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Shapley Heath GC


IMPORTANT UPDATE: On 4 November 2021, Hart District Council's Cabinet agreed that the Shapley Heath Garden Community project should be concluded with immediate effect. It said that the project has given invaluable insight into the complexity of the issues that surround the delivery of a potential new garden community. 

In a statement, Cllr Graham Cockarill, portfolio holder for Place, said: "The information gained will be able to be utilised by multiple services across the Council, and the existing baseline studies and surveys completed during the project will be published early in the new year [2022].

"The choice of delivering a new garden community to meet future growth needs will now be evaluated as an integral part of any future Local Plan process. It will be assessed against all other growth options, particularly those opportunities arising from regeneration, brownfield development, settlement intensification and proportionate urban extensions."

Shapley Heath Garden Community Survey

Hart District Council published a survey on its Garden Community website to gather information from households across the district over a six-week period ending on July 5. The survey received just 1,197 responses. The results of the survey are here and it will be seen that the majority of the comments are overwhelmingly opposed to the scheme.

The Parish Council gave a summary of the main issues to take note of.  

The Conservative group at Hart also published a survey to enable residents across the district to express their views on the proposed development of 5,000/10,000 houses in the Shapley Heath/Winchfield area.

Winchfield Parish Council will continue to fight the Shapley Heath Garden Community concept for at least 5,000 houses which Hart District Council (HDC) has proposed  at Winchfield and Murrell Green. Maps of the area of search can be found below. 

The decision by HDC to investigate the ‘Garden Community’ proposal came despite the policy for a new settlement being rejected in February 2020 by the Inspector at the Examination in Public into the Local Plan in modifications which were agreed by HDC, details of which can be found here.

HDC announced on June 28, 2019, that it had been successful in a bid to join the Government's Garden Communities programme, receiving £150,000 in the first year. The money was to help define a 'Shapley Heath Garden Community' for 5,000 and possibly up to 10,000 homes at Winchfield and Murrell Green (as set out in the Vision Document & Bid Proposal). HDC subsequently applied for a further grant of £406K and was awarded £130,000 in June 2021. Details of the proposal and the current status of the project can be found here.

Winchfield Parish Council (WPC) has pledged to challenge this unsound proposal.

  • The planning inspector required the proposal for a new settlement to be removed from the local plan as HDC and the commercial property developers promoting the Shapley Heath development had provided insufficient justification for its inclusion. Since the Inspector’s report, the Government’s housing target for Hart has actually fallen by 32%, from 423 dwellings per annum (dpa) to 286 dpa, further reducing the requirement for new homes. (Local Housing Need, 2020)  
  • Committing to this level of new homes will unnecessarily drive up the housing target for Hart in future years.
  • The so-called ‘Garden Village’ would create an urban sprawl, joining up Winchfield, Hook and Hartley Wintney into a vast new town on Fleet’s doorstep.
  • It would destroy valued countryside in the centre of the District.

A letter outlining the conflicts between the funding and the Local Plan process was sent to Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on August 8, 2019. WPC’s letter was supported by Hartley Wintney, Odiham, Dogmersfield, Crondall, Greywell, Eversley, South Warnborough and Long Sutton & Well Parish Councils. A letter from our local MP, Ranil Jayawardena to Councillor Anne Crampton, Leader of the Conservatives on Hart who oppose the development, on April 28, 2021, clearly outlines his view on Shapley Heath;

  • “I do not support any major Greenfield development in the next local plan whether that is Shapley Heath or otherwise.”
  • “The open letter on my website of November 2019 makes it clear that there is no need for Shapley Heath.”
  • "I did not support Shapley Heath in Hart District Council's Garden Communities Capacity Funding Bid in September 2020.”

(All letters referred to can be found below in full)

The HDC Cabinet has set up an Opportunities Board for the project which in turn has created a series of Thematic Groups to help inform the shape of the project. WPC along with Hartley Wintney, Odiham and Dogmersfield Parish Councils co-signed a letter to HDC raising specific concerns about the independence of these groups as many are populated and chaired by HDC officials and the developers. The letter and the response can be found below.

HDC has now published a survey on a new dedicated Garden Community website to gather information from each household across the district over a six-week period. Again, WPC along with the support of Hartley Wintney, Odiham and Dogmersfield Parish Councils raised concerns prior to its publication with regard to the content of the survey. Our letter of March 26, 2021 can be found below. 

The thematic groups and the survey have almost certainly been introduced by HDC to try to demonstrate that it has met one of the Government’s key requirement that Garden Communities are “locally led” and local communities have a “meaningful say in developing the proposal from design to delivery”. However, the proposal fails to demonstrate that a development of this scale and nature is merited, and the survey fails to provide adequate context and an impartial assessment of its likely implications which respondents would need, to be able to answer the questions on an informed basis. 

WPC encourages all residents to respond to the survey to express their views on the proposed Shapley Heath Garden Community project. As a Parish Council we will continue to challenge this unwarranted development rigorously.

More detail on the views of the Parish Council with regard to the survey can be found here.