CURRENT ISSUES - July 2019

The Society Property Award

We are pleased to confirm that two awards were made this year:

  • Sacha & Giles Cohen did an incredible job in virtually re-building a post war bungalow - The Willows, in South Lane. It is an excellently designed modern build using top quality materials. All the judges felt it greatly enhances its location on the edge of the conservation area.

  • Jeanette & Tony Glyn at the Old Bake House in The Borough, added a quality porch and garden room to an otherwise unobtrusive, end of terrace house. Again, the judges felt the design and use of materials was extremely good and the property much improved.
  • Both these builds involved major work. However, we wish to stress that the Awards aim to acknowledge both significant work and relatively small improvements - which could simply be a replacement window or doorway more in keeping with the property, or the reinstatement of period detail.

    The Society aims to have a constructive, rather than negative, approach towards change or new development. Whilst opposing plans that adversely affect the Conservation area – and listed buildings in particular- we support change that is relevant or appropriate to a modern community. A new build or renovation does not, therefore, have to be a copy (“pastiche”) of what already exists - but it does need to add, rather than detract, from its immediate streetscape and the character of the village.

    PLANNING/CONSERVATION

    The White Horse

    We are pleased that there are new tenants in the White Horse and wish them the very best in their venture. We are also pleased that remedial work is being carried out. This property is probably the most important building in Downton, Although much altered, it dates back to the fifteenth century, and significant work is needed to preserve the structure. Whilst it is fortunate that the fine medieval timbers are largely in sound condition , problems with later timbers have to be addressed. (For more detail see the article under our Conservation button)

    Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV)

    An HGV weight limit of 7.5 tons was introduced through Downton in 2007. Unfortunately, the limit is routinely flouted. HGV’s cause noise, pollution and inconvenience to people living along Lode Hill, the High Street and the Borough; vehicles have also been damaged. Our view is that the problem is mainly due to poor signage but past attempts to address this with various parties and at various levels ( Area Board County councils, NFPA, Highways, the Police and our MP) have failed.  We feel strongly that, without clear signage at major access points (especially from the M27) lorry drivers will always be tempted to use the B3080 through the village as a short cut. A new sign recently added at the Cadnam roundabout doesn’t help – it highlights width restrictions at Landford but makes no mention of restrictions through Downton.

    After a decade of lobbying, the Downton Society has now handed over the issue to the Parish Council. As PC resources appear to be limited they are not prioritising this issue but, at the suggestion of our District Councillor, it has been agreed that an official Lorry Watch scheme should be set up.  This will involve local residents marking the number of HGV's transiting the village.  The Downton Society  understands that evidence of illegal transit is needed but, from past experience, envisages various problems of timings, data collection and analysis. For further details of this issue, see under tab marked “Traffic/HGV” on this website.

    Parking in Downton remains problematic and although 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, as a Society we will address this issue whenever a planning application is made for new development.

    Footpaths  

    The Downton Society Footpath Group has walked parish paths and beyond for over 10 years. As well as organising a regular programme of walks, the Group has worked in partnership with the Parish Council Amenities committee to obtain grants and improve paths in the Southern Wiltshire area..   The marked and improved circular path with newly installed kissing gates (via Charlton Mill) is now complete.

    Proposed bridge

    You may be aware of proposals to link the southern area of the village (Moot Lane) with The Borough by a footpath and bridge. We understand that Longford Estates, the owner of fields which the path will cross, has given approval in principle. The Downton Society supports the concept of a footpath and bridge - subject to more detail and community consultation. Funding to the tune of £4,500 has been received by the PC as part of developers contributions (in respect of the new housing on the A308 and this will cover a design study to look at viability, options for design, access and positioning.

    Downton in Bloom 20120  

    We have an attractive village but we feel that it could look better. For some time,the Society has been exploring options for entering either Best Kept Village or Britain in Bloom, and following a community consultation at the Memorial Hall in mid June, we have now decided to go ahead and register for South West In Bloom 2020. We feel this will provide the impetus for making our village look even more attractive.

    A small group is co-ordinating the practicalities, and developing a  process and guidelines, and we are delighted to say that we have already obtained the support of the Parish Council, Downton Society members, The Horticultural Society, the Green Group, Schools, and many other residents – so are ready to embark on a process which we hope will be realistic and enjoyable for all involved.  

    Royal Horticutural Society judges will come to the village in June/July 2020 but there is much to do before then in the three judging categories of horticultural achievement , environmental awareness and community engagement. For up to date information and guidance, please look under the In Bloom tab on this website.

    WILTSHIRE COUNCIL CONSULTATIONS

    The Downton Society response to the Salisbury Maltings consultation is shown under letters on this website. We felt that contradictions in the design proposal for the development of the Maltings did not sufficiently protect and enhance built and natural conservation interests and we were concerned by lack of planning guidance. Positive aspects such as the creation of a cultural quarter, more attractive access to the market square and the creation of green corridors along the Avon are too be welcomed, but there was little about improving access and parking for local visitors, to supporting existing retailers or to investing- in, or enhancing, existing heritage strengths. We are pleased to learn that the pedestrian design put forward for the new library has been rejected. Our view of the Master Plan overall is that it is largely aspirational, and we await further refinement.

    In the longer term, Wiltshire Council is engaged in a review process to create a new Wiltshire Local Plan, which will guide the overall scale and pattern of development in the county up to 2036 . The new plan will replace the current Wiltshire Core Strategy. Development decisions will be made on the basis of evidence gathered on local economic issues, infrastructure and housing need, as well as ongoing consultation, but the Plan will also be subject to new Government planning guidance.   At an initial briefing, which we attended in Salisbury it was shown that WC did not envisage additional housing for Downton. However, Wiltshire Council have since said that no decisions have yet been made on locations for future growth and development, as they will have to be reviewed in the light of the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF ) which was issued in the summer. We will continue to monitor this, particularly in the context of the Downton Neighbourhood Plan, as it has become clear that  NP’s will have to be reviewed every three years or so to ensure that they remain in line with government and local authority policy.