Let’s make planning an election issue

Government policy is at the root of the problem Hart District faces today.  Yes, we can complain about Hart’s response to the policy, but at the same time we need to support Hart District Council by extending the We Heart Hart (aka We ♥ Hart and We Love Hart) campaign to aim at local MP’s, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and Government ministers.

I have compiled a template letter to politicians to explain the impact of policy on our district and set out some ideas for how they might change policy to protect our green fields from over-development.  To make it easy for you, it also contains the e-mail addresses of all of the relevant people mentioned above.

Can I ask that you download the letter below, amend it as you see fit and send it to all of these people so they start to take notice that planning will become an election issue.

Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-hart

Dear Politician Letter

£188m Infrastructure Funding Gap Leaves Hart New Town Plan in Tatters

Hart District Infrastructure Funding Gap

There is a potential infrastructure funding gap of up to £188m arising from the plan for a new town in Hart District. Much has been made of the infrastructure benefits that could be brought to the district by building a new town, however, it is not widely known that there is already a £78m funding gap for infrastructure.  This does not include the infrastructure costs of a new town, nor the expected funding from a developer.  We might expect Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding – or S106 – to yield £40m from the developer, but the infrastructure costs of a new town could be up to £150m (not including costs of improving healthcare services), meaning that if Hart were to proceed with this plan, we would have a funding gap of £188m.  Note that new analysis from Hart District Council indicates that costs could increase to over £300m.

This surely leaves the idea of a new town in tatters.  Indeed it calls into question the whole idea of building an extra 7,500 homes in Hart, wherever they are built because there simply isn’t enough money to fund road improvements, new schools, new healthcare facilities or improvements to railway stations.  One has to ask why the council are pushing through this idea when the costs are outrageous, the funding isn’t available and the results will be devastating for the local area?

If you would like the Government and Hart to think again, please sign the  We Heart Hart (aka We ♥ Hart and We Love Hart) petition.

Of course the £150m cost of infrastructure for the new town is my estimate, but  it is clear whatever the actual number there is a considerable gap to be closed between the cost of the infrastructure required for the Local Plan and the funding available.

The detail of the calculations to back up these numbers is shown below.

First, here is the table from the Hart Infrastructure Delivery Schedule:

Hart Existing Infrastructure Funding Gap

This shows that there is an existing gap of £78m.  Some say that even this is an under-estimate.  Crucially it does not include any infrastructure for the proposed new town: no new schools, no road improvements in that area and no improvements to the railways.  And it does not attribute a cost to healthcare improvements like doctors surgeries or expansion of hospitals.

We might expect around £40m from developing 4,000 new houses that have not yet received planning permission in the local plan.  This is based on only 2,400 houses being eligible for a CIL charge as 40% of what is built has to be “affordable” and does not attract a CIL charge.  If each house is 95 sq m, and the charge per sq m is £175, then this results in CIL funding of £40m.  If they use S106 instead of CIL, the yield can be expected to be broadly similar.

Note that CIL money has to be used for specific projects outlined in the Regulation 123 list.  None of the projects on this list relate to building a new town.  So all of that money raised will have to towards funding the existing gap.  This leaves a gap of £38m before even considering the costs of infrastructure for the new town in Winchfield or anywhere else.

A back of the envelope calculation suggests that the proposed Hart new town will need around £150m of spending on infrastructure.

Hart / Winchfield New Town Infrastructure Costs

Hart / Winchfield New Town Infrastructure Costs

Of course, the road widening costs above will mean the destruction of miles of ancient hedgerow which is highly undesirable.  Many of the other works would be very detrimental to the environment and the rural feel of Hart.

