From James Gray MP, North Wiltshire
March 22nd, 2012
The semi-rural market town atmosphere in this area is of vital importance to tourism and to the local economy as well, of course, as to our own everyday way life. We wreck all of that at our peril. We are fortunate to have a broad balance in North Wilts between housing and jobs. We have just the right number of people to do what needs to be done. So building large numbers of business parks, or of houses, as the Wiltshire Core Strategy threatens to do, would in my view risk fundamentally unbalancing the local economy as well as jeopardising the very environment and landscape which is so very important to all of us.
Our economy is firmly based on the military and spin-offs from it, such as the space industry and high tech industries, especially around Corsham; it is based on public services; and it depends on commuters to neighbouring areas. Idealists don’t like that, and would build business parks and houses to halt ‘out-commuting.’ But the fact of the matter is that those who buy the 3500 executive-style homes planned for the outskirts of Chippenham, for example, are extremely unlikely to want to work in local business parks.
So I say again to those considering our planning futures:- we like North Wilts pretty much as it is. We are a high-employment area, with high disposable income; and we value the countryside and landscapes which your Core Strategy risks ruining in so many ways. So I plead again: please rethink what you are about here, modify your ambitious developers’ plans and make it your business to preserve the way of life of this semi-rural, market town area.
February 21st, 2011
I have to say that I very strongly agree with you. It seems to me that Chippenham has reached its natural size, and I strongly oppose any further substantial housing development, whether that is in Birds Marsh, along the River Avon corridor, out towards Tytherton Lucas or elsewhere. Chippenham still maintains its Wiltshire market town atmosphere (although only just); jobs and housing are in broad balance, so that we have virtually no unemployment; and we can enjoy our semi-rural environment with easy access to the countryside.
I do not accept the fatuous maxim that we must ‘grow or die,’ which is one of those easy truisms which may well be hard to gainsay, but which defy common sense. Nor do I accept that there is massive homelessness, nor that even if there were it would be solved by the large quantity of executive-style homes which would certainly be built if it were allowed.
The abolition of the Regional Spatial Strategy removes any centrally-imposed housebuilding strategy or targets, and should allow the people of Chippenham – and the surrounding areas (who would be perhaps more affected than the people of the town itself) to resist any such unwanted growth.
I pledge to offer you every possible support in your efforts to halt the unwelcome expansion of Chippenham and wish you every success in your campaign.
James Gray MP (North Wiltshire)
From Duncan Hames MP, Chippenham
February 23rd, 2011
I have long opposed the excessive regional housing targets that proposed 4500-5500 new homes to be built around the town. I’m pleased that the new government has kept our promise to scrap them with the abandoning of the Regional Spatial Strategy. I warmly welcome the launch of the Chippenham Community Voice, having worked closely with each of the groups that have come together.
I agree that the future of development in Chippenham should be based upon the needs, aspirations and direct input of the local community. I hope that now the regional housing targets have been scrapped, Wiltshire Council will reconsider its core strategy to ensure that its officials, planning inspectors and developers will heed the wishes of Chippenham residents when considering development proposals for the town. There is no good reason to build on Birds Marsh woods or on Chippenham’s floodplains which should instead be protected and enjoyed as natural assets for the local community.
Duncan Hames MP (Chippenham)
From Lyn Andre, Chippenham Town Councillor - Monkton Park
February 28th, 2011
I support the Residents of Monkton Park who are overwhelmingly against the scale of Barratts' planned development to the East and North of the area. They do not believe that Chippenham needs this scale of expansion and nor can the infrastructure support it.
People of Chippenham do want better shops and restaurants but not at the expense of our beautiful countryside.
Lyn Andre, Chippenham Town Councillor
Monkton Park Ward
From Sheila Veitch, Chippenham Town Councillor - Monkton Park
February 23rd, 2011
I fully support the vision of these groups. I accepet that some development is necessary but not huge estates distroying some of the best areas around the town. Brown field sites should be developed first. The river valley is a precious resource which should be protected as a wild life corridor and along with other green areas around the town should be saved for the enjoyment of residents.
Sheila Veitch, Green Party
Chippenham Town Councillor
Monkton Park Ward
From North Wiltshire Friends of the Earth
March 13, 2011
North Wiltshire Friends of the Earth (North Wiltshire FOE) gives full support to Chippenham Community Voice in their campaign to question the belief that large scale housing and industrial development of Chippenham is essential to the town's future, particularly on its eastern boundary.
