Rt Hon James Gray MP
The plans for a multimillion-pound relief route around a Wiltshire town would be a "serious desecration of the countryside" which “should not go ahead.”
"It breaches every aspect of the Neighbourhood Plan, which specifies that the eastern side of the town of Chippenham has outstanding natural and community value, and that it should not be built on in any circumstances."
"HIF funding, as I understand it, demands full public support and I can tell you that there has been no public consultation at all.”
"This proposed road is a serious desecration of the countryside and should not, under any circumstances, be allowed."
“I really take issue with the new houses the council wants to build as well as the road. I think the number of cars brought by the houses will not only negate the relief road but make the traffic worse.”
Cllr Ian James
(Bremhill Parish Councillor)
“Land to the east of Chippenham where the council proposes to build 7,500 houses, and a million square feet of concrete for employment land will remove the green lungs of Chippenham.”
“The bid process was completed behind closed doors in secret... Local parish councils were not engaged, and it is those parish councils that will bear the brunt of this road carving up the Marden Valley” Ian James, Bremhill Parish Councillor
Cllr Ashley O'Neill
"Discussions have been taking place about a new distributor road to the east of Chippenham affecting the Avon and Marden Valleys. The road would inevitably bring construction of new homes, which would markedly change the beautiful landscape of the valleys.
The scheme would have may hurdles to overcome, but given the scale of the change proposed, I believe that we should look very carefully at the proposals in the coming months as they are announced.
I have already been in contact with concerned residents and I am interested to hear your views. I am not in favour of this schema and I will fight against it if the residents of Bremhill Parish tell me that they also oppose it."
LINK: O'Neill 2020 Flyer
Most of us live where we live in North Wiltshire because we like it like it is. Or at least I presume that if we did not - if, for example, we craved the hustle and bustle of the city - then we would go and live in Bristol or Swindon. The reality is actually the opposite - more and more people want to live like we do and would give anything to come and live in North Wiltshire. The moral question at the heart of all planning is: “Do we have some kind of obligation to allow them to do so?”
Wiltshire Council are starting the long and tortuous process of trying to decide what the County will look like through until 2036. It’s what is known as the Local Plan, and it lays out the broad parameters of planning into the future. For reasons known only to themselves, the County are proposing to provide some 5000 more homes by 2036 than the Government is asking for. That will mean a real change in the way a large part of our area will look. It will mean houses, roads, infrastructure, employment land. Do we really want it?
Wiltshire has concluded that Chippenham, Trowbridge and Salisbury should take most of the extra housing needed (Swindon is done separately), so I guess that we should be glad that Malmesbury, Royal Wootton Bassett, Purton, Calne and Box will be relatively spared unreasonable over-development as a result. The first step towards achieving their housing targets looks like a new by-pass to the East of Chippenham, swathing through unspoiled countryside. Do we need a new bypass? Not really - there’s a perfectly good one to the West of the town. Nor must we be bribed by the £75 million the good old Government is shelling out for this road. It’s a bribe, because with it comes 7500 houses. That’s a new town the size of Calne, double the size of Malmesbury. It will mean 20,000 or so extra citizens of Chippenham; it will mean 10 or 15,000 more cars trying to weave their way to the supermarkets to the west of the town as well as to the station and motorway.
Now we do need some low-cost housing for local people. And no doubt some will be rather reluctantly provided by the profiteering developers. But most of the houses will be lovely three and four bed houses designed to attract well paid commuters. Our population and employment is currently more or less in balance, so why do we need all these extra houses? They are houses for people who do not presently live here. So why, you may well ask, are we planning to wreck a great patch of countryside in order to block up our roads with thousands of cars, overstretch our schools and surgeries and infrastructure, in order to provide nice houses for people from elsewhere? There’s no reason that I can think of.
The new road will sweep down from the Wavin roundabout (its already more or less completed from the Morrisons roundabout), round Abbeyfield School and the football ground, then across the meadows to the Lackham roundabout. Any land inside that curve will then be fair game for the developers - including large amounts of unspoiled farming and recreation ground.
