Hart fails to decide Cross Farm application on time

Sad clown at Hart council fails to decide Cross Farm Appeal document 16/03400/OUT

Hart Council clowns fail to decide Cross Farm application

Hart Council has failed to decide the Cross Farm in Crookham Village planning application on time. This has led the developers to submit an appeal on the grounds of non-determination. This comes on the heels of the failure to determine the Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse) application back in December 2016.  This is Jedi-level incompetence that makes the Council look like clowns.

The original application was made in January this year and should have been decided by 7 April. The application doesn’t seem to have been considered at all by the Planning Committee. Details of the original application for the Cross Farm development can be found here, and searching for 16/03400/OUT. The appeal documents can be found by searching for 17/00078/NONDET.

The proposed Cross Farm development in Crookham Village was one of the recommended sites in the recent Local Plan consultation. This indicates that the proposal was supported by officers.

We can only guess at why it wasn’t determined on time. Clearly,  the council is dysfunctional. The Conservatives were in charge of the council when the application should have been decided. However, Community Campaign Hart (CCH) held the chair of the Planning Committee at that time. Now the Planning Committee is chaired by Graham Cockarill of the Liberal Democrats, and the administration is jointly run by CCH and Lib Dems. Therefore, it seems none of the parties are able to get a grip on the planning process and take decisions on time.

One explanation might be that despite Cross Farm being in the draft Local Plan, CCH councillors felt unable to support the proposals. Therefore, they abdicated responsibility, so they could blame any decision on the Inspector. Of course, the appeal will be at council taxpayer expense.

[Update] Another explanation might be that it wasn’t in the interests of the Tory administration or the officers to bring this to the Committee on time. Cross Farm in Crookham Village was a preferred site in the draft Local Plan. If Cross Farm had been rejected at Committee, it would have effectively scuppered the Local Plan. [/Update]

Cost of Cross Farm, Crookham Village appeal

It is likely that this public enquiry style appeal will cost the council over £100,000 to defend. We find it difficult to understand how they expect to win the appeal given that the site is in the draft Local Plan. Therefore, we think it likely the inspector will award costs to the developer should they win. This would bring the total costs of the appeal to over £200,000.

The overall council budget is ~£10m. Surely, this appeal money could be better spent on local services, infrastructure or social housing?


Posted in Hart District Council, Hart Local Plan, We Heart Hart Campaign, We Love Hart Campaign and tagged , , , , , , , .


  1. Of course the developers are going to argue for more housing. It’s in their interests to do so.

    I think that makes it even more important for local communities to argue for fewer houses to give a counter balance.

  2. The makes the Grove farm appeal very interesting. The developer is arguing the opposite. That Hart’s affordable housing is too low and therefore they do not have a 5 year land supply. The planning inspector is exactly the person (not the same but the role) who will examine our local plan. If he allows the appeal it indicates that the local plan will need to increase not decrease the number of houses to be accepted. If he finds in our favour it does not necessarily mean that we can reduce the numbers but that the numbers are sound so we will have to very carefully examine his judgement. With the current numbers in the SMAA we stand a chance with the Grove Farm appeal with lower numbers the developer would walk all over us

  3. Tony Gower-Jones, I believe the 8,000 SHMA number is to high. But Hart have gone more than 2,000 over that figure with no justification. I’ve set out my rationale below. Basically, they started with the wrong (higher start point), the affordable housing uplift is too high and won’t actually deliver affordable houses, the jobs uplift means we will have to import loads more people from outside the district,who will then work outside the district, and whose housing needs are supposed to be being met elsewhere. Hart’s target more than doubles the DCLG target derived from the population/households forecasts. It’s a joke.


  4. Why did the govt Inspector fail Hart’s local plan in 2013? What were the reasons given? Would be good to understand this to avoid a similar outcome this time?

  5. Lets consdier how a lower housing number might play out at the next stage of the plan .
    Stages Stages 23 and 24 is when the independent planning Inspector is appointed and reviews our plan. That inspector is the only expert who counts.
    They are required by law to consider if the plan is sound the law states:

    • “Positively prepared – the plan should be prepared based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighboring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development

    • Justified – the plan should be the most appropriate strategy, when considered against the reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence

    • Effective – the plan should be deliverable over its period and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities

    • Consistent with national policy – the plan should enable the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in the Framework

    We were at that stage back in 2012 or 14 (I think) and failed the 1st bullet point
    Let’s consider for one moment what this inspector might say
    Have Hart used the recommended approach to decide on the number of houses or have they used an “expert” who comes up with a number that means they need less houses
    I am no planning expert but listening to all the parties in the general election I have not heard any say we need to build less house or there is no housing crisis.
    If that happens then the plan gets rejected and I believe because of the timing an inspector is appointed to develop a plan on our behalf e.g. it is out of our hands

