Latest News

Hart Local Plan examination

Rural Hart Association update

The Rural Hart Association (RHA) has made very good progress over the summer.  The RHA has decided to concentrate its resources on the single issue of regeneration of Fleet town centre.  The RHA set out to demonstrate that it is feasible to regenerate Fleet Town Centre with a mixed-use development (residential, retail and leisure), which would provide housing as well as reviving the commercial viability of Fleet as Hart District’s largest town.

Regeneration of Fleet town centre

Regeneration of Fleet is of vital importance because Hart District Council’s justification for a New Town rests on their assertion that regeneration of Fleet can’t be achieved.
In more detail the argument runs like this:
  • The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires that  Brownfield sites are used to their maximum potential before building on greenfield land
  • The NPPF also requires that councils regenerate their Town Centres. NPPF paragraph 86 says “Planning policies and decisions should support the role that town centres play at the heart of local communities, by taking a positive approach to their growth, management and adaptation”
  • Hart District Council admits that Hart District is failing commercially (because there is a growing net outflow of retail and leisure spend from the district) and the Local Plan states (paragraph 66) that “the challenge for Fleet will be to secure investment so that it can compete with the comparison towns in neighbouring districts”
  • But Hart District Council has made no attempt to secure the investment needed to regenerate Fleet. When challenged on this at the January council meeting Hart District Council stated that regeneration of Fleet was an “impossible pipe-dream”.
In May, RHA appointed Lambert Smith Hampton to undertake a Design Report to investigate the feasibility of a mixed-use regeneration of Fleet’s Hart Shopping Centre.
This study is now complete and its main conclusions are:
  • Hart Shopping Centre can be regenerated to provide the same retail and parking space, as well as 950 square metres of community space, a multi-screen cinema and 371 flats (of 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms). The whole area would become modern and desirable, and the flats would provide a tremendous boost to the viability of the shopping centre.
  • The flats would be ideal for first time buyers and elderly people because they are close to the shops and the station – the Design Study has allowed for the full 40% affordability provision.
  • The return on investment for the developers looks good, and Lambert Smith Hampton has already generated serious interest from several potential developers. In addition the site owners approve of the scheme and discussions between the site owners and the developers are scheduled for late in the year.
In summary, RHA has demonstrated that Hart’s claim that Fleet cannot be generated is utterly wrong, and has resulted in a Local Plan which condemns Fleet in particular (and the whole Hart in general) to long-term economic decline.

Hart Local Plan – Examination in Public

The Rural Hart Association is now fully prepared to play its part in opposing a New Town at the Examination in Public of Hart District Council’s Local Plan which starts on 20 November.

We hope that on the basis of this Study, the Inspector will rule that the Local Plan is unsound and that he will recommend that the New Town is removed from the Plan and that a large-scale regeneration of Fleet is undertaken instead. The regeneration of Fleet will pave the way for a bright future in which Fleet becomes a modern, vibrant and commercially successful town surrounded by beautiful countryside and rural villages.

Over the next few days Lambert Smith Hampton will submit the Design Study to Hart District Council, and ask the Council to cooperate in its implementation. Lambert Smith Hampton will also submitted the Design Study to the Inspector in preparation for the Inspector’s review of the Spatial Distribution of Housing (Matter 4) and Town Centre and Retail (Matter 10). In parallel some Fleet members of the RHA will submit the Design Study to Fleet District Council, whose Neighbourhood Plan supports mixed-use developments in the Town Centre.

The We Heart Hart blog also provides a full commentary of the progress of the Local Plan and it is well worth reading.

Call for funding

Thank you to all those who have contributed so generously to this work of the RHA so far.  However RHA is still about £8,000 short of the funds that we think we will need for Lambert Smith Hampton to represent us at the Inspection.

The RHA, and I personally, would be very grateful if those who have not yet contributed would now make a donation.  Please make your donation, either

  • via BACS to the Rural Hart Association bank account
    Sort Code:                40 21 27
    Account Number:   11581341
  • or you can send cheques (made payable to The Rural Hart Association) to the Treasurer, Southview Cottage, Heckfield, Hook, RG27 0JY or contact the Treasurer via email.

I think that we have built a very strong case, and I believe that we have a good chance of preserving all of our green fields for many decades to come.

Thank you all for your continuing support.

Tristram Cary
Chairman – Rural Hart Association

CPRE Hampshire meeting

Our Hart & Rushmoor countryside is a valuable resource – is it worth protecting?

CPRE Hampshire has kindly sent an open invitation to Whitewater Valley Preservation Society members to join them

on: Wednesday 24th October 2018 from 7pm

at: Church on the Heath, Elvetham Heath, Fleet, GU51 1 HA.

Join former CPRE Chairman Peter Wain and CPRE Hampshire for an evening of discussion about our countryside and have your say on future campaigns for the area.

Complimentary drink on arrival.

To book your free place, please visit CPRE Hampshire, email admin@cprehampshire.co.ukor call 01962 841897.

CPRE Hampshire is the Hampshire branch of CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Loddon Rivers Week

A wide variety of events are planned by the Loddon Catchment Partnership in the run up to World Rivers Day on September 30th.

Loddon Rivers Week runs from 24th to 30th September. Events include channel improvements and bank protection on the River Whitewater at Bassetts Mead.

To find out more and book your place check out the programme here.

LoddonRiversWeek poster

Loddon Rivers Week_ Booking Programme

WVPS Autumn Reception

The Chairman and Committee held the Whitewater Valley Preservation Society’s popular Autumn reception in Riseley Mill by kind permission of Mr & Mrs Tony Bushell on Sunday 2nd September 2018.

John Fleming invited volunteers to check where outflows enter the River Whitewater after periods of heavy rain during the Autumn and Winter.  Please contact John via our email ContactUs@WhitewaterValley.org.uk.

