Land at Owens Farm extends to 31.15 hectares. The location of the site adjacent to the western boundary of Hook and north of Newnham Road is shown on the Site Location Plan below.
Site Location Plan
The site currently comprises arable fields, farm buildings and semi-improved grassland and ruderal vegetation and is bisected by a centrally located farm track that runs east to west across the middle of the site between the site access and Ridge Road. The existing farm buildings and farmhouse (High Ridge House) are in a central position in the eastern part of the site close to the site entrance. Two Public Rights of Way cross the site - route 25b runs from east to west providing a link from Ridge Lane through to existing footpaths on Church Path, while route 26 runs up from Newnham Road and along the western boundary until it meets route 25b.
To the south the site is bound by Newnham Road from which access is gained to Owen’s Farm via a narrow access road, also providing access to a small number of other residential properties (including Owens Farm House, Fairfield and Hartland). Beyond Newnham Road to the south is the London to Southampton railway line and Hook Common Burtley Site of Special Scientific Importance (SSSI).
To the north is College Copse Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) and to the north east is land at High Ridge Farm upon which there exists planning permission for 60 dwellings and associated Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) and Owens Meadow SINC.
To the west are open fields bound by Ridge Road. Beyond Ridge Road is Tylney Hall and Park Registered Park and Garden and to the south west is existing residential development running westwards along Newnham Road towards the village of Newnham.
To the east and south east is existing residential development forming part of the established Hook settlement located around Newnham Road, Church Path and Hop Garden Road.
As the Constraints Plan below shows, there are no listed buildings, Scheduled Ancient Monuments, National Nature Reserves, Local Nature Reserves, Ancient Woodland, Common Land or Tree Preservation Orders on the site. It lies in Flood Zone 1 wherein there is a low risk of flooding (less than 1 in 1000 year fluvial flooding event) and the majority of the site lies outside the 5 kilometre zone of influence of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBHSPA).
The site is located within the vicinity of a number of statutory and non-statutory designated sites. These include Newnham Village Conservation Area located to the north west of the site and Tylney Hall and Park Registered Park and Garden to the west. Both of these are separated from the site by intervening woodland. Hook Common Burtley Site of Special Scientific Importance (SSSI) is located 200m to the south beyond Newnham Road and the railway line while Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) are located adjacent to the northern (College Copse), eastern (Owens Meadow) and western (The Strings) boundaries of the site and within 200 metres to the north (Hill Copse).
Further explanation as to how these have been taken into account in the proposals is provided below.
The emerging scheme proposes the redevelopment of the site to provide:
- Up to 700 new homes comprising a mix of dwelling types, sizes and tenures;
- 40% (280) of the dwellings would be affordable;
- 5% of dwellings would be self/ custom build;
- The dwellings would be 2, 21/2 and 3 storeys
- A neighbourhood retail facility of 300m2
- Provision of a 2 hectare site for a new two form entry (2FE) primary school;
- Provision of a 0.5 hectare site for an early years nursery or privately run children’s nursery;
- Provision of 8.9 hectares of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG);
- Retention of existing trees, hedgerows, woodland and ecological habitat and corridors;
- Provision of 7.64 hectares of formal and informal open space, including play areas, landscape buffers, setbacks around the southern, eastern and western boundaries and ecological area;
- Vehicular access to the development via a new roundabout on Newnham Road;
- New pedestrian and cycle links that connect the site with existing networks;
- Contribution towards improvements to existing Public Rights of Way; and
- Provision for car parking in line with current standards.
The site is located outside the settlement boundary of Hook in the open countryside and the Local Gap between Hook and the village of Newnham as defined by the adopted Hart Local Plan. The Hart Local Plan is currently under review and a revised plan is being produced to identify how development needs up to 2032, including 10,185 new homes, will be accommodated.
