Wates launch Elvetham Chase aka Pale Lane appeal

Wates launch Elvetham Chase aka Pale Lane appeal

Elvetham Chase aka Pale Lane appeal

[Update 1: 29/5/2018: We understand that the developers have stated they intend to appeal, but have not yet submitted the appeal documentation]

[Update 2: 6/6/2018: Story now confirmed by Fleet News and Mail. Copy here.]

[Update 2: 8/6/2018: Appeal documents published here.]

We understand that the agents for the developers have submitted a Pale Lane appeal. The site, also known as Elvetham Chase was, quite rightly in our view, turned down for development of 700 new houses by Hart Council back in February. The developers, Wates, were apparently quite angry.

The Pale Lane appeal comes despite the recent Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 consultation. Of course, the draft Local Plan doesn’t include Pale Lane in the housing plans. We understand that Hart plan to submit the Local Plan to the inspector on 18 June. The plan published as part of the consultation has some weight to fend off this unwelcome development. That weight should increase when the plan is submitted to the Inspector. But it won’t have the same weight as a plan declared sound by the Inspector.

We don’t yet know the timeline for the Local Plan inspection hearing. Nor do we know the timeline for the Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase) appeal.

Impact of Pale Lane Appeal

So, this move sets in train some complex legal and procedural manoeuvres and a race agaisnt time for both Hart and Wates. Clearly, Wates believe they can win or they wouldn’t be spending the money on the appeal. They are clearly hoping their appeal will be heard prior to the Local Plan being inspected and declared sound.

Despite opposing the development, we think the grounds for rejecting the proposed development were quite weak. The grounds for the decision can be found here. Unfortunately, Hart doesn’t have a good track record in defending appeals.

We have to hope that the current state of the Local Plan will provide stronger defence that the Council’s current outdated policies.

Fleet Regeneration – Yes we can!

Candidate for Fleet Regeneration: Brownfield site at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire. Hart Council protecting from redevelopment.

We must deliver Fleet Regeneration

A guest post from Tristram Cary, chairman of the Rural Hart Association, setting out why we must and how we can deliver Fleet Regeneration.

Fleet Regeneration Report

40% of the population of Hart live in Fleet, and yet, in the Local Plan, Fleet is only taking only 21% of the housing development. This massive imbalance puts a huge strain on Hart’s countryside. It is extraordinary that Hart is preventing the regeneration of Fleet when you consider that:

Fleet housing density versus towns of similar size

Fleet housing density versus towns of similar size

  1. Fleet is the most sparsely populated town of its size in Britain (see above)
  2. Hart admits in para 236 of the Local Plan that, without regeneration, “it is unrealistic for Fleet to try to compete” for comparison shopping with neighbouring towns such as Camberley (which is the same size as Fleet)
  3. The new National Planning Policy Framework (para 86) requires districts to “take a positive approach to the development of Town Centres” and to “recognise that residential development often plays an important role in ensuring the vitality of Town Centres”

Hart’s extraordinary lack of ambition for Fleet is explained by Councillor Cockarill’s statement at the 4 January Council Meeting that any serious Fleet regeneration was “a pipedream”. Hart claims that Fleet is full, and that it would not be possible to raise any serious money for its regeneration.

The Rural Hart Association (RHA) commissioned a study from Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), a leading Town Centre regeneration specialist, to analyse the potential for Fleet regeneration. This study was submitted to Hart in response to the Reg 19 Consultation, and the full document is available on the link above. The key findings of the study are that:

  1. Fleet has ample opportunities for re-generation if only Hart would consider mixed-use (residential and retail) developments
  2. It is hopeless for Fleet to resist the residential conversion of redundant office blocks – there is no realistic prospect of these ever being revived for business use.

It’s worth reading the following summaries provided by directors of LSH.

“As has been widely reported the growth of online retail sales is having a major impact on the retail landscape – online sales are currently circa 16% of all UK sales and growing annually. There is a fundamental structural change in our shopping habits which in turn is having a major impact on retailers and town centres. The retail centres that are thriving tend to be those regional locations offering a high quality experiential mix of retail and leisure or the smaller centres that are able to provide easily accessed, convenience retail facilities in an aesthetically pleasing environment.

