Hart Garden Village Survey – The Missing Small Print!

29 March 2021

Hart District Council (HDC) are planning shortly to distribute a District wide survey inviting feedback on the proposed ‘Shapley Heath’ Garden Village development. From a Parish perspective, although we welcome learning more about the beneficial community attributes of a Garden Village, we lament the continuing fixation by HDC with the manifestly unsuitable proposed Shapley Heath location.

Just to put it in context, the ‘Shapley Heath’ site (formerly Winchfield) is being threatened by the building of if not 5000 then 10,000 homes and still this rumbles on despite it being withdrawn at the Inspector’s insistence from Hart’s Local Plan. It threatens to coalesce Fleet, Hartley Wintney, Hook and Winchfield creating an urban sprawl which will ravish the countryside. As a Parish Council, we believe it our role to challenge this unwanted development rigorously.

We have written a letter to HDC expressing a number of concerns regarding the draft survey we have seen co-signed – amongst others – by Dogmersfield, Hook, Odiham and Winchfield Parish Councils.

In particular we challenge:

  • Project Description: There is no adequate description or clear scene setting of the project in the survey or on HDC’s website. Issues that need to be addressed include the need for a new settlement, the timescales for building, the number of homes (including expansion potential), other features such as employment, schools, medical facilities, retail centres, public spaces and leisure facilities. There should also be a description of the transport requirements to connect the settlement with neighbouring towns and the wider transport infrastructure (motorways and railway).
  • Location Map: The Location Map does not show the settlement and housing clusters that define Winchfield or the Hitches Lane development on the west of Fleet which gives a false impression of the separation between Fleet and the Garden Village. The green shaded area on the diagram implies that all the land in this area is available for development – this is factually incorrect as noted by the Inspector during examination of the Local Plan.
  • Coalescence: The impact on the separate identities of Fleet, Hook, and Hartley Wintney which will be caused by the proximity of the site to their boundaries coupled with the consequences of vastly increased traffic flows should be highlighted.  There will also be a material impact following the loss of the ‘green lung’ which also acts as a valuable recreational resource

In summary the survey in its present form, in our view, misrepresents the status of the Project and this will bias the tone of the responses. This could lead the council open to a charge of predetermination because the survey in effect promotes Shapley Heath over and above any alternative strategies that could be considered.

Let’s see if Hart are prepared to listen!

Chris Farrance