CURRENT ISSUES – UPDATED – 24th JANUARY 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
Major society effort to enforce the lorry ban.
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.
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 Charles Church site (now 101units), 50 houses in Wick Lane and 14 at Charlotte Close, planning approval was given last year for 17 houses on the site of Scott’s House (Total 182). In addition, 4 dwellings have been built elsewhere in the village (under windfall) and a potential application for 5 houses in Wick Lane is under consideration. An outline application for 36 houses on land opposite the secondary school (Rivermead) was therefore rejected by Parish and County Councils last year , as it exceeded the numbers agreed in the Neighbourhood Plan and Wiltshire Core Strategy - a decision The Downton Society fully supported.
However Foreman Homes, the developer for the Rivermead site, has mounted an Appeal and the Parish Council response to this was decided on 23rd January. The PC had to balance their support for the Neighbourhood Plan against a financial contribution from the developer which was promised if the Parish Council supported the appeal. This effectively meant that if the Parish Council opposed the development, yet it was still approved at higher level (through the appeal process) Downton would not get the sum offered. Readers can make what they will of this “offer”.
The Downton Society has lobbied hard in opposing the Appeal and are pleased that our parish councillors decided overwhelmingly to reject it. Whilst any money gained would probably have been put to good use (if we ever got it), to accept such a development ,with houses in excess of the 190 specified in the Neighbourhood Plan, would be completely contrary to the wishes of Downton residents, undermine our Plan – and potentially open the gates to other developers.
Your endorsement of the Neighbourhood Plan on 24th November was an important factor in the decision making – and will be in the future - but we await with interest the crucial decision of the Planning Inspector at the Appeal hearing which will be held in Salisbury on the 22nd February.
In the face of government policies, which favour housing development , the Society’s focus on planning is not ‘Nimby-ism’ ; it is to ensure that proper process is followed, that development is sustainable and proportionate, and legitimate concerns of residents are taken into account. As a
Society, we feel that the planning process can be opaque so it is important that we continue to monitor planning applications as well as the amount, and nature of, those “community benefits”
that are supposed to accrue from developers.
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 advice and support from our MP John Glen
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
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.
Reporting issues .
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