Chapter 6 Proposals
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6.2 CONSERVATION POLICIES
   
Nature Conservation, Countryside and Landscape
CON 1 Nature Conservation: European Designations
CON 2 Nature Conservation: National Designations
CON 3 Nature Conservation: Local Designations
CON 4 Nature Conservation: Replacement & Habitats
CON 5 Nature Conservation: Species Protected By Law
CON 6 Heathlands
CON 7 Riverine Environments
   
Trees and Woodlands
CON 8 Trees, Woodlands & Hedgerows: Amenity Value
   
Agricultural Land
CON 9 Agricultural Land
   
The Basingstoke Canal
CON 10 Basingstoke Canal (general policy)
 
Policies for Archaeological and Historic Features
CON 11 Archaeological Sites & Scheduled Ancient Monuments
CON 12 Historic Parks and Gardens
   
Conservation Areas
CON 13 Conservation Areas: General Policy
CON 14 Conservation Areas: Demolition of Buildings
   
Listed Buildings
CON 15 Listed Buildings: Demolition
CON 16 Listed Buildings: Setting
CON 17 Listed Buildings: Extension or Alteration
CON 18 Listed Buildings: Change of Use
 
Policies for Strategic and Locally Important Gaps and Settings of Settlements
CON 19 Strategic Gaps: General
CON 20 Strategic Gap: Blackwater Valley
CON 21 Local Gaps
CON 22 Setting of Settlements & Recreation
 
Amenity Value of Public Rights of Way
CON 23 Development Affecting Public Rights of Way
   
Introduction
Conservation of the District's wildlife, landscape, productive farmland, historic and archaeological features, trees and important open areas is an essential part of sustainability and also maintains the high quality of life of the District's residents and employees.
Environmental sustainability is an important concept at both global and local levels. All life on earth is part of an inter-dependent system. The conservation of air, water, vegetation, soil, biodiversity and the ozone layer is important in order to maintain this global "life support system". Decisions made at the local level can add up to cause global impacts.
In both the natural and built environments, there are some irreplaceable assets, which could not be re-located or re-created. These include habitats such as ancient woodlands and heaths, and significant historic buildings. They can be described as the Critical Environmental Capital of the District. The local planning authority aims to protect all such critical assets from inappropriate development, which could irreparably harm them, their location or setting.
The local planning authority will also seek to maintain the overall quality and quantity of the less critical assets. These may not be irreplaceable, but their loss may be compensated, for example by the development of new high quality buildings, or by the creation and management of new wildlife habitats. This can maintain a constant overall level of such assets (the Constant Natural Assets of the District).
The design and location of new development can be critical in terms of its impact on the environment.
Other environmental actions, outside the scope of the local plan, are also critical to sustainable development. These include issues such as sustainable solid waste management (this is covered by the Waste Local Plan prepared by Hampshire County Council), and the District Council also has its own initiatives for encouraging recycling.
Some development in the countryside is essential. The aim of these policies is to steer new developments to the most appropriate locations so that critical assets are protected and the overall environmental quality of the District is maintained.
 
 
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Nature Conservation
CON 1 DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT THE NATURE CONSERVATION VALUE OF CLASSIFIED OR PROPOSED SPECIAL PROTECTION AREAS OR CANDIDATE OR DESIGNATED SPECIAL AREAS OF CONSERVATION (DESIGNATED UNDER EUROPEAN LEGISLATION IN RECOGNITION OF THEIR INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE) WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS THERE ARE NO ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS AND THERE ARE IMPERATIVE REASONS OF OVER-RIDING PUBLIC INTEREST, INCLUDING THOSE OF A SOCIAL OR ECONOMIC NATURE. IN THE CASE OF SPA AND SAC WHICH SUPPORT A "PRIORITY" HABITAT OR SPECIES, PLANNING PERMISSION MAY ONLY BE GRANTED IF THE DEVELOPMENT CAN BE JUSTIFIED ON THE GROUNDS OF HUMAN HEALTH, PUBLIC SAFETY OR BENEFICIAL CONSEQUENCES OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE TO THE ENVIRONMENT.
 
Special Protection Areas are a European designation reflecting international importance for bird populations. The Thames Basin Heaths proposed Special Protection Area represents an outstanding lowland heathland habitat with significant populations of protected bird species such as Dartford Warbler, Nightjar and Woodlark. Special Areas of Conservation are designated under the European Community Habitats Directive. None have so far been designated within Hart District but further designations may take place in the future.
The Government has an international obligation to protect these sites, and local planning authorities are required to pay particular regard to their importance. Development proposals, which would adversely affect these sites, are likely to be "called in" for determination by the Secretary of State for the Environment. Detailed advice on how local authorities should treat proposals for development that could affect these sites is given in Planning Policy Guidance Note 9 on Nature Conservation. It should be noted that for the purposes of planning decisions, proposed Special Protection Areas or candidate Special Areas of Conservation should be treated as if already fully designated. The local planning authority will request the submission of an ecological assessment and survey to accompany any application for development, which may affect a proposed Special Protection Area.
*Close liaison and consultation with English Nature will be maintained concerning all these site categories.
 
