Fleet BID call for Shared Vision

Fleet BID call for Shared Vision

Fleet BID call for Shared Vision

After the decision to scrap the controversial closure of Fleet Road, Fleet BID has called for a shared vision for the town. In a statement, they said:

Fleet Business Improvement District calls for all organisations and the wider community to come together to create and deliver a shared vision for regeneration of our town that meets the needs of the local community and enables businesses to thrive…

We had reservations about the scheme, particularly the speed with which it was announced and the lack of detail which would show the opportunity this presents for Fleet. In July and August we spoke to businesses in favour and against the scheme and decided to organise COVID safe activities and events to support the economic recovery of the town by encouraging people to come back into Fleet to enjoy the activities and support businesses. Feedback on these events has been overwhelmingly positive and the events have brought people into the town so that business had the opportunity to benefit from the increase in footfall. We have encouraged businesses to get involved and we know that businesses have benefited from these events.

With the country heading into a second lockdown and an uncertain period ahead, focusing on the economic recovery of the town is now more important than ever. Town centres are no longer shopping destinations and we believe that brave decisions need to be made and something needs to change or Fleet will continue to decline. For Fleet to thrive it needs to adapt and become a place that people want to visit and spend time, which in turn benefits shops and businesses. Towns need a broad mix of businesses including retail, cafes and restaurants, health, beauty, wellbeing, entertainment and leisure as well as events and activities to give people a reason to visit.

We Heart Hart welcomes this news. We have been in favour of regenerating Fleet for many years. We would like to offer our support to Fleet BID as they work with the community to build a new vision for Fleet.

Planning for the Future Consultation Response

Planning for the Future Consultation Response

Planning for the Future Consultation Response

Yesterday, we submitted our response to the Government’s Planning for the Future Consultation. Overall, we are saddened by the proposals. We highlighted the consultation back in August. Sadly, time hasn’t changed our view of the proposals.

The White Paper is very far from what we had hoped and expected from a majority Conservative Government. In form it resembles what we imagine a communist five-year plan might have looked like. It starts with an unjustifiable housing target of 300,000 per annum, which isn’t justified by either the data or indeed their own proposed calculation of housing need.

It follows with proposals for massive centralisation of powers including:

  • Centralisation of development management policies.
  • Abolishing the soundness test.
  • Watering down sustainability and environmental assessments.
  • Automatic granting of planning permission.
  • Imposition of new settlements from the centre.
  • Word count limit on objections.
  • Establishment of a new quango to deliver beauty by committee.
  • Trading infrastructure funds for even more (allegedly affordable) houses.

These proposals are completely at odds with the manifesto that committed to “devolving power to people and places across the UK”.

There are some welcome proposals such as the commitment to modernising the planning systems and infrastructure, standardising data and making it more accessible. The new commitment to beauty is also to be welcomed.

But overall, this reads like a missive from an authoritarian regime. We think they need to think again. We can only hope we see some revised proposals in due course.

How to Respond to the Planning for the Future Consultation

There is a download of our response available below. If you share our concerns about these proposals feel free to use this as a basis for your own response. You can respond to the consultation here  or by email to planningforthefuture@communities.gov.uk and/or contact your local MP:

The deadline for submission of responses is 29 October 2020.

Our Response:

MHCLG Planning for the Future Consultation Response

Full Consultation document:

Government consultation on planning reforms

 

http://wehearthart.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/MHCLG-Planning-for-the-Future-Consultation-Response.pdf

Planning for the Future consultation resembles socialist central planning

Planning for the Future consultation resembles socialist central planning

Planning for the Future consultation resembles socialist central planning

The Government has launched a “Planning for the Future” consultation on planning reforms that would not look out of place in a socialist five-year plan. The proposals represent a massive centralisation of powers including:

  • An unjustified 300,000 national housing target,
  • Enforcing a new standard method that would see Hart’s housing target increasing to 512dpa,
  • Centralised development policies,
  • Nationally set Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) rates,
  • National design codes enforced by a new quango,
  • Replacing Local Plan documents with an online annotated map,
  • Stifling local concerns by introducing a word count limit on objections,
  • Replacing the existing soundness test with a general sustainable development test,
  • The potential to push through new towns with minimal scrutiny through central Development Consent Orders.

