At Monday’s first full meeting of the new Town Council, in the ‘questions to Wiltshire Councillors’ section, former Marlborough Town Mayor Cllr Mervin Hall asked: “Just prior to the election ‘purdah’ period, former Cllr Dobson gave us the bad news that WC were no longer going to extend the old railway line cycle path into the Business Park, and not only that had secretly sold off the land to the Business Park owners. The residents of St Margarets Mead are in a terrible position of having to clamber up and down a muddy bank to get into the Business Park, it’s a pretty appalling situation and I’d like to know what land has been sold off exactly and what is going to be done to rectify this awful situation?”
New Marlborough East Wiltshire Councillor Caroline Thomas answered, explaining that she had been updated and briefed by former Cllr Stewart Dobson, who had sent her all correspondence particularly with residents in Priorsfield and also with the officers concerned at Wiltshire Council. She noted that she was going to ‘put some sense’ to it as there seemed to be some lack of clarity.
Buried away in the Section 106 commitments (funding coming from developers to underwrite the cost of infrastructural improvements) was for a ‘Toucan Crossing’ between the Business Park and the Marlborough development (opposite) and this has been to been identified and is now active. “A small positive” she noted, adding that It would be welcomed, but the whole situation needs to be looked at to support the residents.
The residents of the area that backs on to the former railway line have raised their concerns about access to this area (anti-social behaviour becoming commonplace) and the secrecy of the transfer of the land (in the map above) between Wiltshire Council and the Business Park developers.
Whilst some of the S106 monies (from the developers) is going towards the installation of the ‘Toucan Crossing’, it will also be going towards the restoration of the old ‘sheep ramp’, that leads up from the Salisbury Road roundabout to the old railway line, backing on to the Savernake View Care Home.
There has been plenty of debate about this, concerning – not least – access (path to nowhere?) and who would actually use it, were no extension to the cycle path (which currently ends at the Five Stiles crossing) being extended. Residents were concerned that this could make any anti-social behaviour more likely given the improved access to this area.
Marlborough.news did report on this back in February, when the Town Council Planning Committee approved the restoration and improvement of this former ‘sheep ramp’.
When asked by marlborough.news Cllr Thomas confirmed that the sale/transfer of this land did retain the right for Wiltshire Council to instate the cycle path if that was decided as the right way forward.
But, she noted that there are still questions to be answered, issues that require clarification including:
- who owned the sheep ramp land – WC, the care home developer or business park property investment co. i.e. was a transfer of land ever necessary?
- what’s the point of the sheep ramp up to an old people’s home in the absence of a full length of pathway to Five Stiles road? Who thought that was a good use of S106 money?
Also, there has been talk of the Business Park developers using this newly acquired land to create a car park. But for what purpose? To be used by whom? And what access? It was believed that this would be accessible from the Business Park as it would be an ‘overflow’ car park, but that would necessitate creating some form of access down the slope, which isn’t – as far as we can ascertain – in any of the plans or proposals.
So, lots of questions still hanging, Cllr Thomas is asking for clarity so we should be able to get a clearer picture of what is likely to happen over the next period.