Chapter 6 PROPOSALS
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6.4 THE URBAN ECONOMY AND RURAL CENTRES
 
Employment in the Urban Areas and Rural Centres
URB 1 Definition of Areas
URB 2 Business Development: General
URB 3 Town, District & Local Centres: Business Above Ground Floor Level.
URB 4 Town, District & Local Centres: Business At Ground Floor Level.
URB 5 Provision for Small Businesses
URB 6 Expansion of Employment Uses
URB 7 Loss of Employment Uses
 
Shopping in the Urban Areas and Rural Centres
URB 8 Retail: Town & Village Centres
URB 9 Retail: Local Needs
URB 10 Out of Centre Retailing
URB 11 Shop Fronts
 
Housing in the Urban Areas and Rural Centres
URB 12 Residential Development: Criteria
URB 13 Affordable Housing: Proportion of New Development
URB 14 Special Needs Housing Policy
URB 15 Town, District & Local Centres: Residential Above Ground Floor Level.
URB 16 Extensions
URB 17 Annexes for Dependent Relatives
URB 18 North Fleet Conservation Area
URB 19 Yateley Conservation Areas
 
Social Infrastructure and Services
URB 20 Retention and Provision of Local Services and Community Facilities
 
Recreation and Open Space in Settlements
URB 21 Loss of Amenity & Recreation Open Space
URB 22 Change of Use of Small Open Space Areas
URB 23 Open Space Requirements with New Development
 
Advertisements within settlements
URB 24 Signs and advertisements

 

Introduction
Policies for the urban areas and rural centres of the District are principally concerned with sustaining and encouraging economic activity, and meeting the District's needs for housing, shopping, social services and recreation.
Hampshire has benefited from a thriving economy in the past, but has been adversely affected by the recent recession. There is a recognised need for new employment opportunities throughout the County. Hart District has traditionally been a "dormitory" area, providing housing for people working outside the District. This has meant a lack of economic opportunities locally, and a large proportion of commuting, which contributes to atmospheric pollution and is unsustainable in the longer term. This is contrary to the aims of PPG13 on Transport, which emphasises the need to plan for the juxtaposition of homes and workplaces.
The Hart Chamber of Commerce prepared an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to economic development in the District. Their objective, repeated in the objectives to this plan, is to develop a robust and diverse local economy, to reduce commuting, generate wealth and reduce unemployment whilst retaining an attractive environment.
New housing figures for the District are set by the Hampshire County Structure Plan. It is for the local plan to determine the location for this housing, and it is important that it is located where it does not harm important environmental interests and where it minimises the need to travel to employment and services. The Housing Needs Survey, carried out for the Council in 1994, shows a significant need for affordable housing in the area, and the policies within this section of the plan aim to address this by encouraging the provision of affordable dwellings. These findings were confirmed in the 1998 Housing Needs Survey.
 
 
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URB 1 THE POLICIES IN THIS SECTION OF THE PLAN APPLY TO THE URBAN AREAS AND RURAL CENTRES OF BLACKWATER/HAWLEY, FLEET, HARTLEY WINTNEY, HOOK, ODIHAM AND YATELEY, AS DEFINED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP AND INSET MAPS, UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED.
 
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Employment in the Urban Areas and Rural Centres
Employment developments are expected to comply with guidance under Policy T14 (iii) regarding car and lorry parking.
 
 
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URB 2 WITHIN SETTLEMENT BOUNDARIES BUT OUTSIDE THE DEFINED TOWN CENTRES, DISTRICT SHOPPING CENTRES AND LOCAL CENTRES, B1 BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OR CHANGES OF USE TO BUSINESS (B1) WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE:
  (i) The proposal is well related in location and design to existing development;
  (ii) Existing buildings are physically capable of accommodating the proposed use, and new buildings are of an appropriate proportion in relation to the surrounding buildings and street scene;
  (iii) The local planning authority is satisfied that there is no material detrimental effect on the amenities of adjacent residents arising from the scale of development proposed;
  (iv) Access and parking can be accommodated without adverse effects on other road users.
     
Within the settlement boundaries of the urban areas and rural centres planning permission will normally be permitted for appropriate industrial or commercial development. Business (B1) development can normally be located in residential areas without harming the amenity of residents. This is included in the advice in PPG4, Industrial and Commercial Development and Small Firms. Also, the Council aims to encourage and support business development through its Economic Development Strategy. Large or "un-neighbourly" employment developments can however be inappropriate within residential areas if they have an adverse effect on the quality of the environment or result in the loss of viable residential units.
 
 
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URB 3 WITHIN THE DEFINED TOWN CENTRES, DISTRICT SHOPPING CENTRES AND LOCAL CENTRES, CHANGES OF USE TO BUSINESS (B1) ABOVE GROUND FLOOR LEVEL, WHICH REQUIRE PLANNING PERMISSION, WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT THE BUILDING IS PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF ACCOMMODATING THE PROPOSED USE AND THAT THE PROPOSAL DOES NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT THE VITALITY AND VIABILITY OF THE CENTRE.
 
