Hart District Council Moves Forward with Preferred Strategy for Housing Development

Hart District Council recently undertook a public consultation on the strategy for housing growth to 2032. Following this consultation Hart produced a strategy which is summarised in the table below. This strategy was proposed for testing at the meeting of Hart’s Full Council on 27 November 2014. Testing means evaluating for soundness, i.e. can the strategy be achieved, is appropriate land available etc. If testing shows that the strategy is viable then the strategy will be included in the new Local Plan.

Recommended Preferred Housing Distribution Strategy, subject to testing:
Development (including windfalls) beyond the SPA 5km zone of influence (this comprises the settlements of Odiham, North Warnborough, South Warnborough, Greywell, and Long Sutton)

150 – 200 dwellings

Development within existing settlement boundaries (including windfalls) from those settlements that lie within the SPA 5km zone of influence.

Approx 750 dwellings

Development adjoining settlements within the SPA 5km boundary zone of influence

100 – 650 dwellings

Strategic urban extensions (no individual site identified)

0 – 600 dwellings

New settlement at Winchfield

1,800 – 2,400 dwellings


4,000 dwellings

The council chamber was completely full and more heard the proceedings broadcast to another room, the majority of the attendees were from Winchfield very concerned about the proposed new settlement there.

The meeting usually starts with public questions. Winchfield residents had submitted an enormous number of questions. The council issued a 29 page set of questions and answers which they will put on their website. Many overlapping questions had been amalgamated together to minimise the size of the response to just 29 pages. About an hour was then spent by the questioners asking supplementary questions.

After some other business the resolution to test the strategy was debated. An amendment was proposed to remove “at Winchfield” from the description of the new settlement. It came out that Winchfield was currently considered the only possible site and it would be misleading and play to the gallery to remove “at Winchfield”. Although the strategy identifies 1800-2400 this is only before 2032 and this will be raised to 4-5000 in next plan beyond 2032. The council need this number of houses to get sufficient S106 etc development monies to build a new secondary school. This rules out the Lodge Farm site at Hook which cannot be expanded beyond the proposed 1700 houses. Ballpark figures of £8 million for 5000 house spending £2million for school, £2million plus for highways etc were quoted. If the houses are built on separate sites they get nowhere near this amount, Elvetham Heath only raised enough for a primary school. Robert May’s and all the Fleet schools are overcapacity and 2 years ago the county proposed bussing 50 pupils to a Basingstoke school.

The amendment was defeated 27 – 6 with the 3 ward members representing Winchfield, i.e. the Hartley Wintney ward, Cllrs Crampton, Kinnell and Southern, voting against as well as Cllrs Crookes, Gorys and Kennett all of Odiham ward.

The discussion returned to the resolution. The issue as to whether the settlement can be built quickly enough to meet the housing requirement was alleviated by Daryl Philips (Joint Chief Executive) stating that other councils in a similar situation had not put a constant house building profile in their local plan but a slow build up with increased numbers at the end with explanation about new settlement and this had been accepted.

During the rather heated debate one Councillor actually lamented the fact the wards and residents fighting each other over where housing went in the district.

Suddenly at 11.00 pm (meeting had started at 7.00pm) Cllr Crookes announced he had an inspired thought that would solve the problem. The local plan should be reduced from 20 to 15 years, 1700 houses, the Winchfield site could be removed and council could start planning now for a new settlement in local plan starting 2026. This caused consternation and at 11.20 pm was defeated.

The discussion returned to the resolution and the vote was put and passed 29-4 with 3 Winchfield councillors and Cllr Crookes voting against. Cllr Crookes resigned as Leader of the Council after the meeting.

There appears to be a general feeling amongst the vast majority of councillors that a new secondary school is urgently needed and the only way to get it is a 4-5000 new settlement at Winchfield. This will provide sufficient funds to get infrastructure right which they haven’t done on many of the estates to date. The issue as to whether the strategy including the Winchfield settlement is feasible will be resolved by the testing approved at the meeting. The results from the testing are expected in Spring 2015.