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Community News
The Newsletter of the Community Campaign (Hart)
Issue 10, Autumn 2009

Planning Ahead

The local area is currently being considered as a potential location for an unprecedented level of new housing. Consequently this edition of our regular newsletter is focussed on planning related matters. We believe that it is important that the community is kept informed about the proposals being made for our area.

Hart District Council is currently undertaking a review of possible locations for the 4,400 new houses that the national government want to be built in Hart over the next 20 years. In the initial site study document known as the “Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment” (SHLAA) a disproportionate number of these new dwellings are being identified for potential sites on the western fringe of Fleet (extending on from the Hitches Lane site) and to the south of Church Crookham (effectively growing Zebon Copse out towards the A287).

In total, the SHLAA is looking at potential sites in the area which would accommodate roughly 1,150 new dwellings. These would be in addition to whatever number of houses are eventually built on the QEB. Consequently, combined with the QEB and Hitches Lane these proposed sites could see over 50% of all Hart’s new housing being built in and around Fleet & Church Crookham.

Additional housing at this level would have a detrimental impact on our already over-crowded roads and on the key road junctions. Fleet and Church Crookham is possibly unique in being a large urban conurbation which is not directly accessible by a major trunk road. It is also unbelievable that any new housing can be considered in the area when the secondary schools will not have sufficient capacity for even the existing population by 2012.

The QEB site was allocated in the 1990’s and we have still not absorbed the impact of this development on our community. It is therefore critically important that all our local government representatives are united in demanding that there should be no more additional housing allocated to the area until and unless the road and secondary school capacity issues have been addressed. In this newsletter we will be looking at these infrastructure challenges in more detail.

Getting the QEB Right

The Community Campaign was at the forefront of challenging the original QEB planning application. While accepting that ultimately there would be some development on the site, we had huge concerns with the proposals first time around.

The government’s decision to dismiss Taylor Wimpey’s (TW) original planning application has given the opportunity for all parties concerned to work together to ensure that when a new application is submitted we can attempt, as far as possible, to address the key issues.

It had been the proposal to reduce the Bourley Road car park to just 5 places, which probably caused the most widespread anger first time around. This move had been prompted by Natural England (NE), a government quango, which had asserted that in order to make the QEB development acceptable, the free access enjoyed by local people to the Tweseldown Special Protection Area (SPA) must be heavily restricted. The Community Campaign has been at the forefront of lobbying within the SPA Joint Strategic Partnership to counter the more draconian access management measures being demanded by NE.

TW has recently confirmed that because of NE’s change of position, any new application will NOT be seeking to reduce the capacity of the Bourley Road car park. This is a decisive victory for all who were actively opposed to the original plan.

Another potential improvement would be the prospect of a reduced number of new dwellings being proposed for the site. ‘Inside’ information suggests that TW might seek around 870 houses instead of the 1,055 originally proposed. This would help reduce the impact on our roads and on our already over subscribed schools. Unbelievably local Conservative Councillors whose own wards would be adversely affected by both the traffic and the shortage of school places have called upon TW to rethink their numbers and to try to find a way to cram at least 1,055 houses on the QEB site!!!

QEB: Continued

Having successfully fought hard to have the original QEB planning application thrown out, the Community Campaign are determined that when a new application is submitted, as it inevitably will, that this time the interests of the wider community are fully considered. The Planning Appeal threw out the original application on the grounds that too much of the site was going to be developed. Although the inspector’s report resulted in the application being dismissed, the decision did establish that in principle the redevelopment of the site for housing should be allowed.

Huts on the QEBWhat is important now is that all those involved work together to try to ensure that the development is planned to have minimal adverse impact. The greatest challenge will be that the planning inspector has accepted Hampshire’s highway engineers without question when they said that local roads could cope with the increase in traffic. So any opportunity to reduce the number of dwellings and so reduce the number of additional vehicles on the road is now an important concession. Yet Hart Conservatives seem keen to maximise the amount of housing on the site. The ‘stuff em in Church Crookham’ philosophy that previously underpinned their thinking seems to be very much alive.

