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Hook Road development

Land East of Hook Road, North Warnborough

 < Before      After >

Hart planning application 19/00069/FUL

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society registers its objection on behalf of our members to the above application. The Society believes the proposed development would have a detrimental impact upon the Whitewater Valley and would damage the rural character of the valley.

We wish to identify the risks to the River Whitewater from water courses, including a tributary of the River Whitewater which crosses the site, which run into the Whitewater and are already subject to flooding.

Conservation Areas, SSSI and SINC

The development as proposed would adversely affect two Conservation Areas – those of North Warnborough & Basingstoke Canal – and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the Basingstoke Canal.

The proposed development raises issues regarding the rich biodiversity and ecology of the SSSI and the historic landscape, contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) paragraph 109.  As required by the Environment Agency and the Ecological Appraisal provided, a 10m buffer zone – which is free from lighting and domestic gardens and landscaping – must be implemented. The Society objects to a link road between the two halves of the site, which intrudes on what should be an undeveloped buffer zone, and is a footpath in the neighbourhood plan.

The Society also objects to the proposed layout, which would develop a suggested undeveloped area identified in the Odiham & North Warnborough Neighbourhood Plan, which would help preserve important views across the site from the Basingstoke Canal.

The River Whitewater is an identified Site of Interest for Nature Conservation (SINC) and is already failing to meet Good Ecological Status (GES) as identified by successive Riverfly Censuses commissioned by the Society. As GES is required to be met under the Water Framework Directive, there is a real concern that additional pollution will inevitably result if the application as proposed were to proceed in addition to already granted development at the Chilli Pad and being sought to the rear of Castle Bridge cottages. The GES status is not recorded when considering Water Quality in the Flood Risk Assessment and Drainage Statement.

Flood risk

Neighbouring residents have submitted copious evidence and case studies, which demonstrate the existing surface flood risk experienced regularly on this site and surrounding lower elevation sites adjacent which include many listed buildings. These flood events are not recorded in the Historical Flooding report in the Flood Risk Assessment and Drainage Statement provided by the developer.

Moreover, this development raises issues regarding the structural integrity of the Canal, which can only further increase the risk of major flooding events on a site that is lower than the canal and undercuts its 225 year old structure.

Climate change will further increase the flood risk as we expect more frequent and severe storm events. The Environment Agency guidance recommends +70% for peak riverflow allowances for the Thames River Basin, in which the River Whitewater is situated, over the lifetime of the development.


The Flood Risk Assessment and Drainage Statement provided by the applicant is inadequate for a sensitive site in the flood plain of the River Whitewater.

All the above matters and environmental impacts are exacerbated by the applicant continuing to propose substantially more houses for the site than the Odiham & North Warnborough Neighbourhood Plan proposed.

Further information

Please see the attached leaflet, produced by local residents.

Objection flyer Final2 small

AGM notice

Annual General Meeting

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society is pleased to announce it will hold its Annual General Meeting on Friday 8th March 2019 at 6:30 p.m. at Heckfield Village Hall, RG27 0LG.


A. Chairman’s Welcome

B. Reports on the Society’s work re the River and Local Development

C. Questions from Members will be welcome

D. Our guest speaker this year is Edward Bullen, Cambridge graduate, Yachtsman and Banker, who lives in the Whitewater Valley.  Edward will give a brief talk entitled “Trafalgar, the other Admirals”. This will include some lesser-known and fascinating information.


We look forward to seeing you at this free evening for members, £10 for guests.

Members can return the RSVP slip with their membership fee for 2019.  Suggested membership subscription is £25 or £30.  All subscriptions are gratefully received; the subscription covers Members for two functions per annum, in addition to work being done by the Society.

Cheques should be made payable to the Whitewater Valley Preservation Society. Subscriptions should be sent to:

Mrs Sally Bullen,
Borough Court Farm,
Hartley Wintney,
Hampshire RG27 8JA

Alternatively, please email WVPS at to notify us of your name and how many members and guests will be attending.  If you are applying for membership please remember to include your address and email address.

