ANALYSIS: Marlborough's infrastructure blues - do all development projects rely on improved services?
The Town Council rejected the planning application for the development on the old council depot site east of Salisbury Road for a care home and assisted living homes. They cited "insufficient infrastructure being in place, specifically in regards to water and drainage."
They also cited "over development of the site with insufficient parking provision."
It may be that their argument on water and waste water drainage was based, in part, on a misunderstanding.
First, Thames Water had said the supply of water was not a serious problem. They could provide a specific minimum pressure which the developer should take account of "in the design of the proposed development."
The problem Thames Water foresaw concerned waste water/sewage.
In March 2014 they told Wiltshire Council's planning department: "Waste: The impact study which has been funded by the developer has recently been completed and identified a lack of adequate capacity within the foul network to serve this site without infrastructure improvements."
And early in June Thames Water said "no short term solution was available to ensure no detriment to the existing network and requested the developer make a contribution to the long term solution to solve flooding in Marlborough."
But where precisely did the problem lie? Did councillors think the development would be too much for Marlborough's sewage treatment works to cope with?
Were they influenced by a submission (not by Thames Water) to the Wiltshire Core Strategy process about the Salisbury Road West/Crown Estate development? This acknowledged the need to make "improvements to the works and expansion of the Marlborough Waster Water Treatment works."
However the treatment works have recently been improved and enlarged. In part this was to protect the River Kennet. But as Thames Water stated in 2012, the upgrade "will also make the works more resilient in the event of heavy rain and will allow for future predicted development and population growth."
This rationale behind the upgrade was repeated in Thames Water's planning application for a new building as part of the upgrade: "The upgrade works are necessary to increase treatment capacity in line with anticipated population growth in the catchment ..."
Asked about the old council depot development, Thames Water told Marlborough News Online that it is the network of pipes that needs improving to cope with the extra flows, not the sewage treatment works:
"We've asked that a planning condition is applied to the proposed development at the Wiltshire Council Depot site to ensure the sewer network is upgraded before the development is occupied."
"We cannot allow residents in other areas to be put at risk of sewer flooding so it's important that the sewers are of a standard that can deal with the increase in waste water which will come from the new homes."
If "infrastructure not being in place" was one reason for rejecting the proposed development for the former council depot, it is hard to see why Marlborough councillors gave such an overwhelming welcome to the much larger Salisbury Road West/Crown Estate development.
The infrastructure requirements acknowledged on behalf of the Crown Estate for that development included: insufficient gas pressure, sewage, a bus service, additional school places - possibly primary and certainly secondary, an extra GP and a half-time dentist, children's play area, 'accessible natural green space', 'sports (facilities) and allotments to be made to Wiltshire standards'.
But that development is for some 220 new homes - most of the new homes that will have to be built within Marlborough by 2026 under Wiltshire's proposed Core Strategy.
In many respects Marlborough's infrastructure is pretty well all used up - but the Elcot Lane sewage treatment plant is prepared for the town's expanding population.
However, with so much of the infrastructure now in the hands of companies and their investors rather than being publicly run services, it seems that much needed new housing developments are now very reliant on costly extensions to infrastructure.