Parish Council demolishes Winchfield new town plan

Figure 6 Winchfield New Town Summary of Key Findings

Winchfield new town area not suitable for large scale development

The Parish Council have demolished plans for the proposed Winchfield new town in their submission to the Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 consultation. The have produced a 690-page report that can be found here. Their main conclusions about Policy SS3 that calls for the new town to be built in the area of search are (our emphasis):

Our review of the available technical evidence, with STR005 released only through a FOI request, demonstrates the highly constrained nature of the AoS, and the significant environmental and infrastructure issues that need to be overcome. A Site Appraisal prepared by Michelle Bolger Expert Landscape Consultancy is provided and this demonstrates that the AoS is significantly constrained and concludes that little land exists within the AoS which could be considered suitable for large scale residential development. We flag up the complete failure of the Draft Plan to identify the key infrastructure necessary for the provision of a new settlement, or indicate how it will be provided, by whom and when. Given the complete lack of any detailed evidence demonstrating that a new settlement is either deliverable or viable, we do not see how provision can be made for it within the Draft Plan.

Winchfield New Town Expert Evidence

The expert evidence from Michelle Bolger is a joy to behold. Her much shorter report can be downloaded from the link below, together with the appendix that contains the wonderful graphics depicting all of the constraints on the area of search.

The final summary is shown on the image above. This summarises the findings of the whole report in relation to the various sites that have been put forward, concluding (emphasis mine):

All of the sites are significantly constrained and the vast majority of the area of search (AoS) south of the M3/Railway is considered to be unsuitable for large scale development (i.e. it would cause severe landscape harm that would be difficult to remedy or mitigate)…

Land within the north-western parts of the AoS…are also significantly constrained. Development here could not occur without harm to the local countryside character and this would also impact upon the character and enjoyment of the Public Right of Way network. Development may also result in visual coalescence between Hartley Wintney and Hook.

Overall this appraisal finds that the AoS identifies a landscape that is highly unsuitable for large scale residential development. The new settlement envisaged by draft policy SS3 would result in significant landscape and visual harm and be at risk of harming components within the landscape which hold high landscape, amenity, ecological and heritage value.

The build up to the final conclusion starts with the area of search:

Figure 1 Winchfield New Town Area of Search and Context

Figure 1 Winchfield new town Area of Search and Context

It then goes on to show Hart’s own landscape capacity study which shows that most of the area has low or low/medium capacity. The only area with medium/high capacity is the proposed Elvetham Chase (Pale Lane) site and it’s westward extension towards Winchfield. The Murrell Green area is shown as Medium capacity. However, this was decided before the Major Accident Hazard gas pipeline was discovered by Hart Council.

Figure 2 Winchfield New Town Landscape Capacity Study

Figure 2 Winchfield Landscape Capacity Study

The paper then goes on to identify the constraints in the area of search, starting with areas designated as SSSI’s, SINCs, tree preservation orders, ancient woodland, and listed buildings.

Figure 3 Winchfield New Town Key Constraints Designations

Figure 3 Winchfield New Town Key Constraints Designations

Then other constraints such as visual sensitivity, flooding, footpaths, unavailable land, landfill, narrow bridges, high voltage transmission lines and the gas pipeline are added:

Figure 4 Winchfield New Town Key Constraints Assessment

Figure 4 Winchfield Key Constraints Assessment

Then all of the constraints are brought together on one diagram, showing just how little land exists within the AoS that could be considered suitable for large scale residential development.

Figure 5 Winchfield New Town Key Constraints Composite

Figure 5 Winchfield Key Constraints Composite

 

All of this report is drawn from pre-existing material. One wonders why Hart Council is continuing to promote such a daft idea. Certainly, £50K is not going to cover costs of putting together a robust Winchfield new town master-plan to fulfill all of their magical promises to turn horses into unicorns. We shall see what the inspector makes of this.

The report and appendix can be downloaded here:

Winchfield Site Appraisal
Winchfield Site Appraisal Appendix

 

Hart Council budgets only £50K for Winchfield new town plan

Hart District Council sets aside laughable budget for Winchfield new town plan

Hart District Council budgets only £50K for Winchfield new town plan

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
  • Master-planning

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!!]

Supplementary:

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

 

 

Another of the 1 in 30 year Winchfield Floods

Winchfield Floods Taplins Farm Lane 20180411

Winchfield Floods: Taplins Farm Lane 11 April 2018

It seems 1 in 30 year Winchfield floods are becoming a habit. Here are images of the flooding on Taplins Farm Lane on 11 April 2018.

This area has flooded many times in recent years as we documented here (4 Jan 2016) , here (7 Jan)here (9 March on Station Road) and here (28 March due to #StormKatie). Earlier this year Winchfield flooded on 24 January and on 30 March as documented here.

Apparently, this latest flood comes just after the drainage culverts were cleared last week.

