We have been exploring the trackless wastes of the Wiltshire Council’s website, hacking through dense thickets of acronyms, all the while under attack from syntactical monsters such as:
Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is iterative and integrated into the plan-making process, influencing the selection of site options and policies through the assessment of likely significant effects….
We think we know what has happened. There was a Wiltshire Core Strategy published in 2015; among other things it said that development outside settlement boundaries would not be approved, the separate identity of villages would be protected, sites of ecological importance would not be disturbed and Wiltshire would need an additional 42,000 houses over the next ten years. At SCP, the Friends settled back feeling safe.
Trowbridge’s part in the housing plan centred around 2,600 houses to be built at Ashton Park over a period of five years. Then came the Bechstein’s bats:
Bechstein’s are rare and protected under the European Habitats Directive. The UK population is believed to be between 1,000 and 1,500 individuals living in six old woodland sites in southern England. One of those sites is Green Lane Woods, adjacent to Ashton Park. The bats use the green corridor between Trowbridge and Southwick and feed in the Southwick Country Park.
All kinds of provision and limits, which the county calls mitigations, have had to be made. The developers have delivered fewer houses than planned and Wiltshire’s housing plan has fallen short by 900 houses.
It is hard not to conclude that the Council panicked. Six further sites were allocated for development, all greenfield sites, outside the settlement boundaries, two encroaching on villages, three with serious implications for the ecology of the park. They are all sites that have previously been put forward for development by landowners or developers, and this appears to be the only criteria used in their selection.
There have been many objections, including from Trowbridge Town Council, which have been noted, but which don’t seem to have altered or diverted the plan in any substantial way. On July 3rd 2018, Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet passed the Site Allocation Plan and submitted it to the Secretary of State. An inspector will be appointed to examine the proposal.
Time is short; here is the relevant part of the timetable (it breaks the year into quarters):
- Submission to Secretary of State During Qtr 2 2018 (this has been completed)
- Examination (including hearing and receipt of Inspector’s report) Over the period Qtr 3-4 2018
- Adoption During Qtr 4 2018
Let’s make our voices heard.
More about Wiltshire’s housing plans: