Q and A
FLEET NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN REFERENDUM
YOUR QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
A clarification note
Fleet Town Council must address the in accurate comments that are being made on social media and elsewhere with regard to the Fleet Neighbourhood Plan and particularly the reference to the Civic Quarter contained in Policy 1 of the Plan (the area including Gurkha Square and Victoria Road car parks, the Harlington, the Library, District Council buildings)
1. Fleet Town Council does not have any control over Gurkha Square with the exception of the War Memorial.
2. The land is owned by Hart District Council
3. Following the parish poll and public consultation, Fleet Town Council has NO plans to build on Gurkha Square.
4. The lease/licence on Gurkha Square to operate the market is dictated by Hart District Council and will be in line with the existing arrangements
5. Fleet Town Council wishes to ensure the continuation of the market for many years to come
6. The operation of the market is not a means of securing Gurkha Square for development
7. The Neighbourhood Plan does not give Fleet Town Council “a mandate to redevelop the Civic Quarter” as has been suggested.
It would be a shame if some misinformation leads to the residents of Fleet not understanding the value of the Neighbourhood Plan which includes 19 policies designed to revive our high street, protect our green spaces, prevent piecemeal development in the Fleet Town Council area and conserve our heritage buildings.
Please vote on 7 October 2019
Q1 I have just received a Poll Card for Monday 7 October. What’s it for?
You are invited to vote in the Referendum to accept Fleet Town’s Neighbourhood Plan.
Q2 What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
The Neighbourhood Plan gives our community direct power to develop a shared vision for our Town and shape the development and growth. It allows us to choose where new homes, shops and offices are to be built, and have our say on what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided.
Q3 Where can I see the Neighbourhood Plan?
The final Referendum version of the Neighbourhood Plan is on the Fleet Town website:
Hard copies are available at Fleet Library, the Fleet Town Council Office in The Harlington, and at the Hart District Council Office.
Q4 I don’t have time to read through all that; what is in the Neighbourhood Plan?
The Neighbourhood Plan sets out a vision for Fleet to “Create an accessible, sustainable, green town with an active population and a vibrant business, cultural and community focus.” There are 19 Policies detailed to achieve that, together with supporting information. The Policies encompass development in the Town Centre; Design and Heritage; Green Infrastructure; and Transport and Public Realm.
A summary of the Neighbourhood Plan is available on the Fleet Town Council web site - www.fleet-tc.gov.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org and copy will be sent to you. Hard copies are available at the Fleet Town Council Offices in The Harlington or call 01252 625246 and a copy will be sent out.
Q5 I don’t agree with one of the Policies.
Firstly, please make sure that you have read the latest version of the particular Policy with which you are concerned by looking at the Referendum version of the Neighbourhood Plan, and are not relying on hearsay or others’ opinions. A number of changes from previous drafts have been made recently at the request of the Independent Examiner
Secondly, we understand fully that not everyone necessarily will agree with every detail of all the Policies. Inevitably, there have been compromises, and a balance has to be struck so that the Policies meet the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and support the Local Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan Working Group has worked hard over the last four years to bring this all together, and final changes have been made by the Independent Examiner based on comments received from Hart and other Statutory Consultees.
Be aware, though, that like all referendums, this is a “yes-no” choice. If you vote not to support the Neighbourhood Plan, all the Policies within it are rejected, which may include ones that you are keen to support.
Q6 Is it a vote on each policy?
No - the referendum is a vote on whether or not to adopt the Neighbourhood Plan as a whole. The question you will be asked is '' Do you want Hart District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Fleet Neighbourhood Planning Area to help it decide planning applications in the Neighbourhood Area?''.
Following a 6 week public consultation, the DRAFT Neighbourhood Plan, together with all residents’ comments, was passed to Hart District Council. At that point it became a Hart District Council document and underwent a further 6 week period of consultation. This is in line with the legal requirements. The document was then submitted to the Independent Examiner, together with the results of both consultations. The Examiner’s final version of the Plan was then submitted to Hart's Cabinet members at their meeting on the 1st August, who agreed that it should proceed to Referendum. At this late stage, it is not possible for any further amendments to be made.
Q7 Why is FTC still considering to build on Gurkha Square?
Fleet Town Council has consistently stated, since it withdrew its planning application for a new Harlington on Gurkha Square in November 2018, that the Council has NO plans to build on Gurkha Square
Q8 Are there plans to build on The Views?
Fleet Town Council has never had any plans to build on The Views, despite rumour to the contrary
Q9 Will my Council Tax increase to pay for any proposed development in the Civic Quarter?
There are currently no plans to build on the Civic Quarter but any future regeneration would be developer led and therefore would not affect council tax.
Q10 What proportion of votes is required to support the Neighbourhood Plan?
For the Neighbourhood Plan to be adopted at least, 50% of those who cast a vote in the Referendum must vote “yes”.
Q11 What happens if the Neighbourhood Plan is supported at the Referendum?