 
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CON 2 DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT THE NATURE CONSERVATION VALUE OF A SITE OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST OR NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED IF IT CAN BE SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS THAT WILL PREVENT DAMAGING IMPACTS ON WILDLIFE HABITATS OR OTHER NATURAL FEATURES OF IMPORTANCE ON THE SITE OR IF OTHER MATERIAL FACTORS ARE SUFFICIENT TO OVERRIDE THE NATURE CONSERVATION INTEREST
 
On the advice of English Nature development in or likely to affect Sites of Special Scientific Interest will be subject to special scrutiny. Where such development may have an adverse effect, directly or indirectly on the special interest of the site, it will not be permitted unless the reasons for the development clearly outweigh the nature conservation value of the site itself and the national policy to safeguard such sites. Where the site concerned is a National Nature Reserve (NNR) or a site identified under the Nature Conservation Review (NCR) or Geological Conservation Review (GCR) particular regard will be paid to the individual site's national importance. Where development is permitted, the authority will consider the use of conditions or planning obligations to ensure the protection and enhancement of the site's nature conservation interest.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest are nationally designated examples of the best nature conservation sites in the country. There are currently seventeen SSSIs within the District, covering a wide range of valuable habitat types and reflecting the ecological diversity of the District. These SSSIs are listed in Section 2 of Appendix B and shown on the Proposals Map. Local Planning Authorities are required by law to protect these nationally designated sites from adverse effects of development.
 
 
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CON 3 DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT THE NATURE CONSERVATION INTEREST OF SITES OF IMPORTANCE FOR NATURE CONSERVATION WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED IF OTHER MATERIAL CONSIDERATIONS OUTWEIGH THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SITE TO LOCAL NATURE CONSERVATION.
     
On the advice of English Nature, development likely to have an adverse effect on a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation will not be permitted unless it can be clearly demonstrated that there are reasons for the proposal which outweigh the need to safeguard the substantive nature conservation value of the site. In all cases where development is permitted which would damage the nature conservation value of the site or feature, such damage will be kept to a minimum. Where appropriate the authority will consider the use of conditions and/or planning obligations to provide appropriate mitigation and compensatory measures.
Criteria for the identification of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation have been jointly adopted by Hampshire County Council, English Nature and the Hampshire Wildlife Trust, and are endorsed by the District Council. The criteria are set out in Appendix C of the local plan, and the sites are listed within Section 8 of Appendix B. SINCs include the Countryside Heritage Sites previously recorded by the County Council for their nature conservation interest.
These sites are all considered to form an irreplaceable resource within the District, which should be protected from adverse effects of development. They all form part of the "Critical Environmental Capital" of the District. The safeguarding of all such sites is part of a strategy for sustainable development followed by the District and County Councils and based on the UK Strategy for Sustainable Development. The protection of international, national and locally designated nature conservation sites follows Government guidance in PPG9 on Nature Conservation.
Developments that involve raising or lowering the water table, atmospheric or water pollution, excessive noise or disturbance, increased erosion, damage to vegetation or increased recreational use are likely to be unacceptable within or adjacent to these areas. As a matter of practice, Hart District Council will consult with English Nature on proposals outside as well as inside SSSIs, where it is considered that proposed development could have an adverse effect on the SSSI.
The local planning authority will request the submission of an ecological assessment and survey to accompany any application for development, which may affect a site of importance for nature conservation.
The LPA will apply this policy to all new SINCs, even those notified after the plan is adopted and that an up to date list will be available from Hampshire County Council.
 
 
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CON 4 WHERE DEVELOPMENT IS PERMITTED WHICH WOULD BE LIKELY TO HAVE A MATERIAL ADVERSE EFFECT ON FEATURES OF NATURE CONSERVATION INTEREST IN A DESIGNATED AREA COVERED BY POLICIES CON 1, CON 2 AND CON 3 OR SPECIES OR THEIR HABITATS REFERRED TO IN POLICY CON 5, THAT ADVERSE EFFECT SHOULD BE REDUCED WHERE IT IS PRACTICABLE TO DO SO BY THE PROVISION OF ADEQUATE REPLACEMENT HABITAT ON THE SITE OR IN OTHER APPROPRIATE LOCATION.
 
 
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Where areas of countryside are lost or degraded through development, the Council will seek some environmental compensation either through habitat improvement on part of the site, or the protection and management of land elsewhere. The Council will need to be satisfied that the compensatory provision is adequate and is integrated with surrounding habitats. Appropriate levels of compensatory provision will depend on the specific features or value of the site, and will be discussed with bodies such as the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.
Attention is drawn to Policy E12 of the adopted Hampshire County Structure Plan 1996-2011, which also requires protection of other habitats not covered by any designation. The local planning authority will also apply that strategic policy where appropriate.
 
 
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CON 5 PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT THAT WOULD HAVE A SIGNIFICANT ADVERSE EFFECT ON PLANT OR ANIMAL SPECIES OR THEIR HABITATS PROTECTED BY LAW UNLESS CONDITIONS ARE ATTACHED OR PLANNING OBLIGATIONS ENTERED INTO REQUIRING THE DEVELOPER TO TAKE STEPS TO SECURE THEIR PROTECTION.
   