We should expect a Conservative government to ‘conserve’ the countryside. Not create a blueprint for concreting over our precious green fields. The Tories are supposed to be committed to “devolving power to people and places across the UK”. But these proposals concentrate power at the centre.

The proposals are not all bad. The ideas about standardising the data related to planning and improving data quality are to be welcomed. Moreover, the proposals for enhancing the beauty and quality of developments also have merit.

However, if these proposals are adopted they would be disastrous for Hart. The housing target would nearly double from the current standard method to 512 dpa. Under the streamlined planning rules Shapley Heath Garden Village (SHGV) could be pushed through with little scrutiny.

Before we explore these concerns in more detail, you can see the details of the consultations on the download below:

Overall consultation on planning reforms:

Government consultation on planning reforms

Detailed consultation on changes to the standard method for calculating housing need:

Government consultation on standard method

If you share our concerns about these proposals, please respond to the consultation here and/or contact your local MP:

Hart District lies mainly in NE Hampshire, and the MP is Ranil Jayawardena: ranil.jayawardena.mp@parliament.uk

Leo Docherty is the MP for the Aldershot constituency which contaims the Blackwater area of Hart: leo.docherty.mp@parliament.uk

New 300,000 housing target

The Planning for the Future consultation has set a 300,000 annual house-building target. However, we are not asked to comment upon this target as part of the consultation. It is a “given” even though it’s not based on any evidence.  To illustrate its absurdity, we can calculate the housing target  using the Government’s own methodology:

Planning for the future consultation: England Standard Method for Housing Need

All England Standard Method for Housing Need

The starting point based on household projections actually falls with the new method to ~160K, a little more than half the new 300K target.  The Government’s new methodology then inflates the projections by adding a spurious new affordability adjustment that would take the target to ~256K. Despite this, they have set the target at an arbitrary 300K.

The justification is that household projections don’t take into account suppressed household formation. This is basically young people renting in a house-share or still living with their parents. It is likely that those renting could afford to service a mortgage, but lack the funds for a deposit. Building more houses won’t help these people, they need help with a deposit. Moreover, they are already living somewhere, so no new houses need to be built for them. Those living with their parents can’t afford market rents, so wouldn’t be able to afford a mortgage either. These people require subsidised social rents. Yet, the Government’s proposals on affordable housing will likely cut the number new social rent units (see here para 52).

The Government seems to misunderstand the reason for high house-prices. The main cause of high house prices is low interest rates and Quantitative Easing (QE). Because the flow of new dwellings is tiny compared to overall housing stock, building more doesn’t affect prices. Their own data shows that despite building far more new houses than new households forming, house prices have still risen.

England Households Dwellings and house prices

England Households Dwellings and house prices

If they really want to reduce house prices they should stop QE and raise interest rates. But that’s not going to happen because it will cause a recession. If they really want to deal with housing market problems, they should invest more in social rented housing stock. They shouldn’t be destroying our countryside with houses we don’t need.

Impact on Hart District

The overall impact on Hart would be disastrous:

  1. Increase in housing target to 512dpa, resulting in ~2,500 extra houses over the plan period.
  2. Risk that SHGV will be pushed through with automatic outline permission for the principle of development and a Central Government approved Development Consent Order giving full permssion.

The explanation is as follows. Under the current standard method, Hart’s housing target is 282dpa. Our Local Plan calls for 423dpa. The higher figure being an unfortunate feature of how the Local Plan was examined. However, the new standard method would result in a requirement of 512dpa, an increase of 89dpa, or more than an extra 1,000 houses out to 2032. However, our Local Plan is front-loaded, meaning that we are over-delivering in the early years. This means we are planning to deliver an average of “only” 263dpa from 2022-2032. The Housing Delivery Test would require that the Local Plan be revised to meet the new target of 512dpa. This would result in an extra ~2,500 extra houses out to 2032.

