Statement from Preshute Parish Council


15 July 2020

 

Preshute Parish Council withdraws from Marlborough Area Neighbourhood Plan

 

At a meeting on 14th July, Preshute Parish Council unanimously voted to leave the Marlborough Area Neighbourhood Plan. This reluctant decision was made after extensive discussion and a detailed review of Preshute's association with this project.

Preshute entered into the Neighbourhood Plan making process with an open mind some 5 years ago and saw this as an opportunity to improve the lives and environment of the residents of Marlborough and the surrounding village communities.

Over the past year Preshute has repeatedly voiced serious concerns as to the aims and objectives of the draft Plan. Our concerns have either been ignored or not considered seriously.

 

We believe the proposed plan, focusing as it does on further large scale housing development in the Marlborough area, is not fit for purpose. It is based on flimsy evidence of need and prioritises continued large scale development on protected greenfield land outside the town's boundary rather than available, previously used or brownfield land within the town. This is contrary to the accepted requirement to develop sustainable communities as dictated by national and county policy.

The draft plan aims to increase the population significantly without proper regard to its impact on already overstretched physical and social infrastructure. This is despite several statements from Wiltshire Council (responsible for overall housing strategy) that Marlborough should pursue more limited growth and that there are already 268 additional houses with planning permission to be built in the coming years. The neighbourhood plan and the Wiltshire strategic plan must work together in harmony for the benefit of all residents.

 

In its apparent objective to turn the town into a dormitory for Swindon and other larger regional centres, the plan offers no new employment sites and there are no initiatives for creating jobs for the additional population. This will lead to more commuting by car with an adverse impact on air quality and the town's environment.

There are no realistic proposals for more flexible uses or environmental improvements to the High Street in a post-Pandemic world. As far as the greenfield sites chosen in the North Wessex Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there have been no landscape assessments or visual impact studies. Car parking is another major issue in the town, but the draft plan suggests only an 'informal' and unregulated car park on the Common with a permeable surface, no lighting  and no safe pedestrian access.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the draft plan is that there is nothing that sets out a clear and exciting vision for Marlborough. As a community of parishes, we must work hard to keep Marlborough special, and provide the catalyst to develop a thriving working community with strong infrastructure and have that Wow! factor for tourists and residents alike.

On the evidence placed in front of Preshute Council on 14th July 2020, we concluded that the plan is not fit for purpose and that there has to be a better way.

 

Councillor Peter Morgan, Chair

For and on behalf of  Preshute Parish Council