So, what has happened since the previous housing options consultation a year ago?
Firstly, Hart District Council has recognised that new housing in Hart will require a new secondary school to be built. Years of infill and incremental pressure on infrastructure fails to deliver the big infrastructure items such as schools. In our opinion only a new settlement will deliver this much-needed school.
Secondly, the brownfield site that was Pyestock (now known as Hartland Park) has come forward for housing (to replace its current planning permission for a warehouse/distribution centre). As a brownfield site, the land ranks highly for residential re-development and an application for up to 1,500 dwellings has just been submitted, having undergone three rounds of public consultation. Even this large new development is of insufficient size to be financially viable to provide for a secondary school.
Thirdly, the housing needs for the wider area that includes Rushmoor and Surrey Heath Borough Councils has been updated. Whilst campaigners against the New Settlement option felt that the updated Strategic Housing Market Assessment Area (SHMAA) report would show a drastic reduction in housing need, rather unsurprisingly, the report showed housing need was slightly above that previously predicted. To make matters worse Surrey Heath Borough Council has recently notified Hart Council that it is unlikely to meet its housing quota. At the recent Hart Cabinet meeting, it was suggested the shortfall could be as many as 1700. Hart Council is legally obliged to at least consider assisting meeting this potential shortfall. Unfortunately much of Surrey Heath is protected because it is within the London Greenbelt, which trumps Hart’s available housing areas, even though they may be greenfield (such as Murrell Green and Winchfield).
Fourthly, Hart District has continued to under-deliver ‘affordable housing’ in the district. Hart Council’s target is that 40% of new homes are affordable (that is to say social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing). A contributing factor in the shortfall of affordable housing is the loophole that means that office conversion (eg in Ancells Business Park and Hook Business Park) are exempt from providing affordable housing or any other contribution towards essential infrastructure. All of these new dwellings (some 400 in total to date) are allowed without need for planning permission under a relaxation of permitted development rights.
Even the Pyestock application to redevelop Hartland Park only proposes half the number of affordable dwellings that is required by Hart. Developers of brownfield sites often successfully argue that the cost of regeneration of the site impedes the financial viability; this consequently often means that concessions are made to limiting the site’s financial contribution towards essential infrastructure. The considerable decontamination cost of cleaning up Hartland Park, for instance, could mean that the developer presents a strong case limiting its contribution towards schools, education or transport provision because it has spent so much money on decontamination.
The resulting problem is that the need for affordable units remains, and Hart has acknowledged this and in its draft housing strategy has had to allow for an uplift in the overall housing numbers in order to supply the shortfall of affordable housing units.
After the lengthy delays, Hart Council consulted on its draft plan which is some 5 years late. The strategy includes a New Settlement at Murrell Green, which also includes the vital inclusion of a site for a new secondary school.
The summary of the strategy in the consultation is shown in Table 1. It is proposed to be met by the sites shown in Table 2.
|Table 1: Housing strategy for the draft Local Plan|
|Hart requirement objectively assessed housing need 2011–2032||8,022|
|a) Affordable housing rental uplift||512|
|b) Rural exception site delivery||50|
|c) Starter homes/shared ownership||276|
|d) Market housing||1,181|
|Total Hart requirement 2011–2032||10,041|
|Minimum remaining need||8,247|
|Commitments (up to 31 January 2017) – permission granted, yet to be built||(3,385)|
|Total remaining need to meet||4,566|
|Table 2: Housing strategy sites in the draft Local Plan|
|Hartland Park (Pyestock)||1,500|
|Sun Park, Guillemont||320|
|Murrell Green (New Settlement)||1,800|
|Hook Neighbourhood Plan||90|
|Cross Farm, Crookham Village||100|
|Odiham Neighbourhood Plan||119|
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