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News Bulletin: March 2014

Major Planning Applications – Hart District Council’s Planning Committee considered two very contentious applications on 12th February 2014. These were for 70 dwellings on land adjacent to Reading Road and 60 dwellings on land at High Ridge Farm, accessed from Brown Croft. Focus copy deadlines have prevented us from being able to provide the decision from the meeting, but at the time of writing the planning officers have recommended that planning permission should be granted as there are no planning reasons for refusal.

Hart District is required to make its own provision and current estimates are that this could be in the region of 350 to 400 houses per annum over the next 20 years, a total of 7,000 to 8,000. Because there is little brownfield land in Hart most of these will be on greenfield sites. Hook is one of the largest settlements in Hart and is considered to be one of the more sustainable locations for new development because of its communication links (especially the railway station), and its facilities, shops and schools together with its business opportunities plus the fact that there are few significant landscape and environmental constraints.

Whilst the situation is unpalatable, the Local Plan has failed examination and Hook only has limited protection under the Interim Housing Delivery Strategy. Therefore Hart is currently unable to demonstrate sufficient housing land supply, so is unable to provide a valid planning defence against the two applications. Initial work on the new Local Plan indicates that there will be an increased housing requirement for . Hart so the housing numbers in the three current proposals may well be required in addition to the NE Hook proposal when the new Local Plan is published.

The NPPF’s (National Planning Policy Framework published by the Government) contains a presumption in favour of development in line with the Government’s objective to significantly boost the supply of new housing. This means that any objections have to be based on sound planning evidence contradicting Government policy, which the Parish Council cannot produce. The Parish Council, in line with its policy, objects to all applications other than those already specified in the Interim Strategy. However, when applications become unpreventable, it is often best to take a pragmatic approach and accept that new housing is inevitable whilst trying to secure the best gains for the local community.

Taxi Bus – The Taxi Bus trial service began on 17th February. Timetables, route information and ticket prices can be seen atwww.capitalcars-hook.co.uk or via the link on our website.

Road works affecting Hook – We have had separate notices from Highways, South East Water and the Highways Agency of road works which will affect London Road (A3) at the Crooked Billet and the M3 J5/roads into Hook. Work will coincide during March and April, but continue until September and some traffic light controlled road closures will be required. Repairs to the M3 bridge over a section of Totters Lane will also mean traffic lights and some overnight closure. Delays are inevitable. Further information is available through planned publicity or on their respective websites.

Hook Community Centre – We are settled in at the rear of the construction site and visitors have managed to find us, despite signage getting repeatedly blown away in the wind. Demolition has continued and the building is now little more than a shell. The coming weeks will see scaffolding, steelworks, ground works and drainage underway. Work to create the new entrance/staircase to The Base got underway and a temporary entrance has been created to enable further internal demolition to create space for the main kitchen area.

Community Awards – If you would like to nominate somebody who makes a real difference to the village, please write or e-mail the Clerk We have extended the deadline for receipt of nominations to 14th March.

Annual Village Meeting – Wednesday 23rd April 2014.

Anne Atkins – Clerk