Where development which may have an effect on protected species is permitted, the local planning authority may impose conditions and seek planning agreements to reduce disturbance to a minimum, facilitate survival of individual members of the species and provide adequate alternative habitats. The presence of a protected species on a site is a material consideration to be taken into account in considering proposals for development, as outlined in PPG9, Nature Conservation. The essential concern of the local planning authority is that the development should not endanger the long-term survival of the population of the species within the local area.
Individual plant or animal species are afforded various levels of protection under Schedules 1, 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and within European law. This policy is aimed at protecting those rare or vulnerable species, which are recognised legally as requiring high levels of protection as a result of their scarcity value. Many of these are found within the SSSIs and proposed SPA, but they are also worthy of protection where they are found outside the designated sites. The rare heathland bird species for which the Special Protection Area has been proposed, for example, are also found in surrounding conifer plantations which are former heathlands.
Badgers are protected by law, and licences must be obtained from English Nature before carrying out any works which would interfere with badger setts. Where development is taking place on a site used by badgers, the local planning authority will request survey information on badger setts and activity, and will work with the developers to ensure that the final layout has the least harmful possible impact on the badgers' activity.
 
 
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CON 6 DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS LIKELY TO CAUSE SIGNIFICANT HARM TO EXISTING AND FORMER HEATHLAND HABITATS, EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, WILL NOT NORMALLY BE PERMITTED.
 
The importance of conserving heathland has recently been recognised by the UK Biodiversity Steering Group. The UK Biodiversity Steering Group's report includes a Costed Habitat Action Plan for Lowland Heathland, which recognises that "lowland heathland is a priority for nature conservation because it is a rare and threatened habitat". Much of the District's heathland has been designated as proposed Special Protection Area or Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is also of amenity value as a characteristic landscape of the area.
Both existing and former heathland should be protected from potentially damaging development. Former heathlands which have become overgrown through lack of management, or which have been used for forestry or other open land use, still have the potential for restoration, which is why they are worthy of protection where possible. Measures to improve and restore this habitat are also being undertaken, co-ordinated by the Northeast Hampshire Heathlands Project. Such work is of considerable value as the habitat is otherwise at risk of deterioration due to lack of management.
The importance of conserving heathland has recently been recognised in the UK Biodiversity Steering Group Report's Action Plan for Lowland Heathland which states that 'Lowland heathland is a priority for nature conservation as it is a rare and threatened habitat". This policy relates to land which either retains a heathland character (albeit suppressed under another (un-built) land-use, such as plantation forestry, or to open land which may be reasonably expected to gain a heathland character if appropriately managed, such as farmlands on poorer soils and some mineral workings.
Heathland is also of value for informal recreation such as walking, although it is sensitive to erosion or intensive use. More intensive recreational developments, particularly those involving buildings or car parks, would be inappropriate.
 
 
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This policy will be applied in particular to existing and former heathland habitats principally evidenced within the landscape character areas of Bramshill, Firgrove, Hazeley / West Green, part of Winchfield and Minley as shown on the Proposals Map.
 
 
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CON 7 DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS WHICH WOULD HAVE A SIGNIFICANT ADVERSE AFFECT ON THE NATURE CONSERVATION, LANDSCAPE OR RECREATIONAL VALUE OF RIVERINE ENVIRONMENTS (WHICH INCLUDE THOSE OF THE RIVERS HART, WHITEWATER AND BLACKWATER), WETLANDS AND PONDS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
 
River corridors are of great importance for water resources, nature conservation, fisheries and recreation and often make a significant contribution to the landscape. This is recognised in RPG9, Regional Planning Guidance for the South East, in para 4.25. Rivers, groundwater, ponds, wetlands, appropriate public access and water-related recreation all deserve conservation, restoration or enhancement where appropriate. It is important that development should not lead to pollution, which could adversely affect water quality. The National Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency) has prepared a Catchment Management Plan for the Blackwater River Catchment, which includes all the rivers within Hart. The more isolated Rivers Whitewater and Hart currently have high standards of water quality, which should be protected, and the Environment Agency aims to improve water quality along the River Blackwater. The Council will generally encourage initiatives which seek to conserve and restore or enhance the natural elements of river corridors, as indicated on the Proposals Map for the Rivers Whitewater, Hart and Blackwater, and other waterside areas, or which encourage appropriate water-based and water recreation.
The Council is concerned about the level of demand for water abstraction in the District, as this can seriously reduce the flow of rivers. There is already a problem of low flow on the River Whitewater. Water supply for new development should come from a sustainable source. The Environment Agency will be consulted on any development proposals that could affect rivers.
See also proposal CON 10 specifically protecting the Basingstoke Canal, a watercourse of national importance, which should be protected from pollution or other matters, which could affect its water quality. See also Policy GEN 3, which addresses the avoidance of adversely affecting the character of the landscape, including the Hart, Whitewater and Blackwater Landscape Character Areas.
 
 
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Trees and Woodlands
CON 8 WHERE DEVELOPMENT IS PROPOSED WHICH WOULD AFFECT TREES, WOODLANDS OR HEDGEROWS OF SIGNIFICANT LANDSCAPE OR AMENITY VALUE PLANNING PERMISSION WILL ONLY BE GRANTED IF THESE FEATURES ARE SHOWN TO BE CAPABLE OF BEING RETAINED IN THE LONGER TERM OR IF REMOVAL IS NECESSARY NEW PLANTING IS UNDERTAKEN TO MAINTAIN THE VALUE OF THESE FEATURES. PLANNING CONDITIONS MAY BE IMPOSED TO REQUIRE THE PLANTING OF NEW TREES OR HEDGEROWS TO REPLACE THOSE LOST.
 
