Hart don’t know cost of Grove Farm appeal

Hart Council knows nothing about Grove Farm Appeal

Hart Council knows nothing about Grove Farm Appeal

Hart Council have admitted they don’t know the cost of the Grove Farm appeal. They don’t know how much they spent on lawyers and consultants. They don’t cost the internal time costs of Hart Officers. Thankfully, there won’t be any loss of New Homes Bonus and the inspector did not award appellant costs against Hart.

Hart Council is very short of money, and the costs of this appeal must represent a significant proportion of Hart’s spending budget of £9m this year (see budget book p14). It is scandalous that they have no ability to track the costs of such large expenditures.

We warned back in December 2016 that the failure to determine the application would lead to an appeal and that Hart would likely lose the appeal.

It is still highly likely the developers will appeal the decision anyway because the officers recommended approval. Realistically, it is likely Hart would lose the appeal.

Apparently, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee won’t be looking into the decision to defend the Grove Farm appeal. Councillors apparently have no plans to forgo any of their allowance to help replenish public funds.

More worrying, Hart have no plan to avoid being a sitting duck in planning appeals between now and when the Local Plan is finally adopted.

Full questions and answers about Grove Farm appeal

Here is our list of questions and our recollection of the answers in red received at Council on Thursday (answers to be updated when the minutes are published):

Q1: It is of course a highly regrettable that the Grove Farm planning application was granted at appeal. However, given that officers recommended that planning permission be granted and the planning committee failed to make a determination on time, it is not unexpected that the appeal was allowed. Can you please set out the cost of defending the appeal including:

  1. External legal and consultant costs. A lot of words that amounted to “Don’t know”.
  2. Internal time costs of officers. Don’t identify internal costs.
  3. Any potential loss of New Homes Bonus. £0.
  4. Lost time on the Local Plan due to resources being diverted to defend the appeal. Don’t know.
  5. Appellant costs. £0.

Q2: Did the council receive legal advice on the chances of success in defending the appeal? In accordance with the Hart Code of Conduct objectives for openness and transparency, can you answer the following:

  1. What, in summary, did the advice say?
  2. Will you make the advice public?
  3. Was the provider of this legal advice the same organisation that helped defend the appeal?
  4. How much did the advice cost?

Answer: It’s a planning matter so we didn’t take legal advice on the chances of success

Q3: A recent joint Chief Executive statement said “In terms of the impact for planning across the District this appeal decision tells us little that is new.  The Inspector used the same reasons that had previously been used by the Inspector at Moulsham Lane”. In accordance with the Code of Conduct statements about “Managing risks and performance through robust internal control and strong public financial management”, will the Overview and Scrutiny Committee be examining the decision to defend the Grove Farm appeal and making recommendations to avoid future waste of public funds?

Answer: Overview and Scrutiny only examine decisions from the Executive, not of committees, so no.

Supplementary: Will councillors and officers who made the decision to proceed with the appeal forego all or part of their allowance or bonus to show solidarity with hard pressed council taxpayers by helping to replenish public funds? No.

Q4: Given the saved policies have been ruled to be out of date twice now, what steps can the council take to avoid becoming a sitting duck in future planning decisions and appeals in advance of the Local Plan being adopted? Lots of words that amounted to “None”.

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


  1. I think one of the answers given last night was factually incorrect. According to the Council Constitution, O&S has very wide powers, not limited to scrutinising the Executive. Are cabinet members allowed to mislead the public?

  2. As anyone who was at the Council meeting on the 26th Oct saw, no information gets released without the consent of the real leader of the Council, James Radley. He writes the script for anything important cabinet members have to say. He is in total control of the planning process and does not share any information he does not have to.

    • The Church Crookham CCH now seem intent on building houses everywhere.

      They want less on former industrial brownfield sites. They want (or their incompetence will drive) more homes built on greenfield at Fleet and nearby including Pale Lane and Winchfield, right alongside Pale Lane. More on greenfield at Hook. More all across Hart.

      They seem to have an agenda of forcing as many homes to be built as possible. They have persuaded their habitual masters the LibDems to go along with it – this potentially letting developers take control and delivering failure for residents across Hart.

      LIbDem-CCH need to listen to both residents and the opposition: we don’t support their plans, and we don’t want to Completely Concrete Hart: The new lower housing numbers from government should be used which would hugely benefit Hart. The LibDem-CCH cohort are refusing to budge. More pressure is needed.

  3. It’s shocking that they can’t even work out a day rate for planning officers x number of days worked on the appeal. Basics of running an organisation (public or private) is to know your costs. Very shoddy.

  4. It seems to me the real problem at Hart Council is that a few Councillors want a new town at Winchfield on green fields and it seems they are messing everything up in their blinkered approach. I remember a CCH councillor saying at a meeting in 2014, prior to the full council meeting that loads of residents attended, that the people of Winchfield were getting a new town and they should get used to it. I was shocked then and what has gone on since has been unbelievable. Time the council pulled together to get LP through with fewer housing numbers!

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