It is almost as if the Sustainability Assessment and Flood Risk Assessment are total nonsense.

Winchfield Floods Taplins Farm Lane 20180411

Winchfield Floods: Taplins Farm Lane 11 April 2018

 

Winchfield Floods Taplins Farm Lane 20180411

Winchfield Floods: Taplins Farm Lane 11 April 2018

 

Winchfield Floods Taplins Farm Lane 20180411

Winchfield Floods: Taplins Farm Lane 11 April 2018

Stop Elvetham Chase hypocrisy (and CCH)

Stop Elvetham Chase Hypocrisy

Stop Elvetham Chase Hypocrisy

We have done some more digging to expose the Stop Elvetham Chase hypocrisy, after our article revealing that a leading member of was standing for election for Community Campaign Completely Concrete Hart.

To recap, Stop Elvetham Chase have consistently argued against development of Pale Lane. This is a position we agree with. However, they now support the unnecessary new town in Winchfield that is being proposed as part of the Hart Local Plan.

They have come up with 13 reasons to object to Elvetham Chase, many of which also apply to Winchfield. These reasons are reproduced below with our comments in red.

Stop Elvetham Chase Hypocrisy – their reasons apply to Winchfield too

1. The effect on the area – The valley of the River Hart is a naturally beautiful area. There will be a loss of hedges, trees and fields. It will destroy the semi-rural character of the approach to Winchfield, Fleet and Hartley Wintney. The area around the development is a haven for wildlife the developer’s proposal does not address this issue. When the green fields are gone they are gone for good! Quite. All these arguments apply even more to Winchfield.

2. The existing road design through Elvetham Heath is designed with no stopping areas, traffic islands and central islands to slow traffic through this residential estate. The use of these roads to take more traffic to the M3 and A30 will have a huge safety impact for pedestrians, cyclists, children walking to school and a significant increase on noise and pollution for the residents of Elvetham Heath. No doubt a new development at Winchfield will also affect traffic levels through Elvetham Heath. Not only that the roads through Winchfield are even narrower than the one through Elvetham Heath and not suited to 5,000 more houses.

3. The existing lanes surrounding Winchfield and Dogmersfield are narrow and windy with dangerous bends and bridges they are not designed to cope with the additional traffic any development the west side of Fleet would bring. Exactly.

4. Local secondary schools are at capacity. The houses planned or under construction at Brickyard, Pale lane and Grove farm (1700 homes in total) will be closer to Calthorpe than the children of Elvetham Heath. Calthorpe has no capacity to take any more children and as such it is proposed that children from Elvetham Heath and other perimeter areas of Fleet will be bussed to schools with capacity such as Yateley. It is possible that Elvetham Heath will be taken out of the catchment area for Calthorpe Park school totally. There is no evidence that we need a new secondary school. But, this argument applies equally to Winchfield, as they have yet to find a site for a school that is suitable. Even so, there’s no need to concrete over 100’s of acres of countryside to provide 10Ha for a new school.

5. Transporting children to schools miles away will have a detrimental environmental impact. It will also have a social impact on children, time spent travelling to school will reduce time for family activities, school clubs etc. It will also affect the health of our children, walking to and from school is a good form of physically activity. Not really an argument. Plenty of children travel a long way to school already.

6. Foot paths and road crossing points surrounding Elvetham Heath on roads such as Hitches Lane, Reading Road North and Elvetham Road are narrow and dangerous and congested to use at peak times such school start and finish times. Extra traffic will further compromise the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Indeed, Basingstoke and Deane have opposed the new settlement on the grounds of too much extra traffic. These arguments apply equally to Winchfield.

7. There will be a significant increase in noise for existing houses along the perimeter of Fleet Road and the roads through Elvetham Heath. Existing gardens will be forced into red unacceptable levels. The new development will be sandwiched by a railway, the M3 and Fleet Road. Any new occupants will be surrounded by pollution and noise this has clear dangers to public health. The Environmental Health Department at Hart does not support the use of the Pale Lane site for residential development due to the very high levels of noise and constraint from the railway and the M3. Indeed a new settlement at Winchfield will detrimentally affect Elvetham Heath. In addition, the proposed area of search for the Winchfield new town is bisected by the M3 and the railway and bordered by the A30. Moreover, the Murrell Green portion is crossed by a Major Accident Hazard high pressure gas pipeline.

8. Local doctors surgeries are operating at capacity and have long waiting times for even routine appointments. Yes, and a new town won’t fix this either.

9. Pale Lane and the immediate area are liable to flooding. The proposal put forward by the developers makes little mention of the River Hart flood plane any development would contribute to the problem. Tell me about it. Winchfield East is very susceptible to flooding. It has flooded three time this year so far, and at least three times in 2016.