The proposals for growth areas and new towns are shown on p34 of the consultation:

Planning for the future consultation: Automatic permission in principle and development consent orders for new towns

Automatic permission in principle and development consent orders for new towns

Planning for the Future Consultation: Centralisation of Powers

The consultation also calls for a worrying centralisation of many planning powers. This is strikingly similar to socialist regimes producing five-year tractor production  plans. These include:

Enforcing the new standard method described above to meet an arbitrary and unnecessary overall housing target.

Centralised development policies.  Proposal 2 calls for development management policies to be established at national level, removing local control and accountability.

Proposal 3 replaces the existing soundness test with a general sustainable development test. This would remove the soundness principles of plans being justified and effective.

Replacing Local Plan documents with an online annotated map. It is proposed that “new-style Local Plan[s] would comprise an interactive web-based map of the administrative area where data and policies are easily searchable, with a key and accompanying text. Areas and sites would be annotated and colour-coded in line with their Growth, Renewal or Protected designation, with explanatory descriptions set out in the key and accompanying text, as appropriate to the category”. This means that there won’t be a single document that you can print out and read to get a proper overview of what is proposed for your area.

Stifling local concerns by introducing a word count limit on objections to Local Plans.

Nationally set CIL rates. This again removes local control and discretion, handing power to the centre. Hampshire and Hart already have massive infrastructure funding deficits. What happens if the national CIL rates aren’t enough to fund necessary infrastructure?

National design codes enforced by a new quango. Whilst we applaud the commitment to “build beautiful”, we are sceptical that a centralised national quango is the most effective way of achieving this. “We will explore the options for establishing a new expert body which can help authorities make effective use of design guidance and codes, as well as performing a wider monitoring and challenge role for the sector in building better places”.

Overall these proposals amount to a centralised power grab that will diminish local control and accountability. The very antithesis of what a Tory Government should be doing.

 

 

Council Adopts Hart Local Plan

Council Adopts Hart Local Plan

Council Adopts Hart Local Plan

It’s been a long time coming, but Hart Council has finally adopted the Hart Local Plan. This took place at their first virtual meeting that happened at 7pm on 30 April 2020.

The meeting was broadcast on Hart’s live streaming page: https://www.facebook.com/HDCLiveStreaming/

However, these videos are often removed shortly after broadcast.  So we have downloaded it, and uploaded it to YouTube for posterity.

We can all sleep relatively easily now that we have a Local Plan. This plan has had Policy SS3 removed from it. However, we need to remain vigilant that the Council doesn’t seek to bring back the unnecessary Shapley Heath Garden Village at a later point.

 

Hart #Covid19 funding black hole shrinks to “only” £628K

Hart #Covid19 funding black hole shrinks to £628K

Hart #Covid19 funding black hole shrinks to £628K

The Government has awarded Hart more Covid19 funding that shrinks its expected deficit to from the pandemic to “only” £628K. This is welcome news as only last week the deficit stood at £1.6m.

However, £628K still represents about 6% of the council’s budget. We are left wondering which project could be cancelled to make good most of this shortfall? 😉

Stop Shapley Heath

Stopping Shapley Heath could help close Hart’s Covid19 funding gap

Hart #Covid19 funding black hole details

The council have circulated their estimate of the loss of income and extra costs they are facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,

Hart Council covid19 funding hit

Hart Council Covid19 funding hit

This amounts to over £1.6m. The Government have announced they will provide £987K of Covid19 funding to Hart.

Hampshire Councils covid19 funding

Hampshire Councils #Covid19 funding

But this still leaves a £628K funding gap, on top of the “perfect storm” they faced in their finances even before the pandemic hit.

It will be interesting to see if this subject comes up at the “virtual” council meeting to adopt the Local Plan. The live stream can be found here.