Hopefully Taylor Wimpey will stick to their revised plan to reduce the number of dwellings on the site and so mitigate the impact of the development on our roads. It is also important that the money which TW have already agreed to give to Hampshire Highways gets used effectively rather than being wasted on schemes that will not actually address the real problems which will otherwise arise from the QEB development.

One problem that will affect many people is that traffic build up on Reading Road South will cause more congestion, so to avoid the gridlock, traffic seeking alternative routes will ‘rat-run’ through Church Crookham, Courtmoor and Crookham Village. To prevent this, it is important that the traffic flow over the canal bridge and up through the Oatsheaf junction is freed up. Thanks to the election of Jenny Radley as a County Councillor, we have had sight of a feasibility document that explains how the Reading Road South canal bridge could be widened for the benefit of motorists and cyclists alike. Combined with right turn lanes leading away from the bridge to the Oatsheaf and the re-phasing of the Oatsheaf junction lights, it may be possible to reduce the likelihood of jams on Reading Road South.

Unbelievably the Fleet Town Access Plan (FTAP) to which both the QEB money and the fund to improve the A287/Redfields junction are to be diverted, proposes instead to put a footbridge over the canal, off Durnsford Avenue. While such a bridge might be a convenient way for a few to cross the canal it does not address the substantive problem, which is traffic congestion on Reading Road South.

If you are amongst the majority who think that improving the flow along Reading Road South and widening the canal bridge to provide a cycle lane and a segregated footway is actually more desirable than the Durnsford Ave footbridge then you might like to express your views when the FTAP proposals come forward for public consultation. We expect the consultation to happen sometime later this autumn or early in 2010. If you would like to be notified about when this consultation does take place then please send an e-mail to (or phone 628751) and we’ll let you know when it happens.

Jam on Reading Road SouthResidents of Crondall, Ewshot & Crookham Village should also be concerned about what could happen if Hampshire is wrong about QEB motorists choosing to use Beacon Hill as their preferred route towards junction 5 of the M3. With Hampshire seemingly wishing to avoid any upgrade the A287/Redfields Lane junction, this will have an impact on these villages. Crondall may become much more difficult to access due to the increased congestion at this already difficult and dangerous junction while Crookham Village and Ewshot could experience ever increasing volumes of traffic using their villages to avoid the queues to join the A287. You may want to add your own voice to those of us demanding that the money already ring-fenced to improve this important junction is not diverted to fund unrelated FTAP projects.

Farnborough Expansion

by Jenny Radley

I am sure that everyone will be aware that TAG, the main operator and owners of Farnborough Airport, have applied for an increase in overall annual flight movements from 28,000 to 50,000 per year. This would include an increase in weekend and Bank Holiday flights from the 5,000 per year (as was granted on appeal in spring, 2008) to 8,900 flights per year. This new application is intended to last until 2019, after which TAG retain the option to apply for yet more flight movements.

The application will be decided by the host planning authority, Rushmoor Borough Council (RBC). Their six week consultation for the application took place in the early summer and over 3,000 comments were received. Apparently just 90 or so of these were letters of support; so it appears there is a strong feeling against this planning application.

RBC will be holding a special planning meeting to decide their verdict on the application. If you feel strongly about this application you would probably want to be there in person. At the time of writing, we are still waiting to hear when this important decision making meeting will be held.

The Community Campaign is concerned that the already large numbers of people who feel that their lives are blighted by noise annoyance would increase. An increase in daily flight movements (to average 136 per day) will make even more people aware of the flights and once conscious of each event, people are more susceptible to being annoyed by individual aircraft movements.

We are deeply concerned about numbers of aircraft directly over flying the Crookham/Tweseldown school site and the distraction that this will cause to children who are trying to study.

The huge per passenger carbon footprint of business aviation and the effect on property values of homes affected by the enlarged Public Safety Zone are also of serious concern. With the average number of passengers carried by Farnborough aircraft being less than 3, (compared to 100’s on a commercial airliner) each Farnborough passenger generates a grossly larger carbon footprint than they otherwise would if they flew on a commercial flight.