Add to that a wholly unnecessary and hideous solar farm down beyond where the road will cross the A-4, and you land up with significant urbanisation half the way to Calne. If we allow either we will risk ruining the very fine environment which all of us who live here love so much.
So now is the time for action. Take up cudgels on behalf of our countryside, our quiet market towns and villages and stop the onward march of philistine developers. Letters, petitions, protests, judicial reviews. Let’s go for it. Let’s keep North Wiltshire how we like it - green and pleasant.
James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire
Cllr Nick Murry
(Wiltshire Councillor and Chippenham Town Councillor)
“The expansion of Chippenham in recent years has resulted in in-migration and massively expanded out-commuting, resulting in congestion, and little benefit for the existing population. These proposals will exacerbate this trend rather than creating a sustainable place where people can live and work and enjoy a good quality of life.”
Cllr Clare Cape
(Wiltshire Councillor and Chippenham Town Councillor)
“The Eastern side of Chippenham is quite a precious part of our countryside. Is it really the best place for development in Chippenham or Wiltshire?”
Cllr Isabel McCord (Bremhill Parish Councillor)
“There is no adopted local development plan that supports the development of land for houses and employment land to the East of Chippenham.”
“By pushing ahead with the planning applications for the roads Wiltshire Council has predetermined the allocation of sites for development in the next LDL for Chippenham without public consultation or examination in public.”
Senior Drainage Engineer
“It is clear from casual observations in the area of the Radial Gate weir and the river Avon immediately upstream of the Chippenham Town Bridge that therunning tolerances in terms of “freeboard” already leave little room to
manoeuvre since the purpose of the radial gate is to maintain an elevated flow level in the river.
Following severe storm events, this “freeboard” almost
disappears and the radial gate has been overtopped. The amount of rainfall
falling on large developments on each bank of the River Avon will influence the expected peak flows.”
Chippenham Neighbourhood Plan
Survey respondents would like to see greenbelt land protected and for new developments to be built on brownfield sites, away from green spaces, woodland, countryside and the river.
“Protection of quiet spaces. The new planned housing near to Parsonage Way is a travesty which will remove the sanctity of the view across to Cherhill and the land.”
“Less building on the lovely open spaces we have on the edges of town (which is where most of us escape to get some ‘proper’ green space!)”
“Less building on outlying land when there are plenty of brownfield sites to be used.”
“Protecting and maximising potential of every scrap of green space.”
Wiltshire & Chippenham Town Councillor Nick Murry
“We are looking at a disaster in the making, both in terms of degrading local residents’ quality of life, and damaging the natural environment, on which future generations will depend.”
“It seems Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet has decided to focus on Chippenham to meet an artificial housing target which has nothing to do with local housing need, and undermines its own commitment to make the county carbon neutral.”
“These proposals would result in a massive urban extension to the East of Chippenham, traversing the cycle path and extending as far as the banks of the River Marden, destroying the Avon and Marden valleys, plus three County farms, and transforming Chippenham into a much bigger commuter town, with all the congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions that go with it.”
“People should not be misled – the Council has admitted the proposed Eastern road would be a low speed ‘distributer road’ to service the housing, complete with junctions and roundabouts, the net effect being to make Chippenham’s traffic congestion and air pollution even worse than it already is.”
“I think it is scandalous that the Cabinet has been working secretly behind the scenes in an attempt to predetermine Chippenham’s housing numbers and site locations ahead of the Local Plan Review, without any public consultation or a single Council debate.”
“I would urge residents to voice their opposition to these proposals - the road and the housing - when they are finally given the opportunity to have a say in January next year.”
Wiltshire Councillor Ashley O'Neill
"I am supporting local people, particularly those in the parish of Bremhill that will be negatively impacted by this proposal. If it goes ahead it will see the destruction of countryside on a scale and at a pace that we have not seen in Wiltshire before.
People in the Chippenham and Calne community areas will have to suffer more traffic and air pollution, as well as losing valuable green spaces which have become ever more important due to Covid-19 and our changing lifestyles.
There seems to be very little support locally for 7,500 additional houses in Chippenham and this cannot be allowed to happen. The historic villages around Chippenham will be surrounded by the endless building of homes in the open countryside- something that I'm sure we will look back on with great sadness in the years to come."