Questions put to Hart Council earlier this week have revealed they have set aside a budget of only £50,000 to create the detailed development plan for the Winchfield new town. Apparently, they are hoping for additional contributions from developers.
This is quite astonishing. There have been numerous statements made by councillors saying they want the plan to be council lead and not developer led. They’ve also made statements about the amount of infrastructure that will be delivered.
We suggest that the council has set aside barely a tenth of the money that will be required to:
- Conduct sustainability assessments
- Infrastructure studies
- Habitat assessments
- Flood assessments
This revelation shows the councillors were either lying through their teeth or were completely incompetent (or both). They are clearly going to rely on funding from developers so the developers are going to be in the driving seat.
Of course another interpretation of this pitiful budget is that they are anticipating the Winchfield new town being knocked out of the Hart Local Plan at examination.
In other news, it is now expected that the Hart Local Plan examination will start in mid-November and last 2-3 weeks.
The questions and contemporaneous account of the questions and answers are shown below:
Questions about Winchfield New Town
Q1: I understand the Local Plan has been submitted and Council “commits to planning for a new settlement at Murrel Green/Winchfield” to “provide a substantial contingency to any increase in the Government figures that could, in theory, result in an unmet need arising elsewhere in the HMA” (para 108).
Accepting that the requirement for the contingency for houses needed in Hart in excess of Government guidelines may or may not materialise, as evidenced by future plan revisions, could Council reassure Hart residents that, in the event it does not, planning permission will not be given for the new settlement?
Answer: No. The Government is keen to have houses in addition to the basic suggested figure and there is therefore a need to boost the numbers [But not apparently on brownfield sites!!]
If, as the draft local plan suggests, all Hart’s housing needs are already provided for in the current plan period to 2032 without the need for a new settlement, should not the start of any construction of the new settlement be deferred until after 2032 at the earliest?
Answer: No. The lead time for a new settlement is long and the future requirement for housing uncertain – the start of building can’t be left to the last minute.
Q2. The Council committing to planning for a new settlement means Hart residents will be required to fund a substantial sum for the necessary consultants’ reports etc. Can the Council please say 1) How much is budgeted for this and 2) how much of this will be provided by the parties who will benefit financially from the building of the new settlement?
Answer: £50,000 is the sum that has been initially set aside in the budget. Contributions from developers will be welcome [This number is laughable – a proper DPD will surely run into £000,000s]
Supplementary: The area of search for the new settlement includes Murrell Green (possible 2,990 houses) and Winchfield (possible 2,400 houses). The proposals come from separate developers. Is the intention to pursue one or the other development, or rather to combine the two?
Answer: It was not possible to chose between the two originally. Hence the “area of search” idea. The DPD will determine the answer to the question. [Despite 3 years of testing!!]
Q3: The draft plan gives no indication of the size of the proposed new settlement, other than to say it must be “viable”. What approximate size is considered viable, recognising that this will be further examined in the DPD
Answer: The DPD will determine
Supplementary: I am not aware of any consultation with Winchfield residents about the possible shape, size and layout of the proposed new settlement, although Members were shown a four-page artist’s illustration dated August 2017 which I found in the Local Plan examination library. When and how will the Winchfield community be consulted if the new settlement idea survives inspection
Answer: There will be plenty of opportunity through the DPD and the usual consultation process which has already been followed.
Q4. What is the current status and expected number of Surrey Heath’s unmet housing need and what proportion of this unmet need would Hart be expected to meet?
Answer: Currently not known, SH haven’t yet come up with numbers