Although there are still some further stages required before it will formally be approved, the outline application at North East Hook for 550 houses was recommended for approval by the Hart Planning Committee last night. This was as expected, following the District Councillors for Hook declaring in an open letter to residents that they backed the application. There was very little debate and the decision was voted through unanimously.
At the meeting Dermot spoke on behalf of Hook Action Against Overdevelopment in opposition to the application, though knowing it would certainly be approved we had to be realistic and spend more time talking about the changes necessary to the application, should it be approved, to stop it being a complete disaster for Hook.
You can read a copy of the HAAO statement here: NE Hook Outline Planning Application Opposition Statement
It will be some time before construction can start, but in about a year we can expect the start of many years of building in Hook, not only at North East Hook, but also at Reading Road and Brown Croft. By the end of it we will have had an expansion of Hook of at least 20% giving a population of 10,000. In the meantime the Hook schools will have been expanded on the current site by 20% to 30%, the Sainsburys store constructed and the roundabout at the A30/B3349 junction moved and enlarged.
The outline application has yet to go through the Major Sites Subcommittee and we have secured the promise that, contrary to the usual practice of that committee, there will be public representation invited and welcomed at that meeting. Once the Major Sites Subcommittee are happy with the items that they have been asked to consider, it must go to full council for actual approval because this is a site outside the settlement boundary of Hook, though this is rather a formality. There will then need to be the legal agreements put in place for the funding of highways, education, leisure etc. The developer will still then have to submit a full application for the development, since the outline approval only considered the suitability of the location, approximate number of houses and access into the site. This full application will also have to go through the planning system and will consider internal road layout, locations of houses, style and size of houses, landscaping and other detailed matters. Once this is approved then construction can begin.
Hook Action Against Overdevelopment regrets the approval of this application but there is a lot still to do to get the best outcome for Hook. We really appreciate the support everyone has given us so far and hope you will help us as this application and others progress through the various stages up to and beyond construction. And although it is hoped that the approval of this application will provide a period of protection for Hook against further speculative applications by developers, this is far from certain. Even if the protection is there right now, it may only be a matter of months before Hook is at risk once again, because Hart’s Local Plan is not going to be in place until 2016. We will be monitoring the situation carefully and will of course keep you all informed.