Cllr Jon Hubbard

Wiltshire Councillor for Melksham South

Serving the community across Melksham

Cllr Jon Hubbard

Wiltshire and Town Councillor for Melksham South

Working hard across the Melksham Community

Proposed layout of the new estate

Plans to build 450 homes off Snowberry Lane were approved by Wiltshire Council's Strategic Planning Committee on Wednesday.

The application was brought before the committee following the request of Melksham Councillor Jon Hubbard who claims that the developer has ignored concerns from local residents about the impact of the new houses, particularly the 3 storey appartment block being built behind Farmhouse Court.

At the meeting local representatives, the Parish Council and Cllr Hubbard expressed concern about the block but the committee voted 7 votes to 4 to approve the plans. Both Liberal Democrat members and the sole independant voted against the proposal with one Conservative also opposing the plans. The remainder of the Conservative Group voted to allow the development to take place.

Below is Jon's speech to the committee.

When this application was first submitted I was pleased to meet with, and work with the developer to try and create a submission that met their commercial aims, but also represented solutions to the worst of the concerns of local residents.

When the outline permission was being undertaken assurances were given to local residents.

Assurances were given that construction traffic would not be using Snowberry Lane, but instead the new relief road would be built and used, with access to the new estate coming off from that road.

Assurances were given about protecting the much valued grade 2 listed red brick wall that surrounds the development on Farmhouse Court

And assurances were given that local residents would be kept informed and on-going consultation would take place with both the local member and local residents as the detailed plans were developed.

The reality of what has happened is, tragically, very different.

Variations to the planning permission have been submitted, without consultation or any effort to communicate with residents or the local member, which means that the main entrance to the new development will now come off of Eastern Way, forcing all traffic for the development work to use Snowberry Lane. Despite the objections raised by the member representing every resident living adjacent to the new housing and the Town Council these applications were subsequently approved.

I accept and acknowledge that the drawings issued at the time of submission of the Outline Planning Application were indicative and therefore should not be relied on to object to the final detailed plans, I do believe that the original indicative plans were used to reassure residents that no large-scale buildings would be placed close to existing buildings. Therefore I can understand the concerns expressed by residents that the 3 story apartment block so close to Farmhouse Court is inappropriate. It could easily be placed elsewhere on the site – in accordance with the request and suggestion made by Melksham Town Council.

What we have seen with this application, in my opinion, typifies the worst behaviour that can be seen by developers.

Promise the world prior to consent, ignore and break those promises once it is granted.

The raft of piecemeal changes that have drip-fed through on this application are shameful and tragically, we have seen what started as a positive experience for local residents has turned into a nightmare.

This is an example of where all of the worst fears of those who are sceptical of developers have come true, and had the developer fulfilled what they had promised at the outset we would not be needing to discuss this matter today.

I am not objecting to this development – I am objecting to the style and manner in which this development has been progressed and the fact that, as you have already heard, the informatives 4 and 6 from the original development are being ignored and other assurances are being ignored.

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