Much of the character of Hart is due to the large areas of woodland and the substantial numbers of trees and fine hedgerows in its towns and villages. Ecologically and visually, trees and hedgerows are an important part of the environment and the loss of trees and other features, which contribute to the character of the District, will be resisted. Management of woodlands and groups of trees will be encouraged by the Council. It should be noted that felling of individual trees, if carried out as part of an overall conservation management plan for the woodland, may be of positive benefit.
Ancient woodland or other woodland of ecological value will already be protected through the nature conservation policies CON 1-6. This policy aims to protect trees and woodlands for their public amenity and landscape value.
Where individual trees or groups of trees are considered to be of particular amenity value, the Council will protect them by the designation of Tree Preservation Orders. It is an offence to fell or carry out works to a protected tree without informing the Council. All trees within conservation areas are also protected. Further information is given in the Council's advice notes on Protected Trees and Conservation Areas.
The local planning authority will request the submission of a tree survey, showing the position, spread and condition of all trees, together with a proposed landscaping scheme and management plan. Where the local planning authority does not receive adequate information it may not be able to determine an application. Development proposals affecting trees will be considered against British Standard BS5837: 1991.
 
 
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When preparing landscape schemes for development in rural settlements and greenfield sites, the developer will be requested to plant indigenous tree species. This will help to soften the impact of development in rural areas. The management of existing woodland areas will also be encouraged by the Council as this can enhance their ecological and amenity value.
 
 
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Agricultural Land
CON 9 DEVELOPMENT OF THE BEST AND MOST VERSATILE AGRICULTURAL LAND (GRADES 1, 2 AND 3A AS DEFINED BY THE AGRICULTURAL LAND CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM) WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR DEVELOPING PREVIOUSLY DEVELOPED SITES AND ON LAND WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF EXISTING URBAN AREAS HAVE BEEN INVESTIGATED. WHERE DEVELOPMENT ON AGRICULTURAL LAND IS UNAVOIDABLE, IT WILL BE DIRECTED TO LAND OF THE LOWEST POSSIBLE GRADE UNLESS SUSTAINABILITY CONSIDERATIONS INDICATE OTHERWISE, INCLUDING IMPORTANCE FOR BIODIVERISTY, QUALITY AND CHARACTER OF THE LANDSCAPE, AMENITY VALUE, HERITAGE INTEREST, AND ACCESSIBILITY TO INFRASTRUCTURE, SERVICES, WORKFORCE AND MARKETS.
 
Policy CON 9 reflects changes made in the approach to agricultural land protection following the publication of the Government's Rural White paper in November 2000 and subsequent changes to PPG7. Best and most versatile agricultural land remains an important sustainable resource but planning decisions will be expected to take greater account of the overall value of land in the countryside using agricultural land quality as one contributory factor.
In considering site-specific proposals for development and the allocation of land in the local plan, the local planning authority has taken into account the agricultural land classification system alongside other sustainability issues.
Where there is an overriding public need for development on agricultural land for which site-specific provision has not already been made in the local plan (such as the need for affordable housing on rural exception sites) land of a higher grade should not be used if suitable land of a lower grade is available in a more or equally sustainable location.
 
 
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The Basingstoke Canal
CON 10 DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT THE LANDSCAPE, ARCHITECTURAL OR ECOLOGICAL CHARACTER, SETTING OR ENJOYMENT OF THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL OR WHICH WOULD RESULT IN THE LOSS OF IMPORTANT VIEWS IN THE VICINITY OF THE CANAL WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
 
The Basingstoke Canal was constructed in the 1790s. It is an important historic and landscape feature of exceptional ecological value and a valuable recreational resource. The Canal and it's associated bridges, nearby buildings and other structures are designated as a conservation area. A Conservation Area Proposal Statement has been prepared for the Fleet section of the canal, and this includes detailed policies for its protection. The whole length of the Canal within the District is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Greywell Tunnel in particular is of international importance as a bat roost.
The local planning authority is anxious to preserve the character of the canal environs and to soften the impact of any development around the Canal. Proposals will be expected to show a high standard of design. To this end, the local planning authority has made a number of Directions under Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning, General Development Order 1988 (as amended) to extend planning controls to cover operations which do not normally require permission. Three Article 4 Directions relate to properties within the Basingstoke Canal Conservation Area: Part of the Basingstoke Canal Conservation Area within Crookham Village made 12th January 2000; Broad Oak, Odiham made 28th September 1998; and North Warnborough Conservation Area made on 28th January 1998. Further information regarding properties affected by these directions and the permitted development rights removed by them, may be obtained by contacting Hart's Development Control section. Further directions may be made under any subsequent review of the conservation areas.
Proposals for development which would be unduly prominent from the Canal towpath, or which would restrict or adversely affect views of the Canal from surrounding roads, footpaths or public places, will be resisted in order to protect the special character of the conservation area.
See also Proposal RUR 32, which covers recreational developments associated with the Canal.
 
