A Mixed Blessing!

The good news is that, subject to a number of amendments, our Plan can now go forward to Referendum. We have a timeline from Hart District Council (HDC) that suggests August/September this year – subject to the requisite approvals from them. More on this below.

So many thanks again to those of you who have supported us on this long and somewhat tortuous journey!

To bring you up to speed, the full Examiners report can be read on the HDC website – search for Hatley Wintney Neighbourhood Plan and scroll down to Neighbourhood Plan Stage – Examiners Report received 22 May 2019.

To summarise, the Examiner commented positively that we presented ‘a very readable and interesting document’. In his view ‘The Plan provides a clear and distinctive vision for the neighbourhood area’. It is clear that the Examiner – who had spent some time exploring the village and surroundings – fully appreciated the intent of a number of our polices particularly ‘safeguarding the distinctive local character’.

So, subject to a number of textual amendments, there was support for the development at Pools Yard, the distinctive views, preservation of green spaces, re-inforcement of the value of the conservation area and the Design Guide.

However, the proposed developments at James Farm and Nero’s Brewery were not supported on planning grounds (again do look at the HDC website for more detail here). Disappointingly, too, despite acknowledging that ‘The Plan has been underpinned by community support and engagement’, our desire to restrict developments to a maximum of 50 dwellings was not accepted.

Given the strength of support for this policy during the community consultations, and aided by our external planning consultant, we have chosen to challenge this finding on a factual basis - this has been fully documented and shared with Hart. The Parish Council has endorsed this approach.

It’s worth noting that interactions with the Examiner are by means of written communication only which is routed through HDC. So, the position now is that HDC’s Cabinet are the arbiters on the final version of the Plan – this is scheduled for the 4th July. We have asked that our documented concerns regarding the 50 dwelling limit form part of the Cabinet Review.

At the end of the day, the bottom line is that we have a Plan that can go to Referendum which, although not as comprehensive as we would have liked, still provides us with a number of valuable and worthwhile safeguard.

So, expect to hear more about the Referendum in due course!

Cllr Chris Farrance
Chairman Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group