Interestingly, we have started to witness retail assets (shopping centres and retail parks) particularly in the South East being acquired or redeveloped for their residential potential.  In some instances, we are seeing retail being proposed above shopping centres and in other instances the complete redevelopment for residential – examples include Forbury Park in Reading which has consent for 765 homes and Whitley’s Shopping Centre in Bayswater which is to be redeveloped for a mixed retail and residential scheme. This trend is likely to continue especially in areas where residential values are high and the retail assets are stagnating.

The Hart Shopping Centre could offer such potential in the future – retaining strong convenience retail facilities at ground floor level with retailers such as Waitrose but with residential accommodation on the upper parts.

What is clear, is that on a national basis we have too many shops and alternative uses, in particular residential, is a desirable way of regenerating our town centres”.

Sean Prigmore, Retail Director, Lambert Smith Hampton

And,

“I have been actively involved in the Fleet office market for more than 30 years.

The office market in Fleet has been in decline for a number of years as larger corporates have vacated to consolidate occupation in larger centers and locations benefitting from more amenity – such as Farnborough Business Park. Key Business centres such as Reading and Basingstoke have prospered whilst the smaller satellite office location such as Fleet are finding it harder to prove their relevance as office locations. M3 HQ, 70,000 sq ft on ABP, has been vacant for many years and is unlikely to be occupied as offices again. There is the potential to enable redevelopment of larger unwanted office stock for residential and to focus B1 provision in locations better served by public transport and amenity and in buildings which will allow business space for the SME sector where what demand there is lies.”

Paul Dowson , Director, Lambert Smith Hampton

Fleet Regeneration Sites

Fleet Regeneration Sites

The Lambert Smith Hampton report identifies eight sites in Fleet Town centre which between them could provide 990 homes in mixed-use developments, and LSH is confident that these sites would attract developer investment. [Personally, I would add the entire civic quarter – ed]. It is shocking that Hart has turned its back on mixed use developments in Fleet without even investigating their potential. We hope that Hart Council will restructure its Local Plan to take account of the LSH report before submitting it for Inspection.

[Note that this is exactly in line with Ranil’s call for regeneration of our urban centres – ed]

Elvetham Chase refused, Wates on the warpath

Wates image Elvetham Chase aka Pale Lane

Wates image of Elvetham Chase (Pale Lane)

Thankfully, last week Hart District Council decided to refuse the Elvetham Chase (Pale Lane) proposal. Whilst this is good news, it is clear from Wates’ press release that they are very disappointed. They are likely to be on the warpath and launch an appeal.

Here is their statement in full, my emphasis:

Wates Developments today expressed disappointment at Hart District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for its Elvetham Chase proposal without giving it the chance for proper consideration at Committee.

Emma Gruenbaum from Wates Developments said, ‘Housing in Hart is in crisis, with the District Council relying on 22 year old Local Plan, and the emerging Plan remaining untested and therefore a long way off adoption.  With homes costing 12 times average household income, the simple fact is Hart needs more homes now.  This decision prevents 280 new affordable homes being delivered to help the 1,300 families currently registered on the housing waiting list. The Council’s decision to refuse this sustainable, high quality, proposal offering a total of 700 homes, delivering an outstanding new community, is simply astonishing.’

The proposal which has no technical constraints and no statutory objections would have provided a vast array of community benefits including;

  • £10 million of investment to local primary and secondary schools
  • Facilitation of a new on-site primary school for 420 children
  • A new on-site 60 place pre-school nursery
  • £600k of investment to existing medical facilities
  • £6 million to essential local highway improvements as well as physical works across many local road, cycle and footpath routes, improving safety and easing congestion to address local concerns
  • A new community bus servicing both the new and existing communities of Elvetham Chase and Elvetham Heath to Fleet railway station and other local destinations
  • 82 acres of public open space including; on-site SANG, areas of play, woodland walks and informal space

Emma added, ‘this exemplar landscape led scheme would, we believe, become as loved locally as its predecessor Elvetham Heath. We remain 100% committed to the site and are reviewing our next steps.

They are obviously less than complimentary about Hart Council. We think that it is inevitable that Wates will appeal this decision. The full statement can be downloaded here.