 
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Policies for Archaeological and Historic Features
CON 11 DEVELOPMENT THAT WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT A SCHEDULED ANCIENT MONUMENT, OTHER SITE OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE OR ITS SETTING, WILL NOT BE PERMITTED. ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMAINS SHOULD BE PROTECTED IN SITU, UNLESS THERE ARE EXCEPTIONAL OVERRIDING NEEDS FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD PREVENT THIS, IN WHICH CASE A DETAILED ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION SHOULD BE CARRIED OUT PRIOR TO DEVELOPMENT.
 
Sites of archaeological importance are normally identified by English Heritage and the County Archaeologist. Where important archaeological remains are thought to exist on a site, the local planning authority will request an initial archaeological evaluation as part of the planning application. The aim of this is to define the character and extent of archaeological remains in the area of the proposed development, in order to indicate the weight that needs to be attached to them in determining the application. This is in accordance with detailed advice in PPG16 on Archaeology and Planning.
The policy is also intended to cover sites of archaeological importance at present not known about. If chance discoveries are made during the course of development, where archaeological works are NOT already secured through an archaeological condition attached to the planning permission, the local authority in conjunction with the County Archaeologist will endeavour to work with developers to preserve or record the "finds" and assess the site without undue delay to the development. Where archaeological works have been secured by a condition attached to a planning permission, delays might arise from time to time.
Scheduled ancient monuments and other sites of known archaeological interest within the District are identified in the Hampshire Archaeology and Historic Buildings Record (AHBR) which incorporates the County Sites and Monuments Record both of which are held by Hampshire County Council.
 
 
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CON 12 DEVELOPMENT THAT WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT HISTORIC PARKS AND GARDENS OR THEIR SETTINGS, WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
 
Historic parks and gardens are important for their intrinsic value and for the contribution they make to the character and heritage of the District. Many have specific historic associations, for example the association of Elvetham Park with Elizabeth I. The most important sites are included on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. This currently includes Elvetham Park, Dogmersfield Great Park, Bramshill Park, Warbrook House, Tylney Hall, Minley Manor and Heckfield Park. These are listed in Section 7A of Appendix B and defined on the Proposals Map. Parks and gardens of local historic interest are also listed in this section and fall to be considered under this policy. The Weir Schultz house and garden at Phoenix Green is an example of a garden of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which is of local importance. There are other parks and gardens of a local historic interest however, which the Council will also seek to protect and conserve through this policy should the need arise. Parks and gardens of local importance have been identified on a local list prepared by Hampshire County Council Environment Group, in conjunction with Hampshire Gardens Trust. This list is included in Section 7B of Appendix B. The settings of such historic grounds, including significant views to and from them, will also be protected from inappropriate development under this policy.
Changes may take place within these historic environments, particularly as many now have alternative uses. It is important that such changes are managed to ensure that they can be carried out sensitively, avoiding harm to the general elements of the historic landscape.
The importance of historic parks and gardens and the need to take them into account in planning decisions is outlined in PPG15 on Planning and the Historic Environment.
 
 
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Conservation Areas
CON 13 PROPOSALS FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH FAIL TO MEET THE OBJECTIVES OF CONSERVING OR ENHANCING THE CHARACTER OR APPEARANCE OF A DESIGNATED CONSERVATION AREA WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
 
Conservation areas are areas of special architectural or historical interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. These areas will naturally be of many different kinds. They may be large or small, whole villages and hamlets or just a square or green. They are often focused on listed buildings but not always. Other attractive groups of buildings, open spaces, trees, a traditional street pattern or features of historic or architectural interest may also contribute to the special character of an area.
Conservation areas are designated and reviewed under separate legislation from the local plan. In designating new conservation areas, the local planning authority will take into account the architectural and historic merit, scenic quality, cohesion, physical relationships between buildings, and the relationship of buildings with their settings.
 
 
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It is the overall character of an area, which the designation of a conservation area seeks to preserve and enhance, rather than the individual buildings. Development proposals will need to take account of the following criteria:
i) The use of the local building style, traditional scale and materials and special architectural detailing appropriate to the setting of the site;
ii) The retention and management of beneficial landscape and townscape features including the protection and retention of buildings of local architectural or historic merit, important gaps, views, trees, boundary treatments and open spaces;
iii) The conformity of the proposed development with the building line, orientation and density of other buildings in the vicinity;
iv) The use of boundary treatments which in terms of materials, colour, massing and species are sympathetic to the character and appearance of the conservation area;
v) The potential for securing environmental improvements as part of any scheme.
Proposals for the change of use of buildings within conservation areas will also need to satisfy the following criteria:
vi) The proposal can be accommodated harmoniously within the existing street scene, without the need for building works or operations that would result in the introduction of intrusive materials, detailing or design features; and
vii) The intensity of activity on site would not have a detrimental effect on the character or appearance of the conservation area; or
viii) The proposal will beneficially contribute to the character and vitality of the conservation area.
 