Covid19 blows £1.6m hole in Hart finances

Covid19 blows £1.6m hole in Hart finances #Covid19

Covid19 blows £1.6m hole in Hart finances

We do hope everyone is staying safe from the coronavirus and coping well with the lockdown. Hopefully, the disease will be brought under control soon and we can start to get back to normal. However, Covid19 has blown a big hole in Hart’s finances.

Amongst other things, we understand that Covid19 has reduced Hart’s car parking revenue by around £240K. The Council expect to lose £140K of council tax and business rates. They also expect to lose £360K from planning income and £390K from the leisure centre. Of course, they still have to pay for the leisure centre loans. They have also incurred technology and staff costs of over £200K in providing the Hart response Hub.

So far, they have received £24K from the Government to cover these costs and expect more to come, but don’t expect that it will bridge the £1.6m funding gap. They expect to have to bridge any remaining gap from reserves.

There is some good news. So far, they have distributed £6.5m under the Government’s Small Business Grant Scheme. This means that 65% of all businesses that have applied for the grant have now been paid. They expect to pay the balance by the end of April. A number of businesses have not applied for the grant. If you, or any of your friends think you might be eligible, visit Hart’s website to check eligibility and apply: https://www.hart.gov.uk/covid-19-information-for-businesses.

With most construction sites being shutdown, and one might imagine that the housing market will be subdued for some time, they will probably lose some New Homes bonus too.

All this comes on top of the “perfect storm” facing Hart’s finances that we reported on back in January. We hesitate to be political at this difficult time, but surely they must reexamine whether they should be spending  £650K on Shapley Heath Garden Village at the moment. We have shown how the project is not required. Now more than ever, it is likely housing demand is going to fall as people have less money in their pockets. The Inspector said there’s no evidence it’s viable or deliverable. It will drive up the housing target and be made irrelevant by Grazeley. Not to mention the unnecessary 1m tonnes of CO2 that will be emitted during construction. This is a white elephant project that we cannot afford.

Stay well and keep healthy everyone.

Developer fox in charge of the Shapley Heath hen house

Developer fox in charge of Shapley Heath hen house

Developer fox in charge of Shapley Heath hen house

Hart Council has held the first meeting of the Shapley Heath “Opportunity” Board. It was a meeting that could be attended by the public, but they didn’t publicise it, so nobody turned up. But, the papers and the minutes have been published, so we can get a sense of what went on. Perhaps the most disturbing point is that the developers will procure and fund the production of all of the baseline studies.

As the promoters/developers with significant land interest, Lightwood Strategic and L&Q Estates, have confirmed that, subject to Board approval, they will procure and fund all of the baseline surveys.

This is putting the developer fox in charge of the Shapley Heath hen house. What could possibly go wrong? The list of baseline documents is as follows:

Developer fox in charge of Shapley Heath henhouse baseline evidence

Shapley Heath baseline evidence

Can we really trust the developers to produce objective, impartial assessments on these issues? What sort of documents are they going  too produce, when much of this work has been done already? And much of it persuaded the Inspector to throw Shapley Heath/Policy SS3 out of the Local Plan. Winchfield Parish Council produced a lot of this evidence for the Local Plan examination. Their evidence covered flood risk, heritage assets, ecology, green infrastructure and agricultural land. It also looked at the constraints from the M3, the railway electricity pylons and the high pressure gas main. The constraints were handily summarised in a single diagram.

Figure 6 Winchfield Summary of Key Findings

Figure 6 Winchfield Summary of Key Findings

 

The council has committed to fund a number of strategic reports:

Developer fox in charge of Shapley Heath henhouse - Shapley Heath strategy reports

Shapley Heath strategy reports

So far, they don’t appear to have pulled together a bottom-up estimate of the costs of these reports. But they are going to spend nearly two years producing them all.