This policy only applies to changes of use that require planning permission. Under the Use Classes Order, various changes between categories in Class B (office and industrial uses) do not require permission. Note that the change of use to flats no longer requires planning permission.
The Council aims to encourage and support business development through its Economic Development Strategy. Within the town centres, district shopping centres and local centres, small-scale office and business development is generally appropriate and can meet the needs of businesses with a requirement for premises in the locality. Business uses in the main settlement centres are well-located in relation to the advice in PPG13: Transport, which emphasises the need to reinforce the role of town centres as major centres of employment, reducing travel demand by allowing people the choice of working close to their homes and using public transport.
Any proposal will be carefully evaluated to ensure that incremental increases in office and business use do not adversely affect the character and vitality of the area by changing the balance of uses.
Residents and workers stimulate shopping, restaurants and cafes, and other businesses to serve them and so in turn add to vitality (PPG6, paragraph 2.13). However, business (B1) uses are often closed at night and the local planning authority does not wish to see large parts of town centres, district shopping centres and local centres become dead at night. Where there is evidence that this is already happening because of a lack of residential units nearby, the local planning authority may exceptionally refuse planning permission for B1 use or may grant temporary consent only, to enable the situation to be kept under review.
 
 
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URB 4 WITHIN THE DEFINED SHOPPING AND TOWN CENTRES, DISTRICT SHOPPING CENTRES AND LOCAL CENTRES CHANGES OF USE FROM RETAIL (A1) TO BUSINESS (B1) AT GROUND FLOOR LEVEL WILL NOT BE PERMITTED IF IT LEADS TO A SIGNIFICANT LOSS OR FRAGMENTATION OF EXISTING RETAIL FRONTAGES WHICH IS CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL TO THE VITALITY AND VIABILITY OF THE CENTRE.
 
Shopping is a major, if not the pre-eminent function of the commercial centres and it is the intention of the Plan that the vitality and viability of the centres will be maintained and, where possible, enhanced.
 
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Class B1 uses will normally not be permitted in ground floor locations in shopping frontages, or only if by their extent, location or the nature of the use proposed they would contribute to, or not damage, the continuity or effectiveness of the shopping frontage.
 
 
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URB 5 NEW EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENTS ALLOCATED OR ALLOWED BY OTHER POLICIES OF THIS PLAN WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE THEY MAKE PROVISION FOR SMALL BUSINESSES ON ALL OR PART OF THE SITE.
 
The Council’s Economic Development Strategy particularly encourages the provision for small businesses, which make an important contribution to the economy of the area and allow new employment opportunities. These include new businesses, which often need support in setting up and may have difficulty finding appropriate sites. Provision for small businesses is also particularly encouraged under PPG4: Industrial Development and Small Firms. See also proposals RUR 12-16 encouraging small business development as part of the rural economy.
Where a site or development is intended for the sole occupation of a known occupier, for example for a headquarters or regional office building or for industrial plant, in so far as this policy is concerned the proposal will be considered in the light of the circumstances of the case and the advantages that might accrue to the local economy.
 
 
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URB 6 PLANNING PERMISSION FOR DEVELOPMENT OR REDEVELOPMENT CONCERNING THE EXPANSION OF EMPLOYMENT USES WILL BE GRANTED WITHIN OR ADJACENT TO THE EXISTING CURTILAGE OF A SITE PROVIDED THAT THE SITE IS ALREADY LAWFULLY USED FOR SUCH PURPOSES AND THAT THE PROPOSAL, INCLUDING ACCESS AND SERVICING ARRANGEMENTS, DOES NOT MATERIALLY AFFECT THE AMENITIES OF ADJOINING BUILDINGS.
 
The expansion of employment sites can allow for the growth of local businesses without requiring them to leave the locality or the District. A degree of flexibility is therefore required in assessing such proposals (as encouraged under PPG4), but it is important that expansion is controlled so that it avoids detriment to surrounding countryside or urban areas, or to adjoining residents and uses. Not all expansions will require planning permission.
 
 
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URB 7 DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD RESULT IN THE LOSS OF AN EXISTING EMPLOYMENT SITE LAWFULLY USED (OR ENJOYING LAWFUL USE RIGHTS) FOR B1 (BUSINESS) OR B2 (INDUSTRY) WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED IF THE PRESENT USE HARMS THE CHARACTER OR AMENITIES OF ITS SURROUNDINGS, THE SITE IS NOT CAPABLE OF CONTINUING SATISFACTORILY IN AN EMPLOYMENT USE OR THERE WOULD BE SUBSTANTIAL BENEFITS TO THE LOCALITY.
 
