The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society today publishes its WVPS responses to Hart Local Plan consultation.
The Society rejects the draft Local Plan strategy and sites, including that it:
- Does not respect the separate character and identity of Hart settlements.
- Fails to protect or enhance water quality and ecological status of water bodies. Many of these already fail to meet the standards set by the Water Framework Directive.
- Fails to protect or enhance biodiversity by plans to develop on greenfield sites.
- Fails to protect and enhance the district’s green infrastructure.
- Incorrectly identifies an inflated target of over 10,000 new homes.
The draft plan will not deliver Hart’s vision for the district to remain an attractive, largely rural area. The plan does not protect or enhance the character and quality of natural assets. The proposed greenfield developments fail to enhance the quality of life and sustain the environment. The Valley of the River Whitewater will be seriously degraded by proposed developments, such as Murrell Green. This site sits squarely in the middle of the valley. The draft plan omits measures to protect and enhance the river and its valley.
Inflated housing target
The draft plan incorrectly identifies a target of over 10,000 new homes in order to satisfy an affordable homes target. There are other means to satisfy the affordable homes target. These include regenerating Fleet town centre and planning for a more realistic use of existing unused office sites. The plan forces greenfield developments, which fail to protect and enhance the natural environment. The greenfield sites selected will have a detrimental impact on, and cause long term erosion of, the rural character of Hart district. If the housing numbers had not been exaggerated and inflated, the plan would not need Murrell Green with all its problems.
Gaps between settlements
The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society supports policies for gaps between settlements. Gaps located in the Whitewater Valley include: Murrell Green to Hook; North Warnborough to Greywell; Odiham to North Warnborough. However the Murrell Green proposed new development will inevitably threaten the coalescence of Hook and Hartley Wintney, despite the proposed gaps.
The draft plan fails to protect the Landscape, Biodiversity and Geodiversity in the sensitive Whitewater Valley. It also fails to protect the unique ecology of the chalk stream. Hampshire’s chalk streams are an important habitat at national and international level. The River Whitewater already fails to meet its Water Framework Directive classification of Good Ecological Status. The developments at North-East Hook and now proposed at Murrell Green will inevitably lead to further deterioration in the river ecology. Hart District Council must show how the plan’s targets for biodiversity can be met if sites such as Murrell Green are proposed.
The Society concludes that the draft plan appears to set out to undermine the natural environment by over-increasing the built environment.