More houses for Downton?
Housing developers, Persimmon, have indicated that they are proposing to build on land adjacent to the Bishops Mead development on the A338. The proposal is at an early stage, and the developers have invited the Parish Council to meet with a representative of Persimmon Homes to find out more, which the Council has agreed to do.
The Downton Society's view
The Downton Society hopes that the Parish Council will re-affirm the policies of the Downton Neighbourhood Plan (2016-2026), stating that this was produced after a considerable amount of work by residents and was overwhelmingly supported by the community in a referendum. The plan endorsed Wiltshire Council’s Core Strategy policy to limit the number of new houses for Downton to 190 - a number that has already been reached. The society believes that there is no current need for more houses in Downton and feels that the infrastructure cannot cope with more. In a statement they say: "Traffic along The Borough and High Street creates congestion and parking has become a real problem for residents, whilst the extension to the school was only designed to meet the current planned needs. Reading this we are sure you will all have other examples where pressure on resources and services is increasing. Our Neighbourhood Plan was meant to be valid until 2026 but recent decisions made by planning inspectors raise doubts about this."
In addition, the society point out that government proposals to 'shake up' planning have been criticised by a considerable number of authoritative bodies such as the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Town and Country Planning Association, Local Government Association and Shelter to name but a few. In the opinion of the Downton Society the main people to benefit will be developers. They are concerned that "there will be no guarantee of 'affordable homes', and local infrastructure & environmental considerations - from roads and sewerage to schools and green space - will be weakened. There will, it seems, no longer be a statutory obligation to consult bodies such as the Environment Agency."
The Downton Society would like to stress that it is not opposed to planned and sustainable development as laid down in the Neighbourhood Plan and as supported by the residents of Downton. But it is strongly opposed to large scale development which, in their view, not only fails to bring any benefit to those who live here but can have real and detrimental impacts on the village. The Society will support the Parish Council in its plans to update and strengthen the Neighbourhood Plan. For more details and updates go to the Downton Society website