Impact of Local Plan timetable on Elvetham Chase (Pale Lane)

Separately, we understand that the Government has postponed its planned publication of the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) indefinitely. The new NPPF and associated new approach to calculating housing need was supposed to have been finalised by the end of January.

We understand that Hart District Council will press ahead with the consultation on the draft Local Plan. This will run from 9 February until 26 March 2018. This will be to test the soundness, legal compliance and the duty to cooperate.

This means that is is unlikely that the Plan will be examined by the Inspector until September 2018, or later.

This may well be enough time for Wates to lodge an appeal, for it to be heard and decided before the Local Plan is examined. There may not be sufficient grounds for the appeal to be rejected.

We have to hope that the right planning reasons can be found to overturn the appeal. And of course get the Local Plan in place on time, without the unnecessary new town.

Hart squanders £110K on doomed Grove Farm appeal

Grove Farm Appeal - Netherhouse Copse Site Layout

£110K squandered on Netherhouse Copse – Grove Farm  appeal

It has come to light that Hart spent nearly £110,000 on lawyers and consultants in the course of defending the doomed Grove Farm appeal.

Regular readers may remember that the council failed to answer our questions about this at the last council meeting. However, a recent FOI request from a concerned resident has finally turned up some answers.

In total the council spent £109,858.59 on external legal and consultant costs. Astonishingly, Hart Council does not seem to track the time spent by its own staff on such matters and can’t tell us the costs incurred by internal officers. The good news is that it seems the developer did not press to be awarded its own costs of running the appeal.

However, it appears as though the council did not seek an external view on the chances of success of the appeal. We said back in December 2016 that the failure to determine the application would lead to an appeal and that Hart would likely lose the appeal.

£110,000 represents about 1% of Hart’s spending budget, and they are strapped for cash. Even though we oppose the Grove Farm development, we don’t think the council should be wasting money trying to fight lost causes.

Full FOI request on Grove Farm appeal costs

The full questions and answers (in red) are shown below:

Can you please set out the cost of defending the appeal including:

a) External legal and consultant costs: The Council holds the information that you seek. The costs were £109,858.59. 

b) Internal time costs of officers. The Council does not hold the information that you seek. 

c) Any potential loss of New Homes Bonus. The Council does not hold the information that you seek.

d) Lost time on the Local Plan due to resources being diverted to defend the appeal. The Council does not hold the information that you seek.

e) Appellant costs. The Council does not hold the information that you seek 

Did the council receive legal advice on the chances of success in defending the appeal?  The Council does not hold the information that you seek 
a) What, in summary, did the advice say? The Council does not hold the information that you seek. 

b) Will you make the advice public? The Council does not hold the information that you seek 

c) Was the provider of this legal advice the same organisation that helped
defend the appeal? The Council does not hold the information that you seek

d) How much did the advice cost? The Council does not hold the information that you seek 

 

Hampshire Local Government consultation inconclusive

Hampshire Local Government Consultation Results

The results of the Hampshire Local Government consultation have been published. The consultation was to seek our views on how Hampshire might meet its budget challenges. The results are inconclusive, or as Hampshire County Council (HCC) likes to say, ‘nuanced’.

The Hampshire Local Government consultation took three forms. First, there was the open consultation that we talked about here with 3,354 respondents. Second, there was a telephone survey of a representative sample of 1,504 Hampshire residents. Finally, HCC carried out three ‘deliberative workshops’ with 90 Hampshire residents.

HCC have published a detailed report here. A paper to be discussed at Cabinet on 14 November is published here. The results of the consultations are shown in the graphic above.

Analysis

Interestingly, in the open consultation, there was quite strong support (38%) for a single combined authority, but very strong opposition to an elected mayor (61%). However, Central Government insist that combined authorities cannot go ahead without an elected mayor. There was slightly more support (39%) for a single unitary authority across Hampshire. There was quite strong opposition (33%) to any new unitary authority and even stronger opposition to any new combined authority (40%).

Overall, we are in a mess, because the most favoured option of maintaining the status quo is not an option because of budget pressures. It is clear there is no consensus on the way forward.

