I expect many people had the view as did I that the planning for Marlborough for the next 18 years had been settled. The community voted in support of the Marlborough Area Neighbourhood Plan in March and in support of the Preshute Neighbourhood Plan in February which covers the adjoining Parish to the west .
Both plans were supported by Wiltshire Council and officers provided invaluable assistance to the Working Groups preparing them. The Marlborough Plan allocated land for 65 houses and the Preshute Plan contained policies to conserve and enhance the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty of National importance as well as allocating a small area of brownfield land.
In the Submission version of the Marlborough Plan WC state that ‘ further employment land is not needed in Marlborough’ and the final adopted plan states that ‘assessed need would be met by a contribution of at least 50 houses’, this was provided in the 65 houses in the Marlborough Plan.
A few weeks later WC approved for consultation a new strategy – increasing the overall requirement to 600 houses, a business park and an industrial estate. This contradics the Local Plan which says Marlborough is ‘a constrained settlement and its outward expansion is limited by the need to conserve and enhance the AONB’ .
Designation of land as AONB is not a WC policy which it can change or ignore – it is a Government designation not in th egift or power of WC to ignore. AONBs have the same status as National Parks -and are protected from major development by National Policy.
It is not clear why or when WC fundamentally changed in relation to the AONB, housing and employment but it must have been very recently.
These developments will have an effect on Traffic, congestion, air quality, and parking as well as social facilities such as health services, schools, leisure centre and roads and utilities, River Kennet and the integrity of the AONB as well as the setting of the town. No-one knows what the impact will be of 1500-1800 extra people, 1000 cars, plus commercial vehicles and commuter traffic as WC haven’t bothered to measure or assess it . However it is clear the impacts will be adverse and will be detrimental to the quality of life of all of us.
I can’t see that any of this benefits anyone apart from the owners of the main sites -The Crown Estate and Marlborough College.
WC have an opportunity now to rectify this by amending the plan before it is sent to the Government.
As it stands, WC are clearly out of touch with the community and reality and any trust in them must surely be ebbing away as these proposals are simply inexplicable, contrary to national policy and all previous recent statements of WC policy.