Wilbur Developments Ltd acquired an interest in the site in 2014 and since this time has been promoting it through the emerging Hart Local Plan as a Strategic Urban Extension to Hook. The site assessment work undertaken on behalf of the Council as part of its local plan preparation identified the site as one of the best performing options for a strategic urban extension. The most recent version of the draft plan - the ‘Draft Hart Local Plan: Strategy and Sites’ published in April 2017 opted to pursue a strategy based upon a new settlement at Murrell Green for 1,800 homes rather than sustainable urban extensions.
There are a number of failings associated with the proposed allocation of Murrell Green, not least uncertainties regarding the availability of land, which affect its suitability and deliverability as a location for new housing. As opposed to Murrell Green which would be an entirely separate and competing settlement to Hook, Land at Owens Farm offers the opportunity for a development that can integrate and therefore, complement the existing settlement.
The illustrative masterplan for the site is evolving and the current version is provided below/ attached, which shows how a sustainable residential-led mixed community could be created that would build on and enhance existing social and physical infrastructure, meet identified local housing needs, particularly for smaller family dwellings, elderly accommodation, self-build and affordable housing, provide SANG land capable of supporting other developments and deal sensitively with nearby heritage assets and sites of nature conservation importance.
A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment has been carried out for the site. The potential landscape and visual effects of the proposed development have been assessed in line with current legislation and guidance. The visual impact assessment identified a total of five viewpoints with significant visual effects, representative of users of public rights of way (including footpaths) immediately adjacent to the site boundaries which have direct views onto the site, as well as an elevated view from the west. Following mitigation measures, vegetation growth and weathering, significant visual impacts would remain from three of the thirteen viewpoints assessed. The Viewpoint Location Plan identifies the location of the viewpoints agreed with Hart District Council. For the remaining receptors, the views of the development would remain largely unchanged or have only glimpsed views at such a distance that it would be difficult for the casual viewer to distinguish the development from the surrounding existing residential development of Hook.
Landscape Strategy and Landscape Concept plans have been produced that show graphically the results of the assessment and have been used to inform the design of a well thought out development that takes into consideration the surrounding landscape and existing features on the site that are to be retained where possible; supplemented and enhanced.
While the arable and grazed fields in the site are generally of low ecological value, the site does contain habitats of value, namely hedgerows, mature trees and adjoining woodland. These habitats have the potential to support a number of protected species including bats, breeding birds, dormice, terrestrial great crested newts and reptiles.
An Extended Phase 1 Habitat survey has been undertaken, in addition to a suite of Phase 2 protected species surveys for great crested newts, breeding birds, bats, hazel dormice, reptiles, and hedgerows. These surveys showed that great crested newts are unlikely to be present on the site, and recorded a total of 44 species of birds, including 7 red list species and 4 amber list species. Swallows were recorded nesting in horse stables. The bat activity surveys recorded 7 species of bats using the site. In addition to common species, the surveys recorded barbastelle bats, which are a rare species with a strong affiliation to woodland. Hazel dormice were confirmed to be present in hedgerows and wooded habitats.
To avoid any adverse impacts on birds, bats and hazel dormice, the proposed developable area is largely contained within the areas of low ecological value and with the exception of small-scale hedgerow loss, areas of high ecological value are to be retained and protected and alternative nesting opportunities will be provided for a range of birds including swallows. In addition, the enhancement of a large area (3.44ha) of heavily-grazed grassland into tussocky grassland with wildlife ponds, wildflower meadows and hedgerows would be incorporated into the landscape scheme. As a result, it is anticipated that habitats within the site would be significantly enhanced for protected species.
The developed area of the site lies outside the 5km zone of the Thames Basin Heaths SPA. As such there is no obligation for the development to provide Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG). However, given the size of the site, its location adjacent to the permitted SANG at High Ridge Farm and the identified local need for SANG, provision is made within the scheme for 8.9ha of SANG. We are liaising with Natural England to agree the treatment and management of this area.