The local planning authority wishes to retain and encourage skilled jobs in the employment areas, and to protect the vitality and viability of the defined commercial and retail centres. It is an important aim of the local plan to protect employment opportunities and to secure local jobs that match the District’s population profile. The Council’s Economic Development Strategy seeks to encourage and support business development within the District.
There is a severe imbalance between population and jobs in the district with only one job for every two members of the resident work force. PPG13 recommends that local planning authorities should seek a better balance. That objective would be undermined strategically by the loss of major employment sites, but it would be undermined locally as well by the loss of smaller sites. Therefore, all employment sites lawfully used for B1 (business) or B2 (industrial) uses are covered by this policy. The circumstances in which an exception to policy would be made do not extend to market consideration of land values. In a dormitory district such as Hart, the value of residential land will sometimes exceed the value of industrial land. That is not a reason for abandoning the industrial use, particularly where there is an imbalance between jobs and workforce locally. However, the local planning authority recognises that certain uses may not make good neighbours to nearby residential uses.
 
 
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Shopping in the Urban Areas and Rural Centres
URB 8 RETAIL DEVELOPMENT WILL BE PERMITTED IN THE TOWN AND VILLAGE CENTRES OF FLEET, YATELEY, HOOK, ODIHAM AND HARTLEY WINTNEY (AS DEFINED ON THE RELEVANT INSET MAPS), IF IT WILL SUSTAIN AND/OR ENHANCE THE RANGE AND QUALITY OF SHOPPING PROVISION AND THE VITALITY AND VIABILITY OF THE CENTRE, MAINTAIN OR IMPROVE THE AMENITY, ENVIRONMENT AND CHARACTER OF THE CENTRE AND BE READILY ACCESSIBLE BY MEANS OF TRANSPORT OTHER THAN THE PRIVATE CAR.
 
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In order to cater adequately for the daily shopping needs of the District’s population, the maintenance and enhancement of shopping facilities will be encouraged. At ground floor level within the defined commercial centres of settlements, shopping is the main use and the concentration of shops within one main area increases the convenience for shoppers.
Financial and professional services such as banks, building societies and estate agents are usefully located within main shopping areas. However, it is important that these uses do not dominate the centre as this can fragment the shopping areas, increase the distance between different shops or reduce the overall provision of shopping uses. This could detract from the vitality and viability of the town centres.
In those parts of the centres where shopping is, or is intended to become, the predominant use, Class A2 and A3 uses will only be permitted in shopping frontages if the development would not lead to non-shopping uses occupying more than 15% of the frontage within 50 metres on either side of the centre of the application site (25% in secondary or local shopping areas). All proposals will however be assessed on their merits, taking account of trading patterns in the area. See also area-specific policies F2, F3 and F10 in Fleet Town Centre that take precedence in those areas.
 
 
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URB 9 THE PROVISION OR IMPROVEMENT OF LOCAL SHOPS TO SERVE THE DAY-TO-DAY NEEDS OF LOCAL RESIDENTS AND WORKERS WILL BE PERMITTED, SUBJECT TO OTHER POLICIES OF THIS PLAN, WHERE THEY ARE SATISFACTORY IN THEIR SITING AND DESIGN, READILY ACCESSIBLE TO LOCAL PEOPLE BY MEANS OF TRANSPORT OTHER THAN THE PRIVATE CAR AND WOULD RESULT IN NO MATERIAL HARM TO RESIDENTIAL AMENITY.
 
The local planning authority wishes to see the retention and provision of small-scale shopping facilities to meet local needs. These facilities are an important service within a local community and can help reduce travel demands. Guidance in PPG13 on Transport (paragraph 2.15) stresses the need to provide services in local centres for this reason.
 
 
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URB 10 PROPOSALS FOR LARGE SCALE RETAIL DEVELOPMENT (OVER 2,500 SQ.M.) OUTSIDE THE DEFINED TOWN CENTRES, DISTRICT SHOPPING CENTRES AND LOCAL CENTRES WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS THERE IS AN IDENTIFIED NEED FOR ADDITIONAL SHOPPING PROVISION WHICH CANNOT BE MET IN THE COMMERCIAL CENTRE, IN WHICH CASE THE SEQUENTIAL APPROACH TO SITE SELECTION WILL BE ADOPTED. THIS MEANS THAT TOWN CENTRE SITES ARE THE FIRST PREFERENCE FOR THE LOCATION OF LARGE-SCALE RETAIL UNITS, FOLLOWED BY EDGE OF CENTRE SITES, FOLLOWED BY DISTRICT OR LOCAL CENTRES (SERVING RESIDENTIAL AREAS). ONLY AS A LAST RESORT WILL AN OUT OF CENTRE SITE BE CONSIDERED. ALL SITES MUST ADDITIONALLY SATISFY THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:
  (i) The proposal is capable of serving the area without adversely affecting the character, vitality and viability of nearby centres, either as a result of the individual proposal or of the cumulative impact of several such proposals or developments; and
  (ii) The proposal would not cause a local shortage of land for business, industrial, distribution or other uses; and
  (iii) The site is easily accessible by public transport, walking and cycling.
 
