New objection to the Crown Estate's revised plans for Salisbury Road housing development
Last week Marlborough town council objected to the Crown Estate's revised outline plans for 'up to 175' homes and a hotel to be built on their farmland west of Salisbury Road opposite the business park.
Almost all the councillors were very worried about the additional road traffic the development will produce - and Wiltshire Council's refusal to acknowledge the problem.
Now Wiltshire Council planners are faced with another objection to the Crown Estate's plans - on very different grounds. In her objection Mrs Joan Davies says the plans fail to provide two of Marlborough's basic needs: enough affordable housing and a safe drinking water supply.
In the main part of her objection she points out that drinking water for Marlborough is extracted via a borehole from the groundwater beneath the proposed development site: "To continue to have a safe drinking water supply for Marlborough it is critical that activities on the development site do not, either during the construction phase or in future use, contaminate the water supply."
Mrs Davies, who was trained as a scientist and was a member of Savernake Parish Council for 40 years and its chairman for 25 years, explains that the Environment Agency designates three Groundwater Source Protection Zones for drinking water sources: Inner (closest to the borehole or spring), Outer and Total Catchment. The inner zone - the area that most needs defences against contamination - is of special importance for this development.
These protection zones can vary in size depending on soil conditions: "In the case of the Marlborough water pumping station - which is located within, but not part of the development site - the Inner Zone is large as the surrounding soils consist of
a thin layer of top soil overlying chalk which is porous."
Mrs Davies distinguishes between the two fields that form the development area. In the field nearest the A346 only the small part closest to the pumping station is within the inner protection zone. The rest is outside it and, she says, that is where houses could be built without any possible danger to drinking water supplies.
To the west, the second field, which includes the pumping station, poses the serious problem: almost all of it lies within the inner protection zone. Indeed the only part not in that zone will now no longer to be built on - to save the area's natural landscape from intrusive rooflines.
This objection explains that the Crown Agents have been in consultation with Thames Water and the Environment Agency about this problem. The original application proposed placing a concrete platform under any buildings within protection zone one - noting but not quantifying the cost implications of this.
The revised plan suggests mitigating the risks of contamination using a pressurised pipe through the development so the borehole can be flushed with discharges going onto land outside the inner protection zone. But Mrs Davies points out that there is no response to this suggestion in the new outline planning application documents.
Mrs Davies states: "In my opinion possible contamination of the [Source Protection Zone One] is such a critical matter that planning permission, even for an outline application, should not be given until a safe solution is found."
Her objection letter concludes: "I suggest: that the application is withdrawn and a revised application is submitted with fewer houses and these are only located in the field next to the A346. The area in this field within the SPZ1 is left as an open space. No hotel is built on the site and a large number of the houses are allocated as affordable ones."
"This will have the additional advantage of reducing the amount of traffic leaving and entering the site and hence not add to the existing serious traffic problems on the A346."
"I appreciate that the Crown will make less money by reducing the number of houses when selling the land, but recently they have made a great deal of money in the Marlborough area by selling nearly all of the very many acres of farmland on their Savernake Estate."
The map shows the development site outlined in purple with the pumping station marked with a black dot. The inner Source Protection Zone is in red and the outer Source Protection Zone is in green. [Click to enlarge]