Developer fox in charge of Shapley Heath henhouse - Shapley Heath Phases and Timeline

Shapley Heath Phases and Timeline

Sloppy Financial Control

But the problems don’t stop there. It is clear that the financial control over the project is sloppy at best. Previously, they had budgeted £70K for a “full time dedicated senior post” and a part time administrator.

 

£70K for 1 full time and 1 part time resource

But, now they have cut the budget to £65K and hope to hire three people. If you pay peanuts, you know what you can expect.

Developer fox in charge of Shapley Heath henhouse. Shapley Heath Sloppy Financial Control

Shapley Heath Sloppy Financial Control

They have now signed off funding for four people, when the original request was for 1.5 FTEs. Further, they are funding 3 of these full time positions from a one-off grant from Government. What happens to these people when the money runs out? We remind readers that Hart finances are facing a “perfect storm”. This is not a time to be creating unfunded liabilities. Similarly, they are paying for the project manager from part of the £500K being transferred from reserves, which again is a one-off source of funding.

This looks like a project that is out of control. The council are throwing our hard-earned money at a project that is not required, at a time when their finances are severely constrained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hart Urban Revitalisation is urgently required

Urban Revitalisation - Blackwater

Hart Urban revitalisation is required in Blackwater

We have already written extensively about why Shapley Heath is a bad idea. However we have to acknowledge that, even with the reduced housing requirement that could be delivered by an early review of the Hart Local Plan, we will need to build some extra housing between now and 2040. We strongly believe that much of this housing can be delivered by revitalising our urban centres in Fleet, Hook, Blackwater and Yateley. We support proportionate development in the other parishes.

There’s plenty of sites to consider:

Hook has already made a start. Its Neighbourhood Plan contains a master plan to revitalise the centre of the village. Overall, this will deliver a market square, better traffic management, much improved commercial premises and 8,916 sq m of residential accommodation, perhaps around 130-150 flats.

Hook Revitalisation Master Plan

Hart Urban Revitalisation in action in Hook

There is promising work starting to look at the civic quarter in Fleet. But CCH’s latest newsletter demonstrates that their heart isn’t in it. They claim Fleet isn’t that bad and offer no support for any sort of regeneration.

Hook Parish Council have done it. It’s time for the the other parish/town councils to follow their lead and shame Hart Council into action. Let’s look at the case for revitalising our town centres.

Rationale for Hart Urban Revitalisation

There are four main reasons to focus on urban revitalisation.

  • Enhance the built environment to enrich all of our lives
  • Address the infrastructure funding gaps
  • Hart in general and Fleet in particular is falling behind neighbouring areas
  • Fleet not valued by visitors and business confidence is low

Sensitive revitalisation, taking advice from companies like Create Streets can transform decaying urban centres into attractive places to live, work and play.

There are acknowledged infrastructure funding gaps in the district. These are concentrated in Hook, Fleet and Yateley and Blackwater.

Urban revitalisation Existing Hart Infrastructure Funding gaps

Existing Hart £78m Infrastructure Funding gap

Building a new town at Shapley Heath/ Winchfield won’t address these funding gaps. But, proper revitalisation will beging to address these issues.

Fleet is falling behind neighbouring towns. Farnham, Wokingham, Basingstoke, Aldershot and Farnborough are attracting hundreds of millions of pounds of investment. Hart Council’s curmudgeonly approach is delivering nothing for Fleet or the wider Hart community.

Urban revitalisation - Fleet falling behind neighbouring towns

Fleet falling behind neighbouring towns

And Hart’s own bid for Future High Streets funding found:

  • 88% say Fleet doesn’t meet their retail and leisure needs
  • 52% would not recommend a visit to the town centre
  • 67% think the poor retail offer reflects badly on the town
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • The confidence of local businesses is extremely low, with 44% reporting declining turnover
Urban revitalisation - Fleet not valued by residents and visitors

Fleet not valued by residents and visitors

If we are to address these issues, we must follow Hook’s lead and develop master plans for our other urban centres.