Until clear evidence is available which shows that there are real benefits from such proposed development, North Wiltshire FOE wholly supports the local community groups in Chippenham Community Voice in their argument to challenge the large scale and potentially inappropriate development of Chippenham on greenfield land on the outskirts of the town.
North Wiltshire FOE believes that there should be a clear democratic basis to this decision-making, and therefore wishes to encourage an open dialogue, based on clear evidence, in order to enable everyone to assess and determine the exact purpose and benefits of large scale development proposals.
Whilst development can have social and economic benefits, North Wiltshire FOE favours wherever possible the retention and safeguarding of greenfield sites around the town for the benefit of both the general environment and those already living in the town.
From our discussions with Chippenham Community Voice, there is clear evidence to us that a large number of Chippenham residents are against the proposed massive expansion of the town and choose to live here because, at present, they enjoy a better quality of life than people who live in larger towns.
North Wiltshire FOE also believes that if the current plans for expansion are accepted then this will be the catalyst for future irreversible development schemes for Chippenham.
In common with Chippenham Community Voice, our vision for the development of Chippenham does not include large scale house and road building. Whilst accepting change, we seek instead a balanced, sustainable plan that improves and enhances both the built and natural environment that we all live in.
These are the reasons why we join with Chippenham Community Voice in saying no to these development plan. We believe that it is most important that the views and aspirations of Chippenham's residents are clearly heard and understood before any decisions are made.
North Wiltshire Friends of the Earth
From Bill Douglas, Chippenham Town Councillor, Wiltshire Councillor and Chippenham Area Board Member
March 27th, 2011
I have been fully involved over the past two years in discussions on housing and development with the Housing Department, with Developers, with the Chippenham Vision, and, also, with the various residents groups which now form part of the Chippenham Community Voice Group.
Recent consultations and discussions would seem to indicate a gradual focusing of the general public on what type of town they want. I would suggest that the indication is for a Riverside Market Town developing gradually at a pace set by the Community so that employment first, and infrastructure and housing building move forward together.
The Core Strategy requirements must be taken into account and any policy must be legal, sustainable and evidence based. However, this does not mean that we must accept developer’s applications to build 300, 400, or one thousand in one particular area.
Bill Douglas, Liberal Democrat
Chippenham Town Councillor and Wiltshire Councillor
Chippenham Area Board Member
From Judy Rooke, Wiltshire Councillor and Chippenham Area Board Member
March 28th, 2011
I have always objected to the building on greenfield sites around Chippenham especially when there are still brownfield sites, such as Langley Park which could accommodate quite a few houses and land for employment opportunities. I will oppose strongly development on the Rowden Conservation Area as residents do not wish this area to be another huge estate of houses.
Housing developments in Chippenham have grown enormously over the last few years without any sustainable employment or community infrastructure. We do need to get the vibrancy and vitality back in to the Town but this shouldn't be driven by building huge numbers of houses.
I am therefore happy to support Chippenham Community Voice in their fight to prevent unsustainable large scale expansion of Chippenham by the destruction of the surrounding countryside.
Judy Rooke, Liberal Democrat
Chippenham Area Board Member
From Lorraine Roberts-Rance, Chippenham Town Councillor
March 28th, 2011
I am very concerned the future of our town is being determined by Wiltshire Council employees and developers and not by the will of residents. The lack of wholesale, thorough, professional consultation is inexcusable. The recently proposed government planning system reforms also need urgent scrutinising. I commend Chippenham Community Voice for creating a forum to air the views of residents and lobby decision makers.
I am not happy with large scale developments – soulless, tree less concrete mazes. Let’s start with some needs assessment, comprehensive consultation and THEN design a plan having heard the views of residents.
Small scale developments may be acceptable but developers’ greenwash isn’t. Development design needs to consider creating character, spaces to foster a community spirit, including mixed-use and of course low energy buildings.
Lorraine Roberts-Rance, Liberal Democrat
Chippenham Town Councillor
From Mark Packard, Chippenham Town Councillor, Wiltshire Councillor and Chippenham Area Board Member (Vice Chairman)
March 31st, 2011
My opinion is that Chippenham has seen large developments in Pewsham and Cepen Park during the last 20 years. Much of this development has brought in people who commute out of Chippenham to work and in the meantime the Town Centre retail offer has been slowly getting worse. So the two large developments have not improved the fabric of the Town. People in Chippenham and the villages have been guided to the out of town supermarkets and associated retailers, to the detriment of the two in town shopping arcades and associated retailers. This is plainly not acceptable.
