Hop Garden Road Planning Inquiry

The planning application for 48 houses at the end of Hop Garden Road was rejected by Hart District Council, but the developer Charles Church has appealed. It is absolutely crucial for Hook that this appeal is rejected. Please help us to make this happen! The Inquiry sat for 3 days in May but needed more time to complete so it resumes for 2 further days.

Hop Garden Development Appeal Inquiry
Tuesday 9th June 9.30am to 5pm
Wednesday 10th June 9.30am to lunchtime

Hart’s Civic Offices, Harlington Way, GU51 4AE, Fleet

You don’t have to attend every day, nor a whole day
All public presence will help to demonstrate concern

Winning the battle over the Hop Garden Road site is vital, not only to save this particular green field, but to protect the other fields to the West of Hook, which constitute the local gap between Hook and Newnham. These other fields may well be rendered defenceless against development, if the developer’s appeal were to succeed. Not only that, if the refusal is overturned then all other potential sites surrounding Hook are once again vulnerable to development. With almost 750 new houses already approved for Hook this would be a disaster.

You can find all the latest documents, covering the arguments and evidence from both sides, at Hart’s website: http://publicaccess.hart.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=N3R4MSHZGFZ00

Although it is at the discretion of the inspector conducting the inquiry, we expect to have the opportunity to speak, on behalf of residents, to re-emphasise and possibly to add to the arguments put forward previously by residents. We are advised that the inspector will ask for residents, as a group, to select speaker(s) to represent their views in order to avoid duplication. If you do wish to speak, can you please let us know so that we can attempt to co-ordinate our efforts.

Apart from speaking, we are advised that the number of residents attending the inquiry is also important, as it will demonstrate their on-going level of concern. We recognise that the inquiry is to be held during working weekdays. However, if you are able to attend, at least for some part, then that would be extremely valuable to our cause.

The current impression, based on discussion with relevant parties, is that there is a real chance that Charles Church’s appeal can be rejected. It is difficult to assess the probability of this and it is certainly still a very big challenge. The outcome is greatly dependent on the individual planning inspector, as well as the evidence and arguments to be heard at the inquiry.

This is time for the “final” push(back) to stop this development. We hope that you will find some time to help by attending the inquiry. If you need help with transport please email hookdevaction@gmail.com and we will do our best to help you get there.

Background Information About the Appeal

Why did Hart District Council refuse the planning application?
  1. Hart can demonstrate sufficient designated sites to meet its housing needs without this greenfield site.
  2. The proposed development would erode the strategic gap between Newnham and Hook.
  3. The proposed development does not make satisfactory provision for open space and its building density implies a threat to many protected trees.
  4. Legal agreements with respect to affordable housing and infrastructure funding not in place
What assertions are made by the developer?

1. Hart is not currently planning to build enough houses and has not allocated enough land to build even the inadequate number they plan.
2. Building on the site does not really reduce the gap.
3. Adequate open space can be provided in a revised layout.
4. The appellant declares that it will enter into the necessary legal agreements

What issues might be raised at the inquiry?

Hart District Council will defend their refusal decision at the Inquiry and the Planning Inspector will access all the original comments on the application and all the comments made in writing before the Inquiry. We are advised by a planning expert that the Planning Inspector will take into account any renewed demonstration of residents’ opposition.

The following is a list of issues that may be considered:

  1. Unnecessary use of a greenfield site.
  2. Erosion of the gap between the Newnham and Hook settlements.
  3. Inappropriately high density of housing on the village periphery and the inherent threat of damaging protected trees. This issue may be even worse in a revised plan that attempts to squeeze in more open space.
  4. Inability of Hook’s infrastructure* to cope with these extra houses as well as those already recently approved: 550 at NE Hook, 70 at Reading Road, 60 at Brown Croft and 50 at Landata House
  5. Difficult access along Hop Garden Road, a long, winding and narrow residential road.
  6. Disturbance to protected bat populations and elimination of general wildlife habitat.
  7. The footpath to Newnham alongside the site which is extensively used by dog walkers will become partially urbanised.
  8. Loss of privacy of and light to adjacent properties.

* Infrastructure issues include:

  • Traffic congestion
  • Medical facilities
  • School places
  • Water supply
  • Sewage disposal
  • Flood risk