Ranil calls for Fleet regeneration

Ranil Jayawardena MP calls for Fleet regeneration and revitalisation of Hook and Yateley

Ranil calls for Fleet regeneration

Our local MP, Ranil Jayawardena has called for the regeneration of Fleet, Hook and Yateley.

We warmly welcome this initiative. Ranil has begun a petition to promote his cause, and we urge readers to sign it. The petition can be found here. An article about this also appeared in Fleet News and Mail.

Ranil said:

Looking to some of our local, district and town centres, however, it is clear to see that Fleet, Yateley and Hook are all in real need of revitalisation and regeneration. I’ve been spending time speaking to your local Councillors about this and taking a look at the work that needs to be done.

I am more convinced than ever that all three places have great potential – be that simply as shopping destinations or, with the right infrastructure improvements, as great places for our young people to get their foot on the housing ladder.

The trouble is that there is no ‘masterplan’ for any of these places. I will be raising this with Hart District Council personally – but I need your help. If you want smart new shops, some new flats for local young people to buy above them and better car parking, then act now.

This is in stark contrast to the current Completely Concrete Community Campaign Hart/Lib Dem coalition, who are pressing ahead with plans for an unnecessary new town across Winchfield and Murrell Green. Their plans do not include any significant new infrastructure. Plus, there’s no ideas on how to revitalise our town centres or improve our cultural facilities. There are no plans to remove the eyesores that blight our environment.

Ranil Jayawardena MP calls for Fleet regeneration and revitalisation of Hook and Yateley

Derelict Offices on Fleet Road in Fleet, Hampshire – time for Fleet regeneration

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) says that planning policies should promote competitive town centre environments and set out policies for the management and growth of centres over the plan period. The current draft plan does not address this requirement.

Fleet Regeneration is necessary and desirable

As we have explained before, Fleet is one of the richest towns in the country. It has the lowest density development of comparative towns and one of the worst retail offers. It is time these problems were addressed.

When the consultation on the new Local Plan emerges, we will continue to urge residents to reject the plans for the completely unnecessary new town. Instead, we should push for a new policy to regenerate our town centres. This should not put the draft Local Plan at risk. Councillor Cockarill confirmed at Council on 4th January that the Local Plan should stand without the new town policy.

Posted in Hart Local Plan, Hart Local Plan Reg 19 consultation, Urban Regeneration, We Heart Hart Campaign, We Love Hart Campaign and tagged , , , , , , , , .


    • Fleet Town Council was forced, due to a 7-7 vote at their extraordinary meeting on 17th Jan, to at a minimum offer a new consultation on The Harlington project. Just to let residents know, Fleet Town Council want to do a land swap with Hart and give Hart The Views in exchange for Gurkha Square. Since the loss of parking in Gurkha Square needs to be replaced, Fleet TC will tarmac a hectare of The Views. Is this what Fleet residents really want? Also, the project won’t cost £9.9M, it will be more like £20M, so Fleet residents’ precepts will go up again. Is this really what Fleet residents want?

  1. Why build a theatre on Gurkha Square. They already have vaudeville in the Council offices and they can’t fill all the seats. The Hart Centre is simply a reflection of the changing face of retailing to online.

    I can think of one good reason to dig a hole in Gurkha Square.

  2. The Lib Dems/CCH administration don’t have the skills to do regeneration and a housing. Yet, at the 11th Jan Cabinet meeting they just paved the way for Fleet Town Council to build a £10m theatre on Gurkha Sqaure Car park and want to do a land swap with Fleet Town Council to build a car park on The Views. When questioned about a master plan or a someone who will deliver regeneration , they said they didn’t need to sort it now. Crazy! How do you make a major decision like this with no plan? Because James Radley and the chairman of FTC have had this stitched up since the two Conservatives walked the aisle to join CCH. Residents must realise that once Gurkha Square and The Views are concreted over, those assets are lost forever.

  3. Absolutely agree! Fleet in particular (where I grew up) has become something of a dormitory town. The Hart Centre is such a sad place full of empty shops. All the redundant offices look awful and are so wasteful. Why destroy our beautiful Hampshire countryside when there is so much potential to revitalise somewhere like Fleet? Makes no sense.

    • Current CCH and Lib Dem Administration too busy trying to get unnecessary new town through to think logically about anything else. And new town would have new shops. Will respond to consultation, but also need to vote out CCH and LD in May

    • Fully agree that Fleet needs regeneration with new businesses (office, retail and who knows, small scale manufacturing ). What it doesn’t need is more housing development. This would make a bad situation worse.

    • Chris Blake Surely what it does need is affordable homes that local people can afford to buy rather than more and more 4/5 bedroom Executive homes for commuters who will use the station!