The local planning authority has a statutory duty to ensure the preservation and enhancement of its conservation areas. Conservation Area Proposal Statements have been prepared for many of the conservation areas in the District. These set out in further detail the elements contributing to the particular value of each Area. They are prepared under section 71 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. The preparation of these documents assessing the character and value of individual conservation areas is also encouraged in PPG15 on Planning and the Historic Environment. A list of Conservation Areas, and those that currently benefit from the preparation of a Conservation Area Proposal Statement, is given in Section 1 of Appendix B. Changes of use of buildings will normally be permitted (subject to other policies in the development plan) provided that they do not cause demonstrable harm to the character of the conservation area. Within historic villages a balance of residential and commercial uses is desirable: the loss of too many residential uses in the centres, or the loss of important facilities such as village shops, can be detrimental to the vitality of the village. The subdivision of single large houses into smaller units can sometimes erode the character of the original building and its setting, through effects on communal areas such as front gardens, and increased car parking and traffic. See Proposal RUR17 on village shops. Where buildings within a conservation area are unoccupied and deteriorating through lack of maintenance, then the local planning authority will be prepared to take a flexible approach to changes of use, in order to secure maintenance of the building.
It is recognised that trees make a major contribution to the character and amenity of Conservation Areas. Consequently, virtually all trees in Conservation Areas are protected. This allows the Council to ensure the contribution which trees with a trunk of over 75mm diameter make to the environment is preserved. The general rule is that permission is required to carry our works to all trees within a Conservation Area.
Conservation areas contain visible evidence of a settlement's past in buildings, street plans, open spaces and archaeological features. The local planning authority will protect them from development that could detract from or alter their special character or setting.
Most conservation areas in the District are now the subject of directions made under Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1998, the effect of which is to reduce the extent of minor alterations or demolition that can be carried out in conservation areas without the need to apply for planning permission. Further directions may be made under any review of a conservation area. Further information regarding properties affected by these directions and the permitted development rights removed by them may be obtained from Hart's Development Control section.
Attention is drawn to Proposals URB 18 and URB 19, which relate specifically to housing densities within the North Fleet and Yateley Conservation Areas.
 
 
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CON 14 DEVELOPMENT REQUIRING THE DEMOLITION OF A BUILDING OR PART OF A BUILDING IN A CONSERVATION AREA WILL NOT BE PERMITTED IF:
  (i) The removal of a building or part of a building would unacceptably harm the special character and/or appearance of the area;
  (ii) Detailed proposals for the re-use of the site, including any replacement building (or part thereof) and landscaping, have not been approved.
 
Individual buildings often significantly contribute to the overall character of conservation areas.
A general presumption in favour of retaining buildings, which make a positive contribution to the area's character, is stated in PPG15 on Planning and the Historic Environment. PPG15 advises that in general, buildings that make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of a Conservation Area should be retained. Proposals for demolition will therefore be considered in terms of the appearance of the building itself, and its contribution to the overall street scene. Partial demolition such as the removal of chimney stacks can also have a significant detrimental effect on the overall character of the surroundings. Other buildings may be demolished but the emphasis should be on the contribution any replacement would make to the objectives of conservation in the area concerned. Landscaping is an important feature of any site in a conservation area and as such sites should not be left vacant or derelict after demolition even in the case of removal of a building of no merit at all. Since 1998 the local planning authority has made a number of directions under Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Order) Act 1988 which remove certain permitted development rights in respect of dwelling houses in most conservation areas. These cover partial demolition as well as other alterations. Further information regarding properties affected by these directions, and the permitted development rights removed by them may be obtained by contacting Hart's Development Control section.
 
 
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Listed Buildings
Demolition of Listed Buildings
CON 15 PLANNING PERMISSION FOR PROPOSALS THAT WOULD RESULT IN THE DEMOLITION OF A LISTED BUILDING, WILL NOT BE GRANTED UNLESS THE PROPOSED DEMOLITION CAN BE JUSTIFIED AS BEING NECESSARY UNDER THE TESTS OF PPG15.
 
Under the advice in PPG15 on Planning and the Historic Environment, the onus is on the applicant to demonstrate that the removal of a listed building is necessary. The guidance states that the demolition of any grade 1 or grade 2* building should be wholly exceptional and would require the strongest possible justification. Tests that will be taken into account when consideration is given to proposals for demolition are included within PPG15 namely:
The condition of the building and the adequacy of efforts made to retain the building in use;
The cost of repairing and maintaining it in relation to its importance and to the value derived from its continued use; and the merits of alternative proposals for the site.
The policies of this plan apply only to applications for planning permission. Demolitions or alterations to listed buildings also require Listed Building Consent. Where related planning and listed building applications are made, they will normally be treated in tandem, but it should be noted that different information may be required for each. It is important that applicants for listed building consent include sufficient information to enable the local planning authority to decide the application.
 
 
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Setting of Listed Buildings
CON 16 DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD HAVE A MATERIAL ADVERSE IMPACT ON THE SETTING OF A LISTED BUILDING WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
 
The setting of a listed building often forms an essential part of its character, particularly if it comprises gardens or other designated landscapes intended to complement or enhance the building. Other properties may also form significant elements in the setting of a listed building, so that redevelopment or alterations may adversely affect the setting. Local planning authorities have a statutory duty to have regard to the desirability of preserving the settings of listed buildings when determining applications. Detailed advice on this issue is included within PPG15 on Planning for the Historic Environment.
 
 
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Extension and Alteration of Listed Buildings and Buildings of Local Interest
CON 17 PROPOSALS FOR THE EXTENSION OR ALTERATION OF LISTED BUILDINGS OR BUILDINGS OF LOCAL INTEREST, WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS:
 
 
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  (i) The scale of the building is not materially changed;
  (ii) Design is appropriate to the character and setting of the building.
     
