Wiltshire Council has looked at sites on green fields around Chippenham which they believe can deliver the required overall total of 4510 homes. Taking account of the several thousand house already built or having planning permission, there was a shortfall of 1910 homes. The Council says it has reviewed possible sites against six criteria, in order of importance:
2. Flood risk
3. Transport by car
4. Landscape, heritage and biodiversity
5. Housing and infrastructure
6. Transport not by car
Based on those criteria, they propose to allocate the sites in the following priority:
CAUSE2015 is specifically concerned about allocations 2 & 3. You can see maps of the sites B & C and their impact by clicking on the Site Maps icons above.
Site selection exhibition
The Council held a low key and as usual unadvertised exhibition of its proposals at the Neeld Hall, just off the High Street, on Monday 16 March, 12-7pm. Officers were there to answer questions.
Two large sites have already got outline planning permission. (Other applications are in the pipeline)...
North Chippenham beyond Hill Corner Road - 750 homes. Link road between Malmesbury Road ( A350) and Maud Heath Causeway. This site has been approved subject to a S106 agreement being entered into.
Hunters Moon, off the A350, to the south west - 450 homes. This site has been approved subject to a S106 agreement being entered into.
CAUSE 2015’s concerns
1. Housing numbers. The Council have stated that the only reason the East Chippenham site is proposed is that they need a site for at least 450 houses and that was the third preferred site. They then increased the number of houses on that site from 450 to 850 in order to make it viable (they say) for the developer to pay for the link road and bridge over the River Avon.
The choice of the East site C imposes a further increase in the additional housing in Chippenham to 4925, 400 more than is now required, and over 900 more than the Council originally proposed for the town. Chippenham does not need this extra amount. We believe the houses needed can be better located elsewhere in sites the Council seems not to have considered seriously. CAUSE 2105 is developing an alternative case which we will make public soon, and before we submit it in the public consultation.
And worse, the building across the river would not stop with 850 houses. The developers have declared their intention to build over 2500 houses in all. Creating an eastern link road across the Avon and Marden Valleys would inevitably lead to the concreting of the whole area inside the road - The Swindonisation of Chippenam.
2. Flood risk. The Council Site allocation plans say development both at Rawlings Green and East Chippenham must make sure that surface water management can achieve less than current greenfield rates of run-off and decreases flood risks.
There is reliable information that global warming which will increase the amount of rain by 10% over the next 10 years. There is a risk that the surface water management will not be able to cope and will result in extra water flowing into the rivers Avon and Marden with disastrous consequences for the town centre of Chippenham, Bradford-on-Avon and villages to the east of Chippenham. In 2014 there were four times the number of houses flooded in Wiltshire than in Somerset.
3. Traffic. There is great concern that an eastern link road rather than taking traffic away from Chippenham town centre would increase the traffic to Monkton Park and Calne . The combination of traffic coming from the eastern link road and from the Rawlings Green development would have a disastrous impact on the already-crowded Station Hill. Calne is already suffering from excessive air pollution. It is likely that those wanting to go from the Calne side of the A4 to the M4 will go along the B4069 to the M4. This has not been modelled by the council and it's difficult to imagine how it would cope along the narrow twisty sections. Whereas putting development in area D with a Southern link road will take traffic onto the A350 (which is being dualled) all the way north to the M4.
4. Loss of countryside. These two developments, taken together, will destroy the Avon Valley to the east of the town, between Chippenham and Bremhill parish. Many residents of Chippenham as well as those living in Bremhill enjoy the countryside provided and do not wish to see it concreted over. The area is used for walking, cycling, horseriding and fishing.
5. Economy. The A350 is the Council’s preferred key route for Wiltshire business. It therefore makes sense to build houses closer to the A 350 rather than East Chippenham.
There are options that would do just that.
6. Another dormitory area. A development to the east, across the river and beside road bypassing the town, would have little connection to the rest of the town, and certainly not to the town centre. It would in effect be a dormitory area, of little benefit to Chippenham.