The sources for these number are as follows:

  • Roundabouts.  Cost of A30 improvements at Blackbushe is around £4m.  Roundabouts at either end of the B3016 will cross a dual carriageway and will likely require some element of approach road improvement, so reasonable to assume the cost of each change will be about the same.  I have scaled down this number for the additional roundabouts needed as they are simpler.
  • Bridge improvements estimated.  Both bridges over the river Hart (at the Queens Head pub and on Pale Lane) will need to be completely replaced and widened to cope with two way traffic and probably some road adjustments too.  The work on the railway bridges will be considerable to widen them to cater for two way traffic underneath, and potentially to strengthen them for double decker trains.  Plus the Barratts new town plan for Winchfield shows a new footbridge over the motorway that hasn’t been individually costed.
  • Road costs estimated from this  2006 report from Imperial College London give a cost of £2.13m/km  of new single carriageway road.  Road lengths above taken from Google Maps.
  • Schools.  Hart Council quoted £32m as the cost of a secondary school.  Scaled this down to £10m for cost of new primary school.  Note that the secondary school is within a couple of hundred metres of the M3 and one of the primary schools is located between the M3 and the railway, hardly a suitable environment for children to grow up in.
  • Electricity Pylons.  No-one is going to want to live underneath high voltage electricity pylons, and two lots of high voltage pylons cross the planned area for the new town.  Presumably they were put there originally because they weren’t near where people live.  It costs £1.6m/km to lay new pylon runs and £20m/km to bury cables.  For the purposes of this I have assumed that it costs a similar amount per km to move existing pylons.  If they have to bury them, then that will cost £50m on its own.

Please download a poster: http://wehearthart.co.uk/home/get-involved/

Sign the petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-hart

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/IHeartHart/

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeHeartHart

Fleet and Church Crookham to be devastated by congestion from new town

Estimated Extra Daily Journeys

Extra Daily Journeys

5,000 extra houses in a new town in Hart District will dramatically increase congestion all over the district, including Fleet and Church Crookham with 10’s of thousands of extra journeys per day.   It is clear that those councillors who think they are getting a free-ride from a new town in Winchfield need to think again and campaign for fewer houses to be built overall.

If you think the council should think again, please sign the petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-hart

Hart District Council have been asked by Winchfield Action Group (WAG), as part of their Neighbourhood Planning process to provide some figures on the current road usage on roads in and around the proposed new town at Winchfield and for an assessment of the impact on neighbouring areas.  Astonishingly, it seems Hart doesn’t have any traffic monitoring data.

Helpfully, the appendices in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) give an analysis of the travel to work patterns of Hart residents and the Department of Transport has conducted a National Travel Survey (NTS) that has helped the We Heart Hart (aka We ♥ Hart and We Love Hart) campaign to calculate the impact of all of these extra houses and extra cars.

The SHMA says that we can expect around 2.5 people per household, the SHMA appendix gives a split of how Hart residents travel to work and the NTS says that work related travel accounts for only 18% of journeys.  Of course people need to go shopping, play sports, visit friends and relatives, go to clubs and societies and ferry around their children and so on.

Using the 2011 numbers it is possible come up with the extra journeys 5,000 extra houses will generate.  Of course, these numbers will need to be doubled if they go ahead with the new town and Hart has to act as a sink for the 3,100 extra houses that Surrey Heath and Rushmoor say they cannot build.  This is shown below.

Extra Journeys Arising from New Town in Hart

Extra Journeys Arising from New Town in Hart

Using this data, you can come up with an estimate of the impact of all these extra journeys will have in terms of increased traffic in Fleet, Church Crookham, Hartley Wintney and Hook because of the routes people will have to follow to get to those destinations.  Of course, there will be also extra train journeys, giving rise to 775 extra commuters going to London each day without even estimating the other non-work related journeys:

Impact on Fleet, Church Crookham, Hartley Wintney and Hook

Impact on Fleet, Church Crookham, Hartley Wintney and Hook

This is of course a very rough and ready estimate, and Hart will no doubt have to find a way of doing some better modelling.  But this gives an indication of the impact which is far from trivial.

Surely it is very important that the impact of building 5,000 houses in a new town, or more than 10,000 if Surrey Heath and Rushmoor get their way, is properly assessed by the council before they finalise the local plan.  Not only that there are going to be thousands of new houses in neighbouring areas like Basingstoke and Deane, Reading and Waverley.  All of these houses are bound to increase the traffic even further in Hart too.