Guidance on retail developments within and outside town centres is provided by PPG6 on retail development. This clearly states that local planning authorities should aim to maintain the vitality and viability of existing centres and should resist development outside centres which could adversely affect them. Proposals should be considered on a "sequential approach": the first preference should always be for town centre sites, followed by sites within settlement boundaries but not in the centres. Sites outside settlements should only be considered if no other sites are available.
 
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The local plan process has not identified a need for further new retail development during the plan period that would be of a sufficient scale to change the role of Fleet Town Centre and other centres in the retail hierarchy. Therefore, there are no site-specific proposals for very large-scale retail development contained within the plan. Consequently, any proposals coming forward outside this policy framework will, in accordance with the Cabon Statement on PPG6: Town Centres & Retail Developments, February 1999, also be required to demonstrate the need for additional facilities, particularly if they are likely (on their own or in combination with other proposals) to change the role of any centre. For clarity and consistency of approach, proposals for smaller-scale retail development (less than 2,500 sq. m.) outside the defined town centres, district shopping centres and local centres will also be required to demonstrate need and to comply with the sequential approach to ensure that centres retain their role in the hierarchy. Large-scale retail development (over 2,500 sq. m.) outside town centres can have a harmful impact on the vitality and viability of the centres. Out-of-town centres are less convenient for people who do not own cars and encourage people to use cars more for shopping. The maintenance of concentrated shopping uses in town centres minimises travel demands and resulting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, as far as possible, and is therefore the most sustainable method of provision. The mix of shopping, employment and service uses within centres makes public transport more viable as one journey can serve several functions.
Certain types of retailing activity however, particularly those involving heavy or bulky goods such as DIY goods, may have particular requirements for large floor areas and immediately adjacent car parking which may not be capable of being satisfied within a town centre location. These types of activity will normally require edge-of-town locations. There is already considerable provision of out-of-town developments along the Blackwater Valley adjacent to this District, in Camberley, Farnborough and Aldershot. These include both food superstores and DIY warehouses, as well as the Marks and Spencer and Tesco stores near Camberley. These are all accessible to the residents of Hart District, particularly those living in the east of the District where more of the population is concentrated.
The District Council is currently aiming to enhance the town and village centres within its area and Town Centre Management Groups have been set up in order to work with retailers and local interest groups in order to further this aim. Developers proposing new out-of-town retail centres will be expected to provide information on the likely economic impact of their proposals on the surrounding shopping centres. Developments likely to adversely affect the centres, in themselves or through a cumulative effect with other proposals, will not normally be permitted.
Retail developments outside the settlement boundaries will normally be resisted, as they could adversely affect the open countryside and are more likely to increase car journeys.
Reference should also be made to PPG13 paragraph 27 which indicates that large comprehensive projects should be reduced or split to enable them to locate the constituent parts in sustainable locations rather than accept a large comprehensive development in an unsuitable location.
 
 
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URB 11 DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS FOR THE PROVISION, ALTERATION OR REPLACEMENT OF SHOP FRONTS WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT:
  (i) Traditional shop fronts are not destroyed;
  (ii) Design, materials and detailing of new shop fronts or alterations of existing shop fronts are in scale and keeping with the character of the building and its surrounding shopping frontage;
  (iii) They preserve separate access to upper floors where this exists.
   
The design of shop fronts, if not controlled, can lead to significant changes in the visual character of both historic towns and village centres. A design guide for shop fronts, as well as specific guidance on roller shutters and security blinds, has been prepared by the Council. It is in the interests of developers to make provision for internal security blinds, if necessary, as part of their initial permission, as permission for external blinds or other security features which are incompatible with existing designs at a later date will not normally be granted. The proliferation of large, obtrusive external shutters can seriously detract from the character of town centres, and reduce their attractiveness after shopping hours. The protection of traditional shop fronts is particularly important within the conservation areas of Hartley Wintney and Odiham. See also proposals CON 13-16, which apply to listed buildings and conservation areas. The preservation of separate access to upper floors is a key factor in maintaining residential or separate commercial uses on the upper floors of shops.
 
