friday 18th March.  So, please do respond.

Here is a quick reminder of the key arguments to help you make up your mind on how to respond:

First, there is a brownfield solution to meet our remaining housing needs that will not require either a new town or new urban extensions. The proposed densities in the brownfield option are not at all demanding, with an average density on the SHLAA sites of around 25 dwellings per hectare.  The proposed densities on the vacant office blocks are no different to some developments that Hart has already permitted on Fleet Road, such as the new McCarthy and Stone development.  Our proposals do not include Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), which could deliver even more houses on brownfield sites into the future if Hart Council is successful in reallocating that site for housing.

Remember that Hart Council themselves said back in September that brownfield capacity was 1,800 units and now they have miraculously lost 75% of them.  Since then, more sites have been identified and Hart has started to work with Government to build a brownfield register.

Second, we need to take a strategic view of the future and recognise that continuing to concrete over green fields equivalent to 25 football pitches each year is not at all sustainable and our children and grandchildren would not thank us for doing that.

The advantages of a brownfield solution are:

  • It preserves the very countryside that makes Hart such a great place to live,
  • Produces a greener solution, making better use of existing infrastructure and more efficient housing,
  • Delivers more of the smaller, more affordable housing of the types that we need to meet the needs of our young people aspiring to gain a foothold on the housing ladder,
  • Delivers more specialist accommodation for the elderly in the right places for them as well as freeing up larger properties for growing families,
  • Delivers infrastructure funding to existing communities where there is currently a £78m funding deficit
  • Lower risk of delivery because it is spread across a large number of sites with multiple developers

Of course, the new town proposal that is in the consultation has been undergoing testing for over a year now, and has identified a number of significant barriers including education, transport and foul water drainage.  The evidence to date shows the new town is simply not viable because the costs of the infrastructure required for a new town are astronomical and would never be met by developer contributions. One of the main arguments used in favour of a settlement at Winchfield, the presence of a railway station, is undermined by the suggestion that the station would have to be relocated to support the new town. If Hart were to choose the new town option, it runs the risk of not passing inspection because infrastructure delivery could not be guaranteed.

Finally, whilst we hope that the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment, (SHMA) when it is eventually delivered in June will result in a lower housing target for Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath. But until then, the threat of Hart having to build 3,000 for those districts is very real.  Support for a new town will create capacity to build these extra houses which will mean we will end up with the worst of all worlds, a new town, urban extensions and dispersal across the district.

So, we urge all residents of Hart to reject a new town, reject urban extensions and get behind a brownfield solution and give Hart Council further encouragement to step up their efforts in this regard by responding to the consultation and putting support for a brownfield solution in the comments.

If you responded to the previous consultation and gave your email address, you should have been contacted by the council asking you whether you want to re-submit your response to the new consultation.  If you have received that e-mail, we recommend you re-submit your prior submission.  This can be done here.

If either you did not respond to the last consultation, want to modify your submission or you did not give your email address before, then you will need to submit a brand new response here. Please make sure all of your friends and family respond too.

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

Response to Face IT article in Fleet News and Mail

 

Vacant Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

FACE IT have been quoted in this week’s Fleet News & Mail, claiming that the “urban extension option may sound like a ‘brownfield’ solution but would actually mean an extra 2,173 homes being built on green fields in Fleet and Hook”.

It does appear that all of the efforts they have put into their campaign around the Hart Council’s Housing Option Consultation has exhausted them to such an extent that they now misunderstand the difference between types of development because nobody is arguing that urban extensions are somehow brownfield development in disguise.

They make spurious claims about school places, after making up their own estimate of how many extra school places might be required without doing a proper population projection.  Note that Hampshire County Council have not put in place any plans beyond 2018, are forecasting a surplus of secondary school places at that time and a reduction in the birth rate as well as admitting that Hart schools are educating many children from outside the district.

They also make some claims about the scale of development that has occurred in Fleet, Church Crookham and Hook and about how many houses would end up being built around Fleet and Hook under each of the options Hart has put forward. It is not clear where they get their numbers from, because they don’t tally with the figures we put together.

However, nobody would dispute that Hook in particular has seen a big rise in housing in both absolute and relative terms. But what we find difficult to understand is why Hook’s Neighbourhood Planning team and Parish Council are advocating the new town option as their first choice which would deliver more than 1,800 houses in Hook Parish and effectively coalesce Hartley Wintney, Winchfield and Hook into a giant conurbation that might be named Hartley Winchook. This is more houses than the urban extension they oppose (730 houses), more than the dispersal option put forward by Hart Council (204 houses) and more than the brownfield solution put forward by We Heart Hart (only 57 new dwellings to be permitted).

FACE IT rightly say that the combination of Fleet, Church Crookham, Elvetham Heath and Ewshot (greater Fleet) has seen a lot of new housing in absolute terms over recent years. However, this is only part of the story as all parts of the district have seen significant development. When you look at the amount of new housing in proportion to size, the percentage increase for greater Fleet over the planning period of 2011-2031 is forecast to be around 17% for the dispersal and urban extension options and 14% with the new town option. This is below the average for the whole district at 21%, 18% and 18% respectively for each option and well below the percentage increases for places like Hartley Wintney which is forecast to see 34%, 39% and 21% increases for each of the options put forward by Hart.

The brownfield option that We Heart Hart has put forward has the potential to meet all of the remaining housing need and results in a more balanced distribution across the district in proportion to the size of existing settlements.  Our solution would result in a 23% increase for the greater Fleet area, 22% for Hartley Wintney and 27% for the smaller parishes that include Winchfield.

The proposed densities in the brownfield option are not at all demanding, with an average density on the SHLAA sites of around 25 dwellings per hectare.  The proposed densities on the vacant office blocks are no different to some developments that Hart has already permitted on Fleet Road, such as the new McCarthy and Stone development.  Our proposals do not include Pyestock (aka Hartland Park), which could deliver even more houses on brownfield sites into the future if Hart Council is successful in reallocating that site for housing.

We do agree with FACE IT, that we need to take a strategic view of the future, but we disagree on what that strategic vision might be.  In our view, continuing to concrete over green fields equivalent to 25 football pitches each year is not at all sustainable and our children and grandchildren would not thank us for doing that.

The advantages of a brownfield solution are:

  • It preserves the very countryside that makes Hart such a great place to live,
  • Produces a greener solution, making better use of existing infrastructure and more efficient housing,
  • Delivers more of the smaller, more affordable housing of the types that we need to meet the needs of our young people aspiring to gain a foothold on the housing ladder,
  • Delivers more specialist accommodation for the elderly in the right places for them as well as freeing up larger properties for growing families,
  • Delivers infrastructure funding to existing communities where there is currently a £78m funding deficit
  • Lower risk of delivery because it is spread across a large number of sites with multiple developers

Of course, the new town proposal that is in the consultation has been undergoing testing for over a year now, and has identified a number of significant barriers including education, transport and foul water drainage.  The costs of the infrastructure required for a new town are astronomical and would never be met by developer contributions. If Hart were to choose the new town option, it runs the risk of not passing inspection because infrastructure delivery could not be guaranteed.

We hope that the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment, (SHMA) when it is eventually delivered in June will result in a lower housing target for Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath. But until then, the threat of Hart having to build 3,000 for those districts is very real.  Support for a new town will create capacity to build these extra houses which will mean we will end up with the worst of all worlds, a new town, urban extensions and dispersal across the district.

So, we urge all residents of Hart to reject a new town, reject urban extensions and get behind a brownfield solution and give Hart Council further encouragement to step up their efforts in this regard by responding to the consultation and putting support for a brownfield solution in the comments.

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