A missed opportunity?

More about planning application 18/10035/OUT

Wiltshire Council must not miss this opportunity to lead the way in developing a local Nature Recovery Network around Trowbridge.

Here in Britain, we live in a human-dominated landscape. Natural ecosystems have become  fragmented; most original wildlife habitat has vanished, consumed by agriculture and urbanisation.  Woodlands, unimproved grassland, ponds and streams are under constant threat from urban development. The wild places, where plants and animals thrive, are fewer, smaller and increasingly isolated. Most of our native plant and animal populations are declining, some face imminent extinction.

Three of the park’s protected species under threat from urbanisation: [1] white letter hairstreak, [2] water vole, [3] Bechstein bat.

The government’s new Environment Bill, which will be enacted in January of 2021, says that local areas will need a plan to conserve nature, by protecting native wildlife and their habitats, driving the delivery of a National Nature Recovery Network. It calls for local authorities to improve wildlife habitats and create green spaces close to where people live, linked to a vitally important wider network of wild places where biodiversity can begin its recovery.

In planning application 18/10035/OUT, Wiltshire Council has a chance to step up to the plate, to show how simple it is to begin planning for wildlife recovery. On page 43 of its Housing Site Allocation Plan, their policy statement for this site at Church Lane lays the groundwork; it calls for: the creation of a publicly accessible Green Infrastructure corridor along the Lambrok Stream to protect and enhance the character, biodiversity value and amenity of Southwick Country Park in conjunction with development at Southwick Court and Upper Studley.

RPS’s proposal for the green infrastructure that is supposed to be protecting and enhancing the biodiversity of Lambrok Stream

What RPS is proposing in this application will not protect or enhance the biodiversity value of Lambrok Stream or Southwick Country Park Nature Reserve;  the Public Open Space and the Ecology Corridor do not appear to have been planned at all, never mind in conjunction with the developers at Southwick Court and Upper Studley. If Wiltshire’s policies are to be adhered to, if the legal requirements of the Environment Bill are to be met, this cannot be allowed to go ahead.

Now we have seen all the plans for green infrastructure corridors along the Lambrok Stream from the developers at all three of these sites. Their concerns are for landscaping, for the human environment, the creation of an ambience which will sell the houses they are building. The links between the sites are footpaths and cycle routes, not essential wildlife habitat, not real green corridors at all. Waddeton Park and Newland Homes have made tentative moves toward joint planning for sites H2.5 and H2.6 and have discussed possible solutions with us, but in application 18/10035/OUT, RPS seems to be trying to shrug off its responsibility to Lambrok Stream.

The three sites allocated on the southern edge of the town, all of which border Lambrok Stream, all of which are required to protect and enhance its biodiversity.

This is the time for Wiltshire Council to take a lead. Those policy statements on page 43 of WHSAP, are laying down the groundwork for a local Nature Recovery Network, for eco-corridors that will surround the whole of Trowbridge and link up its Local Nature Reserves including Southwick Country Park. It will be a model of urban/rural development.

If Wiltshire doesn’t insist that planning application 18/10035/ OUT meet the requirements laid out in its own policies and in government policy, they are forgoing the opportunity to lead Wiltshire’s wildlife into recovery, and the losses to local biodiversity may well be irredeemable .

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