Benefits of Urban Revitalisation

The benefits of going ahead with these ideas would be large and far reaching:

  • Deliver infrastructure to the areas that need it. Budgets will be limited but we should aim for:
  • Improved Fleet station access and cycle paths connecting Fleet centre to the station and Hartland Park
  • Social facilities such as a multi-purpose venue including theatre/cinema and meeting space and an outdoor public event space
  • Improved Health facilities such as a drop-in health centre for physio, mental health and routine nursing
  • Improved leisure such as restaurants and bars to deliver a thriving night time economy
  • Open green spaces within the town centre
  • Commercial – better retail offer and modern offices
  • Housing that people can afford and social housing for those in need

This can be delivered by focusing on creating attractive places, with no more than 4 or 5 storey development.

 

Breaking News: Inspector approves Hart Local Plan

Breaking News: Planning Inspector approves Hart Local Plan

Inspector approves Hart Local Plan

The planning inspector has approved the Hart Local Plan.

The announcement has been made by Hart District Council and can be found here.

The Inspector has found the Local Plan to be sound and legally compliant, subject to some recommended changes. It will go before the Council for formal adoption in March.

The full Inspector report can be found here.  We will update this story as we digest what the Inspector has said.

The appendix containing the main modifications can be found here.

[Update 1]

  • Policy SS3 has been removed, so further confirmation of no new settlement in Shapley Heath/ Winchfield for the time being.
  • Reiteration in para 181 that future reviews of the Local Plan must look at all options including regeneration:

Nonetheless, the Council will need to ensure that all options for meeting future housing needs are considered fully in future reviews of the Plan, including the potential for regeneration.

  • Emphasis added to MM121 to make clear that all reasonable growth options should be considered and evidenced. This refers to the flawed SA that was submitted to the Examination to try and justify the new settlement:

All reasonable growth options, including the potential for a new settlement, would need to be fully considered and evidenced in a future review of the Plan or a subsequent DPD.

  • Changes to main modifications 70 and 71 to make clear that mixed residential and commercial use properties within town centres will be permitted. This will also help facilitate regeneration.  CCH should take note.
  • In light of recent events, it is also good to see that the vision has been updated to include a reference to flood risk:

New development will have been built to high environmental and design standards. It will have been designed and located so that it is safe from flooding and has not increased the risk of flooding elsewhere and includes measures to meet the challenges of climate change.

[/Update]

Latest CCH newsletter released

Pinocchio writes Community Campaign Hart newsletter

Latest CCH newsletter released

CCH have released their latest newsletter. They follow their usual path of being economical with the truth.  There are some quite astonishing claims in there, that need to be answered.

False Pale Lane Claim

They claim:

The Local Plan has already demonstrated its value by being part of the successful defence against inappropriate urban extensions in Hook and most notably at Pale Lane, on farmland adjacent to Elvetham Heath. Even as a draft, it has significant weight when considered at a planning appeal.

But the inspector said that the emerging Local Plan only carried “moderate weight“. CCH don’t mention that the most important piece of evidence was the Hartley Wintney Neighbourhood Plan, whcih carried “significant weight”.

Housing Numbers Warning

They say:

The very calculation the government use to reach our `Objectively Assessed Housing Need’ is expected to be radically modified in the near future. Any material change in this calculation of our housing numbers would render the Local Plan `out of date‘ and require Hart to fundamentally review its Local Plan….

There is some truth in the claim that Hart will run short of housing around 2025/26, as we covered here. But there is no evidence that the new formula for calculating housing need is going to be “radically modified”. Indeed their implication that housing numbers will rise is false.  In fact, if Hart were to conduct an early review of the Local Plan, our annual housing target would be reduced from 423 dpa to 251 dpa. But, in Hart’s answer to our latest question, they have ruled out an early review.

Shapley Heath Justification

CCH then go on to justify the need for Shapley Heath:

That is why the Community Campaign support the approach of carefully evaluating the possibility of a new eco-friendly garden village within walking distance of Winchfield station. Only if needed, this development could be used to deliver the bulk of any additional housing that may be required by central government in the period from 2026 onwards. As such, it must be very carefully planned to deliver all the necessary infrastructure.