10. The development is against Hart’s policy to allow development of green field sites. There are enough Brownfield sites to meet demand. Hart has 6 years land supply exceeding the requirement for 5 years laid down by the Governments national policy Planning Framework. The land at Pale Lane and Grove Farm is not required to meet those obligations. Pale Lane is a green field site and it has not been previously identified for development. Indeed. We have been arguing this for more than three years now. This argument applies equally to Winchfield.

11. Car parking at railways stations of Winchfield and Fleet are at capacity. Trains are full and cannot cope with current demand. Indeed. 5,000 new houses at Winchfield will make this even worse, and no doubt impact Hook too.

12. The provision of a cycle path on the new development does not link to the existing cycle network and is of little purpose. No plans detailed enough for examination have been put forward for Winchfield.

13. There will be an impact on Fleet Pond with is a site of special scientific interest. There will be an increase of users (humans, dogs and vehicles). It is dubious whether Elvetham Chase will have any impact on Fleet Pond. Similarly, WInchfield. But whilst we are on the subject of SSSIs, why not consider Basingstoke Canal and Odiham Common which both border the proposed area of search for Winchfield?

As you can see, it seems their principles only extend as far as the railway line, and can’t be extended beyond their own narrow view. Stop Elvetham Chase hypocrisy. And now they are standing for CCH, stop Completely Concrete Hart hypocrisy too.

Winchfield Flood on Taplins Farm Lane Again

Winchfield Flood Taplins Farm Lane 30 March 2018

Winchfield Flood Taplins Farm Lane 30 March 2018

As sure as night follows day the great Winchfield flood has happened again on Taplins Farm Lane. This follows another flood in Winchfield earlier this year.

Winchfield Flood 24 January 2018

Winchfield Flood 24 January 2018

This area has flooded many times in recent years as we documented here (4 Jan 2016) , here (7 Jan)here (9 March on Station Road) and here (28 March due to #StormKatie).

This of course flies on the face of the Winchfield Sustainability Assessment that claimed the area was only at risk of flooding once in 30 years.

Winchfield Strategic Assessment - Winchfield Flood Risk 1

Winchfield Strategic Assessment - Winchfield Flood Risk 3

We do hope the Inspector takes this into account when assessing the Local Plan.

 

Stop Elvetham Chase go Completely Concrete

Stop Elvetham Chase go full completely concrete Hart

Hypocritical Stop Elvetham Chase go Completely Concrete

The Stop Elvetham Chase group have decided to put up a candidate in the Local Elections standing for Community Campaign Completely Concrete Hart.

This smacks to us of hypocrisy as they are rightly vehemently opposed to the Elvetham Chase (Pale Lane) development. However, they now strongly support a new town in Winchfield, part of which is very close to the area where they oppose development. This is shown in the graphic above.

Their candidate, Angela Delaney is fighting the Fleet West ward. Richard Woods, who defected from the Tories in late 2016, currently holds this seat. It appears that Richard is standing down because he isn’t mentioned as a candidate on CCH’s website.

Stop Elvetham Chase’s statement has been placed on their Facebook page. Interestingly, comments have been disabled, so it is clear they are only interested in one-way communication. Not a good start for a budding politician. It is reproduced below with our comments in red.

This group was set up to fight the Elvetham Chase development. Hart council’s strong endorsement of the local plan on the 4th January and subsequent refusal of Wates’ proposal has, for now, protected Pale Lane. We thank all the members of this group for supporting the campaign and objecting so strongly to the development. Stop Elvetham Chase did start with laudable intentions.

However this is only a stay of execution. We know Wates have every intention of appealing the decision. The local plan, in its current state, with the new settlement option, gives Hart Council a strong chance of successfully refusing the appeal.  This is because approval of Pale Lane would jeopardise the new settlement – which would ultimately deliver more affordable housing for Hart. The presence or otherwise of the new town in the draft Local Plan will have no bearing on the Pale Lane Appeal. This is because even the council have said the new town is unnecessary, without Pale Lane. The Conservatives will tell you that we don’t need the higher housing targets – they support a local plan with the new settlement removed. We believe this is naive in the extreme, given the housing crisis this country is facing. It’s not just the Conservatives that say this. It was in the Council’s own communication to members (see below) and stated at the January 4th meeting by Councillor Cockarill. The housing numbers in the Local Plan will deliver ~1,500 more houses than the Government mandated figure. The Government figure already includes an affordability uplift.

