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

Launch of We ♥ Hart Petition

The We Heart Hart Campaign (aka We Love Hart and We ♥ Hart) have now started a campaign on 38 degrees to petition Hart Council to change its approach to the Hart Local Plan. This petition can be found here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-hart.

Please support this petition by signing it and sharing it with all your friends via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.

We need to protect all of our parishes including: Blackwater and Hawley; Bramshill;  Church Crookham; Crondall; Crookham Village; Dogmersfield; Elvetham Heath; Eversley; Ewshot; Fleet; Greywell; Hartley Wintney; Heckfield; Hook; Mattingley; North Warnborough; Odiham; Rotherwick; South Warnborough; Winchfield; and Yateley from this invidious plan.

We Heart Hart Campaign Logo

We Heart Hart Campaign Logo

We Heart Hart Campaign

Today marks the launch of the We Heart Hart campaign (aka We Love Hart and We ♥ Hart).

We believe the Government and Hart Council should think again. The objectives of our campaign are as follows:

  • To call for the overall housing allocation to be reduced by challenging the SHMA in front of the Inspector.
  • To demand that the Council develops a vision and strategy for Hart that retains its role as a rural, green hinterland for NE Hampshire that respects the separate character and identity of Hart’s settlements and landscapes and preserves the green spaces as amenity space for the urban settlements.
  • To require that the housing need is met by building on brownfield sites and increasing density in our existing urban areas to help rejuvenate our existing shopping centres.
  • To request that future housing stock reflects the needs of the changing demographics of the district, particularly the elderly and infirm.
  • To petition the council and government against any new settlement in Hart that will act as a sink for the unmet housing need in neighbouring areas.
  • To hold Hart Council to account to ensure the process is legal and transparent and properly consults all of the residents of Hart.

 

We Love Hart Campaign Logo

We Love Hart Campaign Logo

What’s wrong with Hart Council’s Approach?

We have several problems with Hart’s current approach:

  • Lack of overall vision for the district.  Sadly Hart Council is simply reacting to events and not setting out a vision of what it wants the district to look like in 20, 30, 50 or 100 years time.  This means that if we are not careful, we will end up with piecemeal development that will damage the very things that make Hart an attractive place to live.  Ideas for an improved vision are shown here.
  • Opening up the District to being a sink for the unmet housing needs of other districts.  The overall housing allocation plan for the plan period calls for 1,800-2,400 homes to be built in a new town at Winchfield.  However, the Barratts document Vision Document suggests that a new town at Winchfield could entail 5,000 new houses.  By pure coincidence (of course), Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Borough Councils need to find space for about 3,100 more houses in their districts.  Building a new town anywhere in Hart opens up the strong possibility that we will be forced to take this additional requirement from bordering areas.
  • Lack of provision for elderly and infirm.  According to the SHMA, 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. Section 9 of the SHMA suggests that future housing stock should be built to broadly reflect the existing stock.  This new stock will attract more families to the area and crowd out the developments required to meet the needs of the elderly and infirm.

Overall, the lack of strategy, opening up the potential for a new town and not addressing the needs arising from changing demographics amount to very serious flaws in approach which puts our countryside at risk.

We have outlined an alternative approach to producing the local plan here.