Following the Inspector’s decision that Hart District Council’s draft Core Strategy was unsound and should be withdrawn, Hart has advised that they will be starting work immediately on an updated Core Strategy. They are aiming for the new draft to be published in April 2014. The Parish Council will make representations as appropriate as and when a new draft Strategy is published for consultation. In September Hart will be considering an ‘Interim Policy Statement’ for North East Hook. It will provide a policy context for development, albeit one with limited weight.
In the meantime the District Council also has to comply with the National Planning Policy Framework which means that it has to demonstrate that it has a 5-year housing land supply (although it is not now clear on what basis that should be calculated). Given that the government is making it clear that not enough houses are being built, it is likely that the housing numbers for the District as a whole will rise considerably above the 236 per annum proposed in the draft Core Strategy. However, because Hook already has a substantial number proposed, it is not likely that the numbers here will go up – although they certainly will not go down. For that reason therefore Hart may decide to grant permission for developments in north east Hook if and when a planning application has been submitted notwithstanding that there is no extant policy base in place.
There is also a distinct possibility that developers with other sites in Hook will try to take advantage of the current lack of a firm policy base and also submit planning applications with the intention of going to appeal if those applications are refused. Whilst the Parish Council does not welcome any such applications neither it nor Hart District Council may be able to stop them. If such developments are inevitable the Parish Council will take a pragmatic view and negotiate the best community and recreational facilities that it can for the benefit of the residents of Hook.