Presentation to the Hook Annual Village Meeting by John Orchard, Chair, Hook Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
The Story So Far…
Most people are aware that a dedicated group of residents in the form of a Steering Group have spent the last few years building up an evidence base of what the residents want to see in their Neighbourhood Plan (NP) and have been doing their best to translate that evidence into objectives and policies or community aims. The process has suffered to some degree from the delay by HDC in drafting of the Local Plan – as the NP objective is to “shape and direct development in the context of the requirements of the locality within the overall Strategic Policies of the Local Plan” (from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)).
However, the Steering Group has not previously enjoyed the help and advice of a Chartered Town Planner, so the process has been slow and painful. This is mainly because the residents on the Steering Group are not professional planners have therefore struggled to write Planning Policies.
The situation took a welcome new direction in early 2017 Hook was accepted by Locality, an organisation acting on behalf of the government, as being in need of technical support. This resulted in the Steering Group being given considerably professional assistance by AECOM Ltd, Locality’s expert partners, at no cost to Hook.
Hence, we saw good progress on such aspects as:
- review of the draft NP by a Town Planner
- Site Development Options & Assessment support
- Strategic Environmental Assessment
- Masterplanning of the Village Centre.
All of these are essential parts of the Hook NP.
Overview of the Programme
This assistance enabled us to prepare a draft Neighbourhood Plan and supporting evidence for a public consultation on 18th and 20th January this year. This was attended by approx. 100 residents and some potential developers, most of whom provided positive feedback. This response provided encouragement to the Steering Group to incorporate the comments in a new version of the NP.
However, it became clear that the next step required professional help to prepare a draft plan that was fit for formal Statutory Consultation which is termed as the “Regulation 14” Stage.
Meanwhile, it was felt that further professional advice was needed to bring the NP together. Hart DC were asked for advice and they referred us to the Planning Team at South Downs National Park (SDNP), as they have assisted with 55 plans for parishes within the Park and have already managed to get over 20 of these adopted into law. There is no doubt they have both the professional qualifications and experience we were looking for. We had a very good presentation from SDNP and have subsequently appointed them to prepare our Reg 14 draft document and to ensure we have all the necessary evidence in place to move towards the 6-week Statutory Consultation in about July of this year.
The Priority Sites for Development in Hook follow the detailed assessment by AECOM that was reported in Sept 2017 and also follow the Hart LP policy of “Brownfield first”. The first 6 priority sites are all related to the regeneration of the Village Centre/Station Road and will total approx. 250 dwellings. The two largest sites are already progressing, so this provides Hook with a strong buffer against any further greenfield development being granted in this Parish.
One of the major features of development in Hook is the number of offices that are being converted into flats without need for planning permission under “Permitted Development Rights”. The NP Steering Group welcomes the fact that Hart DC has issued an “Article 4 direction”, that means that within 12 months all such developments will require planning permission.
The Concept Masterplan for the Village Centre is a vision prepared by AECOM in consultation with the residents and is welcomed because the expected growth in population in Hook, even if it only comes from current developments and brownfield sites, is not currently catered for in terms of commercial and community facilities in Hook Village Centre.
Many of the responses to the draft NP in January were related to the treatment of the area around Grand Parade and the A30/Station Road Junction. Hence, this area has received particular attention by AECOM with a proposal for a market square. This is facilitated by a small adjustment in the road layout to make the area more pedestrian friendly and to enable some restraint on traffic using Station Road.
Hart LP Policy for Hook
This vision for Hook is consistent with the draft Local Plan which shows Hook as a vibrant District Centre of Hart.
We expect the first list of requirements for the Steering Group to address to come from the SDNP team by 8th June, so the work of this Group is still ongoing and any residents who would wish to assist would be very welcome and should contact the Steering Group via the Parish Council office.
During the summer, the Steering Group has to organise the 6-week Regulation 14 Consultation. Then we will have to take account of the responses and amend the Plan as necessary before submitting the new version, together with all the supporting documents formally to Hart DC in the Autumn.
Hart DC will then publicise the draft plan for a further 6 weeks and invite any representations before sending it to an Independent Examiner.
The Examiner will issue a report to Hart DC and the Parish Council. Hart then considers whether any changes are required and, if satisfied, will then seek Cabinet approval to send the Plan to a referendum.
It is hoped that the Steering Group, the Parish Council and Hart DC can organise a referendum in early 2019 resulting in the Neighbourhood Plan being adopted as planning policy for Hook.