The progress of the development by GreenSquare Homes on the former amenity land and play area adjacent to Rabley Wood View has had what appears to be a startling setback.
GreenSquare Homes’ latest design and layout has brought a firm recommendation to ‘Object’ from a key Wiltshire Council source – their Urban Design Officer. This is the second time he has objected to a layout design for this development.
In a nine page document submitted on 10 October, he has listed a number ways in which GreenSquare’s layout and design does not comply with the Council’s own rules that housing developments should ensure ‘high quality design and place shaping’.
His list of problems – which is carefully justified with reference to planning policies – starts with an overall judgement that the design has “…a lack of composition of the site as a whole and its component street scenes and spaces. The structure does not have a strong urban design or landscape basis and appears instead a layout which seeks to prioritise maximising units/coverage.”
His other ‘main points of concern’ are:
“– a sub-standard design of green infrastructure and public realm;
— bland materials pallet and generic detailing in the elevational treatment of individual homes;
— lack of innovation with regards to sustainable construction and landscaping opportunities.
— proximity of 2 proposed new homes to existing homes.”
He also points out that there are six more plans and documents still to be provided by the developers. These include an ‘indicative drainage plan’ at plot level and a lighting plan.
Several of his main complaints are illustrated – the main one is shown above. The ‘needlessly intrusive’ proximity of two of the new homes to existing homes is clearly shown. He also states that “The layout unnecessarily puts a road through an existing mature, healthy tree.”
The Urban Design Officer takes exception to new homes that have no ground floor windows facing the road. He calls this “…a very poor design solution, for almost any location on this site, let [alone] along vista points.”
There is also criticism of the facing materials used on the houses: “Main facing materials (currently limited to just one brick type and one render) are not allocated around the site in an obviously purposeful way, apart from the underwhelming custom of proposing some corner units as rendered. There is so much more potential than just that. A more focused use of the render and roofing could be achieved with little additional cost. Furthermore, there is clearly more opportunity to use the local tradition of tile hanging in a pastiche or modern way.”
His summary is pretty damning: “There is little in the architectural designs that is distinctive to Marlborough. The adjacent site does not have a strong architectural character yet it is not acceptable to use that as a justification to not attempt higher quality architecture on this site.”
Wiltshire Police have also had their say about GreenSquare’s latest layout and design submission. Their ‘Designing Out Crime Officer’ points to fences between homes that “…do not give appropriate security for the home, the garden or the occupants of the associated dwellings.”
She says that a chain link fence behind five of the new homes “…is not acceptable and is not recognised as fencing in crime prevention terms.”
She calls for fourteen of the plots to be separated by 1.8 metre timber fencing “…to ensure the homes, their occupants and the property within the homes and gardens are protected from the possibility of crime to a sufficient level.”
This response from Wiltshire Council’s planning department may not surprise local residents who have followed the process. The plan by Wiltshire Council to sell the amenity land for housing and replace it with land on the adjacent water meadow owned by the Sangster family, was rejected twice by the Council’s own Eastern Planning Committee.
When the Wiltshire Council department in charge of raising money from the sale of assets – like the amenity land – appealed their decision to the government planning inspectorate, the plans were approved with a list of conditions.
You can find the planning documents for the current stage of the application and the Planning Inspector’s decision here.