Note how Shapley Heath has now become “eco-friendly”, despite the fact it is entirely unnecessary and building it will likely emit 1m tonnes of CO2.

CCH Newsletter: Fact Checking the myth busting

CCH’s newletter includes a section on “myth-busting” Shapley Heath.

First on housing need.

A new settlement is not needed as part of the new Local Plan. This is all about funding (with government grant support) a project to see what is possible. If the future government housing targets do not require such housing to be built – it will not be built. This is an insurance policy against Hart having to take on a higher housing quota in a few years’ time.

If they really wanted an insurance policy they would be conducting a immediate review of the Local Plan to take advantage of the lower housing target from the latest Government methodology.

Then on the size of Shapley Heath.  They claim that they are only considering a development of 5,000 houses. But the bid they submitted to Government was for up to 10,000. The flawed viability assessment was for 5,300 houses.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses.

Shapley Heath: Vision Document 10000 houses

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Summary

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Summary

So, they are wrong again. They then go on to make some false claims about infrastructure.

Bolt-on urban extensions don’t deliver infrastructure. They don’t present the economies of scale to permit major road improvements, nor building a new secondary school, or doctors surgeries.

The flawed viability assessment for Shapley Heath pointedly does not include provision for healthcare.

Shapley Heath Garden Village Viability Assessment Infrastructure Costs

Their plans simply do not stack up to even cursory scrutiny. They go on to make extraordinary claims about the features of Shapley Heath.

Shapley Heath’ is being investigated using government grant funding designed to promote eco-friendly garden villages. This is about learning from the disasters of the past and building semi-rural communities which are sympathetic to and supportive of, the local and wider ecology and climate. There will be integrated transport, rainwater harvesting, centralised heat and power plants, carbon efficient housing design, an emphasis on renewables and truly sustainable living.

Let’s for a moment ignore the fact that this isn’t needed, so the 1m tonnes of CO2 produced during construction will also be an unnecessary. But even the Planning Inspector criticised the claims for a district heating system.

Option 1b has been ranked the highest under the category climate change. This is as a result of the potential for the proposed new settlement to deliver a district heating system. However, there is little evidence to suggest that this is a feasible or realistic option that is being actively pursued by the site promoters. I consider this raises doubt about the appropriateness of such a ranking.

The viability study only made allowance for standard build costs. No allowance was made for the additional costs of “carbon efficient housing design”. Their claims are simply marketing fluff that aren’t backed up by anything.

Ostrich approach to Fleet Revitalisation

The CCH newsletter then goes on to discuss Fleet. They claim that Fleet “isn’t all that bad”. This is despite the council’s own bid for Future High Street funding saying:

  • The council quotes a prior report that says a “do nothing scenario would not be viable in Fleet”.
  • Fleet faces a number of key challenges.
  • 88% of people say Fleet doesn’t meet their retail and leisure needs.
  • 52% of people would not recommend a visit to the town centre.
  • 67% think the poor retail offer reflects badly on the town centre.
  • The confidence of local businesses is extremely low.
  • Fleet unable to compete with neighbouring towns.
  • Major retailers identify Fleet as an investment risk.
  • Lack of affordable housing is identified as a key issue by 27%

Fleet is falling behind its local competitors. Most of the surrounding towns are attracting hundreds of millions of pounds of investment. Fleet isn’t getting anything.

CCH newsletter ignores Fleet falling behind neighbouring towns

Fleet falling behind neighbouring towns

CCH Newsletter – Regeneration untruths

CCH then go onto claim that revitalising our town centres must mean “high-rise” flats. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed high-rise developments do not deliver good places to live, and we oppose them. They offer no vision on how to address the issues facing Fleet. We will give further details on our ideas in further posts.

 

In the meantime, please do challenge CCH to come clean on their mendacious claims.