CURRENT ISSUES – UPDATED – 21st February 2017
The Downton Society tries to monitor and investigate all planning applications within the Parish. However we may indeed miss some or not be aware of detailed issues. If you have concerns please let us know.
CURRENT HOT ISSUES
- The Neighbourhood Plan was ratified on 9th January 2017
- The appeal against the earlier Parish Council rejection of the proposal to build 36 houses opposite Trafalgar School was rejected by the Parish council on 23rd January 2017.
- FOREMAN HOMES – APPEAL
The appeal by Foreman Homes against refusal of the Rivermead Development was held in Salisbury on 22nd February 2016. The background can be read elsewhere on this page. The hearing was fairly conducted by the Inspector and all had a chance to have their say and put over their points. The case to oppose the appeal, and thus the development, was made strongly by Downton parish councillors Jane Brentor and Peter Quarmby; Cllrs Mace and Yeates were also present. Sadly, the case put by Wiltshire Council, also opposing
the development, was less than effective. Members of the Downtown Society committee attended throughout the day-long hearing, and Chairman, Nikki Wilson, spoke against the development - outlining negative impacts and confirming support for the Neighbourhood Plan, as has been our consistent line.
The outcome will be very significant for our Neighbourhood Plan and for localism generally. It is being watched carefully by parishes in Wiltshire and elsewhere who are embarking on their own plans.
The Inspector's decision is expected to be made within 4-6 weeks.
- Public consultation on 4th March to determine if the Parish Council should take out a loan to cover costs for the Memorial Hall development.
- Major society effort to enforce the lorry ban will start with a meeting with our MP.
A resounding YES to the plan.
The overwhelming support for the Neighbourhood Plan and its ratification by Wiltshire Council is a major success. What does it mean? In a nutshell, it means that the plan has to be given considerable weight in any future development or changes proposed for the area – the wishes of the people of Downton have to be considered and cannot be ignored. The importance of this can be seen from a development appeal discussed below.
NEW HOUSING –DEVELOPERS APPEAL
Sale of houses has begun at the Charles Church site. The planning approval document from Wiltshire Council stated that the 99 dwellings would be designed “in the interests of visual amenity and the character and appearance of the area.” There will be 79 houses and 22 flats, all of them leasehold dwellings.
In the Wiltshire Core Strategy, Downton, a designated “service hub”, was allocated a total of 190 new houses to be built between 2015-2026. There is already pressure on that number: in addition to the new site, 50 houses have been built in Wick Lane and 14 at Charlotte Close; 4 others are under construction in the village, and at the end of February 2016 outline planning approval was given for 17 houses on the site of Scott’s House (Total 184). An outline application for 36 houses on land opposite the secondary school was also submitted in 2016, but rejected by Parish and County Councils – one of the reasons being that it would result in excess housing numbers for Downton. The Downton Society fully supported this decision.
However, the developer, Foreman Homes, registered an appeal in December. The Parish Council has sustained its objection to the development, Trafalgar School and neighbouring residents have also objected and the Downton Society has responded, raising infrastructure concerns including road safety, drainage, housing density and pressure on local facilities which would result from excess housing numbers.
The formal Appeal hearing will be held on 22nd February 2017 from 10 am at The Pump Room, Old Fire Station Enterprise, Centre, 2 Salt Lane, Salisbury, SP1 1DU, and both the Parish Council and Downton Society will be represented. The Inspector will make a judgement once he has assessed all the evidence.
This appeal highlights why your endorsement of the Neighbourhood Plan on 24th November was so important. In the face of government policies, which favour housing development , the Society’s focus is to ensure that our Plan is taken into account when planning decisions are made, that development is sustainable and proportionate, and legitimate concerns of residents are not ignored. The appeal decision will be an important one. If the appeal is dismissed by the Inspector it will reinforce our Neighbourhood Plan; if the appeal is upheld and development proceeds, it will undermine the concept of local and neighbourhood planning – and could, potentially, encourage further development in our area..
Traffic flow and parking in Downton is problematic and extra housing is likely to exacerbate it. We address this issue whenever a planning application is made for new development.
A Parish Council working group, in which society members were involved, found that there were few ways of improving the availability of parking in the village. Restricting parking areas or making parking available to certain groups only (e.g. residents, visitors) simply pushed the ‘problem’ elsewhere and there were no realistic ways of increasing parking paces
There is continual flouting of the HGV weight limit of 7.5 tons. The problem is largely down to poor signage and all attempts to address this at various levels (including Area Board and County council) have failed. We feel strongly that, unless there is clear signage at major access points (especially from the M27) lorry drivers will be tempted to use the B3080 as a short cut through the village.
Having failed at local level, the Society will now make this a major priority by seeking ad vice and support from our MP John Glen and a meeting with him has been arranged for March.
The final design for the extension to the school has been approved by Wiltshire Council - and will feature (previously rejected) Redeco Panelling. The society is extremely disappointed with what we feel will be an inappropriate and unimaginative finish for a building in the middle of a Conservation area, but we, and especially residents in listed buildings nearby , will have to live with it. Despite design setbacks, the society will continue to monitor environmental or infrastructure issues which may arise from the development. The work is due to start in May.
THE MEMORIAL HALL
It is proposed to increase the size of the Memorial Hall to accommodate a meeting room and accommodation for the pre-school. As the funds from developers will not cover the full cost the community will be asked to make up the difference by a charged levied on local tax. A public consultation will be held on 4th March in the Memorial Hall and residents are urged to attend. The Downton Society reserves its views until all the facts are available.
In co-operation with the Parish Council we had a very successful clean up of the bridges last June. The Society is keen to co-operate with the PC on other similar community projects , and discussions to this effect with their Amenities committee has already resulted in the footpath initiative (see below) We feel there are other areas where the community, working together, can significantly improve our village environment, so if you have suggestions, let us know
We are pleased to see that the damage to the Iron Bridge has been made good and painted.
At a Parish Council Amenities meeting in September, it was agreed unanimously to delegate the promotion of use and any footpath maintenance issues to the Downton Society Footpath Group. The Footpath group will report back any issues, raise working parties and work in partnership with the Parish Council Amenities committee. The Footpath Group has walked the Parish paths and beyond for over 10 years; members have worked together with the Parish Council to obtain grants for kissing gates, and to help Wiltshire Council install them over the Southern Wiltshire area. If you would like to raise any issues about the state of stiles or any parish path issues, please contact Susan Barnhurst-Davies 01725 512963 firstname.lastname@example.org
You may be aware of the proposals to link the southern area of the village (Moot Lane) with The Borough by a footpath and bridge. We understand that the owner, Longford Estates, has given approval in principle but subject to more detailed proposals. There is also the not insignificant issue of funding. The Downton Society supports the idea of the footpath and bridge but, again, subject to more detail and consultation.
Some departments seem better resourced than other but telephone messages left requiring a call back are rarely responded to. So be aware and you may well have to persist, e-mail or write.
Members might like to know that the old “Clarence” system of reporting pothole and maintenance issues to Wiltshire Council has been replaced by “My Wiltshire” online reporting . Go to www.wiltshire.gov.uk/report and register your concern (anonymously, if preferred)
“My Wiltshire” covers a range of issues including dog mess, street litter, graffiti and litter bins, potholes, verges, traffic lights and trees (a full list is provided on the site).
Another site to try is “Fix My Street” (www.fixmystreet.com) particularly useful for reporting potholes and flytipping which can be identified using map co-ordinates.
The Community Policing Team can be contacted on email@example.com