    • I agree the pressure will be for even more houses, but the result will be urban extensions, regardless of a new town in Winchfield (which isn’t really a new town) or anywhere else. It seems to me given noises about more houses from the parties that all the current applications e.g. Grove farm, will get approved on appeal, and the latest from Sajid Javid suggests even local plans would need to be reviewed every 5 years with more buildings in popular areas (I.e Hart). So a local plan: 1) is still months away and developers will take advantage in the mean time 2) won’t protect us as much as we thought. Not good times.

  6. It would be good if groups like Face It also challenged the ridiculous housing target. It is the 10,000 target that creates all the pressure. We wouldn’t ‘need’ any of the urban extensions or a new town if the housing target was more sensible

  7. And just on the ABW slur, I have consistently argued for brownfield development, regardless of location. For instance I would support the redevelopment of the scrap yard on Totters Lane which is in Winchfield Parish. I also supported Dairy Walk and Monachus House developments in Hartley Wintney.

    The Winchfield Neighbourhood Plan put forward a number of sites for development. Hart chose to ignore those sites in their draft Local Plan. And of course they have previously turned down a development next to Winchfield Court, despite it being supported by the Parish Council.

    Proportionate development, supported by local communities is essential. As well as competent councillors and officers

  8. I would think the reason they have appealed Cross Farm is that it was a preferred site in the draft Local Plan, yet they haven’t seen fit to bring it to the Planning Committee. I think that strengthens the developer’s hand.

  9. From the many comments there appears to be a lack of understanding in the appeal process.
    Once a planning application has been validated (submitted to Hart and checked that all the documents are there) Hart planners have a duty to bring that application to the planning committee within 12 weeks. If they do not then the applicant has the right to take it to appeal for non-determination.
    In practice only the simplest applications get a hearing in 12 weeks for example extensions, loft conversion etc. The larger applications normally take longer. The most common reason is that one or more of the formal consultees state that they will object because there is not sufficient information.
    The planners and developers then agreed to wait, normally at the request of the developer while they sort out the issues with whoever raised them.
    Grove Farm was validated on the 24th June 2016, Cross Farm on 2nd Jan 2017 and Pale Lane on the 21st Nov 2016. All have gone beyond 12 weeks and the developers has the right to appeal for non-determination.
    Once a developer decides to take it to appeal then Hart have a duty to take the application to the earliest planning committee and discuss what they would have decided if it had come to planning committee. In the case of Grove Farm that was the meeting on the 8th March. For Cross Farm it will be the meeting on the 9th August. Pale Lane has not gone to appeal is still in discussion between the developer and the planners.
    There are many factors that will influence the developer’s decision to take it to appeal and these are probably different in the case of Grove Farm Cross Farm and Pale Lane.
    In simple terms a developer will look at which route gives them the greatest chance of success, appealing for non-determination, working with Hart planners to get it through planning committee or being rejected at planning committee then appeal the rejection.
    The planners in Hart have a legal duty to co-operate and assist applicant therefore I would not suggest that this is incompetence, but the normal rough and tumble of the planning cycle.
    That all the urban extensions (which was the least favoured option at the last consultation) are under pressure prior to the local plan being approved would politically suit those who appear to take an ABW (anywhere but Winchfield) position.
    For the avoidance of confusion the current situation is:
    Grove Farm has gone to appeal and Hart are going to fight that, the appeal starts on the 18th July
    Cross Farm has gone to appeal and Hart have yet to take a position, that decision will be made at the planning meeting on the 9th Aug.
    Pale Lane is still under discussion between Hart planners and the applicant.

  10. No. It hasn’t been in front of the planning committee. It must have been considered by the officers and some councillors in some way to make it into the draft Local Plan.

    I don’t think it’s very common for a planning application to be effectively ignored by the Planning Committee

  11. I am getting confused now. Has Cross Farm application been in front of Councillors or not? Has it been considered by Planning Officials? Wouldn’t any one of the councillors stood up and said when is this application being discussed? Particularly if it was in their patch. Doies it often happen that a planning application is put in, ignored and then goes through by default.

  12. There is no evidence to support that assertion. The application has not even made it to planning committee.

    As we discussed last night, the ‘deferral’ you are talking about was Grove Farm, not Cross Farm.

  13. David, my understanding is that CCH proposed to determine the application but the Conservative voted to defer it.. hence the situation they’re now in. I don’t think this is a fair assessment of what has happened?

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