The potential impacts of the development on above ground (built heritage) and below ground (archaeology) heritage assets have been considered.
Built Heritage: Whilst the Site does not contain any formally identified heritage assets it is located in the context of a range of assets focussed on Newnham (Conservation Area and Grade II Listed Buildings) and Tylney Hall (Grade II* Registered Park and Garden of Special Historic Interest, Conservation Area and range of Grade II* and II Listed Buildings). A built heritage assessment has been undertaken that considers the significance of these heritage assets, including the contribution made by their setting, and the potential for the proposed development to affect these.
This understanding of heritage significance has informed the siting and disposition of proposed built form and open spaces within the emerging proposals to avoid harmful impacts wherever possible. A generous area of open space is provided to the west of the site to provide an appropriate separation distance from the landscape associated with Tylney Hall, whilst also maintaining a rural character in the approaches along Ridge Lane. This approach would also allow the distinct identify of Newnham to remain legible.
Archaeology: A desk based archaeology assessment has been undertaken for the site, which points to the site having a low archaeological potential. The only features of interest are hedgerows which mark historic field boundaries and these will be retained as far as practicable. Consultation with the Hampshire archaeology section has confirmed that they also consider the site to have low potential for significant remains. Further investigation will be completed ahead of detailed design. If archaeological deposits are identified, appropriate fieldwork will be completed to record remains ahead of construction and in accordance with policy and guidance.
Highways and Transportation
The planning application will be supported by a full Transport Assessment and Travel Plan. The scope of that assessment has been agreed with the highways authority, Hampshire County Council, and its content and approach have been informed by discussions with other stakeholders and public transport providers, including Stagecoach, South West Trains, Hart District Council and Hartley Wintney and Hook Parish Councils.
Vehicular access to the site will be achieved directly from Newnham Road, via a new roundabout access. The proposal will provide footway links which connect to the existing footways located on Newham Road to the east, and Old School Road to the west. Pedestrian access will be achieved via the new footway links from Newnham Road, and also via the existing Public Right of Way which crosses the site, and via existing/committed residential development to the east of the site.
Traffic surveys have been undertaken at key junctions within Hook, and the surrounding area. The traffic generated by the site will dissipate onto the highway network. Traffic generation associated with the primary and nursery schools, and local shop, will be self-contained within the proposal. Junction modelling has been undertaken using industry standard software, to ascertain the effect the proposed development traffic will have on the local highway network. As a result of this, a new right hand turn lane is proposed on the A30 – please refer to the Proposed Right Hand Turn Lane Plan.
Consideration has been given to means of encouraging the use of non-car modes of travel. An Audit has been undertaken of the pedestrian routes from the site towards the centre of Hook and it is proposed that these routes will be improved where necessary. Improvements will include upgrading crossing points to include tactile paving. It is understood the changes to increase frequency of rail services are already proposed with South West Trains soon to provide a ½ hourly direct service from Hook to London. In terms of buses, discussions have taken place with Stagecoach and an extension to the existing Route 10 service is proposed. Discussions with Hartley Wintney Parish Council are currently ongoing regarding the provision of a community bus service to serve the site similar to that which currently operates in Hartley Witney. Increased cycle provision will be provided at Hook Railway Station and within the centre of Hook.
It is proposed that surface water will be drained using dry attenuation ponds. These would be sited at low spots on the western side of the site with outfall to the existing ditch system which runs along the western site boundary. The outfall into the existing ditch would be controlled with a Crown Vortex Valve, to ensure that even in periods of high rainfall, the existing drainage system does not become overwhelmed. Porous paving would be used in the private road and parking areas to reduce the overall volume of storage required with overflow to soakaways.
As regards foul drainage it is proposed subject to the outcome of discussions with Thames Water that either a connection will be made into the existing foul drainage system or an on-site treatment plant (as currently shown on the illustrative masterplan) will be provided which outfalls into an attenuation pond within the surface water drainage system.