Of course everyone has sympathy for the level of development Fleet, Church Crookham, Crookham Village  and Hook have had to endure over the past few years.  But it is clear that building a new town in Winchfield will only add to the problem of congestion for those areas and the councillors who think they are getting a free-ride from a new town need to think again and start campaigning for fewer houses to be built in Hart.

Download a poster: http://wehearthart.co.uk/home/get-involved/

Sign the petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-hart

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/IHeartHart/

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeHeartHart

Please Help Spread the Word across Hart District

Downloads of posters to support the We Heart Hart (aka We ♥ Hart and We Love Hart) campaign and a letter to councillors are now available on the website.

The campaign is moving on quickly.  We now have nearly 400 people who have signed the petition, and 31 January was the busiest day on the web site ever, with over 500 visitors.  But to get our voice heard we need to get the number of people signing the petition over 550 – the number of respondents to the original consultation, and preferably into the thousands.  It would be good to use the power of the internet to demonstrate that there is a strong groundswell of opinion against the path that Hart District Council is taking.

Please help spread the word across the district by downloading the posters, printing them off and putting them up across the district. Good locations would be sites with lots of foot-fall like railway stations, bus-stops, churches, community noticeboards and local shops.

The downloads are available here:

Please Sign the Petition A4
Simple A4 Poster PDF
Dear Councillor Letter

And if you haven’t already, please sign the petition.

 

3,100 Reasons to Oppose a New Town in Hart

Hart becomes Housing Sink for Surrey Heath and Rushmor

Hart becomes sink for 3,100 houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

A new town in Hart District, whether in Winchfield or anywhere else, will open up Hart to be a sink for 3,100 overflow houses from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Borough Councils. Yet Hart District Council’s strategy for the Local Plan has set us on the path for a new town which makes this inevitable and will destroy our green fields and wildlife habitats and clog up all of our infrastructure.

If you disagree with this strategy please sign the We Love Hart (We ♥ Hart) petition.

The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), calls for Hart to build a total of around 7,500 houses in the district up to 2031.  Our neighbouring districts, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor also have demanding targets and are saying that they cannot build all of their own allocation in their districts.  So, they want to pass over an extra 3,100 or so houses (1,700 from Rushmoor and 1,400 from Surrey Heath) to Hart that will push our target up to around 10,600 houses.  See answers to questions here, page 17.

In their housing options paper the council says that we would need to deliver 1,800-2,400 houses on a new settlement (Option 4). However, the Barratts New Town proposal document says that such a new settlement would have capacity for 5,000 houses, more than twice the size of Elvetham Heath,  and could start building as early as 2017.  This leaves a convenient surplus  of around 3,000 dwellings in the new settlement that could be used to fill the shortfall  from Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.

The We Heart Hart campaign believes this is a grave strategic error on the part of Hart Council because they are following a policy that means there is a real risk we will have to build even more houses in Hart and concrete over our green fields.

The impact of this could be enormous:

  • Massive increase in congestion throughout all of the district.
  • Increased stress on already creaking infrastructure
  • Overcrowding of trains already running over capacity
  • Massive environmental harm to the SSSI’s, SINCs and the Thames Valley Heath SPA
  • Coalescence of Fleet, Church Crookham, Crookham Village, Dogmersfield, Winchfield, Hartley Wintney, North Warnborough and Odiham into a giant conurbation.

Only 700 houses on Brownfield land?

Bravehart has been busy today touring Hart looking for brownfield sites in the district.  He found loads of sites and finds it difficult to believe that there is capacity for only 700 houses on sites like this.  Our brownfield tracker suggests otherwise

There’s vacant office buildings, sites earmarked for other development where building hasn’t started and derelict buildings on Fleet high street and in Hook.  The sites he found include sites like Sun Park near J4A of the M3; Hartland Park near Pyestock; much of Ancells Farm at Fleet; Bartley Wood and other areas in Hook.

If you know of sites you would like Bravehart to visit and photograph as examples of where we could be building instead of over our beautiful green fields, the please do get in touch with the We Heart Hart campaign through the website or this page.