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Housing in the Urban Areas and Rural Centres
URB 12 WITHIN THE MAIN SETTLEMENT BOUNDARIES, AND ON OTHER SITES SPECIFICALLY ALLOCATED IN THIS PLAN, RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT WILL BE PERMITTED, PROVIDED THAT:
  (i) The proposal is sympathetic in scale, design, massing, height, layout, siting and density both in itself and in relation to adjoining buildings, spaces and views and makes optimum use of the site at densities commensurate with good innovative design in relation to site characteristics (see policy GEN 4);
  (ii) The proposal does not result in the loss of any local feature of note, such as trees, hedgerows protected under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 (SI No. 1160) and views;
  (iii) The proposal provides a reasonable mix of dwelling types and sizes where appropriate, reflecting the current housing needs of the area with the emphasis on smaller units to reflect the trend towards smaller household;
  (iv) The proposal does not result in material loss of amenity to adjoining residents;
  (v) The proposal does not result in the loss of land in lawful use or with lawful use rights for business (B1) or industry (B2) uses other than in the circumstances of Policy URB 7.
 
The Council's Housing Strategy, and the Housing Needs Survey carried out in 1994, show that there is an abnormally high proportion of larger detached houses within the District and a significant market demand for small, more affordable units. The Council will therefore actively encourage the development of more small units in order to offer a wider choice of housing within the District. It should also be noted however that urgent needs for affordable housing are most commonly for family accommodation, and this would be taken into account particularly in considering affordable housing provision under policy URB 13. The mix of housing types and sizes will be informed by reference to the Hart Housing Strategy which is updated annually.
Within the settlement boundaries of towns and villages of the District, infill development on small sites, which are generally suitable for development, will normally be permitted in accordance with other policies of this plan, and an allowance for development on such small sites is made in order to contribute towards structure plan housing targets.
Proposals for redevelopment at higher densities will be considered under this policy. The relationship to the existing form and layout of surrounding development, traffic generation, and potential impact on important trees or open spaces will be important considerations in these cases.
The mix of housing types and sizes will be informed by reference to the Hart Housing Strategy, which is updated annually.
 
 
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Affordable and Special Needs Housing
URB 13 IN ORDER TO CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS ACHIEVING THE DISTRICT-WIDE TARGET FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING (AS SET OUT AND DEFINED IN THE PLAN), PROPOSALS FOR NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS ON SITES OF 0.5 HA OR MORE OR PROVIDING 15 DWELLINGS OR MORE WILL, SUBJECT TO SITE AND MARKET CONDITIONS AND TO ANY OTHER MATERIAL CONSIDERATIONS, ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE THEY CONTAIN A PROPORTION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING. THE PRECISE SCALE AND FORM OF PROVISION WILL BE SUBJECT TO NEGOTIATION BUT WILL BE EXPECTED TO CONSIST OF AT LEAST 25% OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF UNITS. THE HOUSING PROVIDED UNDER THIS POLICY WILL BE EXPECTED TO BE AVAILABLE TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR LOCAL PEOPLE IN THE LONG TERM AND PERMISSIONS MAY BE SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS OR A PLANNING OBLIGATION MAY BE NEGOTIATED TO BRING THIS ABOUT.
 
For the purposes of the Plan, affordable housing is as described in Circular 6/98, paragraph 4, and encompasses both low-cost market and subsidised housing (irrespective of tenure, ownership - whether exclusive or shared - or financial arrangements) that will be available to people who cannot afford to rent or buy houses generally available on the open market. The assessment of housing need in Hart is outlined in the Council's Housing Strategy. Analysis in the Housing Strategy indicates a requirement that between 60-70% of all new housing should be affordable to meet the requirements of the District: such high targets are clearly untenable practically but demonstrate statistical justification for a policy to seek affordable housing on the larger sites when development takes place. A more reasonable target which reflects existing tenure breakdown in the District (approximately 80% owner occupation and 20% rented) is proposed, whilst at the same time making inroads into the shortfall of affordable housing available, leading to an overall affordable target of at least 25%.
 
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The Housing Needs Survey carried out in 1998 identified a need for approximately 80% of new housing development to be affordable, however a figure of 20-25% in the urban areas was at the time of the Deposit Draft Local Plan, considered “reasonable”. Since then, Full Council has resolved at it’s meeting on 16th December 1999 to seek 25% affordable housing on the proposed large site allocations in the Deposit Local Plan. This decision is reinforced by the Housing Service Peer Review recommendation that Hart should seek 30% affordable housing from new housing developments. The wording “… at least 25% …” would reflect the Council’s resolution and at the same time allow for flexibility to seek a higher % on a site by site basis where necessary. Homelessness demand in Hart has increased, with 57 households currently (March 2001) in temporary accommodation, compared to 31 in April 1999. House price inflation relative to earnings has increased significantly in the last couple of years. The average earnings to average house price ratios for Hampshire are now as follows: 4.9 in 1998; 5.7 in 1999; and 6.7 in 2000. Key workers in public services such as health, education and the police are increasingly unable to access owner occupation in the Hart area. Workers in those essential local services would currently require a salary of almost £40,000 to purchase an average semi-detached property in the area, with actual starting salaries less than half that figure.

The exact number to be provided on each site will be determined according to site and market conditions and local need, and negotiated with the developer of each site.