In order to improve the situation one thing we need is more new employers in Chippenham, which has not happened to any large extent in the last 20 years. The Spatial Plan should identify and then agree new employment areas and then fill them before we can consider any more large housing developments. Once the employment land has been occupied, and only then, can we consider more than just the 700 houses that are required for the normal increase in population. The new employers will recruit locally and start the process of people living and working in Chippenham. This process will start to improve the retail offer aswell as the community fabric.
One criticism I have is that the Spatial Planning process has been housing driven and due consideration has not been given to other factors that make up a succesful Market Town. I would expect all other factors to be given just as high a priority as housing in the eventual plan.
Mark Packard, Liberal Democrat
Chippenham Town Councillor and Wiltshire Councillor
Vice Chairman, Chippenham Area Board
From Nina Phillips, Chippenham Town Councillor, Wiltshire Councillor
April 11th, 2011
I fully support your stance against the building of large-scale developments making Chippenham into an enormously soulless sprawling town without sufficient infrastructure and no community heart. The amount of housing development proposed will lead to separate disparate communities all built on Greenfield land, thus destroying any countryside at present nearby.
In my total of 12 years as a Chippenham Town Councillor, North Wilts District Councillor and Wiltshire Councillor, I have been involved in housing, spatial strategy and core strategy and been disappointed to see what appears to be a development led policy intended for “planning gain”. Most of Chippenham is against the principal of large-scale development so the town must be consulted more and more without “agendas”.
Nina Phillips, Conservative
Wiltshire Cllr. Cepen Park (North) & Redlands Division
Town Cllr. Redland Ward, Chippenham
From Christine Crisp, Wiltshire Councillor
April 13th, 2011
I was delighted that, through the Localism Bill, the Coalition Government is revoking the high number of new dwellings required by the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). This will allow Wiltshire Council to reconsider a much lower figure for the Chippenham area. Following the recent round of presentations and workshops, there will be formal consultation this summer, after the new draft numbers are approved by Cabinet for consultation.
My Wiltshire Council Division of Calne Rural stretches right to the border of Chippenham Town and many of my constituents are still concerned that the Core Strategy being evolved by Wiltshire Council will plan for a considerable number of new properties to be built in Tytherton Lucas. I share my constituents’ concerns and have made their views known to Jane Scott and other Cabinet members. Any development in the countryside must be kept to an absolute minimum and the beautiful areas along the river valleys of the Avon and Marden must be protected. I will be asking my constituents to make their views known once again to Wiltshire Council during the next consultation.
Christine Crisp, Conservative
Wiltshire Councillor, Bremhill
From Chris Caswill, Wiltshire Councillor and Chippenham Area Board Member
April 24th, 2011
I fully support the positive vision for Chippenham that is set out on these web pages. The green spaces around the town are a vital part of its character, highly valued by local residents. All the evidence we have is that the people of Chippenham see its future as a market town on the River Avon, surrounded by attractive countryside. The town has already grown to a population of 42,000 and there is now a perfectly valid "modest growth " option for the town, including a small additional number of houses, maximum use of brownfield sites, improved use of the railway and concentration on increasing and advancing the employment opportunities close to the town.
I have for many years been adamantly opposed to development across the river from Monkton Park, on grounds of environmental damage and the loss of the countryside. We know that it is equally strongly opposed by a majority of Monkton Park residents, and not just those whose views would be directly affected.
Moreover the need to leave untouched a significant floodplain area will mean that any development to the east of the town will be a separate dormitory area, detached from the town and not bringing any benefit to it. The eastern development would also require a NW/SE Road as well as links across the river into the town. Any ring road would have the effect of taking business and social communication away from the town, whilst any new roads into the town would inevitably add chronic traffic congestion – especially if they involve additional traffic on Station Hill.
In the immediate future, we must combine together to press Wiltshire Council officers and Cabinet to listen to the voices of local people. Then there is a big cloud on the horizon with the Government’s stated intention of replacing the current planning laws with a "pro-development policy. This is surely something all of us – MPs, Wiltshire Council, local people (including members of all political parties) - can join together to oppose!
Chris Caswill, Liberal Democrat
Wiltshire Councillor for Monkton ward, member of the Chippenham Vision Board