Under Planning Policy Guidance Note 15 on Planning and the Historic Environment, the applicant must demonstrate a strong case for carrying out any works to a listed building.
Buildings of special architectural or historic interest contribute to the attractive character and heritage of both settlements and the countryside, and require conserving and protecting from potentially harmful development.
The local planning authority has a statutory duty to preserve and protect listed buildings and their settings. This may, on occasion, involve a positive approach to changes of use. Buildings of local interest are locally designated and whilst the local planning authority will aim to protect them, there is no statutory duty or power to do so. Applications involving Buildings of Local Interest will therefore be treated on their merits. Buildings of Local Interest (for their historic or architectural merit) have been identified by the Council and details are held within the Council's Design and Landscape Section.
Where development or change of use is necessary in order to secure the retention of a listed building or building of local interest, the local planning authority will be prepared to consider exceptions to other policies in this plan.
Where proposals may affect the character or settings of listed buildings, the local planning authority will request the submission of a detailed application, including photographs of relevant details.
 
 
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Change of Use of Listed Buildings and Buildings of Local Interest
CON 18 IN ORDER TO ENSURE THE PRESERVATION OF THE BUILT STRUCTURE, THE CHANGE OF USE OF A LISTED BUILDING OR BUILDING OF LOCAL INTEREST WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED IF IT IS IN KEEPING WITH THE BUILDING AND WILL NOT MATERIALLY AFFECT FEATURES OF HISTORIC OR ARCHITECTURAL IMPORTANCE.
 
The local planning authority may be prepared to take a flexible approach to the change of use of a listed building if this is necessary to secure the fabric of the building, for example if it is currently disused or has fallen into disrepair. This is in accordance with the advice in PPG15 on Planning and the Historic Environment.
Buildings of local interest (for their historic or architectural merit) have been identified by the Council and details are held within the Council's Design and Landscape Section.
 
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Policies for Strategic and Locally Important Gaps and Settings of Settlements
Strategic Gaps
CON 19 DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT BE PERMITTED WHICH WOULD DIMINISH THE FOLLOWING DEFINED STRATEGIC GAPS PHYSICALLY OR VISUALLY:
  i) The Blackwater Gap between the Blackwater Valley Towns (Aldershot to Yateley) and the County Boundary; and
  ii) Fleet and Aldershot/Yateley.
 
Strategic Gaps are designated to protect those areas of land which have particular importance as open and undeveloped land; important in terms of the structure of the settlement pattern at a strategic level and providing a clear visual and physical break in the built environment. They keep individual settlements separate and distinct but may also have other benefits for local communities as areas with recreation, amenity, and / or nature conservation value. Strict control of development is necessary if their importance is to be maintained.
These strategic gaps have a long-term importance and once fixed in local plans their boundaries should be altered only in exceptional circumstances. Within this densely urbanised part of north-east Hampshire, there are substantial areas of open or undeveloped land which are of fundamental importance for shaping the strategic settlement pattern. They perform a role in providing extensive breaks in this large conurbation and their importance is a reflection of their size and extent. In north-east Hampshire the towns are part of a larger urban area of around 300,000 people, interspersed with open and undeveloped land, which extends both sides of the County boundary. In Surrey and Berkshire, development stretches in an almost unbroken crescent, paralleling the River Blackwater, from Farnham to Sandhurst and beyond. Pressures threatening further coalescence are considerable, particularly along the river valley itself. Over the years, development has reduced the amount of open land between the Blackwater Valley Towns. In many, this remaining open land is dominated visually by urban features. Fleet is a large town with a distinct and separate identity, which over recent years has experienced peripheral pressures for development towards the Blackwater Valley Towns. Strategic gaps between these towns and Fleet will help to prevent coalescence in this part of the conurbation.
 
 
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Attention is drawn to the fact that a number of site-specific proposals occur within the defined strategic gaps. These include sites at DERA, Pyestock and Clarks Farm, Darby Green. These are generally instances where there is already development and the Plan proposals seek to address the development options for each site within the context of the gaps that they fall within.
It should be noted that where gaps cross District boundaries, as is the case with the Fleet to Farnborough/Aldershot gap and the Yateley/Blackwater to County Boundary gap, similar designations exist on the other side of the boundary.
 
 
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CON 20 WITHIN THE BLACKWATER GAP BETWEEN THE BLACKWATER VALLEY TOWNS AND THE COUNTY BOUNDARY, PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD DIMINISH THE GAP PHYSICALLY OR VISUALLY, IN ORDER THAT THE SETTING AND SEPARATE IDENTITY OF SETTLEMENTS ON EITHER SIDE OF THE COUNTY BOUNDARY ARE RETAINED. PROPOSALS THAT RETAIN THE OPEN NATURE OF THE BLACKWATER VALLEY, PROMOTE RECREATION AS ITS PRIMARY USE AND HAVE NO DETRIMENTAL EFFECT ON ECOLOGY OR LANDSCAPE WILL BE PERMITTED.
 
