A PLANNING barrister has branded a council plan for future development as “hopeless”.

Peter Village QC has issued an 18-page opinion on Hart District Council’s draft local plan, its blueprint for future development, having been commissioned by the Winchfield Action Group We Heart Hart campaign group.

The groups are fighting to stop the building of a new town at Winchfield, a scheme being tested by the district council.

Mr Village criticised Hart’s consultation process, saying that it did not include issues such as employment, retail, transport and infrastructure, and only focused on housing.

He added: “It is inconceivable that a coherent and sound local plan could emerge without addressing most (at least) of these issues.

“Thus the council presently appears to be in a hopeless position if it maintains its current course.”

Tristram Cary, from the action group, said that Hart’s current plan to build a new town at Winchfield brings with it the risk of having to accept the housing need of neighbouring areas, like Rushmoor and Surrey Heath.

He added: “We are confident that a proper public consultation... would result in a different housing strategy which would concentrate on brownfield development for the benefit of us all.”

Daryl Phillips, joint chief executive at Hart, said the council would reflect on the legal opinion, but added it contradicts advice by a planning inspector who visited Hart last October and in March.

He added that a “five-point plan”, set out by We Heart Hart campaign group to change the local plan, would be “of no value to the community”

in that it would only meet the “relatively narrow objectives of one particular interest group”.