If the Neighbourhood Plan is supported at the Referendum, it will be “made” by Hart District Council, and then form part of the development planning process sitting alongside the Local Plan prepared by Hart. Decisions on planning applications within the Fleet Town Council area will be made using both the Local Plan and the Neighbourhood Plan, and any other material considerations.
Q12 What happens if the Neighbourhood Plan is not supported at the Referendum?
Planning applications for development within the Fleet Town Council area will continue to be passed by Hart District Council, but they will be under no obligation to consider the wishes of the residents concerning the long-term development of Fleet.
No revised or new Neighbourhood Plan can be brought forward for at least two more years.
Q13 Where can I find more information?
Please look on the Fleet Town Council website: www.fleet-tc.gov.uk
or call Fleet Town Council 01252 625246
or attend the public Questions and Answers session on Monday 30 September at 7pm in
The Harlington, Fleet GU51 4BY
or attend a Neighbourhood Plan Drop-in Session and meet Councillors to find more at The Harlington,
Fleet, GU51 4BY on Tuesday 1 October at 3pm or Friday 4 October at 10am
Q14 I have already given my views on Fleet’s Neighbourhood Plan in the past consultations.
If you have contributed to the Neighbourhood Plan through the past consultations, many thanks. The Referendum is a statutory requirement for residents to say they support the final version of the Neighbourhood Plan now that it has been examined and passed by an Independent Examiner endorsed by Hart District Council.
Q15 Can Elvetham Heath or Church Crookham residents vote in the referendum?
No - Fleet Town Council and Hart District Council have to comply with government regulations which dictate who can vote in a Neighbourhood Plan Referendum. The regulations state ‘’A person is entitled to vote if at the time of the referendum they meet the eligibility criteria to vote in a local election for the area & if they live in the referendum area’'. The referendum area in this instance is the Fleet Town Council parish area i.e. those who come under Fleet Town Council. If adjoining areas, eg Elvetham Heath and Church Crookham Parish Council areas, decide to produce their own neighbourhood plans, their residents would be able to vote in their referenda.
Q16 With regard to the Green Spaces Policies, why has Edenbrook Country Park and Bramshot Farm Country Park not been included in the Neighbourhood Plan?
Both Edenbrook and Bramshot Country Park areas are owned by Hart District Council and are designated SANGS (suitable alternative natural green space) provided as mitigation measures to protect the Special Protection Areas (SPA).
These areas are already designated as open green spaces so are statutorily protected. They need no further protection.
Q17 Does the Neighbourhood Plan mean that the Designated Green Spaces are at risk? Could they be developed under the terms of the Neighbourhood Plan?
All the locally named green spaces, including our parks, have been tested against the criteria set out in the NPPF and without exception can be classified as Local Green Space as is shown in Appendix 4 of the final version of the Neighbourhood Plan.
The Independent Examiner required the following statement to be added to the Neighbourhood Plan “Plainly circumstances may arise during the Plan period where very special circumstances may exist and therefore support limited new development within the designated area. This will be a matter of judgement for the District Council based on the evidence included in relevant planning applications. However, proposals which might be considered to be very special circumstances include those which are ancillary to the use of any of the sites for public recreational or community purposes or if the development was essential for utility infrastructure needs and no alternative site was available.”
Q18 Is the Local Plan the same as the Neighbourhood Plan.
No. The Local Plan is produced by Hart District Council and covers the whole of the Hart area. The Fleet Neighbourhood Plan relates only to Fleet Town Council area. The Fleet Neighbourhood Plan policies must be in conformity with the Local Plan Strategic Policies which take precedence.
Can amendments be made to the plan at this stage?
Following a six week public consultation, the DRAFT Neighbourhood Plan was passed to Hart District Council. At that point it became a Hart document and underwent a further 6 week period of consultation. This is in line with the legal requirements. The document was then submitted to the External Examiner, together with the results of both consultations. The Examiner’s final version was then submitted to Hart's Cabinet members at their meeting on the 1st August, who agreed that it should proceed to Referendum. Having checked with the District Council they have confirmed that, at this late stage, it is not possible for further amendments to be made.
Who is the examiner that has been mentioned?
The Examiner's details are listed in his report which is available to view along with all the other Neighbourhood Plan Documents - his name is Andrew Ashcroft and he is an Independent Examiner who was appointed by Hart District Council in January 2019 to carry out the independent examination of the Fleet Neighbourhood Plan.
''When considering the content of a neighbourhood plan or Order proposal, an independent examiner’s role is limited to testing whether or not a draft neighbourhood plan or Order meets the basic conditions, and other matters set out in paragraph 8 of Schedule 4B to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended). The independent examiner is not testing the soundness of a neighbourhood plan or examining other material considerations. When considering a proposal for the modification of a neighbourhood plan that is already in force, an independent examiner must first decide whether the proposed modifications are so significant or substantial as to change the nature of the plan.'' - Gov.uk
Will you be able to vote via postal vote?
If you usually vote via postal vote, Hart District Council will be sending out postal votes before the referendum - you should receive your postal poll card around the beginning of September which will specify the date intended to issue postal votes.