Tom Ryder-Runton reminded members to complete and return their General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) permission forms, in case they had not already done so.

Belinda Hallam invited members to send high resolution photographs of the River Whitewater and its valley for the WVPS website. Please contact Belinda via our email ContactUs@WhitewaterValley.org.uk.

Riverfly Survey Results 2017

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society (WVPS) has been engaged by South East Water as a consultee in the production of the last two 5-year Water Resource Management Plans.  The Society has actively been involved with the Environment Agency and Natural England in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and the production of the Loddon Catchment Management Plans.  We also campaigned for the river during Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy reviews and subsequent Restoring Sustainable Abstraction programmes, which finally resulted in a decision by Natural England that South East Water could no longer assume long term abstraction from the Greywell source.

The River Whitewater may look clean and beautiful but appearances can be deceptive.  Clear does not necessarily mean healthy.

WVPS, in conjunction with Salmon & Trout Conservation UK, selected 5 locations suitable for their Riverfly survey, from the source at Greywell to the confluence with the Blackwater at Riseley.

The detailed results were analysed at a laboratory and a series of charts produced, using data collected from other chalk streams to suggest conclusions which could be drawn from those comparisons.

Invertebrate scores in the Whitewater are all low for a river of this type:

  • EPT scores – Ephemeroptera (up-winged flies), Plecoptera (stoneflies) and Trichoptera (caddisflies) – should be around 20, but the highest is 13, and one location scores only 6.
  • Annual Mayfly species should score 10 but the actual scores were 7, 5, 3, 2 and 1.

Biometric measures use the different sensitivities of aquatic insects to subtle, but lethal, impacts from: sediment, phosphate, organic enrichment and river flow. Species level analysis provides a measure of the impact of these pollutants at each site:

  • Results show that most sites exhibit sediment pressure in Spring and Autumn.
  • Phosphate issues are more pronounced in the Autumn and are at or above the line of concern at two sites (Deptford Lane Bridge and Holdshott Farm).
  • Organic Enrichment from slurry and possibly untreated effluent is visible at all sites.
  • Autumn results reflect the impact of lower flows concentrating the sediment and phosphate load, although the Spring results are not much better.

The full WVPS 2017 Riverfly Survey final report includes a map showing sampling sites, and Appendix showing in more detail the 10 measures of ecological status used to analyse each sample.

WVPS response on Owens Farm

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society has responded to a renewed public consultation on the Owen’s Farm planning application.  Owen’s Farm is a proposed 700 house development West of Hook.

WVPS objects based on potential negative impacts on the environment of the River Whitewater and its valley.  The Society is concerned about potential impacts on biodiversity, flood risk, landscape and degrading a rural footpath.

Furthermore, the Society is disappointed that Natural England has withdrawn its previous objection.

Deer Park proposal environmental impact

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society is concerned about potential impacts on the natural environment of a proposal to develop the Deer Park, Odiham.

A renewed application has been submitted to develop the historic Deer Park (Hart planning applications reference 17/03029/FUL).  The Deer Park provides open green space between Odiham, running down towards the River Whitewater as it flows through North Warnborough.

WVPS has made an objection on the basis that, if permitted, this development would harm the natural environment of the River Whitewater and its valley.  Particular concerns expressed by WVPS include the potential adverse impacts on Wildlife and Biodiversity, the quality of the Riverine Environment, Flood Risk and Conservation Areas around the river and its valley.

WVPS AGM on Friday 16 March

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society held its 2018 Annual General Meeting at Heckfield Village Hall at 6.30 pm.  The packed meeting enjoyed a lively agenda including:

  • Chairwoman’s Welcome
  • Salmon & Trout Conservation UK’s Riverfly Survey – summary of findings
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • General Data Protection Regulations – requirements
  • Rural Hart Association – introduction and key concerns about the Hart District Council Local Plan currently under consultation
  • Election of the Committee
  • Questions from the floor and Any Other Business
  • Guest Speaker – Julian Seaman.

If you are interested in joining our Society please do not hesitate to email ContactUs@WhitewaterValley.org.uk .

WVPS opposes EA Charges

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society has published its response to the Environment Agency’s consultation on its charges.

The River Whitewater is failing to meet Good Ecological Status (GES) under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).  As a direct result WVPS has raised funds to carry out a study into the Whitewater in the context of the Salmon and Trout Conservation UK’s River Fly Study.  The survey was conducted at five sites along the river, in both spring and autumn. Results from the first year reveal that all sites fail on both of two indicators of a healthy system.  Significant effort will be required to make improvements to the river’s ecology.  The type of work likely to be required will be directly affected by the proposed increase in charges for river works.  As a result, it will deter organisations such as WVPS from being able to carry out the works and thereby will effectively further damage, or at least fail to improve, the river ecology.

WVPS therefore objects to the scale of the Environment Agency’s proposed increases for charges for permits to carry out habitat improvement works in our local rivers.

There are many community groups, river trusts, wildlife groups and societies such as ours who, with limited funds, are currently making a real and important contribution towards improving rivers and streams and the implementation of the Water Framework Directive on failing water bodies.  The work of these groups is not recognised in the assumptions behind the revised proposed charges.

The proposed charges are extortionately high – far too great reasonably to expect small organisations to pay, especially for small scale community based work relying on charitable funding and volunteer labour.

The charges imply that there will be financial gain from river improvement.  This is simply not true for the projects, which organisations such as ours wish to undertake.  The benefit is to the wider ecology, to society, and to meet Water Framework Directive objectives.  This is work, which the EA itself should be undertaking or at least funding, to meet Water Framework Directive targets.

Read WVPS full response here:

EnvironmentAgencyCharges_WVPSresponse