Hilperton Parish Council (HPC) welcomes the Local Plan Review.
HPC would welcome working with Wiltshire Council, within the parameters of the evolving Hilperton Neighbourhood Plan, to develop a plan for the area which is realistic, accounts for continued growth within the environmental and other restrictions applicable to the area and recognises the need for other communities in Wiltshire to share the growth and benefit from the development of facilities and infrastructure which arise from a growing population.
HPC has the following comments relating to the three ‘Settlement Strategic Issues’ questions in the Trowbridge Housing Market Area profile document.
Q1 – is the town attractive to inward investment? The short answer is ‘No’.
The Trowbridge area has become a dormitory settlement without the necessary infrastructure to support those travelling to work be that by car, rail, or bus. Logic would suggest that houses should be built close to employment opportunities/areas.
The status of Trowbridge as a Principal Settlement should be reviewed due to this failure to attract investment. In addition, it has awful road and rail links when compared to Chippenham and Salisbury with no regular direct rail service to London.
Q2 – Environmental constraints. HPC notes that growth to the west of Trowbridge is restricted by the Green Belt, but this land is the most likely sustainable location for further significant growth, beyond that already identified, during the period under consideration.
Should the Green Belt be reviewed HPC would wish to continue to protect the open aspect areas between Trowbridge and the neighbouring villages of Hilperton, North Bradley and Southwick.
Q3 – brownfield opportunities. Page 8 of the Trowbridge HMA document includes the statement: ‘The overall potential for significant urban regeneration is low.’
This should be clarified as it is would seem to be incorrect. Environmental restraints on the edge of the town may limit further expansion, but urban regeneration opportunities in the town centre and other sites would seem to be excellent: The Bowyer Site, County Hall East, the ex -hospital site and any number of other, smaller sites exist and should be developed as a priority. These areas are a total mess.
The town can be made more attractive by developing the many brownfield sites but especially the ex-Bowyers site which is an eye sore especially for anyone arriving by train.
HPC also has the following specific comments relating to the review.
1. Why is the number of houses for Salisbury/South Wiltshire so low? Is Wiltshire Council happy to see the economy of the Salisbury area stagnate? Improvements to the A303 and the significant influx of army personnel would suggest an alternative plan. In addition, Salisbury benefits from a good, direct rail service to London, the benefit of which should be maximised.
2. Page 10 of the Trowbridge HMA document is the Trowbridge Constraints Map:
This map does not seem to match the text relating to the constraints associated with bats and sites discounted through the HSAP due to their proximity to the bats. Surely the map should not show those sites in white – the same as any other unconstrained site – if they have been discounted? HPC suggests that a further layer should be added to the map to show why these sites have been environmentally discounted or it should be accepted that the environmental constraints can be overcome through mitigation measures, as indicated in the text elsewhere (Sustainability Appraisal/SEASR), leaving them white and allowing them to be allocated.
3. Page 19 of the Trowbridge HMA document includes the following statement regarding Warminster: ‘There are significant environmental constraints to further outward development.’
This should be clarified. The map on the following page would seem to show that there are very few environmental constraints immediately surrounding the developed/allocated area. If the constraints at Warminster are significantly less than those at Trowbridge (e.g. Green Belt, neighbouring villages, and bats) then the text should reflect the relative differences as should the Constraints Maps.
4. The boundary maps of the HMAs are unclear and wholly unacceptable in a planning policy document and should be replaced with maps which clearly show which parishes are, and are not, included in each HMA. If, as suggested, the government introduces a requirement to allocate housing numbers to each parish in their Neighbourhood Plans, then a list of parishes in each HMA should accompany all references to the Review.
5. The consultation makes reference to the ongoing Wiltshire Open Spaces Study. HPC is opposed to the effective statement of policy implied in the first paragraph of page 111 of the WOSS: ‘Developers will be asked to maintain the new provision through a management company.’
Hilperton Parish Council is concerned that such management companies are undemocratic, unaccountable to residents, and levy excessive fees on residents who have little or no recourse. The government is currently outlawing leasehold arrangements; such management company arrangements should also be abolished and no new ones established. If Wiltshire Council is unable/unwilling to adopt such open space, and recreational facilities, then they should be passed to the first-tier council in whose area such development take place. HPC would therefore suggest that this is removed from the WOSS and an alternative arrangement based upon parish and town councils taking responsibility, with developers making a (say 25 year) maintenance contribution at the point of transfer being added to the WOSS prior to adoption.