Examination of Hart’s Local Plan

WVPS supported the Rural Hart Association in opposing the proposal from Hart District to include in the new Local Plan a “New settlement” in the Winchfield/Murrell Green area.  Murrell Green sits on the River Whitewater.

This is a report on the Examination of Hart’s Local Plan from Tristram Cary of the Rural Hart Association

Dear Supporters
The 10 day Examination-in-Public of the Local Plan finished just before Christmas, and the Inspector, Jonathan Manning, is now writing up his report which is due to be delivered to Hart sometime in February.
It is hard to predict what the Inspector’s report will recommend, because he made a point of digging into the evidence without drawing conclusions – and he warned us all several times NOT to jump to conclusions based on his line of questioning. However, on balance we think the Examination went well from the point of view of the Winchfield Action Group and the Rural Heart Association. Below are some of the key points that have a bearing on the New Settlement and Green Field development generally:


The Inspector, Jonathan Manning, was very thorough and fair. He had done his homework, and was quick to detect flannel and to insist on accurate answers to his questions. But he also found time to let everyone have their say. I think we can be confident of a fair report. The Rural Hart Association was invited to participate in Matter 3 (Housing: The Objectively Assessed Need), Matter 4 (Housing: Spatial Distribution) and Matter 10 (Retail and Town Centres). RHA was represented by Mark Dodds (Director of Planning and Development at Lambert Smith Hampton) and me. Winchfield Parish Council and their consultants were invited to participate in most of the twelve Matters, so between us we were able to represent the interests of rural Hart across the whole spectrum of the Local Plan.

Matter 1: Legal Requirements

The Inspector pushed Hart hard to demonstrate that their Sustainability Appraisal was adequate to justify the Local Plan and, in particular, the choice of Murrell Green/Winchfield over alternative sites for a New Settlement. The Inspector did not seem to be impressed with Hart’s response, and if he finds the Sustainability Assessment unsatisfactory then this is likely to lead to a recommendation for significant changes to the Local Plan (see conclusions below), or a significant delay while the Sustainability Appraisal is re-worked.

Matter 3: Housing Numbers

There was a fairly even split between those who want the housing numbers to be higher (mostly the developers) and those who want them to be lower (those who oppose building on greenfield sites and want to keep Hart rural). It’s hard to predict what the Inspector will recommend, but probably not a substantial change to Hart’s recommendation of 388 new dwellings per annum for the plan period.

Matter 4: Spatial Distribution of Housing

This was a key session where Hart’s decision to commit to a New Settlement in Winchfield/Murrell Green came under severe pressure from the Inspector who asked how Hart could possibly commit to a specific site when there was no satisfactory evidence that the plan was ‘deliverable’ or that the site was better than any alternative site. Hart’s defence was basically that the New Settlement strategy (SS3) was not yet a plan for a New Settlement, but just a strategy to find a New Settlement within the Winchfield/Murrell Green area of search. But this seemed to cut no ice with the Inspector who said that if there was as yet no site for the New Settlement then it was even less possible for Hart to know that it was a better site than any of the alternatives.

Matter 10: Retail and Town Centres

In this session we (RHA) were able to make our case that the regeneration of Fleet and the other urban areas with mixed-use (residential, retail and leisure) developments could provide a significant number of new houses (over 1000 in Fleet Town Centre) and at the same time reverse the long-term decline of Fleet as a vibrant and commercially-successful town centre (a trend which Hart acknowledges in the Local Plan). We were further able to demonstrate that such mixed-use developments could attract private investment (based on the response of developers to RHA’s plan to regenerate the Hart Shopping centre). And finally we stressed that Hart’s premature committment to a New Settlement was a barrier to the regeneration of Fleet (because developers are reluctant to invest in regeneration schemes which are not actively promoted by the Council in the Local Plan). I am sorry to say that the Inspector did not grill Hart very hard about their failure to provide a convincing plan to regenerate Fleet or the other urban centres. Nor did he clearly acknowledge that the plan for a New Settlement (which is not needed in the Plan Period) would be a barrier to regenerating Fleet (which Hart accepts is needed in the Plan Period). However, he did challenge Hart to justify why their policy to regenerate Fleet was so short on substance, and why it excluded the possibility of residential development. And he also asked Hart to include the consideration of residential development in the plan for Fleet (ED5).

