Hart squanders £110K on doomed Grove Farm appeal

Grove Farm Appeal - Netherhouse Copse Site Layout

£110K squandered on Netherhouse Copse – Grove Farm  appeal

It has come to light that Hart spent nearly £110,000 on lawyers and consultants in the course of defending the doomed Grove Farm appeal.

Regular readers may remember that the council failed to answer our questions about this at the last council meeting. However, a recent FOI request from a concerned resident has finally turned up some answers.

In total the council spent £109,858.59 on external legal and consultant costs. Astonishingly, Hart Council does not seem to track the time spent by its own staff on such matters and can’t tell us the costs incurred by internal officers. The good news is that it seems the developer did not press to be awarded its own costs of running the appeal.

However, it appears as though the council did not seek an external view on the chances of success of the appeal. We said back in December 2016 that the failure to determine the application would lead to an appeal and that Hart would likely lose the appeal.

£110,000 represents about 1% of Hart’s spending budget, and they are strapped for cash. Even though we oppose the Grove Farm development, we don’t think the council should be wasting money trying to fight lost causes.

Full FOI request on Grove Farm appeal costs

The full questions and answers (in red) are shown below:

Can you please set out the cost of defending the appeal including:

a) External legal and consultant costs: The Council holds the information that you seek. The costs were £109,858.59. 

b) Internal time costs of officers. The Council does not hold the information that you seek. 

c) Any potential loss of New Homes Bonus. The Council does not hold the information that you seek.

d) Lost time on the Local Plan due to resources being diverted to defend the appeal. The Council does not hold the information that you seek.

e) Appellant costs. The Council does not hold the information that you seek 

Did the council receive legal advice on the chances of success in defending the appeal?  The Council does not hold the information that you seek 
a) What, in summary, did the advice say? The Council does not hold the information that you seek. 

b) Will you make the advice public? The Council does not hold the information that you seek 

c) Was the provider of this legal advice the same organisation that helped
defend the appeal? The Council does not hold the information that you seek

d) How much did the advice cost? The Council does not hold the information that you seek 


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


  1. I presume that you all would then take the position that Pale Lane Owens Farm shoud be approved when they come to plannig comitttee because they will be there well before the local plan has any impact.

    • What you are saying is that with hindsight Hart should have not have fought it on appeal. Therefore as the same situation will shortly occur with Pale Lane and Owens Farm are you saying that Hart should approve those applications. Is We Heart Hart for urban extension or are you prepared oi fight it

    • Sorry but this is just whataboutery. I opposed Grove Farm. But with foresight nearly a year ago, I predicted the appeal would be lost.

      I also oppose Pale Lane and Owens Farm. And I think both should be turned down when they are heard by the planning committee.

      I suspect both will then be appealed. The strongest argument to defend those appeals will be to have a Local Plan published and preferably submitted to the inspector before the appeals are heard.

      That Local Plan should be submitted around 1 April and be based on the new Government housing targets, plus a few for Surrey Heath as contingency. That would be around 6,500 over the 2011-2032 planning period. Pale Lane, Owens Farm, Murrell Green, Winchfield and even Hartland Park will not be required under that scenario. The remaining houses to plan for could be made up from Sun Park, Grove Farm (sadly), Rawlings depot plus any number of smaller brownfield developments from say Hartley Wintney, Winchfield and/or those derelict eyesores on Fleet high street.

      Job done.

      No new school required.

    • I never said any such thing. Please don’t make things up. The point is clear to defend these sites we need a local plan. If you read the articles then it is clear that we heart Hart are against pale lane and owned farm. Question is why are you so keen to ruin winchfield and HW?

    • If they get their act together on the Local Plan, then they should be able to defend any appeal. The key will be to get the LP published and hopefully submitted to the inspector before the appeal is heard.

  2. Total incompetence? Nah, I think that is being kind. This is deliberate, arrogance, criminal negligence? They are squandering our resources, whether that be our taxes, or our green environment. They lie and obfuscate and behave in ways that call into question their motives. We need them gone.

  3. At least one of the answers to the FOI seems a bit dodgy, which leads one to question the others eg how can they not know if it was the same advisers who supplied the advice and who defended the case?

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