Pale Lane aside, we believe it is absolutely right to plan for a new settlement that will deliver the infrastructure that Hart desperately needs. CCH were asked at council before Christmas to show their workings on the infrastructure funding gap. They didn’t even allow the question to be asked, let alone answer it. The reason is that they know, the new settlement will increase the funding gap and starve Fleet and Church Crookham of much needed investmentWithout a new settlement we will soon return to a ‘planning by appeal’ situation which has been so disastrous for Hart (ref: Grove Farm and Watery Lane). A sound Local Plan, without a new town and without Pale Lane, will stop this situation. With no long term plan for secondary school places (to meet demand from the 2000 houses at Hartland and Grove Farm), surgery waiting times lengthening and our roads more congested than ever we think this is unacceptable for Hart.  Hampshire County Council have not said we need a new school. The Local Plan contains no proposals for a new school, doesn’t address healthcare and does nothing for roads. A new town will only make things worse. A local plan with the new settlement option removed will also pave the way for Wates to successfully appeal Pale Lane. No it won’t. The Local Plan will be sound without the new town. Indeed, it may even be unsound with the new town.

So, after much consideration we have decided to support Community Campaign Hart (CCH), who we can trust to safeguard the local plan (which is already progressing well and is due for submission to a Govt inspector this month) and by extension, Pale Lane. CCH are committed to taking the politics out of local matters, focusing on putting residents’ needs first. Cough…only if you live in Church Crookham, and even then, the extra traffic from a new town will impact both Fleet and Church Crookham.

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Angela Delaney, one of our group and one of the original four who spearheaded the Stop Elvetham Chase Development campaign, is standing as CCH candidate for Fleet West. Angela has worked tirelessly over the last year to fight Pale Lane and protect Fleet West from the impact this development would have caused. But apparently she doesn’t care at all about the impact that a new town at Winchfield would cause. She’s passionate about supporting a local plan with a new settlement to protect our schools, health service and roads. In fact the Local Plan doesn’t promote a new school, doesn’t address healthcare and won’t fix the roads. In fact it will make matters worse for Fleet, because it will starve it of infrastructure, increase commuter traffic and probably reduce retail traffic. We hope her track record speaks for itself. Cough…not quite in the way she wants us to believe, but let’s wish that she is more successful than CCH have been with Edenbrook, Grove Farm and Watery Lane.

We hope you’ll support Angela but ultimately everyone must make their own decision at the ballot box. Well done for standing for election, which is more than Councillor Woods did when he defected. If you don’t support our position then we thank you for your support so far and understand if you wish to leave our group at this point. I will stay if you don’t mind, just to see what you are up to. You have lost a lot of support from Winchfield residents who also oppose Pale Lane. If you support Angela, we can guarantee that she will work with the same energy she fought Pale Lane, to represent local residents’ interests. Cough.

Why a new settlement debunked predetermination

Hart Housing Numbers

 

Hart Local Plan: Restore strategic gaps

Hart Regulation 18 Strategic gaps

Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 consultation removes the Regulation 18 Strategic Gaps

This is the sixth and final part of our submission to the Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 consultation. This article explains how Hart have removed the strategic gaps around Harley Wintney and Hook that were present in the last consultation. We believe they should restore them and policy NBe2 should be amended.  The process for making a submission is as follows:

  1. Go to the Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 Consultation page of the Council website
  2. From the Hart website, download and complete Response Form Part A (Personal Details). A copy can be downloaded here.
  3. Also download and complete the Response Form Part B (Your Representations), a separate Part B is required for each representation you wish to make. A copy can be downloaded here.
  4. Make sure you include words of this form in each representation. Policy [X] is not sound because it is not [positively prepared, justified, effective or consistent with national policy] (delete as appropriate).
  5. Once you have filled in Part A and Part B, please email them to planningpolicy@hart.gov.uk or post them to Planning Policy Team, Hart District Council, Harlington Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 4AE.
Submissions have to be made before 4pm on 26 March 2018. If you are keen to get your submission completed, you can use the summary guide we have pulled together, or for the more adventurous, you can use our full submission. Please edit the text into your own words.

Restore the strategic gaps to the Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 Consultation

The Local Plan identifies strategic gaps between settlements.

Hart Local Plan Regulation 19: Hartley Winchook leads to no strategic gaps around Hartley Wintney nor to the east of Hook

Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 Consultation Strategic Gaps

However, no gaps are proposed to the east of Hook, to the north west of Fleet or anywhere around Hartley Wintney. This is contrary to the Regulation 18 consultation (see top), where strategic gaps were included to the east of Hook and the SW of Hartley Wintney. These should be restored and new ones added to give effective gaps between Winchfield and the west of Fleet/Elvetham Heath to avoid coalescence into a Hartley Winchook urban sprawl.

Remedy: This policy needs to be amended to include:

  1. A gap to the west of Hook from the east bank of the River Whitewater to at least the power line between Hook and Hartley Wintney
  2. A gap to the south and west of Hartley Wintney/Phoenix Green. This should be at both sides of the A30, from the existing end of development to the Murrell Green light-industrial estate and from St Mary’s Park to the motorway
  3. A gap from Elvetham Heath/A323 to the River Hart and from Edenbrook/Hitches Lane to the River Hart
  4. A gap from the east of Taplins Farm Lane/The Hurst to the River Hart.