Surely it is better to build on these brownfield sites before concreting over our green fields.

Photos of these sites are shown in the slider.

Please sign the petition

FOI Request made for Brownfield Site Capacity

Hart Council has made some assertions in meetings and in some documents that brownfield land in the district can only deliver around 700 houses.  This is contrary to the land being tacked on the brownfield tracker.

However, no analysis to support this assertion has been provided.  I did ask the council earlier this week for such an analysis, but no reply was forthcoming.

Accordingly, the We Heart Hart (aka We ♥ Hart and We Love Hart) campaign has made an Freedom of Information request asking them to set out the sites they have considered and the the amount and type of housing that can be built on each.  More here:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/housing_capacity_of_brownfield_s/new

Changing Demographics means a New Town is a Bad Idea

A new town in Hart, whether located in Winchfield or anywhere else, will not meet the needs of the growing ageing population.  We run the risk of building the wrong type of housing in the wrong place to cater for the excess housing needs of Rushmoor and Surrey Heath without meeting the needs of Hart, and concreting over our green fields in the process.

Please sign the petition.

The demographics of the district are changing.  According to council documents, by 2031, there will be an additional 10,000 people over 60 (including more than 6,850 over 75) expected to be living in the district and an extra 3,620 people who will be suffering from dementia or have some sort of mobility problem.

The housing needs of the elderly and infirm are very different to those of the general population and the council plans will do nothing to meet those needs.   Studies have shown that specialist retirement housing has significant benefits:

  • A higher quality of life for its residents. The report notes that 92% of residents are very happy and contented and most would recommend their accommodation to others.
  • Improved health for residents and reduced impact on the NHS. As specialist accommodation is designed for impaired mobility, residents can manage better and spend fewer nights in hospital.
  • Good for the environment. 51% of residents said that their energy bills were noticeably lower than they had been in their previous homes.  What is more, the elderly tend to own fewer cars and tend to travel less once living in retirement housing.
  • Retirement housing boosts local neighbourhoods. Older people regularly use shops and local facilities during weekdays, when they are often underutilised, and at weekends. 80% use the shops almost daily or often; over 40% used the library or post office almost daily or often.
  • Retirement housing has a positive impact on local housing markets. On moving, most residents free up a substantial family home, with two thirds moving from homes with three or more bedrooms, freeing up housing stock for families.

However, the SHMA says that Hart should continue to build housing in line with the current housing stock profile.  The impact of this is that we will concrete over our green fields with traditional housing estates and not meet the needs of our growing elderly population and leave the shopping areas in the centre of our towns to wither away whilst increasing congestion all over the district.

The We Love Hart campaign says this is the wrong approach and we should focus on building specialist accommodation for the elderly in higher density brownfield sites near to town centres, perhaps alongside high quality affordable flats for the younger generation.

 

Is this what we want for Hart?

SHLAA Sites in Hart District Jan 2015

SHLAA Sites in Hart District Jan 2015

Is this what we want for Hart? Take a look at the image taken from a document on the council website, that shows all of the sites Hart are looking at for development into the future as at January 2015.

Whilst not all of them will make it into the Local Plan, it is clear that we are on the slippery slope to Hartley Wintney, Hook, Fleet, Dogmersfield, the Crookhams, Winchfield and Odiham coalescing into a single, sprawling conurbation.  Each settlement will lose its distinctive identity and we will lose the green fields, wildlife and rural feel that make Hart such a great place to live.

Many of these sites are within the zone of influence of Thames Valley Special Protection Area and close to other environmentally sensitive areas such as the SSSIs at Basingstoke Canal and Odiham Common and the numerous other Sites of Interest to Nature Conservation (SINCs) that are dotted around the district.

The We Heart Hart campaign says we need to challenge this mindset of building a new town all over our green fields and force a re-think of the whole development strategy, with a much stronger focus on building on brownfield sites and increasing building density in the existing settlements.

Please sign the petition opposing this style of development: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-hart