The affordable housing provided should be available in the longer term for local residents in proven housing need. In most instances it is likely that the affordable housing provided in accordance with this Policy would be provided or managed by a registered social landlord. In these and in other circumstances conditions may be imposed or planning obligations negotiated to ensure the provision of the accommodation and its subsequent availability in the long term to provide affordable housing. The Council takes the view that on-site affordable housing provision would be appropriate in all but the most exceptional cases. In those exceptional cases, it may be appropriate, as an alternative to on-site provision of an element of affordable housing, for a financial or other contribution to be made for the provision of affordable units on a different site within Hart.
 
 
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URB 14 SMALL DEVELOPMENTS WHICH PROVIDE ACCOMMODATION DESIGNED FOR THOSE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS (FOR EXAMPLE ELDERLY OR DISABLED PEOPLE) AND WHICH MEET OTHER POLICIES OF THIS PLAN, WILL BE PERMITTED.
 
The Hart & Rushmoor Special Housing Needs Strategy identifies a shortfall of homes for people with special needs (defined within the Strategy) and prioritises housing requirements for special needs in the area. It is considered that housing for those with special needs is best provided in the form of small groups of dwellings, which are integrated into the rest of the community. Where necessary, such groups of dwellings can include provision for on-site warden supervision.
 
 
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Residential Changes of Use, Extensions and Annexes
URB 15 CHANGES OF USE TO OR FROM RESIDENTIAL, ABOVE GROUND FLOOR LEVEL WITHIN THE DEFINED TOWN CENTRES, DISTRICT SHOPPING AND LOCAL CENTRES OF THE URBAN AREAS AND RURAL CENTRES, WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE THAT WOULD SUPPORT THE VITALITY AND VIABILITY OF THE CENTRE.
 
Residential uses within town centres can play a valuable role in maintaining their vitality, viability and diversity of uses. The conversion of vacant properties to residential uses can improve the vitality of the centre whilst contributing to the housing needed in the District, and adding to the variety of housing types available. Flats over shops are particularly suitable for small households requiring more affordable housing. The Council’s Housing Needs Survey revealed a significant demand for this type of accommodation in the District. A recent change in Government policy means that the change of use to flats over shops no longer requires planning permission.
The development of flats over shops will however only be encouraged in areas where the current environment is appropriate for residential use and the nature of surrounding uses will be taken into account. The feasibility of providing appropriate access will also be taken into account.
The local planning authority will generally resist the change of use of purpose-built residential units in town centres, unless this does not harm the vitality and viability of the centre. However, where commercial units have been converted to residential use under this policy, their change of use back to commercial use at a later date will normally be permitted.
 
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URB 16 EXTENSIONS TO EXISTING DWELLINGS WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE:
  (i) The proposed development is sympathetic in scale and character to the existing dwelling and surrounding properties;
  (ii) The proposed extension does not materially detract from the amenities of adjoining dwellings by virtue of its siting and massing, or loss of privacy;
  (iii) The proposed extension does not harm the street scene.
 
The local planning authority will apply “quarter pane” tests, which determine whether a material loss of daylight or sunlight would be incurred by a neighbouring property as a result of a development proposal. It will also pay due regard to the D.o.E. publication “Sunlight and Daylight: Planning Criteria and Design of Buildings” and any subsequent material official guidance.
The local planning authority will also have regard to townscape matters and, in particular, the space around dwellings.
 
 
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URB 17 THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANNEXES FOR DEPENDENT RELATIVES WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT THE ANNEXE IS CONNECTED TO THE MAIN DWELLING, WITH NO SEPARATE EXTERNAL DOOR, IN ORDER TO SERVE AS AN ANNEXE THERETO.
 
Conditions may be imposed to ensure that the use of the annexe is incidental to the enjoyment of the main dwelling. The local planning authority is anxious to avoid the creation of separate and unfettered units of accommodation within the curtilage of family homes where separate and distinct provision of amenity space and parking cannot be provided. The amenities of the occupiers of adjoining properties also need to be safeguarded.
 
 
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Residential Densities in North Fleet and Yateley Conservation Areas
URB 18 IN ORDER TO RETAIN THE HIGH QUALITY OF THE RESIDENTIAL ENVIRONMENT WITHIN THE SPECIFIC AREAS OF NORTH FLEET DEFINED ON THE FLEET INSET MAP, RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT AT THE FOLLOWING DENSITIES WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY IS SATISFIED THAT THIS WOULD NOT RESULT IN ANY DEMONSTRABLE HARM TO THE CHARACTER AND VISUAL AMENITY OF THAT AREA IN ACCORDANCE WITH PROPOSAL GEN 4:
  (i) Area A - dwellings on plots of more than approximately 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres);
  (ii) Area B - dwellings on plots of more than approximately 0.1 hectares (0.25 acres);
  (iii) Area C - development at a density of less than approximately 17 per hectare (7 per acre);
  (iv) Area D - development at a density of less than approximately 25 per hectare (10 per acre).
     