Hart District not building enough smaller properties to meet the needs of local people

Hart District building too many large houses to meet the needs of local people

We have now received the data from Hart District Council to show how many properties have been built or permitted since 2011 by the number of bedrooms. This shows that we have built only about half of the number of 1-bed properties we need and we haven’t built enough 3-bed properties. We have built nearly twice as many 4+bed properties than we need.

Hart District Housing completions by number of bedrooms compared to target

Hart District Housing completions by number of bedrooms compared to target

Outstanding permissions show that we will continue to over-build 4+bed properties and under-build 3-bed properties, although we will build about the right proportion of 1 and 2-bed properties.

This shows that of the remaining homes we need to build to meet our overall target of 7,534 homes, we need to increase the proportion of smaller 1, 2 and 3-bed properties to meet the needs of local people.

Overall we think that Hart Council needs to get smarter about how it monitors planning permissions so the Hart Local Plan gets as close as possible to meeting the needs of local people set out in the SHMA, as opposed to simply building houses that will maximise developer profits. It is also clear that we need to keep up the focus on brownfield development as that is much more likely to deliver more of smaller properties we need to help the younger generation on to the housing ladder.

The analysis to support these conclusions is shown below.

First, according to the current Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), Hart needs to build 7,534 dwellings in the plan period running from 2011-2032. The SHMA is also very clear on the sizes and types of housing that needs to be built, including the number of affordable homes for the young and specialist housing for the elderly.

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor SHMA Figure 9.8

Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor SHMA Figure 9.8

Working through the arithmetic, and using HArt’s target of 40% affordable homes, we need to build in total the following number and proportion of properties by number of bedrooms:

Target Housing Need by number of bedrooms
Number of beds 1-bed 2-bed 3-bed 4+bed Total
% need  as affordable 40.8% 33.2% 23.5% 2.5% 100.0%
% need as market 6.7% 28.0% 44.4% 20.8% 100.0%
Affordable Need             1,230               1,001                708                    75               3,014
Market Need         304         1,267             2,008                 941              4,520
Total Need                  1,533                  2,268                  2,717                  1,016                  7,534
% Total Need 20.4% 30.1% 36.1% 13.5% 100.0%

We can compare these proportions to the dwellings that have been built since 2011:

Gross Completions by year and number of bedrooms
Year 1-bed 2-bed 3-bed 4+bed Grand Total
2010-11 35 43 14 25 117
2011-12 58 159 79 39 335
2012-13 5 42 92 96 235
2013-14 4 91 94 84 273
2014-15 22 94 121 103 340
Grand Total 124                     429                     400                     347                  1,300
% of Total 9.5% 33.0% 30.8% 26.7% 100.0%
Target % 20.4% 30.1% 36.1% 13.5%

This shows that we have built less than half of the proportion of 1-bed properties and have built nearly twice as many 4+bed properties compared to the target.

If we now look at the outstanding planning permissions, we can see there are over 3,000 dwellings permitted but not yet built as at 20 April 2016:

Gross Outstanding permissions by year of decision and number of bedrooms
Year 1-bed 2-bed 3-bed 4+bed Grand Total
2003-4 4 1 5
2004-5 1 1
2006-7 1 1
2008-9 1 1
2009-10 1 1 2
2010-11 1 3 5 5 14
2011-12 4 13 22 23 62
2012-13 68 115 234 176 593
2013-14 132 207 78 58 475
2014-15 140 302 274 242 958
2015-16 273 309 221 166 969
2016-17 -1 2 4 5
Grand Total 623 949 838 676 3,086
% of Total 20.2% 30.8% 27.2% 21.9% 100.0%
Target % 20.4% 30.1% 36.1% 13.5%  

This shows the outstanding permissions will deliver about the right proportion of 1 and 2-bed properties, but not enough to make up the shortfall of those already built and will continue to under-build 3-bed properties and over-build 4+bed properties.

The data does not show the proportion of open-market versus affordable housing, nor does it show the proportion of specialist homes for the elderly. Overall we think this means that Hart needs to get smarter about how it monitors planning permissions so that we get as close as possible to meeting the needs of local people set out in the SHMA, as opposed to simply building houses that will maximise developer profits.

