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:
- Traffic An issue raised constantly at the consultation and a priority for all residents living along – and using – the B3080 through the village. Piecemeal action (such the advisory speed limit in the area of the school) is not enough; and we suggest an all embracing traffic strategy is needed. The B3080 is narrow, with pinch point, narrow bridge, blind spots on bends; of necessity residents have to park on it. The road is always busy and traffic often comes to a standstill; minor accidents are frequent as is damage to property. The weight limit is inadequately signed and not enforced and, with children walking the road daily, there are questions about levels of pollution. It is accepted that alleviating this modern day problem would be difficult but quite apart from parking, issues that could be addressed as part of a wider strategy to reduce the volume of traffic might include: reviewing the road status, enforcing (or reducing) the speed limit along its length, and re-engaging with neighbouring councils relevant authorities and agencies on the question of HGV’s . We consider that no areas of the village directly or indirectly escape the problem of traffic, and suggest the PC sets up a Traffic strategy group (with a wider remit than the previous parking group) resourced to include professional traffic surveys at various points through the village
- Improving the heart of the Conservation area Whilst the Downton Society supports an improved play and recreation area in Moot lane since there is a need, space, parking (by the Moot) and sect 106 funding, we wish to express strong reservations about further developing/adding bits of equipment to the Memorial Gardens which were bequeathed to provide, amongst other things, a place of quiet enjoyment. The current area around the Memorial gardens is an unsatisfactory visual mish mash which neither does justice to the village, or as a play area. We assume that councillors have seen the D Soc submission to the PC at the time of the earlier play area consultation – and offer to provide a draft plan for the wider Memorial Gardens area which would meet wider community needs, enhance our village, and retain the character of a special place in the heart of our Conservation area.
- Explore the possibility of providing genuinely low cost housing. The Society recognises the need for homes for people wishing to remain in the community and get on the housing ladder. However, in line with the Neighbourhood Plan and the expressed wishes of the community, we reject the opportunistic development of largescale estates which offer so called “affordable housing” and the associated negative impact on infrastructure. As a matter of priority, we would like to see the PC explore the possibility of genuine low cost housing in partnership with non-profit making bodies, including self build and custom build options. This could meet both the need of local residents and protect the environment in the wider context. We suggest a working group to undertake the bulk of the not inconsiderable work/research required. This could be provided for under the Housing Development Committee or N Plan Review group
(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:
TRAFFICThere 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.
- The traffic survey was undertaken during the current pandemic so one has to question the validity of data given with significantly reduced traffic flows.
- It is proposed that movement in and out of the estate will be onto the A338 – there is no other option. The report acknowledges the lack of visibility from both ways and proposed a reduction in the 40mph speed limit to 30 mph. This will do nothing to alleviate extremely poor visibility in both directions.
- There is particular concern about pedestrian access given visibility and speeds of traffic as discussed above. It is proposed that pedestrians will cross the road by an ‘informal pedestrian crossing’ (? similar to that on the High Street) with a ‘ghost island’ (in the middle of the road) and used improved foot ways into the village. This is a completely inadequate solution given poor visibility discussed above.
- The report estimates a daily vehicle movement both in and out of the estate as 565 vehicles using the A338 and of these it is estimated that 152 will use/have used the A3080 (The Borough, High Street, Lode Hill). These figures are significant and on top of an already congested road.
- The traffic lights on the A338/B3080 are apparently 'within current operating capacity' but they estimate that by 2026 'operating capacity will be exceeded' – hold ups? No solutions offered.
- No consideration in the application is given to The Borough, High Street or Lode Hill (A3080) - this is the conservation area. This road is already at full capacity and cannot take any more traffic. Parking on it is difficult to impossible, buildings are being damaged, cars are being damaged and there is a real concern about pollution. You can not by-pass this road.
- No consideration has been given to parking already extremely difficult in all parts of the route particularly in the area of the co-op.
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:
- The society has written to the Salisbury Journal in response to the developers article printed on the 5th August as there was a need to correct certain statements made as well as highlight some key issues. It is in the on-line newspaper now in an altered 'journalistic' version, but we hope it will be in the printed version on Thursday as submitted. You can read it here.
- The society has also submitted its views to Wiltshire Council and it is on the planning portal under the planning application (PL/2021/06443) but you can read it here.
- You will appreciate we have to be short and to the point and we can not cover all aspects in any submission that is why the more people comment on specific points the better.
- The matter was discussed by the parish council on 9th August and there was strong objection to the application. It is understood they will submit an objection on the Wiltshire Council planning portal. It is to be hoped that they will also publicise their concerns more widely to the community.
- There is a very interesting Objection from the Conservation Officer on the grounds that the development will obscure
the view from a quite unique WW2 pillbox (a Section Post) in the grounds of a house next to Catherine Crescent. As
this is listed any development near it may impact on it and in this case it is the area of ground the pillbox covered
which includes the field in question. Nigel Walker in cooperation with Jocelyn Sage (Conservation Officer) and Historic
England had it listed in 2015. Details of the site are:
- Listed at grade II in January 2015 ie listing aware of development within its vicinity
- "The defences at Downton, a key crossing point on the Avon, probably included road blocks, pillboxes and anti-tank obstacles. Downton formed part the Ringwood Stop Line centred on the River Avon between Christchurch and Salisbury. This 25 mile line was planned to have 98 pillboxes, 33 anti-tank road blocks, 17 bridge demolitions and 22 anti-tank gun emplacements, but it is not known how many of these were completed. The section post faces west, across the shallow valley, possibly to be used in the event of an enemy being forced off the main road from the south (A338), the most likely direction of attack."
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org , 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.