These densities represent the typical current densities within the specific areas, which are considered to be an important element of the character of these areas. The area is notable for its low-density development, and in many parts the dwellings are relatively evenly spaced, in plots of similar size. Higher densities would detract from the distinctive character of the street scene as well as resulting in the loss of the trees and large gardens, which contribute to the overall appearance. Infill development, which would be acceptable in other residential areas, will be more strictly controlled within this area in order to protect its character.
Density of new development is not however the only factor to be considered when assessing the impact of a proposal on the area, and the wider impact on the area's character, considered in relation to Proposal GEN 4, will also be a principal factor involved.
A Conservation Area Proposal Statement has been prepared for the North Fleet Conservation Area, describing its character and interest in more detail.
The local planning authority acknowledges that Government Guidance has changed during the preparation of this local plan. When the plan is next altered/reviewed there will be a need to review this policy in the light of PPG3: Housing, paragraph 57, which advises authorities to avoid the inefficient use of land. This will be done whilst having regard to the character of the conservation area.
 
 
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URB 19 WITHIN THE THREE YATELEY CONSERVATION AREAS DEVELOPMENT THAT WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT THE SEMI-RURAL CHARACTER OF THE AREA, PARTICULARLY BY INCREASING THE DENSITY OF DEVELOPMENT, WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
 
The conservation areas within Yateley (Yateley Green, Cricket Hill and Darby Green) provide good quality accommodation in a pleasant environment and need to be protected from "town cramming" which would substantially change their environment. Infill development, which would be permitted in other residential areas of the District, will be more strictly controlled in these particular areas.
 
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In assessing the acceptability of development proposals on the conservation areas, an analysis of the effect of proposals on their character will be required. The special characteristics of each of the Conservation Areas are set out in Conservation Area Policy Statements. Plans showing the boundaries of all three conservation areas can be obtained from the Planning Department of the Council.
The local planning authority acknowledges that Government Guidance has changed during the preparation of this local plan. When the plan is next altered/reviewed there will be a need to review this policy in the light of PPG3: Housing, paragraph 57, which advises authorities to avoid the inefficient use of land. This will be done whilst having regard to the character of the conservation area.
 
 
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Social Infrastructure and Services
URB 20 PROPOSALS WHICH RETAIN OR PROVIDE NEW LOCAL SHOPS, SCHOOLS, POST OFFICES, MEDICAL FACILITIES AND OTHER COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT OTHER POLICIES AND DEVELOPMENT CONTROL CRITERIA ARE SATISFIED.
 
The local planning authority wishes to ensure that the existing level of provision is maintained and, where necessary, improved or provided to meet the needs of the existing population and those arising from new development.
The proposals in the local plan, particularly those related to housing growth, will have a significant impact on the provision of public utilities or services, educational, health and social services. It is important that the local plan takes account of current and future programmes of the relevant agencies responsible for providing the services and, where appropriate, phases development to accord with their programmes and reserve sites for any related development.
In areas where there is inadequate provision of a particular service, developers may be asked to enter into agreements with the relevant public authorities, whereby a contribution is made towards its provision or improvement.
 
 
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Recreation and Open Space within Urban Areas and Rural Centres
URB 21 THE DEVELOPMENT OF EXISTING OR PROPOSED AMENITY OPEN SPACE OR RECREATIONAL LAND (DEFINED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP AND INCLUDED IN THE SCHEDULE IN APPENDIX E) WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED:
  (i) Where there is a local excess of amenity open space or recreational land, measured against the council’s standards; or
  (ii) For sporting or recreational uses which retain the open character of the land.
 
In view of existing deficiencies in both active and passive open space provision in Hart, it is essential that existing open space be protected from unrelated development and that proposals for further open space are not jeopardised. Considerations to be taken into account will include local need for open space, the present amenity for the area and the desirability of using urban land efficiently. PPG17 on Sport and Recreation advises against the loss of open space and recreational land to other development. This Policy shall not override the requirements of the local education authority to use part of a school's open space to increase the school building area for the proper provision of education facilities.
 
 
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URB 22 IN THE INTERESTS OF LOCAL AMENITY, THE CHANGE OF USE OF SMALL AREAS OF OPEN SPACE WITHIN HOUSING ESTATES AND IN OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE MAIN SETTLEMENTS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS IT CAN BE DEMONSTRATED THAT THE PARCEL OF LAND IS OF MINIMUM BENEFIT IN TERMS OF ITS IMPACT ON LOCAL AMENITY AND RECREATION.
 
Areas of informal open space within housing developments serve a valuable function both in softening the impact of buildings and providing areas for informal recreation and children’s play. The inclusion of these areas into private gardens will therefore normally be resisted.
 

