Newland Homes has published a concept plan for the building of up to 45 houses on the land at Upper Studley (WHSAP site H2.5) just diagonally across the road from the park. They have distributed a leaflet to 170 local addresses as their first step in the process of public consultation.
We have seen this plan before. In April 2019, at the Examination in Public of the Wiltshire Housing Site Allocations Plan, the same plan (then called an illustrative plan) was submitted to the Examination as part of a Statement of Common Ground between Newland Homes and Wiltshire Council. Our records show this submission was made on Saturday 30/03/2019, just three day before the Examination’s public hearings began on 02/04/2019.
We are newbies to this planning lark, still wet behind the ears, and we were not expecting that SOCG. We had not understood that there is sometimes a long pre-application phase, during which a developer and Wiltshire Council negotiate agreed starting positions; nor had we understood that documentary evidence could be presented at any time during the hearing.
So when Mr Chris Beaver of PlanningSphere, on behalf of Newland Homes, presented this outline plan (18/00033/PREAPP) to the public hearing, it took us completely by surprise. Unable to come up with anything even remotely like a sensible response at the time, we made our reply by email to Mr Beaver via the Examination’s Programme Officer.
Mr Beaver replied that:
Newland Homes have commissioned updated ecology surveys for the site, which will inform the finalised application proposals in due course[.]
As both the illustrative and concept plans are identical, we are assuming that the promised updated ecology surveys are yet to come.
Some of Lambrok Stream’s protected species: water vole, otter, scarce chaser
At the 2019 hearings, we were hurried, and really did no more than scrape at the surface of our concerns for this development plan. We do have other concerns though, and have now had the time to give them some thought.
For instance, the three north/south sloping access roads, coloured an airy blue, are supposed to maintain existing southern visual links, but during heavy rainfall, will deliver the contaminated runoff from the roads speedily and efficiently straight into the Lambrok. It will take more than a landscaped public open space to protect our water voles and Odonata nymphs from that.
We have been invited to meet Newland Homes’ representatives and we are hoping that will be an opportunity to make them aware of the ecological importance of the Lambrok to local biodiversity. Perhaps, working together, we will be able to solve some of the problems that this development is going to face as it moves into the next stage.