What is the timeline of the Northbrook Park Development?
This is a very long term project, with the need for significant prior infrastructure development to support a new settlement on farmland. The first houses would not be available till 2027 at the earliest, then at a rate of 65 houses pa. However the building site would commence with a new roundabout on the A31 which would create disruption from as early as 2023.
What is the flooding risk?
The North Wey valley has natural water meadows between Alton and Farnham, which absorb the river and other surface water flood risk today. The majority of the Northbrook site to the south of the A31 is on Flood Zone categories 2 or 3 and is part of the Upper River Wey Flood Warning Area. Recent historical records point to high levels of flooding in 1950s, 1968, 2000, 2013 and 2014. There is a clear risk that building at Northbrook particularly south of the A31 increases the downstream risk of flooding in Farnham.
If the Northbrook development does not proceed, will this bring a high risk of multiple housing developments to the current core Bentley village settlement?
EHDC has declared that in principle it is seeking to establish a new settlement of approx. 800 houses in order to meet its housing supply requirement up until 2036.
It is now considering 10 major sites across the District, of which 2 need to be chosen. If Northbrook does not proceed EHDC says it will choose an alternative site. QC's opinion confirms that the Bentley Village should not be at risk of multiple housing developments.
Will Bentley and other local community house prices be adversely affected by the Northbrook development?
The Northbrook development is within 1 mile of the Bentley Recreation Ground. If EHDC includes Northbrook in the Local Plan there will then follow 5 years of planning uncertainty as the project progresses through a series of planning hurdles, followed by a minimum of 10 years of building site disruption. Potential house buyers in the area will be made aware of this development “blight” and will make their own judgments on value implications.
What additional pressure on local infrastructure and services can local residents expect from this massive development?
Road Transport: The Northbrook development straddles the A31. The back roads are very narrow and hardly passable. The Farnham bypass from Cox Bridge via Hickley’s Corner to Shepherd and Flock is already highly congested in rush hour (it takes 25 minutes from Bentley to Shepherd and Flock in the morning). With an additional 4,000 houses planned in Bordon and 350 at Cox Bridge this can only get much worse. An additional roundabout at Northbrook and its 1,600 cars will be the last straw.
Rail Transport: Bentley Station carpark is already full by 7.20am in rush hour. The newly enhanced Farnham Station carpark is already 90% full by 8.00am. Neither station can be reached safely by bicycle along the A31 and bus transport is not seen to be reliable or sufficiently flexible.
Primary Schools: Hampshire County Council will not build a new Primary School at Northbrook until the local demographics show the need for 200+ Hampshire primary school places in the catchment. This is likely to take at least 12-15 years. Meantime the primary age children will compete to get into Bentley (210 capacity) or Binsted. Northbrook is geographically closer to Bentley than Froyle. Their primary age children will therefore get preference at Bentley, because Bentley is already fully subscribed.
Secondary Schools: no additional places are planned. Farnham’s schools are already oversubscribed.
Surgery: Bentley’s surgery is already over-subscribed, judging by current waiting times. Northbrook residents will outnumber Bentley and create significant further demand.
Waste Water Treatment; the Bentley plant is currently at capacity and is overflowing. It is not clear how the additional 800 houses and employment sites at Northbrook would be serviced. In any event a new Waste Water Treatment plant will be required. It cannot be built on the floodplain below Northbrook.
What is the impact of the new houses on the governance of the Bentley Parish?
There are currently 500 houses in Bentley. The addition of a further 800 houses in a separate Northbrook settlement within the Parish will in the longer run give the new settlement a natural majority of votes in the Parish Council elections. The two settlements may not share the same vision for the Parish particularly in relation to key planning issues, eg development of a future Neighbourhood Plan.
How strong are the technical planning arguments against the Northbrook settlement proposal?
The arguments are very strong. They are set out in the Bentley Action Group March submission to the EHDC Reg 18 Consultation, based on professional planning advice from Carter Jonas, who has also advised on the EHDC Major Site Consultation. Both summaries and the full advice can be found within the Planning Arguments (The Debate) pages of this website.
What can I do to fight the Northbrook settlement proposal?
Please go to the How to Object and/or the How to Help Us pages of the website.
How can I help with funding the Bentley Action Group's Efforts?
Please contact Bruce Powell (email@example.com). We have established a Bentley Action Group bank account and welcome any contributions to the cause.
What is the risk of ribbon development along the A31 between Farnham and Bentley?
If Northbrook does proceed EHDC has made clear that further major development can be expected along the A31 between Northbrook and Bentley in order to create a larger more sustainable settlement.