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URB 23 NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS OF 20 OR MORE DWELLINGS WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE OPEN SPACE IS PROVIDED ON SITE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE STANDARDS SET OUT IN THE PLAN. DEVELOPMENTS OF BETWEEN 5 AND 19 DWELLINGS WILL BE EXPECTED TO MAKE PROVISION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE STANDARDS, HAVING REGARD TO THE LEVEL OF DEFICIENCY OF OPEN SPACE IN THE LOCALITY. IN EITHER CASE, THE PROVISION OF OFF-SITE OPEN SPACE IN SUBSTITUTION WILL BE CONSIDERED IN RELATION TO THE NEEDS OF THE DEVELOPMENT FOR OPEN SPACE, FOR CHILDREN’S PLAY AND OTHER RECREATIONAL PURPOSES, THE LOCAL AVAILABILITY OF APPROPRIATE EXISTING OR PROPOSED OPEN SPACE TO SERVE THE RESIDENTS OF THE DEVELOPMENT AND OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE DEVELOPMENT.
 
The provision of additional recreational facilities in conjunction with new housing development cannot and should not be met from public funds alone. The provision of open space should be programmed and new development should contribute towards this provision.
The standard is based on the current guidance from the National Playing Fields Association, and will be adapted if this guidance changes during the plan period.
The total standard will depend on the local population profile and the adequacy of existing provision of public open space, but will normally include 1.6 - 1.8 hectares of outdoor sport areas and 0.6 - 0.8 hectares of children's playing space. At the present time all wards and parishes of the District are deficient in “formal” sports open space provision. It will therefore be essential that new housing developments make their own contribution to this type of open space in accordance with the NPFA standard.
The area of open space required is calculated by making an estimate of the number of persons likely to be living on the site when it is fully developed, and subsequently applying the target of 2.4 hectares per 1000 persons. The site population is estimated by establishing the area of developable land, estimating the net density of the proposed development and taking the household occupancy rate of 2.72 persons per dwelling from the 1991 Census. (This will be updated as statistics from the 2001 Census become available.)
The exact nature of open space will be agreed with the developer of each site. In most situations the provision of open space will be considered as an integral part of the design and layout of new residential development, and developers are expected to include an open space scheme as part of the overall design layout of each site. However, obligations towards open space provision in the locality will also be sought from individual developers where the provision of formal open space may be more cost-effective and operationally advantageous to the settlement than a series of small sites. Such obligations may contribute towards provision on existing publicly owned leisure facilities or sites would be acquired and maintained by the District or Parish Council, and appropriate legal agreements would be sought with developers for this provision.
Where off-site open space is required, a pro-rata contribution per dwelling will normally be requested based on the equivalent cost of on-site provision. This would be used only for open space provision, maintenance or management, or the provision of recreational facilities within the immediate locality of the development, where the inhabitants of the new development will benefit from it.
The provision of children's play areas will be sought as part of the public open space requirement in conjunction with schemes for residential development. Commuted payments towards off-site provisions may be acceptable, subject to the size of the proposed development and the existing play facilities in the area.
Natural features such as woodlands and lakes on the development site will be allowed to contribute towards the provision of amenity open space, provided that the feature is owned or controlled by the developer, easily accessible to residents of the new development, and is a recognisable feature in one area rather than dispersed through the site. The retention of such features as part of the amenity open space can add character to the development site and protect wildlife habitats on the site. Additional areas would need to be provided for other categories of open space, such as playing fields.
The future management of open space will be ensured, either through agreements with developers or by other arrangements agreed with the District Council. A commuted capital payment to the Council reflecting the true cost of maintenance over twenty years will normally be required.
The local planning authority will also seek to secure the provision of children's play areas in conjunction with schemes for residential development. Commuted payments towards off-site provisions may be acceptable, subject to the size of the proposed development and the existing play facilities in the area.
 

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Advertisements within Urban Areas and Rural Centres
URB 24 THE ERECTION OR REPLACEMENT OF SIGNS AND ADVERTISEMENTS WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT:
  (i) The sign is well related to the scale and character of the building and its setting in terms of its siting, size, materials, degree of illumination and visual intrusion;
  (ii) The siting, size and illumination of the sign do not have an adverse impact on highway safety.
 
The quality of the environment can be adversely affected by the introduction of shop and other signs which are inappropriate in design, colour, materials or illumination. This can be particularly acute in historic towns or villages such as Odiham and Hartley Wintney. It is the Council's intention to declare Special Advertisement Areas in Odiham and Hartley Wintney in order to control advertisements in these centres. The District Council will encourage the method of advertising most appropriate to the business and character of the buildings, and the grouping together of information on one sign will be sought wherever possible.
Supplementary Planning Guidance on Illuminated Advertisements has been approved by the Council.
       
       
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