WILTSHIRE Council’s plans to build over 700 new houses in the area is ‘too many’ for a town the size of Westbury; that’s the view of the local community which is also demanding improvements in the town’s infrastructure – including an A350 bypass.
Residents made their feelings known in a consultation held by Wiltshire Council earlier this year about its ‘emerging’ Local Plan, which has proposed a building target for Westbury of 710 extra houses over the next 15 years.
According to a Wiltshire Council report, summarising the responses to its consultation, Westbury residents called for a ‘lower scale of growth’ with a ‘commensurate level’ of infrastructure investment, such as schools, GPs, dentists and transport – including an A350 bypass.
The report also noted that the most prevalent concern expressed, was a need for a A350 bypass to combat traffic congestion, poor air quality and road safety.
According to the council’s report, there was general support from Westbury Town Council and developers for the proposed scale of growth, but tackling A350 congestion, providing more affordable housing, and a focus on town centre renewal were key priorities.
The new houses have been proposed as part of Wiltshire Council’s ‘emerging’ Local Plan, which determines where and how development takes place across the county up until 2036 – according to the council, almost 46,000 new houses are needed for the whole of Wiltshire. And last week, Wiltshire Council leaders agreed to move forward with the next stage of the Local Plan, after receiving the report on feedback from local communities and other stakeholders in the recent Local Plan Review consultation.
The council will now undertake further work to update the Plan’s evidence base to reconsider the scale and distribution of housing and employment growth during the life of the Plan, from 2016-2036.
Cllr Nick Botterill, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for planning said, “The recent Wiltshire Local Plan review consultation attracted more than 3,500 representations from 2,682 people and organisations, which is a fantastic response, and shows just how passionate the people of Wiltshire are about potential development in their area.
“The Local Plan needs to be based on robust evidence to support the delivery of sustainable development across Wiltshire.
“We have listened to the views of Wiltshire’s communities and stakeholders, and as a result of the consultation, plus the need to consider the societal changes caused by the pandemic, we are updating the Plan’s evidence base to ensure we plan for the right number of homes and other developments until 2036.
“This is the latest step on a long road for the Local Plan. Officers will now work on developing the draft Plan for consideration by Cabinet and Full Council, and there will be a further consultation in 2022.”
People can read the full cabinet paper at https://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=141&MId=13769, or find out more about the Wiltshire Local Plan review: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/planning-policy-local-plan-review-consultation