At last Monday’s (7 October) Town Council Planning Committee meeting councillors voted to approve developer GreenSquare’s latest application regarding the controversial Rabley Wood Development.
They arrived at this decision via a roundabout route. Underlying the concerns of all councillors present was their acceptance that any objection would only be considered if it were based on planning criteria, specifically relating to a breach of such. Their resolution was clear and simply worded: ‘that Marlborough Town Council has no objection to this application provided all planning conditions are met’.
The development had already received outline approval from the Planning Inspectorate – in the face of opposition from Wiltshire Council planners, Town Council and just about every resident from this area of Marlborough – so unless there were any changes or discoveries that countered any planning criterion this latest application would proceed. The approval set out ten specific conditions that had to be met.
The Town Council resolution wording was key. But even at this stage, with GreenSquare senior management present to answer questions it still wasn’t possible to see whether such conditions were actually being realised – with the core question being ‘how by whom would these be judged?’.
At the previous meeting of the Planning Committee the decision regarding this application had been deferred as there was insufficient information accompanying the details of the changes and Councillors felt that GreenSquare needed to answer these questions directly before casting judgement.
So, prior to Monday’s meeting three GreenSquare executives, led by Barry Wood – MD of GreenSquare Homes attended a ‘pre-meeting’ in the Town Hall where members of the community and Councillors could question the developers in detail.
GreenSquare recognised that they had to fulfil all of the ten conditions and importantly they were willing to discuss the details of the development directly with all those involved.
The consultation period for this application expires on 17 October and local residents (supported by Councillors) had applied to Wiltshire Council for this deadline to be extended as the detail wasn’t readily apparent, and not shown in accessible form on the Wiltshire Council planning portal.
Local campaigner Jayne Baker’s frustration with this position was clear, commenting “we are very concerned that the conditions attached to the outline planning consent are not being monitored by anybody …except us!”.
These conditions cover just about every aspect of the proposed development – from access of the large vehicles to the site (still no traffic management plan – to the Flood Risk Assessment plan (the original version submitted was flawed), the draining of the water meadow so that a new play area can be created, the creation of the compensatory space (a core aspect of the development proposal which required the resited play area to be equivalent or superior to that being vacated for the development of the houses, to trees (how many to be removed – and replaced with what?).
Much of this information has yet to be submitted by GreenSquare, and much of what has been submitted has still yet to be made accessible to the public by Wiltshire Council, even though the deadline for consultation – i.e. for anyone affected to comment – expires within a few days.
Overall – an unsatisfactory situation. Consultation – which is fundamental to any planning decision process isn’t possible as details regarding the changes aren’t accessible – yet Wiltshire Council have as yet not acknowledged this to be an issue.
This is likely to run and run. The developer must fulfil all the clear conditions set down as part of the approval. But how are these being addressed, who will make such a judgement, and how can progress towards such fulfilment be measured? Watch this space…..