Garden Community

In November 2018 Hart District Council submitted a bid for funding to central government to create a Garden Village.

On Thursday 27 June the council was notified that it has been successful in its bid to join the Government’s Garden Communities programme and receiving £150,000 in this first year. You can view the letter here.

Speaking about the funding, Cllr David Neighbour, Leader of Hart District Council, said: “We welcome this announcement as it is an encouraging step forward to work with our local communities to create a new village in Hart that addresses future needs.  

“This programme is more than about building new homes, it’s about delivering appropriate infrastructure, such as schools, transport, and health and community facilities. The funding and support that we’ll receive as a designated Garden Community will allow a truly locally led approach, developing plans for a new community that is sustainable, beautiful and benefits from the right infrastructure – provided at the right time – together with spaces that promote wellbeing and enhances biodiversity. We still have some way to go with the programme, but this announcement gives us the green light to pursue the creation of a garden community.” 

You can view the latest full press release here

On Tuesday 17 September a report on the Garden community programme was considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. 

Subsequent reports were also considered by the Cabinet (7 November 2019 and 2 January 2020).

In accordance with the agreed governance, the first Shapley Heath Garden Community Opportunity Board was held on the 17 February 2020: Agenda and Papers and Draft Minutes.

Below sets out the documentation for the BID:

Supporting evidence:

Evidence of support:


Public Announcements and Questions on the Garden Community Programme

Third party documents relating to the Garden Community

Frequently asked questions:

Why do we need a Garden Community?

A new Garden Community would offer the District a long-term growth option. As well as building new homes, including a significant proportion of affordable homes, the Garden Community would also develop job opportunities, attractive green space and public realm areas, transport infrastructure, including roads, buses and cycle routes, community infrastructure, schools, community and health centres, a plan for long-term stewardship of community assets.

The draft Local Plan no longer has a policy for a new settlement (policy SS3), so why continue with a Garden Community?

As the Planning Inspector identified, policy SS3 stated:

‘Permission will be granted for the development of a new settlement to be identified from the area of search identified on the Policies Map following the adoption of a New Settlement Development Plan Document and agreed comprehensive masterplan’.

And as such, if adopted with Policy SS3, the Local Plan would have established the principle of a new settlement as the most appropriate growth strategy for meeting the Council’s long-term needs.

Exploration under the Garden Community Programme does not commit the Council to deliver a Garden Community and nor (unlike the proposed SS3 policy) does it establish that permission will be granted for development.

MHCLG (and Homes England) have provided an opportunity to consider a new community, with full community involvement, under the Garden Communities Programme. Planning a Garden Community takes time and with a new Local Plan due to be in place by the end of the year, the Council now has time to undertake this work without pressure from speculative developments.

The Council’s Garden Community Bid was based on the draft Local Plan including provision for a new settlement but the new settlement policy has now been deleted. Is the bid therefore invalid?

The Council’s bid was made in November 2018, and the announcement for the Garden Communities Fund was delayed and made seven months later, in June 2019.

Homes England and MHCLG are both aware that during this period, aspects of bids may have changed for any of the applicants. Homes England, who administer the Garden Communities Programme on behalf of MHCLG, were made aware of the policy change at Hart District Council on the 1st May 2019.  

MHCLG and Homes England both acknowledge the significant merits of Hart Districts Council’s bid for a Garden Community. Neither have raised any concerns regarding the change in policy approach, nor questioned the validity of its inclusion in the programme or the funding provided.

Hart’s Garden Community Bid suggests that if Policy SS3 is deleted, the Council could continue to produce a New Settlement DPD. Is this what the Council will do?

Producing a New Settlement DPD is potentially an option open to the Council however Cllr Cockarill stated in response to a question at Full Council in July 2019 that:

“In light of the examination there are currently no plans for a New Settlement DPD. This is reflected in the current Local Development Scheme published on our website.”

What about investigating alternatives to a new settlement in Winchfield? The Planning Inspector suggested an early review/DPD to look at these. Is the Council doing this too?

The Council will rigorously investigate a range of different development options as part of the 5-year plan review, if additional need is identified.

How does this work on the Garden Community fit in with the Local Plan?

Following guidance and advice from MHCLG and Homes England, the Council, alongside the community, will consider how a Community could evolve. This will be undertaken as a corporate project and will not form part of the Local Plan work. The new Garden Community could represent a development option in future Local Plans.

Is it possible, that when you advised Homes England that policy SS3 had been removed from the Local Plan, that they didn’t appreciate the impact this could have on the Garden Community bid associated with Shapley Heath?

Hart’s Garden Community Bid clearly stated that:

“Our ambition is to deliver a vibrant and active community in Murrell Green/Winchfield [now known by the working title of Shapley Heath Garden Village (SHGV)].”

The MHCLG Garden Community forms included a section relating to the planning status of the Garden Community. The relationship between draft Policy SS3 and the proposed Garden Community was clearly outlined. Policy SS3 was also referenced multiple times throughout the bid, as was the location in and around Winchfield.

Homes England, the administrators of the programme, were fully aware that Policy SS3 directly concerned the area identified in the Garden Community Bid.


Page last updated: 10 February 2020 at 5pm

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