Hart Council’s 2016 consultation to determine future housing strategy will feed into Hart Council’s emerging Local Plan as to how and where new housing will meet the district’s housing needs through to 2032.
Hart Council has a policy of utilising previously developed land (brownfield) first. The consultation asked how any shortfall in housing (not met by brownfield) should be focused and gave three options (or mix of):
- Dispersal Strategy (scattering housing around Hart District)
- Urban Extensions (predominantly to the west of Fleet and in the Hook area)
- A New Settlement
Our view was (and is) that the New Settlement option is the only option that is capable of delivering essential infrastructure, such as schools, medical and transport improvements.
Whilst the Dispersal Strategy scatters the housing load around the district, we feel such a strategy is flawed as it is not possible to scatter essential infrastructure around the district – such as a secondary school or medical facilities.
Urban Extensions would focus new housing on sites at the west of Fleet – the worst possible location, being the opposite side of town to Fleet’s railway station and motorway links. Urban Extensions would also seek to piggy back existing infrastructure, when we all know that the existing infrastructure is already at, or beyond, capacity.
We were therefore relieved that the response to the HDC consultation from Hart residents overwhelmingly supported the New Settlement option to satisfy housing need for Hart’s Local Plan period to 2032. Indeed, 3,916 of the 4,480 of responses (87%) said that urban extensions around Fleet, Church Crookham and Hook are not the best way to meet Hart’s housing need, with 2,625 responses (59%) favouring the New Settlement option. Only 564 responses said building around the outside of the main settlement boundaries was the best option, and unsurprisingly these responses were concentrated around the Hartley Wintney and Winchfield area.
We should add that the Local Plan period runs from 2011 to 2032, meaning that delivery of the plan is running at least 7 years late. This situation is far from satisfactory as, without an approved Local Plan, housing continues to be determined in an unstructured manner using generic policy washed down from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The timetable for preparing the Hart Local Plan: Strategy and Sites 2011–2032 is:
Publication of a pre-submission document for comments: Winter 2017
Submission of the Local Plan to the Planning Inspectorate: Spring 2018
Local Plan examination: Spring/Summer 2018
Local Plan adoption: Late Summer 2018
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