You may have hard a lot about how the existing infrastructure in Hart will not support piecemeal development. You will also have heard a lot about how brownfield development does not provide money for additional infrastructure.
None of that is strictly accurate.
Let me look, for example, at education.
The statement was made that ‘A minimum 5000 houses are needed to support a new secondary school.’ This is a misinterpretation of the policy.
Schools are built according to Hampshire County Council education policies and they do not state a minimum number of children needed to build a school. What they do state is the number of children a development will add into the school system (0.3 children for primary schools and 0.21 children for secondary). They also state the amount of financial contribution developers will need to provide towards the creation of a new school. For primary schools this ranges from £5.78M to £11.66M depending on the number of forms a school will have. For secondary schools this ranges from £21.3M to £38.38M depending on the number of forms.
But nowhere does it say that all the pupils and all the development money should come from a single development!
In fact Hart District Council have already contracted to receive £5,100,000 for secondary schools and £7,900,000 for secondary school education in the area from the Crookham Park development alone. That would certainly go some way towards expanding, say, Calthorpe Park School into the old leisure centre (A leisure centre which, by the way, has been made obsolete by the funding of a new leisure centre opposite which came from a £7m contribution provided by the developer at Edenbrook). Curious minds would certainly like to know what Hart District Council have done with a lot of that money. Some of it was used to fund the primary school in Crookham Park, but repeated enquiries to a particularly vocal new town-supporting member of Hart District Council (and recently resigned member of Fleet Town Council) have elicited no response.
Every single development – whether urban extension, ribbon development or similar – will provide monies into the infrastructure fund for Hart. (The exception to this is for developments smaller than 7 houses which are exempt.)
Developers are subject to either an s106 charge for infrastructure or a Community Infrastructure Levy which provides money for Hart Council to use for infrastructure development anywhere in the district. Nowhere in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 does it state the level of contribution that a developer must make under s106. If Hart council are not getting the infrastructure they need from local development it is because they are not using the s106 regulations to their advantage.
This does rather beg the question of why Hart DC are so hell-bent on putting a new town in the district, having stated quite openly at council meetings (November 2014, for example) that they want the new town to provide a secondary school. Hart DC are not responsible for schools, Hampshire County Council are. Hart DC also do not need 5000 houses in a single development to trigger the construction of a school although 5000 new houses will give enough pupils to bolster the case for one.
But the key issue that has not been addressed by Hart DC (as with the underlying basis for a new town) is that the figures do not support it. Hart maintain that they have a shortage of school places. However the statistical figures which support this hermes wallet for women
Hampshire County Council have only planned school places up to 2018. This shows a 9% surplus of secondary school places:
The same document also forecasts a fall in the birth rate across Hampshire (individual forecasts for Hart District are not available). This will reduce future pressure on secondary school places
In addition to this Hart is currently providing schooling for 11% of pupils from outside Hart who are coming in on a daily basis.
Surely the ‘need’ for a new school will decrease if they allocate Hart places to Hart school children, thereby increasing the 9% surplus that will exist. On top of that demand is falling and the birth rate is decreasing.
One could question the whole motivation for a new town if it was primarily to support a new school.