 

Hart Local Plan: Remove Policy SS3 to build a new town

We have finally pulled together our submission to the Regulation 19 Hart Local Plan consultation. This, the first of a series of article explains some of the reasons why Policy SS3 to build a new town should be removed.

The process for making a submission is as follows:
  1. Go to the Hart Local Plan Consultation page of the Council website
  2. From the Hart website, download and complete Response Form Part A (Personal Details). A copy can be downloaded here.
  3. Also download and complete the Response Form Part B (Your Representations), a separate Part B is required for each representation you wish to make. A copy can be downloaded here
  4. Make sure you include words of this form in each representation. Policy [X] is not sound because it is not [positively prepared, justified, effective or consistent with national policy] (delete as appropriate).
  5. Once you have filled in Part A and Part B, please email them to planningpolicy@hart.gov.uk or post them to Planning Policy Team, Hart District Council, Harlington Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 4AE. 
Submissions have to be made before 4pm on 26 March 2018. If you are keen to get your submission completed, you can use the summary guide we have pulled together, or for the more adventurous, you can use our full submission. Please edit the text into your own words.
WHH Local Plan Reg 19 Guide
WHH Local Plan Reg 19 Entry

Why should Policy SS3 for a new town be removed from the Hart Local Plan?

The most egregious part of the draft Local Plan is the proposal to include an unnecessary new town. This should be removed for the following reasons:

  • The new town is not required, even with the inflated housing numbers in Policy SS1
  • The proposal is unsustainable and undeliverable
  • The supposed sweetener of a secondary school is unnecessary and won’t be placed in a viable location
  • Will lead to coalescence with surrounding settlements
  • Breaks a number of the council’s own objectives elsewhere in the plan
  • It will hinder the much needed regeneration of our urban centres, in particular Fleet

The new town is not required

The housing numbers in the draft Local Plan are too high. Even if one assumes the housing numbers are correct, the council itself admits that the new town is not required.

Hart Local Plan Regulation 19: Hart say we don't need a new town

Not only that, the council themselves admit that the housing supply is under-estimated.

Hart Local Plan Regulation 19: Understated housing supply

And even this under-estimate does not include housing supply identified in the Winchfield and Hartley Wintney Neighbourhood plans.

The combination of the over-inflated housing demand numbers and the under-stated housing supply numbers mean that the new town simply is not required.

The new town proposal is unsustainable

The area of search identified in the Local Plan contains a very wide area, consisting of the areas known as Murrell Green and Winchfield.

Hart Local Plan Regulation 19: Policy SS3 Murrell Green and Winchfield Area of search for Hartley WInchook new settlement

We don’t need Hartley Winchook new town so why is it in the Local Plan?

The attempts at sustainability appraisals of the Murrell Green and Winchfield sites have been poor, but nevertheless have demonstrated some very significant weaknesses that cannot be overcome.

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

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

Let’s deal with Murrell Green first. Part of the site, known as Beggars Corner was the subject of a planning application for a Solar Farm. This was refused on the grounds that it would spoil the views from Odiham.  It is difficult to see how a 1,800 unit development would be any less intrusive than a solar farm. Moreover, that planning application identified that part of the Beggars Corner location is former landfill and some of it has unknown contents. This does not appear to be a suitable location on which to build new houses, or indeed form part of a SANG.

SHL 167 Landfill details Beggars Corner

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

The sustainability appraisal conveniently did not cover this part of the proposed Murrell Green development.

Moreover, the SA did not manage to discover that there is a Major Accident Hazard Pipeline crossing the site.  Not only that, the developer’s proposal included a secondary school sited right on top of the pipeline. After examination of the HSE rules regarding such installations, I conclude that neither houses nor schools will be able to be built within up to 100m of that pipeline. I also understand that roads should not cross such pipelines either. See analysis here.

Murrell Green high pressure gas main

Murrell Green development with high pressure gas pipeline

When one adds in other constraints such as SINCs, proximity of a high voltage power line, the railway and the M3, it appears as though the Murrell Green part of the area of search is not suitable for large scale development.

Turning to the Winchfield part of the area of search, it should be noted that the Winchfield sustainability assessment had to be extracted from HDC by FOI request. It can be found here.

The first point to note is that much of land in the Winchfield area of search is not in fact for sale. This comprises the central swathe known as Talbothay’s Farm plus other areas. Immediately, this leads to the conclusion that it won’t be possible to plan for a coherent settlement if the central part is not available.

In addition, the main areas considered to be constraints in the SA report were:

  • Historic Environment
  • Bio-diversity
  • Landscape
  • Water Quality
  • Flood risk

More detail on this can be found here. Other spurious claims were made in the SA, such as the claim that building a “renewable and low-carbon energy generation and transfer” plant will diversify energy supply. What they mean is building a wood-burning power station utilising locally sourced timber (p74). Such a plant would be extremely undesirable since burning wood produces more CO2 than burning coal, and none of the proposed master plans include such space for such a plant. Plus, of course, I don’t think many people would support chopping down Bramshill forest to fuel such a plant. This claim was used to indicate that Winchfield was somehow more sustainable than other potential locations.

