The long process of the sale by Wiltshire Council of the public access land off Rabley Wood View so it can be turned it into a housing development, is not yet over.
Residents in homes near the land face more uncertainties while the current application is underway. This application concerns ‘reserved matters’ arising from the Planning Inspector’s decision to allow the development and from the outline planning consent. It is not due to be resolved till 17 September.
Looming large among these worries is the letter to Wiltshire Council from Thames Water. This raised several major limitations to the existing plans for the layout of the new housing – because of proximity to Thames Water’s infrastructure.
Thames Water cited closeness of planned houses to its sewage pumping station. It is also concerned about its water pipes. No homes could be within five metres of its ‘strategic water main’ or within three metres of its lesser water mains. They also say they “…have been unable to determine the waste water infrastructure needs of this application.”
The consequences of these impediments to the layout of homes were said to be a redesign of the layout of the 39 permitted homes. And this could lead to new homes having clear overviews of existing homes.
However, marlborough.news understands that these objections by Thames Water have been reframed and reduced and a new letter from Thames Water has been sent to Wiltshire Council. This new letter has not (at the time of writing) appeared with the other planning documents on the Wiltshire Council website.
Although the amenity land has now been sold by Wiltshire Council to GreenSquare Homes, the ‘reserved matters’ application is still in three names: Wiltshire Council, GreenSquare Homes and RBC Trustees (Guernsey) Limited, who act for the Sangster family who are selling land on the water meadow to provide the required compensatory open space for that lost to the housing development.
David Curtis, technical manager at GreenSquare Homes, told marlborough.news: “When we purchased the site at Rabley Wood it already had outline planning permission granted for new homes. Our current application is to discharge the conditions relating to that permission which includes the layout of the proposed development and consultation with relevant bodies.”
“As is normal practice during the planning process, we continue to make alterations to our plans to take into account latest comments. We have already been working closely with Thames Water and have made full allowances for the existing and any new sewers required to service our site.”
Local residents do have other concerns. Foremost among these is the absence of any details as to how the compensatory open space is to be created in the water meadow.
There are also worries that as Wiltshire Council holds dual responsibilities – as an applicant for planning consent and as the planning authority that will rule on the final application – there will be no independent oversight of the new open space to ensure it meets the conditions imposed by the Planning Inspector.
They are also concerned about plans to reduce about 30 mature trees to a height of two metres to allow some of the new homes to have a view over the new open space/water meadow. This will remove significant habitats for birds. They also say there are no detailed plans for ecological mitigation and enhancement – such as bird boxes and bat bricks.
There is no evidence that exploratory work has been carried out in the water meadow – where 83 per cent of the compensatory recreational space is to be provided – to check for any dangerous remnants from previous uses including military explosives.
As the development stands now, the field where the houses will be built has been secured by wire panels. Work has been carried out to check for contamination of this area during previous use.
And a 1.8 metre high solid fence has been erected where the new buildings will meet the existing homes and gardens. This has caused some consternation as deeds for those homes say they can only have post-and-rail fencing as their boundary fence.
It is reported that Wiltshire Council can override such stipulations – just as they overrode legally attested documents that had promised the land now to be built on would have to remain as amenity land ‘in perpetuity’.
The relevant documents can be found here.