Downton Housing Needs Survey runs until 1st November


You may be aware that, in the face of new planning proposals, Downton is considering an update of its Neighbourhood Plan. As part of the evidence to be gathered, Wiltshire Council have been asked to conduct a survey to identify local housing needs. The Rural Housing Needs survey opened on 4th October and will run until 1st November, and as the results could influence the amount of housing to be built in our area, we urge all residents of the village - and our members - to complete it - ideally online. Go to the website: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/housing-local-housing-needs ( and click the link to the survey under the Current Housing Needs Surveys section).

(Click here to go direct to the survey).

The survey will not be delivered through doors, but paper copies can be requested for people who do not have online access. Do not be deterred by some of the opening questions as it's a relatively straightforward survey and will not identify you individually. It is simply trying to assess housing needs and aspirations within our community. Results will be posted in report form (examples of completed reports can be researched online - for instance see Wiltshire Intelligence.org for Pitton & Farley survey results from 2019).




Downton Society response to Parish Council Strategy consultation



Parish Council Strategy


To: The Parish Council Three Year Strategy Review Group
From: The Downton Society
Date : 11th September 2021

Downton Society comments on some of the proposals itemised in the Parish Council 3 year draft strategy are shown on the attached document. In addition, as part of our feedback on the Consultation, we have three specific issues that we wish to raise below.

The Society’s starting point (and main charitable objective) springs primarily from conservation (of which there is no mention in the three year plan). However, we do not restrict our view simply to the protection of the Conservation area or specific listed buildings etc. and acknowledge there are wider issues relating to the whole environment in which we live. We will support measures designed to improve the public space, and encourage well- being. We also understand, that the Parish Council has limited resources and indeed responsibilities, so although developers contributions can be seen as a bit of a windfall for new projects, we would prefer to see spending linked to improvements which would benefit all residents and a vision for Downton that continues to recognise its special character and sense of place. To this end , we suggest the following might be included in a three year strategy:

We understand pressures on the resources of any Parish Council, as we have members who have been active parish councillors. But we also believe that while the PC sets the strategy/policy and provides authority and overview, the bulk of the organisation and effort of projects should, where possible, engage individuals and groups from the community. This requires Parish Council encouragement and support. As a Society we wish to play our part in the interests of Downton, and would be happy to see a constructive dialogue emerging from the three year strategy.

Nikki Wilson
(On behalf of the Downton Society)





THE DOWNTON SOCIETY - POSITION ON HOUSING DEVELOPMENT.


The Downton Society (DS) supports the Neighbourhood Plan (NP). The NP, produced after an enormous amount of effort, was overwhelmingly endorsed by residents in 2016 and is valid until 2026. The whole thrust of it was for balanced sustainable growth that respected the character of the village. The plan supported the construction of 190 houses and this target has been met.

Regrettably the NP needs to be updated largely as Wiltshire Council have failed to develop a five year housing plan. To these ends members of the DS are engaged with the parish council to update it.

In addition Wiltshire Council have not completed their strategic study "The Wiltshire Local Plan" and a proposed Housing Needs Survey has been planned to be undertaken later in the year to determine exactly what the housing need is. Hence this application is premature to say the least.

Our aim is to support the conservation area and highlight potentially serious omissions from the application. The DS fully supports the need for affordable housing but on the grounds of sustainability and real affordability but we are opposed to increased large scale projects - we simply cannot take 200 more houses or even 100 without negatively impacting the infrastructure of our village.

Formula Land have put in a development application to build 100 houses on the land adjacent to the A338 and Catherine Crescent. In addition Persimmon Homes are considering an application to build a similar number between the Esso garage and Meadow Grange. Both have had private discussions with the Parish Council but we understand little of significance was achieved.

The developers will offer low cost housing but you have to look into the small print to see exactly what this means. Very importantly while their application focuses solely on the site there are very fundamental negative impacts on the rest of the village which have not been considered - especially along the B3080 - The Borough, High Street and Lode Hill.

We will keep you updated!

UPDATE 2nd AUGUST



Formula Land have put in an application for 100 houses on the land adjacent to Breamore Road. The application is PL/2021/06443. Please look at this and form a view. Summary notes are below:

TRAFFIC

There is real concern about vehicle and pedestrian movement both in and out of the proposed estate and no regard for the impact to the wider village.

AIR QUALITY


The application addresses air quality on site only and finds no significant problem. But it fails to address air quality on the B3080 particularly at the pinch point. We have real concerns about this.


FOUL DRAINAGE

(Preliminary Foul Drainage and Utilities Pt 2 and Design and Access Statement Pt 2)

At the time of the site survey 'groundwater was either at or very near the ground surface' - ie the land was flooded! The application acknowledges that the land represents a high risk of foul sewer inundation. The problem is that the potential for flooding due to the high water table results in ground water seeping into the foul water system leading to sewage flooding. To prevent this, foul sewers must have watertight seals. There will be an on-site treatment facility. Surface water will be directed back into existing and 'new' water courses but where will that go? Despite promises from recent developments there is evidence of problems with sewage in the village. We have serious doubts about the ability to manage both surface water and the sewers.


UPDATE 3RD AUGUST


Richard Clewer our county council and leader of the council makes several points. The site is outside the development boundary which should excluded it from development in addition we have the Neighbourhood Plan in which we have met our housing quota while the site in question was not identified as a potential site in the future for development. Traffic and flooding are key issues. He urges residents to respond both on the comments section on the planning portal and to the parish council and oppose it strongly. [DS emphasis]


UPDATE 10th AUGUST


There have been a number of developments:




UPDATE 13TH SEPTEMBER


The opportunity to comment on the Formula Land application to develop land to the west of the Breamore Road ended on the 9th September, with a decision by the planning department of Wiltshire Council expected by 25th September.

There were over 90 comments on the planning portal and all of them against, so, to those of you who took the trouble to comment, it is appreciated - views and arguments of residents are vital. There were particularly strong objections from the Environment Agency and other official bodies. The Parish Council's submission was technically detailed, robust and, in a number of ways, highly critical of the developers - they are to be congratulated for the time and effort they put into their response.

We have no idea what the outcome will be, but, should it be rejected, we have every expectation that the developer will appeal - so it is not over yet.

We will keep you posted but urge you to monitor the situation.

UPDATES


We are researching other important aspects of the application and will report shortly.


WHAT YOU CAN DO



Please express your views to the parish council via clerk@downtonparishcouncil.gov.uk , our councillor Richard Clewer Richard.Clewer@wiltshire.gov.uk, on the application itself in the comment section on the planning portal PL/2021/06443 or to the Salisbury Journal. While there is strong opposition every comment from a resident helps.