Improvements to Marlborough's infrastructure are not a priority - says Wiltshire Council
The Salisbury Road development of 175 dwellings and a hotel has helped take Marlborough off the list of places in the county that need more new homes - some in substantial numbers - to meet Wiltshire Council's required strategic housing target. After taking account of house building already planned, the whole Marlborough Community Area only needs 51 more homes by 2026 - 17 of those in the town.
It should be added that this requirement is only a minimum - and changes in government policy could at a stroke inflate the required number of new homes that must be built in the county and the Marlborough area.
The plan identifies sites in other parts of the county suitable for 'strategic' housing developments to help meet Wiltshire Council's new-build target. There is however important information for Marlborough in the documents accompanying the new draft of this Housing Site Allocations Plan - which is now out for consultation (see below for details on how to take part in the consultation.)
This information concerns proposed boundary changes, air quality and infrastructure. It also concerns the bats in the old Marlborough rail tunnel, but they are being looked after.
Boundary changes for Marlborough and some of the area's villages can be found here - to enlarge the map click on 'Popup full image'. Most of the changes are small and take account of new housing developments.
A narrative for Marlborough in the draft plan can be read here.
It includes a strong statement on air quality: "An Air Quality Management Area ('AQMA') has been declared in the town and there are local concerns that development will lead to mandatory limits set by European Directive 2008/50 being exceeded. Measures to improve air quality in Marlborough must be considered."
That statement - with its 'must be considered' - will be of use to campaigners in the town seeking to ensure Wiltshire Council act on the problem. The government's latest response to the law courts' demand for action on the Directive has put almost all responsibility for improvements onto local authorities.
The section on infrastructure is not at all positive. It repeats the Wiltshire Infrastructure Delivery Plans (IDP) itemisation of "...specific essential infrastructure requirements that will need to be addressed in planning for the community area."
These include: "New site for Preshute Primary School and extension of existing village primary schools to provide additional places - extension of secondary school to provide additional places - provision of additional nursery school places - support development of local primary care health facilities, as most practices at capacity."
But it then gives a judgment on whether these "essential infrastructure" are after all quite so essential - quite blatantly pushing them into the 'long grass' of some unspecified future date: "However, neither the [Wiltshire Core Strategy] or the IDP identify insurmountable issues to the extent that they would restrict the delivery of the level of housing proposed over the Plan period." So those 'essential' infrastructure improvements may not happen until after 2026.
In other words, the imperative is to build the houses and the necessary development of 'essential' infrastructure in terms of facilities and staffing for health and education for new and present residents, can wait...perhaps for ever.
As usual, Wiltshire Council make no comment on the traffic and parking in the town which will increase - that is get worse - when the housing and hotel in the Salisbury Road development are completed. And there is no mention in these documents of the need to upgrade the town's drain and sewage sytems.
The new draft Wiltshire Housing Site Allocations Plan can be read here.
Comments can be made:
- either online
- or by post in writing to: Spatial Planning, Economic Development & Planning, Wiltshire Council, County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8JN.
Note: copies of all comments (including personal details) will be made available to the public to view and therefore cannot be treated as confidential. Anonymous representations cannot be accepted.
The documents are also available at Marlborough library.