In north-east Hampshire the towns are part of a larger urban area of around 300,000 people, interspersed with open and undeveloped land, which extends both sides of the County boundary. In Surrey and Berkshire development stretches in an almost unbroken crescent, paralleling the River Blackwater, from Farnham to Sandhurst and beyond. Pressures threatening further coalescence are considerable, particularly along the river valley itself. The Blackwater River runs through a thin ribbon of open and undeveloped land with narrow strips of land running between the towns to the open countryside beyond. This open land is of strategic importance to the separate identity of the settlements in the three counties.
The area surrounding the Blackwater Valley has generally seen a rapid rate of development in recent years. The Valley itself therefore performs a valuable role as an open gap between settlements on either side, and provides opportunities for a wide variety of recreational pursuits. These include both informal recreation such as walking and bird-watching, and more formal activities such as water-sports. The Blackwater Valley Countryside Service works to protect the open space and ecological value of the Valley whilst maximising recreation opportunities.
There are particularly fine views across the River Blackwater from neighbouring Wokingham District, including those from Wokingham's Blackwater Valley and Farley Hill Areas of Special Landscape Importance.
See also Proposal RUR 31, which covers recreational development within the Valley.
 
 
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Local Gaps
CON 21 DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD LEAD TO THE COALESCENCE OR DAMAGE THE SEPARATE IDENTITY OF NEIGHBOURING SETTLEMENTS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED IN THE FOLLOWING LOCAL GAPS:
  i) Fleet to Crookham Village;
  ii) Fleet/Church Crookham to Ewshot;
  iii) Crookham Village to Dogmersfield;
  iv) Eversley to Yateley;
  v) Hook to Newnham;
  vi) Odiham to North Warnborough;
  vii) Eversley Centre and Eversley Cross.
     
Gaps separating smaller settlements are also very important, but their significance is of more local value. They are important in maintaining the separate identities of smaller settlements, providing their setting and preventing coalescence. Any public rights of way within these gaps are usually heavily used and of high value to those living in adjoining settlements. The reduction of gaps can adversely affect the use and amenity of such rights of way, as well as impeding attempts to introduce new or extended footpaths or cycleways.
Local gaps may be subject to more frequent review than Strategic Gaps. Nevertheless, for the period of this local plan, the local planning authority aims to retain protection of all these gaps.
 
 
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Setting of Settlements and Recreation in the Countryside Adjoining Settlements
CON 22 DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT THE CHARACTER OR SETTING OF A SETTLEMENT, OR LEAD TO THE LOSS OF IMPORTANT AREAS OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF OPEN LAND AROUND SETTLEMENTS, WILL NOT BE PERMITTED WHERE IT WOULD:
  i) Obscure typical views of the settlement from public vantage points;
  ii) Obstruct significant public views our of the settlement;
  iii) Result in the loss of "green fingers" important to the structure and amenity of the settlement; or
  iv) Otherwise have a serious adverse effect on the character or setting of the settlement.
 
Land immediately outside settlement boundaries may be important to the form and character of a settlement, providing both the foreground and the background views of the settlement from a distance and opportunities for views from the settlement. In some instances it may form fingers of open land which penetrate into the settlement and are an essential part of its character and appearance. When development is proposed it is important that these considerations are not overlooked and this policy provides a basis for their protection.
 
 
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Amenity Value of Public Rights of Way
CON 23 DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT BE PERMITTED WHICH WOULD SERIOUSLY DETRACT FROM THE AMENITY AND CONSEQUENT RECREATIONAL VALUE OF WELL-USED FOOTPATHS AND OTHER PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY IN THE COUNTRYSIDE CLOSE TO MAIN SETTLEMENTS BY REDUCING THEIR RURAL CHARACTER OR DETRACTING FROM SIGNIFICANT VIEWS.
     
Walking in the countryside is an extremely popular activity. Many areas in which there are good networks of footpaths and bridleways, with opportunities for circular routes, within easy reach of main settlements are of particular value and amenity to local residents. Development that would have an adverse impact on views from such routes, or which would suburbanise their surroundings, will therefore normally be resisted. Examples of areas currently important for countryside walking are the Hook Woods (north-west of Hook) and the countryside around the Crookham Village / Basingstoke Canal area. Informal recreation is also one of the aims of the Forest of Eversley Partnerships. See also Proposal RUR 30, which provides for small-scale developments to facilitate informal recreation.
Walking in the countryside is an extremely popular activity. Many areas in which there are good networks of footpaths and bridleways, with opportunities for circular routes, within easy reach of main settlements are of particular value and amenity to local residents. Development that would have an adverse impact on views from such routes, or which would suburbanise their surroundings, will therefore normally be resisted. Examples of areas currently important for countryside walking are the Hook Woods (north-west of Hook) and the countryside around the Crookham Village / Basingstoke Canal area. Informal recreation is also one of the aims of the Forest of Eversley Partnerships. See also Proposal RUR 30, which provides for small-scale developments to facilitate informal recreation.
Rights of way also include bridleways, byways open to all traffic (BOATS), roads used as public paths (RUPPS), and unclassified county roads. They can be important for a range of recreational uses as well as walking.
Note that whilst much of the MoD land in the District is currently used by the public for informal recreation subject to military bylaws, this cannot be assumed to provide for open space deficiencies, as public use is only permitted where this is compatible with current training requirements.
 
 
 
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