Newsletter of the Community Campaign (Hart)
10, Autumn 2009
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
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!!!
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (or phone 628751)
and we’ll let you know when it happens.
Residents 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.
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.
by John 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
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.
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.
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.
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
Published by: Julia
Ambler, 39 Du Maurier Close, Church Crookham, Hampshire, GU52 0YA