Revised version of blueprint to be drawn up for future development in the district
Hart District Council has withdrawn its controversial blueprint for future development over the next 15 years.
The council has scrapped its eagerly awaited Core Strategy: Local Plan and is now working on a revised vision for the district until 2029.
In the meantime, councillors have voted in an interim housing delivery strategy.
The move comes after government inspector Kevin Ward halted a public inquiry into the plan after just two days in July.
Mr Ward ruled Hart had not complied with its duty to co-operate with other local authorities in preparing the strategy and declared it was not sound in terms of overall housing provision.
In his letter to Hart, Mr Ward said the council only initiated discussion on meeting housing needs very late in the process, after already determining the level of housing it was intending to plan for.
He added the core strategy was not justified or effective and it was not consistent with national policy. “It is therefore not sound,” he concluded.
As a result, Mr Ward said it was ‘inappropriate’ to proceed with further hearing sessions scheduled from September 3.
Councillor Stephen Parker, Hart’s deputy leader and cabinet member for planning, said: “Despite all neighbouring authorities agreeing that Hart had cooperated with them, the government inspector ruled that Hart had failed in its new statutory duty to cooperate. This meant that the proposed Local Plan no longer had any effective weight.”
Cllr Parker said the council has now compiled an interim housing delivery strategy.
“This details how we will deliver housing up to the legal maximum allowed under the Habitats Regulations but less than the amount indicated by the inspector,” he added.
Cllr Parker said that while the council operates under the interim strategy, it is working on an updated Local Plan.
“We expect to put this out for consultation early next year, and would look to submit it to an inspector next autumn,” he added.
The new interim strategy seeks to maximise opportunities for redeveloping previously developed land within existing settlements.
“There are opportunities to provide more homes within Fleet town centre, and there is scope to release land currently designated for employment use both within Fleet and Hook,” it adds. “However, such opportunities are relatively limited and it is unlikely that sufficient previously developed land will come forward to meet the district’s housing needs.
“Therefore the careful selection of some greenfield sites is likely to be necessary.”
The interim strategy said around 190 new homes are to be delivered at land to the west of Fleet and around 550 on land to the north east of Hook within five years. In addition, around 356 homes could be allowed in Fleet, 31 in Yateley, 50 in Hook, 48 in Hartley Wintney, 83 in Odiham and North Warnborough and 469 in rural settlements and previously developed land in the countryside.