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.

 

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.

 

Planning Inspector’s Trimmers Farm decision could scupper Winchfield new town plan

Solar Farm at Trimmers Farm, Hook, Hampshire turned down by planning inspectorate

Trimmers Farm solar farm turned down by inspector

The Planning Inspectorate has decided not to allow a solar farm to be built at Trimmers Farm, near Beggars Corner, on a site that straddles Hook and Winchfield parishes.  The implication of this decision is that it also likely scuppers the proposed Hartley Winchook new town. The full decision can be downloaded from the button below.

The main reason given by the planning inspector was that the solar farm “would cause substantial harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding landscape”. Although the inspector did also say that ” the proposal would make a valuable contribution to the cutting of greenhouse gas emissions. It would also assist in securing the ongoing viability of the farm enterprise”. The more detailed assessment of the harm said:

From my own observations and having regard to the appellants’ photomontages and Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV), the solar farm would have an adverse visual impact which would significantly detract from the visual amenity of the area. Having taken into account the presence of the railway, motorway and pylons I consider that the proposal would consolidate the spread of man-made features across the skyline and add to the creeping urbanising effect on the area, thereby exacerbating the resultant harm to the landscape character and visual amenity. In conclusion the level of harm to the character and appearance of the landscape would be significant and would conflict with LP saved Policies GEN10, GEN1, GEN3, CON23, RUR2 and RUR3.

SHL167 SHLAA Map - Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

SHL167 SHLAA Map – Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

The implications of this could be quite interesting as the same Beggars Corner site is contained in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment as SHL 167, and is included in the proposals for the proposed new town at Winchfield. We have written before that 772 houses were proposed to be built on the former land fill site.

SHL 167 Landfill details Beggars Corner

SHL 167 Landfill details Beggars Corner, Winchfield, Hart District, Hampshire

However, we find it difficult to believe that 772 houses, many of which might have solar panels on their roofs, would have a lower visual impact or create less creeping urbanisation than a solar farm.  Of course, the challenges of building houses on landfill would be much greater than installing solar panels.

As can be seen from the image below, the removal of SHL167 from the new town plan would effectively isolate two halves of the proposed new town, with the Murrell Green sites being disconnected from the other sites.  This will compromise sustainability and will also reduce the housing capacity.

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

Winchfield and Hook New Town proposal

We have previously challenged the viability of the new town plan, as have Winchfield Parish Council. However, to re-cap, the SHLAA suggests that the housing capacity of the new town sites is in the range 6,500-7,500. But not enough space has been set aside for SANG, or for sports facilities, schools, shops, car-parks or community facilities. Making allowance for these elements would reduce capacity to 4,000-5,000. Removing the 772 houses from SHL167 would further reduce the capacity to 3,228-4,228, which is well below the minimum viability threshold of 5,000 dwellings.

 

Trimmers Farm Solar Farm Planning Inspector’s Appeal Decision

link

Hook Herald covers Pyestock and brownfield study stories

Hook Herald 8 April 2016 Housing Reprieve

Hook Herald has covered the Pyestock (aka Hartland Park) redevelopment story, that we covered here and Fleet News and Mail covered yesterday.  They also quote We Heart Hart as signalling that this new development effectively kills off the plan for a new town at Winchfield.

It is also encouraging to see that Hook Herald have covered the other significant story of Hart District Council (HDC) launching a new project to find out how to make the most of the brownfield sites in the district. We understand that HDC will now make a full announcement about this next week.

Full size image of the story here.

 

Season’s Greetings – remember a new town is for life, not just for Christmas

Winter in Winchfield The Hurst 2010

Winter in Winchfield The Hurst 2010

Season’s greetings to everyone, and a big thank you to all those who have supported the We Hart Campaign during 2015.  Can we ask everyone to respond to the consultation, and ask themselves whilst doing it, would you like to redevelop some of the derelict eyesores in the district or would you like to concrete over the green lung at the heart of Hart in Winchfield? Remember, a new town is for life, not just for Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We have created a dedicated consultation page and two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided.  It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.

Full version:

Responses to Local Plan Consultation

2 Minute version:

Respond to Local Plan Consultation in 2 minutes