They also claim that building 3,000 new houses, with associated traffic will somehow “reduce the
emissions of greenhouse gases and manage the impacts of climate change”. Again, complete and utter nonsense.

They also say there was some evidence of wet ground at the far east of SHL183, but “no other obvious evidence of current or past flooding”.

Winchfield Strategic Assessment - Flood Risk 1

This is of course complete nonsense. The detailed assessment also says there’s only a one in 30 year chance of surface water flooding. The area of Taplins Farm Lane near the railway bridge flooded three times in 2016 alone. Evidence documenting the flood events can be found here (4 Jan) , here (7 Jan)here (9 March on Station Road) and here (28 March due to #StormKatie). I also understand that a similar area has flooded again in January 2018. These are obviously more than one in 30 year events.

The area east of Winchfield fared less well than Murrell Green in the sustainability assessment even with the grossly understated the flood risk. And of course there were other issues with Historic Environment, Bio-diversity, Landscape and Water Quality. It is difficult to see how this could deliver a significant number of houses.

The area west of Winchfield was ruled out of the sustainability assessment, because it is a more peripheral location relative to the train station, does not offer a central focus and is in close proximity to Odiham SSSI. It therefore offers little prospect of significant housing development.

It is clear that there are very considerable constraints even before considering the infrastructure problems.

Hart has not put together proper estimates of the costs of infrastructure; despite saying it would do so.

Hart Testing Commitment January 2015

We have made several estimates that can be found here, here and here. Essentially, if a new motorway junction is required, the costs will be in excess of £300m. If the new junction is not required, the costs will be at least £200m. A rough schedule of requirements includes:

  • Secondary school and three primary schools
  • New sewage works
  • Power station (as per SA)
  • Improved drainage
  • Re-routing or burying of electricity power lines
  • Railway station upgrade to extend platforms and car park (or relocate)
  • The bridges that carry the railway over Station Road, Taplins Farm Lane and Pale Lane will all need to be upgraded in some way
  • New big roundabouts at either end of the B3016
  • New smaller roundabouts from B3016 and A30 to the new town, new roundabout to join Pale Lane and the A323, new roundabout on A287/Crondall Road and at Pilcot Road/Hitches Lane
  • New or widened roads at Bagwell Lane, Taplins Farm Lane/Church Lane, Station Road, Pale Lane and Chatter Alley/Pilcot Road. Plus many ancient hedgerows will have to be relocated.
  • Potentially widening the A30 around Phoenix Green on the approach to artHHartley Wintney
  • New healthcare facilities
  • New sports and community facilities

If this is a 5,000 dwelling new town, with 40% ‘affordable’, the remaining market houses might be expected to generate £15-20K per unit of S106/CIL. This would amount to around £45-60m. This is well short of the funding requirement and therefore might be expected to make the existing infrastructure funding gap worse.

Taken together, it is difficult to see how such a new town could be either sustainable or viable. Indeed, it is notable that in the three years of this saga, with many Hart Council members being supportive and apparently developers becoming anxious, no planning application has been made. Perhaps that’s because the developers also realise this is a pipedream.

Secondary school unnecessary and not in a suitable location

A number of councillors have made a fuss about a new settlement bringing a new secondary school. The trouble with this is that they have yet to provide a shred of evidence that a new secondary school is in fact required.

Back in 2015, Hampshire’s forecast went as far as 2018 and they were predicting a surplus of places up to 2018. They also forecast a falling birth rate and a significant number of existing pupils attending Hart schools from outside the district.

In 2017, HCC published a new school place plan that showed an overall surplus of places in both secondary and primary schools up to 2021.

A recent letter from a Hampshire Councillor shows that 98% of Hampshire secondary pupils have been allocated a place at a school of their choice for the next academic year.

Hampshire schools keep up with demand

So, having established that a new school is probably not required, we must now address the proposals that have been put forward over the past three years for the sites of new secondary schools.

First, we had Barratts in 2014 putting up a proposal to place a new school right next door to an institution housing sex offenders.

Mildmay Oaks Hospital next door to proposed school

Proposed school next door to Mildmay Oaks Hospital that held escaped child sex offender

Then we had the proposal, described above to build a secondary school right on top of the high-pressure gas main running through the Murrell Green site.

More recently we have had another proposal from promoters of Winchfield which placed the secondary school directly under the high-voltage power lines.

Winchfield Garden Community Master Plan with pylons and powerline

Winchfield Garden Community Master Plan with pylons and powerline

If after three years of trying, they cannot find a suitable location for a secondary school, one does have to come to the conclusion that they never will.

