Rabley Wood View development: Developer promises 40% 'affordable housing' but no replacement play area for at least two yearsAt a public 'drop in session' prior to the main Town Council meeting last night (Monday 18 February) the future for the controversial Rabley Wood View development was outlined by Laurence Clarke, Land Acquisition Manager for the Developer Green Square Group.
If all goes according to plan developers, Green Square Group - a Chippenham-based Housing Association will construct a total of thirty nine homes on the site of which 40% (sixteen) will be classed as 'affordable', of which five will be sold on the basis of shared ownership with the remaining eleven for rent at 'affordable rents', to those on the Wiltshire Council waiting list.
Green Square intend to build two play areas to replace the one currently occupying the development site but the first of these won't be ready for use until the construction phase is complete, which may not be for at least two years as no children will be allowed access to or through the construction site until all is finished. These play areas can either be managed by the developer, Green Square or by the Town Council, as no decisions have yet been made. Whilst the first replacement Play Area will be for the younger children - same age as those using the current site - the second area will be for older children.
Concern was expressed by those attending regarding the possible contamination of the site, it was mentioned that there were x-ray machines and other medical waste encased in concrete in the area underneath the current play area. Mr Clarke was asked if the site had been tested for such contamination as this was one of the conditions of the outline planning permission. He replied that most of the investigation had been done and confirmed that "the site itself isn't contaminated".
When asked what the area had been tested for he replied "a whole range of material", and assured the audience that the results of all tests would be made public for all to see. He did state that gas monitoring (for methane) on the former landfill area had not yet been completed but was underway.
He confirmed that area had not been tested for radiation from any x-ray machines or medical waste that might be encased in concrete, but that would be dealt with were anything found.
Regarding access to the site, Mr Clarke acknowledged that the only way in was via Rabley Wood View. When asked how articulated lorries and other construction traffic could get down that road (let alone the buiilding workers parking needs) he replied that they had built elsewhere in places with far more constraints. Issues such as this will be addressed in the Construction Management Plan, which will be compiled in due course.
Councillor Forbes asked why, when it had been already stated that Green square used all profits generated to be put back into Social Housing, was only 40% affordable housing planned for the development when the profitability of the development with 60% at market price will yield more. Mr Clarke confirmed that some of the profit would be taken out for use in other Green Square activities elsewhere. Cllr Forbes then pointed out that Green Square were building to a 40% Social Housing minimum and taking money out of Marlborough, whilst "we have a social Housing crisis" and many of the other towns in Wiltshire have had far more social housing built.
How did this presentation go down with those who had fought the scheme since it was first announced?
Jayne Baker commented: "We are pleased that the promised “affordable” housing is confirmed (sixteen of the thirty nine homes) because Marlborough really needs more of this type of housing. We are very concerned that the replacement play area and amenity open space will not be constructed until after the housing construction is completed. This means that the local community will lose their play area and open amenity space for at least two years, and that may stretch to three or even four years if the planning process is slow!".
There was some concern voiced regarding the plan displayed for all present to scrutinize. There appeared to be some confusion as to what it was a plan of, and of where. Rather than identify the location as "Rabley Wod View, Marlborough', it was labelled "Rabley Wood, Malmesbury'.