In the previous article we covered the political wrangling that followed the presentation to Hart by planning officers of proposals for housing that did not include a new settlement and instead recommended urban extensions across the district. This was despite urban extensions being comprehensively rejected by residents in the most recent public consultation exercise.
A new proposal has emerged avoiding direct urban extensions and placing a new settlement at Murrell Green, with space for a secondary school as mandated by councillors before Christmas. At 1,800 homes, the new settlement would be much more modest than the one that had been proposed for Winchfield.
The developer proposing the Murrell Green development has provided an indicative aerial illustration of the development. We have superimposed this illustration onto a map showing the location relative to Winchfeld and Hook, with the North East Hook development also marked (click image to view an enlarged version):
It is clearly very close indeed to Hook, though the River Whitewater and flood plains provides a natural gap. The site is also extremely close to Winchfield station, which would surely be the natural transport hub for this site given that many people from Holt Park use Winchfield station in preference to Hook station.
The Local Plan Steering Group have presented this option to Cabinet and it seems very likely that Cabinet will approve moving forward to the “Regulation 18” consultation stage, which is the next formal step in the process. This will result in yet another public feedback exercise.
There are still 90 extra homes to be delivered in Hook over and above all of those already granted, but some of this will be through infill development, most likely leaving one small site to be identified through the Hook Neighbourhood Plan process.
Without a Local Plan in place Hart have no control over the location of housing. In addition, if Hart don’t get a Local plan in place within around 12 months there could be severe financial implications, with the loss of millions of pounds in Government funding, so it is in all residents’ interests for a Local Plan to be in place as soon as the process permits. Therefore despite the proximity of a significant new development to Hook, it may be the least worst option given the alternatives and the time constraints.
The Cabinet meeting is open to the public and is on Thursday 9th February at 8pm, a later start time than usual. The document before Cabinet is available at this link: Hart Cabinet 9-Feb-17 Paper A.