Crondall Report

by John Bennison Jon Bennison    

Every 6 months, Hart District Council holds a regular meeting with representatives of Hampshire County Council, the Environment Agency and Thames Water, amongst others. By bringing these agencies together with District Councillors, we have the opportunity to try to progress particular flooding problems in our various wards. I attend these meetings regularly to keep Crondall ward issues in the forefront of the minds of these various agencies.

By the time you read this, the work to upgrade the surface water drainage in Pankridge Street will be well under way. The plan is to double the capacity of the existing pipe work and, where possible, to put larger sumps into the drains. Changes will also be made to the outfall into the river. Although this work will take up to 12 weeks and will cause some inconvenience, it will be of great benefit to the residents in Pankridge Street. The Borough also received some much needed drainage maintenance work including sump cleaning and the cutting off of roots that had grown into the pipes.

Despite confusion over the ownership of the balancing pond at the top end of the village, the Environment Agency has agreed to clean it out. Hopefully all this work will help to reduce the risk of flooding as the climate is undoubtedly getting wetter.

Hart District Council has decided to review all of its 32 Conservation Areas and Crondall’s Conservation Area is about to be reviewed. It was first designated in 1977 and was last reviewed back in March 1999. Crookham Village also has a Conservation Area which was last reviewed in 1994 but is a little further down the list. Ewshot has no Conservation Area but has a number of Grade 2 listed buildings.

It is very important to have up-to-date robust conservation policies to protect areas from unsympathetic development. The majority of land surrounding the village of Crondall is designated as being of high agricultural significance as well as of particular landscape importance in the District Plan. These two constraints have helped to conserve the village from excessive development pressures in the past. The unique character of Crondall is represented by the architectural and historic value of its 64 listed buildings. Both the Parish Council and the Crondall Society are waiting expectantly for this review to start.

Revitalised Community Centre on Zebon Copse Re-opens

by Simon Ambler

ZCC - GroundsIn early September 2009, the newly renamed Zebon Copse Centre opened with the Zebon Copse fete as its inaugural event. The re-opening of the Community Centre was the culmination of many years work and negotiation by a small number of dedicated people, who were determined to get the best for the residents of the area.

ZCC - Play GroundWhy the new name? The Community Centre, originally known as Velmead Community Centre, was named after the farm which originally occupied most of the surrounding land. For people not entirely familiar with the area, this had a tendency to cause confusion with the Velmead Road area. As the Centre is part of the Zebon Copse development, it seemed only right that it should be renamed the Zebon Copse Centre to reflect the fact that it is the focal point of this community. The new name now encompasses the two Community Halls as well as the sports playing fields and the two children’s play areas on the same site.

At the fete, it seemed as though the entire neighbourhood turned out to view the improvements and all the feedback on the upgraded facilities was very positive. New features include an enlarged kitchen with a range cooker and instant water boiler for hot drinks. The provision of additional storage has allowed the meeting room to be put back into full time use; a major benefit for the many local groups that had been unable to meet here. The New Hall has benefited from a much needed stage and has been fitted out with a state of the art audio visual and audio system that is available to users on request. The acoustics in both halls have been upgraded as has the soundproofing between the halls. All this means that with the addition of a new set of toilets for the Old Hall, the two halls can be used independently.

ZCC - KitchenThe new look centre has inspired a number of local residents to form an events organising group. In association with the Zebon Copse Residents Association, this group has been hard at work with its first few events. They ran a children’s Halloween Disco on 31st October and are running an Elvis night on 21st November, both events being open to local residents. Tickets can be purchased at the Spar Shop or the Village Post Office. If these two events are a success, they hope to put on regular events throughout the year. ZCC - Stage

Any feedback on the changes is welcome or if you want to help out with the events group then let me know and I will put you in contact with them. To make the Centre more attractive for local events, it is available at a reduced community rate. If you want to book the centre for an event, call the Community Centres manager on 01252 774466 or email

Published by: Julia Ambler, 39 Du Maurier Close, Church Crookham, Hampshire, GU52 0YA