Jun 022017

At last we have some clarity on the West of Hook situation.  At the meeting with Katie Bailey and Daniel Hawes of Hart DC it was confirmed that West of Hook is a Strategic Site, and therefore is outside the scope of a Neighbourhood Plan.  Its status is because  it conforms to the Local Plan’s criteria for Strategic Sites as expressed in the Local Plan evidence base, despite the fact there is no mention of West of Hook in the Plan itself.

Being a Strategic Site, any application for West of Hook would be rejected as not conforming to the Local Plan.  However, despite this and the fact it is specifically out of the scope of the Neighbourhood Plan, we were also advised that we needed to include it in our site assessments.  This was to ensure that any application for development on this site would be seen in context of the overall development plan for Hook.

May 162017

Our technical consultants, AECOM, have advised us that we should assess all the potential development sites (SHLAAs) identified by Hart, plus others that we are aware of.  As there are some 15 SHLAA sites, and we are advised to cover possible brownfield areas, this amounts to some 20 sites.  This will take from May to August to complete.

Members of the NPSG are surprised by this.  In the original (failed) Local Plan, Hart assessed all the SHLAAs and dismissed all except 4: 2 at the Garden Centre and 2 at Hop Garden Road.  Assessment work done by a company called Adams Hendry was made available to us, showing how the selection was done.  However, in late 2016 the updated SHLAA document was published, showing all the old SHLAAs back on the list.  No reason was given, and we have been unable to find out why this happened, its significance, or whether the old Adams Hendry assessment was still valid.

Rob Leeson, one of Hook’s District Councillors, has set up a meeting with Katie Bailey (Corporate Strategy and Policy Development Manager at Hart) on 22 May to find out more.

May 152017

Hook Parish Council and Hook Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group are looking at the potential availability of land for a range of uses across Hook Parish up to 2032. This exercise is being undertaken as part of the evidence base to support the preparation of the Hook Neighbourhood Development Plan.  If you wish to propose one or more sites that should be considered by the Parish Council for their suitability for the proposed use over the lifetime of the plan, please download the Site Submission Form from the Parish Council website http://hook.gov.uk/about-hook-parish-council/council-publications/documents/ .  The closing date for submission is 31st May 2017.

May 122017

Attendees at the Parish Council’s consultation on the Hart Local Plan were “shocked” to discover that a lot more housing is coming to Hook than it would appear from reading the Plan.  A quick reading of the Plan suggests that Hook will receive 87 houses on greenfield land and 10 on brownfield.  However, Hook Parish Council showed the following figures for what is actually happening:

Houses already with planning permission but not yet built (greenfield) 680
Proposed office conversions to flats (brownfield) 718
New dwellings proposed on brownfield land 462
…and the new settlement at Murrell Green 1800

…a total of 3660 dwellings, more than doubling the size of Hook!

If you want to understand why these difference have arisen, come to the the Annual Village Meeting on 24 May.

May 042017

If you’ve read the Local Plan you’ll see that it appears to say only 87 houses are coming to Hook, and the places these will be built will be decided by the Neighbourhood Plan.  This is true, but VERY misleading.  Including the new development at Murrell Green, and all the Bartley Wood office conversions, Hook could be in for 3500 houses.

This appears to be because Hart’s plan does not seek to restrict the most of the development in Hook.  It leaves that to the Neighbourhood Plan.  But this means the NP must assess 20 different development sites and allocate this huge number of houses.  This is a professional planning job, and passing it onto the NP is unfair and unrealistic: Hart is abdicating its responsibilities.  NPs were never intended to do work of this complexity.  Hart has been working on its plan for 5 years, at huge expense, and has essentially failed to deliver.  So it appears to have dumped the problem on a bunch of volunteers in Hook.

Just to emphasise the scale of the problem, up until the Local Plan publication, the NPSG was dealing with 4 sites for housing.  We are now dealing with 20.  We believe this makes the LP unfair and unsustainable.

Come along to the Annual Village meeting on 24 May in Lizzy Hall to find out more and make your voice heard.

Apr 282017

Hart’s Local Plan was has been published for “Regulation 18” public consultation on 28 April.  This has serious implications for Hook, and could leave us facing up to 3500 houses over the next 15 years.  See https://www.hart.gov.uk/draft-local-plan for details.

Apr 252017

Here is an extract from the latest version (0.8) of the Vision, Objectives and Policies from the Plan.  These are based on the suggestions of the public and Steering Group members, but have been heavily modified to reflect:

  • what is possible
  • what is within the scope of an NP

Bear in mind that this is a working document, with all the comments, amendments and incomplete bits exposed.  However, read it, and if there’s anything you particularly like or dislike please let us know.