In conclusion, it is apparent that we don’t need a secondary school, and none of the developers involved have managed to find a suitable location.

Coalescence

The area of search is very wide. It borders Hook to the west, Hartley Wintney/Phoenix Green to the north east and comes very close to the Edenbrook development and the proposed Pale Lane development to the east. The bulk of the proposal also comes very close to Dogmersfield.

In other areas of the Local Plan, the council have been quite assiduous in defining strategic gaps. They have produced no such gaps around the new area of search, nor to the east of Hook or anywhere around Hartley Wintney. Nor are any gaps proposed to the north west of Fleet.

Hartley Winchook leads to no strategic gaps around Hartley Wintney nor to the east of Hook

If they are allowed to go ahead with this area of search, unconstrained by strategic gaps, there is a strong risk that they will come up with proposals that lead to coalescence of our proud villages.

Breaks the Objectives elsewhere in the Hart Local Plan

Elsewhere in the Local Plan, Hart have come up with a number of objectives. These are reproduced below with my comments in bold on how these proposals break those objectives.

  1. To support the vitality and viability of the District’s town and village centres to serve the needs of residents. Adding a new settlement will draw retail traffic away from our existing urban centres, most notably Fleet, and lead to even faster degeneration of Fleet as a retail destination. This can hardly be described as supporting vitality and viability.
  2. To conserve and enhance the distinctive built and historic environment in the District including the protection of heritage assets and their settings. The proposed area of search includes a Norman church dating back to the Domesday Book and several SSSI’s including at Odiham and Basingstoke Canal. There are numerous other distinctive and historic buildings. Building a new settlement right next door to these valuable assets with neither conserve nor enhance the environment.
  3. To protect and enhance the District’s natural environment, landscape character, water environment and biodiversity, including ensuring appropriate mitigation is in place for new development to avoid adverse impacts on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBHSPA).Building a new settlement in one of the most attractive parts of the district, containing many woodlands and hedgerows supporting much wildlife such as deer and kingfishers, used by many for leisure and recreation will actively damage the landscape and biodiversity.
  4. To provide measures for adapting to the impacts of climate change and minimising the contribution of new development to the causes of climate change, including reducing the risk of flooding by directing development away from areas at risk of flooding, and using opportunities offered by new development to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding from all sources. We have already established that the SA grossly under-stated the flood risk in the area known as Winchfield East, yet they are proposing to build on this area, directly against their stated objective.
  5. To promote healthy and sustainable local communities through protecting and enhancing community, sport, health, cultural, recreation and leisure facilities, and through the delivery of a multi-functional green infrastructure network across the District. We already have a multi-functional green infrastructure network in Winchfield used for recreation and leisure. Building on it will destroy it, again directly contravening their own objective.
  6. To maintain the separate character and identity of settlements by avoiding development that would result in their physical or visual coalescence. Again, we established the risk of coalescence earlier. This proposal, if implemented would effectively create a single urban conurbation from Hartland Park in the east, across Fleet and Hartley Wintney to Hook in the west. This is an appalling prospect, again directly breaking their own objective.

Remedy:  I would propose that Policy SS3 is removed entirely from the Hart Local Plan, and consequent amendments are made to SS1.

Local Plan: Is the new town an example of predetermination?

Policy SS3 Murrell Green and Winchfield Area of search for Hartley WInchook new settlement

Is the new town plan an example of predetermination?

Our research for the Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 consultation has thrown up the possibility that the inclusion of the new town is an example of predetermination. We hope to publish our response in full in the next few days, however, we thought readers might be interested in this analysis which is shown below.

If you are keen to get your submission completed, then you might find inspiration in the work of Hartley Wintney Preservation Society or the Winchfield Action Group. These can be found on the downloads below:

WAG Regulation 19 guide
HWPS Reg 19 Guide

The consultation runs from 9 February 2018 to 4pm on 26 March 2018. The whole suite of documents can be found here.

Now on to our Predetermination research.

Events in November 2014 that indicate Predetermination

Back in 2014, HDC conducted a consultation on housing distribution. This was a non-site specific consultation, with no reference to Winchfield in the Housing Development Options Consultation paper. The council then moved with undue haste to put a paper to Cabinet on 6 November and Council on 27 November where Winchfield was identified as the only option to be tested for a new settlement.

This process was challenged at the time, by amongst others by Hartley Wintney Parish Council. See here.

At the subsequent Cabinet and Council meetings, attempts were made to remove the words “at Winchfield” from the proposed Housing Distribution Strategy.

Housing Distribution Strategy November 2014

It is important to note that the removal of these words would not have precluded the testing of Winchfield. They would merely have opened up the possibility of testing other sites. Failure to remove those words amounted to a strong signal that the council were not open to considering suitable alternatives. Indeed, there was no attempt to even identify suitable brownfield sites that might meet some or all of our housing requirement.

The minutes of both Cabinet and Council show that amendments intended to open up other sites for testing failed.

