At the end of November we will call on the public to help shape the future of the district with a new consultation on our Local Plan, writes East Hampshire District Council acting planning policy manager Adam Harvey.

As a planner for East Hampshire District Council the Local Plan is the most important thing I do. In fact, I believe a Local Plan is the most important thing the entire council does – although as a planner, I suppose I would say that.

It is a hugely important document that sets out how we will deliver homes, jobs and services to the parts of East Hampshire outside the South Downs National Park over the next two decades.

And, crucially, while it is undoubtedly a technical and complicated process to complete, we cannot do it without the input of the public.

That’s why we are launching a new consultation, running from Monday, November 21 to Friday, January 16.

Our consultation will ask questions around the issues and priorities and the challenges and dilemmas we will face over the life of the forthcoming Local Plan.

It will only relate to the parts of the district outside the South Downs National Park. Everything inside the national park, more than half of East Hampshire, will be covered by the park’s own version of a Local Plan.

That means we want to hear from people in the north west, including Alton, Four Marks and surrounding villages; the north east, including Whitehill & Bordon, Grayshott and Liphook and the southern parishes, including Horndean, Clanfield and Rowlands Castle.

So what are we going to be asking you about in the consultation?

It might be useful to start by pointing out what it is not about. Importantly, the consultation is not about housing sites and we will not be asking people where they think homes should be built around the district. This important issue will come later in the process, as part of consultations due to be held next year.

Instead, this consultation will focus on the following themes:

Climate change – how can we limit carbon emissions when homes are built and while they are used?

Housing numbers – How can we and our partners address the housing need?

Population issues – By 2040 over 40 per cent of East Hampshire residents will be over 65. How do we respond to this? Will we need to provide specialised housing types to accommodate this?

Environment – How can we best conserve, protect and enhance our highly-valued environment?

Infrastructure – How can we provide the right infrastructure to support new developments?

You can see that these themes encourage us to examine some of the most fundamental issues we face as a district.

Certainly, the climate emergency is a high priority for EHDC and we expect this plan to be our greenest ever Local Plan.

But how can we meet these environmental objectives? Is it possible to produce zero-carbon homes? Can we encourage more cycling and walking? Can we create settlements that will give residents easy access to key facilities? We need your help to consider all these questions and more.

For the first time our consultation will use easy-to-access online platforms that give you the chance to have your say on the questions that most interest you. But we will still be running face-to-face meetings in three locations across the district for those that want to talk things through.

Our live events are:

Alton Maltings, Wednesday, December 7

Forest Community Centre, Whitehill & Bordon, Thursday, December 8

From Monday, November 21 the consultation will be available online at:

You can hear more about the consultation and the progress of the Local Plan by signing up to our email bulletin service, again through the EHDC website.

Adam Harvey

East Hampshire District Council acting planning policy manager