Planning Matters

In addition to the monthly review of  applications by the Planning Committee, there are a number of longer term running issues shown here that we keep an eye on.

Development of the Former Grey House School

Hartley Wintney Parish Council recently submitted to Hart District Council its support for the principle of the redevelopment of the site of the Grey House School in Hartley Wintney and the erection of 22 new extra care apartments and a 25 bed care home with associated landscaping and parking (Case: 20/00330/FUL).

Former Grey House School building

Both the Hart District Council Local Plan and Hartley Wintney’s own Neighbourhood Plan in principle support this scheme. However the unanimous view of the Council was that this particular proposal in a well established Conservation Area was too large and out of proportion with the surrounding street scene. This is against the backcloth of well documented feedback for suitable later life accommodation in the village from the Community during the Neighbourhood Plan consultation process and the need – recognised nationally – to help people downsize to free up larger houses for growing families.

There was significant feedback from local residents who pointed to the loss of privacy for adjacent properties, the potential increase in traffic volumes, pedestrian safety and parking. Whilst many supported the principle of such a development concern was expressed at the mass, density and overall size of the proposed three storey building. The next step is for the Planning Application to be considered by Hart District Council Planning Committee although, in the current climate of Coronavirus lockdown, the date of this meeting is not known.

Parish Council Chairman, Chris Farrance, commented ‘this is an excellent example of the Parish Council and the residents of Hartley Wintney working together to reflect the views of the whole community and we hope that Hart District Council takes note.’

Shapley Heath

Shapley Heath ‘Garden Village’ is a proposal to initially build up to 5,000 new houses in Winchfield and Hook parishes but with the potential to grow the number to 10,000 over time. If built, it would effectively create a single conurbation joining Fleet, Hartley Wintney and Hook. Given the concern for its potential impact, the Parish Council is closely monitoring the re-emergence of the Winchfield/Murrell Green Area of Search (SS3 in the Local Plan) which has now been re-titled by Hart District Council as ‘Shapley Heath Garden Village’.

Stop Shapley Heath

We understand that in its previous form as defined in the Hart District Plan – and as reviewed by the appointed Government Inspector – SS3 was categorically rejected. He stated that it is not required to meet Hart’s housing targets; has not been demonstrated to be viable and is based on a flawed ‘search’ process which effectively ignored alternative sites. It is of some concern, therefore, that Hart District Council have sought and been awarded a Grant from the Government for further exploration of this site.

Our role as a Parish Council is to continue to represent the views of the Hartley Wintney community as determined by our prescribed statutory responsibilities and within the various frameworks applying to District/County/Central Government. A number of consultative mechanisms have been set up and Cllr Diana Harvey, Chair of the Planning Committee will represent our interests which will help us stay aware of developments as they go forward. We would, of course, appreciate your thoughts and views also.

There are a number of related interest groups which include WeHeartHart, the Rural Hart Association, the CPRE, and Hart District Council all of which offer a perspective too.

Housing White Paper

Note: Since the announcement there has already been suggestions in the press that various modifications are under consideration.

The Planning White Paper, ‘Planning for the Future’ is now out for public consultation. This paper sets out proposed planning reforms that the Government believes will streamline and modernise the planning process.

The main principles of the White Paper are as follows:

  • Land will be ‘zoned’ into three areas:

o Growth Areas: suitable for substantial development where outline consent would automatically be granted for development specified in the new Plans. New homes,   hospitals, schools, shops and offices would be allowed automatically in “growth” areas.

o Renewal Areas: largely urban and brownfield sites where gentle ‘densification’ will be permitted;

o Protected Areas: where development will be resisted, e.g. National Parks, AONBs, Green Belts, Local Green Spaces.

  • The planning process will be speeded up by the use of digitalisation. There is a move to take the decision-making away from local councils and back to central government.
  • A standard methodology for establishing housing requirements will be set nationally to distribute the given national housebuilding target of 300,000 homes/year.
  •  National general development management policies with simplified roles for Local Plans will be set out based on local design codes and no requirement to consult with adjoining areas.
  • The paper proposes to abolish the current system of Section 106 planning obligations and replace it with a reformed and extended Community Infrastructure Levy.
  • Government is looking for far greater contributions from SME house-builders rather than being over-reliant on national house builders delivering on large sites, where progress is often much slower than initially envisaged. This will be done by raising the small site threshold for affordable housing from 10 units to 40 or 50 units for an initial period of 18 months to support small and medium sized builders in the recovery of the impact of Covid-19
  • A series of new ‘permission development rights’, allowing buildings to add a number of floors without permission. The Consultation will run until 11.45pm on Thursday 29th October. You can access the White Paper via Planning for the Future where you will also find links giving details of the different ways to respond should you wish to do so.
    D. Harvey 07.09.20