I refer to the articles from Cllr Fogg and Cllr Hall about the Marlborough Area Neighbourhood Plan.
I am surprised that one day after the public consultation has closed and two months before the Cllr Hall says there will be a referendum on the plan, discussions are taking place between councillors in the press, about the extent of involvement of councillors in the process.
Cllr Fogg says that the TC have never discussed the vision for the town, or the process of preparing the NP or its content, whereas Cllr Hall says that there were monthly verbal updates and many opportunities for councillors to discuss it or even meet the Steering Group preparing it. Both of these statements may be correct but are water under the bridge.
However, it seems to me that now the TC and Steering Group have received public comments and will presumably be preparing a report on the public comments and addressing concerns etc. there is an opportunity for the TC to discuss the overall vision and content etc. and make revisions if they think it appropriate before submitting it to Wiltshire Council.
There is plenty of time to do this as there is no pressing need to approve the NP because there is a ready supply of 280 houses with planning permission and under construction (including 96 affordable houses) and Wiltshire Council say they expect an additional 160 houses to be built by 2031 on previously developed land -which will also include affordable houses, such as the police station. Also, WC are currently preparing the Local Plan for the county.
I also share Cllr Fogg’s concern that the town will become a dormitory commuter town for Swindon. With 440 houses already in the pipeline the NP proposals for another 180 mean the town will grow by 620 houses or 1,500 new people. As no new employment land is proposed this means excessive commuting by car with its inevitable adverse effects on congestion, pollution, air quality and pressure on services. The NP already describes Marlborough as ‘mostly a dormitory town’ on page 13. This level of growth will change the character of the market town to an even greater extent.
Is this the vision for the town?
Surely these fundamental issues should be considered by the TC together with the Steering Group in a full discussion whilst they are considering the public comments instead of counter statements in the press?