Matter 11: Infrastructure

The Infrastructure session was important for RHA’s cause because the Inspector questioned whether Hart’s Infrastructure Development Plan demonstrated a sound understanding of the infrastructure costs of the Plan, and in particular the plan for a New Settlement in the Winchfield/ Murrell Green area of search. Hart had to fall back again on the mitigation that the infrastructure costs of SS3 could not be known at this stage because the site of the New Settlement was still unknown within the area of search. This allowed the Inspector to ask again how, if the infrastructure costs were unknown, Hart could know whether a New Settlement in the Winchfield/Murrell Green area was a better proposition then the alternatives.


We have been warned by the Inspector not to try to predict the recommendations that he will make in his report and so we will not do so. However, based on our discussions with Lambert Smith Hampton and the other attendees, we think the following notes are relevant:
  • The Inspector clearly feels that SS3 is too prescriptive (when the quality of supporting evidence is so poor). So his recommendations are likely to soften the categorical nature of SS3 (“Permission will be granted for a New Settlement in the Winchfield/Murrell Green area of search” etc).
  • The Inspector is also concerned that the plan for Fleet is not ‘positively prepared’ and does not include any provision for residential development. It is possible that the Inspector will recommend that a proper ‘Masterplan’ for Fleet should be developed as a high priority, so that the potential of Fleet for residential development can be assessed before (or at least in parallel with) planning for a New Settlement
  • The Inspector asked Hart at several points in the Examination whether it would be practical to delay the decision to embark on a New Settlement until the first review of the Local Plan at the five year point (c. 2024) or even, if necessary, to bring forward the review by a couple of years to say 2022.  Based on the Inspector’s serious concerns about the quality of the evidence justifying a New Settlement in the Winchfield/Murrell Green area, it seems possible that the Inspector may recommend that any commitment to a New Settlement should be removed from the Plan at this stage, and reviewed after a few years.
  • A delay to the decision about the New Settlement for a few years may not sound like much of a result, but it would be a significant step forward, especially if the delay was linked to a requirement to assess the regeneration of Fleet (and the other urban centres) as an alternative source of new housing. A delay would also put pressure on Hart and Fleet Town Council to accept the growing realisation across the UK  that mixed-use redevelopment of Town Centres is the best way to reverse their decline.
We must now wait and see what the Inspector’s report recommends. But in the meantime, Fleet Town Council’s plan to build a new Theatre complex on Gurkha Square (to replace the Harlington Centre) has been withdrawn as a result of Fleet residents’ strong objection to funding the theatre out of Council Tax for the next thirty or forty years. This represents a good opportunity for Fleet residents to a) put pressure on Hart and Fleet Town Council to recognise that developers are prepared to fund leisure facilities as part of a mixed-use residential development and b) to encourage the Council to back the scheme to redevelop the Hart Shopping Centre (which includes a commercial cinema).
I am very grateful for the generous contributions that so many of you have made towards the Design Study for the Regeneration of Fleet. A summary of the Design Study is here, but please let me know if you want to see the full report – it’s too bid to attach to this email without causing a lot of delivery failures. The Design Study has demonstrated convincingly that Fleet can be regenerated without taxpayers support with mixed-use developments which would provide additional affordable homes, improved retail facilities, extra public spaces and leisure facilities. Furthermore, Lambert Smith Hampton has now had two expressions of interest from developers who would like to invest in the proposal, but only if Hart’s Local Plan is modified to express a commitment to working with developers to bring forward such a scheme.
Thank you for your continued support.
Tristram Cary
Rural Hart Association

Hook neighbourhood plan

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society fully supports the village of Hook’s draft neighbourhood plan.

WVPS has submitted its recommendations to strengthen further Hook’s neighbourhood plan, particularly with regard to how it protects – and could enhance – the Environment and Landscape.

We feel these are important recommendations to consider, particularly in the light of the proximity of Hook’s north-east development currently underway, which is only separated from the River by a modest strip of what is referred to as “Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space” (SANG).

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 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

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