Much debate happened at council. One councillor remarked that the “only option is Winchfield” and removing the words “in Winchfield” would give residents “false hope”.

This is backed up by contemporaneous email exchanges with councillors such as:

Winchfield is the only option - predetermination

Winchfield is the only option

Options running out imminently. Predetermination

Options running out imminently

Note that although they say they will look at other sites if they come up, they actually vote to exclude that possibility. Indeed some councillors seemed concerned that options to purchase the land may have been due to expire. Maybe this explains their haste to predetermine Winchfield as the sole option for testing.

2016: Draft Local Plan with no new settlement disappears and housing target increases

We understand that in December 2016, a draft Local Plan was produced that did not include a new town at Winchfield or anywhere else. The main reason for this is that despite earlier assertions that there just wasn’t enough brownfield capacity in the district, a planning application for 1,500 new homes on the former Pyestock site had been made. Moreover, a number of office conversions had appeared using Permitted Development Rights. This draft document was rejected by the Community Campaign Hart group and never saw the light of day. The Inspector may wish to request a copy of this document.

This draft was intended to meet the then current SHMA target of 8,022 new dwellings.

Shortly afterwards, it became apparent that the housing target would be increased by more than 2,000 houses. Many people thought the rationale for increasing the housing target by a further 2,000 units was spurious to say the least. However, this meant that it was no longer possible to meet our remaining needs through brownfield development alone.

Lo and behold, later in 2017, a new Regulation 18 consultation was published which included a new settlement at Murrell Green (much of which is in Winchfield Parish boundaries). The Sustainability Assessment test results for Winchfield had to be dragged out of the council using a Freedom of Information request. The SA results for Murrell Green conveniently overlooked the fact that a Major Accident Hazard Pipeline in the form of a high pressure gas main runs through the site. The site schematics included a school built right on top of the gas pipe.

Recent Developments that suggest predetermination

Since the 2017 Regulation 18 consultation, the Government have come up with new proposals to calculate housing need. These reflect much of the criticism we made of the previous attempts at the SHMA. These can be found here, here, here and here. These new targets result in a build rate required of 292dpa over the plan period from 2016-2032 and include an ‘affordability uplift’. Adopting this target would mean that Hart had already granted permission for more houses than is required over the plan period.

Yet, inexplicably, the council has decided to remove the 40% cap on the affordability uplift and introduce a further 25% uplift to give a resultant 388 dpa. Even this inflated target could be easily met without a new settlement. However, policy SS3 has included a new town area of search, even though even the Council admit it is not required (See here, slide 9).

Why a new settlement debunked predetermination

Given all of the history outlined here, it is difficult to come to any other conclusion than certain members of the council had predetermined that they wanted a new settlement and they wanted it at Winchfield. In summary, certain members of the council have frustrated all attempts to test other locations; they have even derailed versions of the Local Plan without a new settlement at Winchfield and ignored all opportunities to avoid concreting over many of the best parts of the district even though even they admit a new town is not required.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that certain members of the council had predetermined the outcome from the outset.

 

Hartley Wintney Preservation Society criticise new town in Hart Local Plan

Hartley Wintney Preservation Society blast new town proposal in Hart Local Plan

Hartley Wintney Preservation Society blast new town proposal in Hart Local Plan Regulation 19 Consultation

Hartley Wintney Preservation Society have criticised the proposals for a new town contained in the draft Hart Local Plan. Their full comments can be found in the download below.

They are concerned about the threat to Hartley Wintney represented by Policy SS3 New Settlement at the Murrell Green/Winchfield. This could lead to 3,000 homes at Winchfield and 1,800 homes at Murrell Green.

A summary of their arguments follows:

  1. The prior consultations about the Hart Local Plan that resulted in a preference for a new town are invalid because they were predicated upon much higher housing numbers that we now don’t need to achieve
  2. The proposed housing numbers are far too high, containing arbitrary uplifts to the new Government figures that simply are not required
  3. Even using the inflated housing numbers in the draft Hart Local Plan, the new town simply is not required, and the plan itself makes that clear
  4. The alleged funding for infrastructure for the new town will not materialise and won’t be enough to cover the costs
  5. Significant parts of the area of search are not suitable for housing, such as Murrell Green (gas main) and Beggars Corner (former landfill and planning permission for a solar farm already turned down)
  6. Lead to inevitable coalescence of Hartley Wintney with Murrell Green, Hook and the three hamlets that make up Winchfield
  7.  The new town proposals will starve Fleet of much needed funding and focus on regeneration

Please use these words as guidance for your own response, but try to rephrase the comments.

We will be publishing our own objections to the Hart Local Plan in the coming days. Stay tuned.

The consultation runs from 9 February 2018 to 4pm on 26 March 2018. The whole suite of documents can be found here.

HWPS Reg 19 Guide