We had hoped to provide you with an update this week that provided direction and clarity as to how and where Hart District Council intends to deliver housing need for the years ahead. This was to be communicated by the release of a draft Local Plan that would soon go out for public consultation, subject to Full Council agreement on 20 October.
Instead, Hart Council published a press release to say that the draft plan has been postponed until the new year, although the main thrust of the press release is that the housing demands on Hart are greatly reduced. This is largely because neighbouring Rushmoor and Surrey Heath Borough Councils have indicated that they are able to meet their housing quota (meaning that Hart will not need to consider taking up several thousand homes of shortfall).
If that didn’t create enough chaos, Planning Consultants Bell Cornwell simultaneously released notification of a public consultation for a 140ha New Village at Rye Common (next to the A287, east of Odiham) which throws 1600–1900 new dwellings into the pot.
The situation is currently fast moving and with so many variables appearing out of the woodwork, it is unsurprising that Hart DC has postponed most of the Local Plan events scheduled over the next few weeks.
Almost anything could happen over the next few days, weeks and months, and we will endeavour to keep you updated where we can.
It is good news that Hart will not need to consider several thousand homes from Rushmoor and Surrey Heath’s shortfall. The downside of this is that Hart may be able to meet its housing need by the ad hoc, piecemeal development style that we have become accustomed to. This, of course provides all the burden of additional housing with little or no infrastructure (schools, transport, medical facilities, to name but a few) to support it.
Given the lower numbers, we are now of the opinion that the size of developments that will make up Hart’s housing numbers to 2032 will not reach sufficient critical mass to deliver essential infrastructure such as a new secondary school.
We are therefore very disappointed with the press release and further delay in providing Hart with its much needed Local Plan.