Marlborough to get a referendum… and it’s not about the EU
At the Annual Parish Meeting on Monday, councillors urged parishioners get to involved with the drawing up of a neighbourhood plan.
Town councillors Mervyn Hall and Justin Cook, chairman and vice-chairman respectively of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, set out the stall for the process – and explained why it would be so important to Marlborough in the future.
Strategy regarding the provision of new housing – including affordable housing –, schools, employment sites and even pollution levels would all be informed by the Plan, said Cllr Hall.
“We have average house prices of £308,000: 10 times the average annual salary. We have a lack of parking. We have high levels of pollution: five times the acceptable level outside St Peter’s School.
“We want a thriving economy, and we want to be able to protect our history,” said Cllr Hall.
“The Neighbourhood Plan allows the community to influence planning decisions that effect their town.”
This was a view echoed by councillor Guy Loosmore. “This Plan will help to protect the town from unwanted development,” he said. “Without the Plan we are left wide open to speculative development. This is something the community needs to get behind.”
“The neighbourhood plan is the only game in town,” said councillor Cook.
The meeting heard that the process is still in the early stages.
Step one is to define the geographical scope of the Plan, which has now been done. The defined area includes not just the town of Marlborough, but also the neighbouring parishes of Savernake, Mildenhall and Preshute.
This, the meeting heard, is because the bulk of new housing over the next 10 years in likely to be on the fringes of the town, impacting on those outlying parishes.
Step two involves determining Marlborough’s housing requirements over the next 10 years. This will be done by looking at cold hard figures like the housing waiting list, but also through consultation with the public.
The first of those public consultation events will be held on Saturday, June 18 at Marlborough Town Hall.
And by next year – and probably timed to coincide with local elections in May 2017 to keep down costs – residents of the four parishes will be asked to vote in a referendum to adopt, or reject, the contents of the plan.
Right now, though, the plan – so far as the general public is concerned – is little more than a website (www.manp.co.uk) where members of the public can ask to be kept updated on progress. The group also has a presence on Facebook.
Members of the steering group, though, continue to beaver away in the background.