    • Certainly, but Fleet can’t cope with the housing it currently has. The little green space it has is being damaged/removed to save other parts of the district. Take the massively damaging hartlands development that the council have approved – it will have serious overcrowding, pollution and infrastructure issues as well as be deeply damaging to the adjacent nature reserve/SSSI. Also, one of the very small number of large open spaces that is on the doorstep (as opposed to a drive) from Fleet is being closed, partly in response the people pressure that is being heaped on it Fleet/Church Crookham already, with no doubt Hartlands being the last straw. So, yes, by all means, let’s build affordable homes, and while we are at it, ban people buying them as investment properties and encourage everybody to treat their house as a home and not an investment. But, instead of continuing to over-populate Fleet, lets share the load across Hart.

    • Chris Blake Chris you can’t get away from fact Hartlands is a brownfield site and many people think the alternative of a distribution centre was a worse fact ?

    • Not sure the relevance of brownfield/lorries in terms of what I said. By the way, I accept I lost the argument on Hartlands. The developers outplayed the councillors (all hues) even if they had wanted to help Fleet (which many didn’t): Accept houses or you get lorries. Also, the local pressure groups have other interests so there wasn’t much support there (even just to help mitigate a small amount of the damage) and even though I reached out directly to all our elected representatives, in general, apart from a small number of notable exceptions (in the conservatives and CCH) they just ignored me (which I have to say, whether they agreed with my arguments or not, is hardly a democratic approach from the rest). But brownfield or not, it doesn’t change the fact that is massively damaging to Fleet and the nature reserve and SSSI, hence not sure of the relevance of mentioning it’s brownfield.

    • Yes, the long valley training area. The DIO are fencing and putting in lockable gates. Apparently there have been too many “incursions” (their word) by the public so rather than continue with the shared open access approach we have had for years, they are going to limit access to times that they feel are appropriate.

    • Tony, i’m not sure that anyone said that office conversions are the answer to all our problems. This article suggests that – in breaking ‘not news’ – that developers might not follow through on their infrastructure promises. I think this is a symptom of our times, where government seems to pamder to all sorts of major corporations and companies. On a local level, is it true that the Watery Lane developer has back tracked on their promise of a roundabout for the Redfields Lane/A287 junction?

    • The planning consent has as a condition that the new roundabout is completed before first occupation. We have seen nothing in terms of them planning to build the roundabout but that would go through Hampshire highways not local planning.
      The condition is known as a Grampian condition if you do not build the roundabout you cannot occupy the houses. So they could build them, sell them but people cannot move in. I am sure they will try to get out of it but the law is firmly on our side on this one.

    • Having just read the BBC article, it seems that there are two problems. The first is a de-regulated, large scale conversion of offices in town centres, and in some cases, landlords of said offices selling them for housing even if they were being used for business. The second problem is that for an unfathomable reason, developers are permitted to convert offices into dwellings without contributing to The local community. This isn’t a problem with brownfield development per se, but a massive problem with the legislation which, I imagine, could be sorted out quite quickly by central government, but I suspect won’t be because somebody’s profiting massively. There are companies that offer brownfield development,providing genuinely affordable housing, but I guess that not so many people will benefit financially from this

    • So Tony Gower-Jones – can I just ask what you think is the best solution for all these empty offices that are just everywhere in both Fleet and Hook? Are you advocating that they just remain empty – wasted space? I grew up in Fleet in the 1970’s when it was a thriving town with a real heart. I don’t live there anymore but still live close by. I actually find Fleet quite a depressing place to visit now. Apart from Waitrose, Boots and a couple of decent stationers there is little reason to visit. I would prefer to visit the Waitrose in Yateley where you are not charged to park. For anyone keen on retail therapy, Fleet would have very little to offer and they are more likely to take a trip out to Basingstoke, Guildford or Reading. In my personal view, Fleet needs to grow properly and become more like a Guildford – at the moment it is something or nothing – a place where people sleep and commute from and go elsewhere to shop. Property prices are still quite expensive and there is a lack of low cost housing for young couples or singles desperate to get on the housing ladder. They would be just the sort of people that Fleet needs to grow and modernise and so help with the regeneration!

    • James Renwick I have nothing against urban regeneration. I find given the timing of the wave of how important it is interesting. The first interest I can find is Ranil petition on the 21st December 2017, two days after the briefing of councillors on the draft local plan and the idea of a new settlement in the Winchfield and Murrel Green area.

      Prior to that no great push that I can find in any groups, then it is argued that you cannot have urban regeneration and a new settlement. As I have said my first priority is the local plan. Adding a new idea two days after it is first published makes me question the motive. I will try to get some time to find out more but not at the expense of the timetable for the local plan.

    • Tony Gower-Jones rubbish people have been talking about Fleet town centre for years, particularly since Hart shopping centre has been half empty. When was it Woolworths closed? It would seem the motive not talk about it is suspect.

    • Just to be clear, I understand the weaknesses in office conversions. I favour proper redevelopment of these areas. Not just for infrastructure (although they need less) but to deliver a better sense of place.

    • Tony Gower-Jones: Let’s be clear, CCH rejected Watery Lane and the developer, after winning the appeal that Hart was always going to lose, was going to pull the plug on the badly needed new roundabout at Redfield Lane & A287. Thankfully , the developer was coaxed by the Chief Exec to contribute to it as it is badly needed in that area.

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