by Barbara Johnson
A Neighbourhood Plan is able to put forward sites for future housing development. As part of Southwick’s Neighbourhood Planning process, we have to review sites in Southwick that have been included on Wiltshire Council’s Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) map, plus any other sites that come forward. Collectively, it is known as a ‘Call for Sites’.
In support of this effort, I have been assessing the Ecology and Flood Risk for two sites put forward where housing development may impact the Lambrok. These are the sites south of Blind Lane and north east of Wynsome Street. Steering Group members, such as myself, have to consider each site in turn to assure that the sites are available, accessible, viable and developable, regardless of their size, capacity or location in the village.
During public consultations villagers have expressed that they only want a small number of new homes to be built in Southwick, appropriate to Southwick’s village identity. But we must assess every site proposal fairly and follow the same methodology for each, otherwise our final plan may not be accepted by Wiltshire Council’s inspectors.
I have now completed my assessments and have tried to promote the importance of the Lambrok waterway to both sites. I have also mentioned the aims of the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership which include:
- improving public understanding about the value and services provided to society and the local economy by the river catchment and its wildlife;
- improving land management and sustainable agriculture to reduce soil erosion and nutrient and pesticide loss, and to provide better links between habitats for wildlife;
- improving waste water management to reduce nutrients in watercourses from public and private waste water;
- improving river management to increase connectivity between habitats, reduce barriers to fish migration;
- improving recreational management to increase access and recreational use of water and the wider environment, delivering wide ranging physical and mental health benefits.
I have also said that these sites should not be viewed in isolation, as any pollution from the sites at Blind Lane and Wynsome Street would impact on the Lambrok waterway in nearby Southwick Country Park, which is already under significant threat from proposed housing development nearby at Site H2.4 Church Lane, Trowbridge.
The county’s Countryside Team and the Friends of SCP have been working hard to protect and improve the level of biodiversity presently found in the Lambrok as it runs through Southwick Country Park
In conclusion, it will ultimately be Southwick residents, not the Steering Group, who will make the final decision as to which sites will go forward for future housing development purposes. So it is imperative that Southwick resident’s are fully informed and aware of the impact housing development in Southwick will have on the health of the Lambrok and the habitat it provides for local wildlife.
September 6th 2019
All the photographs were taken in Southwick Country Park by DKG