It is of course inevitable that residents will have concerns about housing developments, particularly those which may be near to their own homes. In order to address this issue a socially distanced question and answer session for Tuners Lane residents was held in the parish allotments between 11am and 12:30pm on Saturday the 8th August.
Contrary to claims that there had been no consultation there has been very substantial engagement with residents throughout the past three years. Evidence of this is comprehensively detailed in the Consultation Statement on the Wiltshire Council portal at https://consult.wiltshire.gov.uk. The allocation of Tuners Lane was published in our Regulation 14 draft Neighbourhood Plan eight week consultation which commenced on the 8th November 2018.
Saturday’s event in the allotments was well attended by local residents and by Steering Group members who addressed a number of challenging questions posed by the residents! Many of the issues raised have previously been addressed in the FAQ section of the my-crudwell website at http://www.my-crudwell.org/plan/faqs/.
A report/article of the meeting was posted on the Wilts and Glos Standard website and Facebook page on the 11th August 2020 and we are responding to that article as follows:
The article includes a number of points that we feel are inaccurate, particularly in relation to the need for the homes proposed at Tuners Lane, flooding and highways safety issues that stem from the development, so we would like to take this opportunity to correct those points.
In terms of the need for the houses, it is not correct that the Government requires every large village to provide an additional 20 homes by 2026. In fact, the detailed consultation undertaken by the Steering Group determined that the local community wanted more affordable homes. The best way to deliver those affordable homes is by allocating a site for 20 to 25 new houses, 40% of which will be affordable. 100% will be designed with the local community’s input, so we can influence the size, tenure and design of all of them, through a Community Liaison Group. If the Crudwell Neighbourhood Plan does not allocate any land for new houses, then the local community risks losing control over where development goes.
Wiltshire Council planned to allocate a site for another 40 homes at Ridgeway Farm but later agreed to remove that allocation so that the Crudwell Neighbourhood Plan could determine the number of homes needed locally and decide where they should go. A Government Inspector agreed that the neighbourhood plan should be left to make this decision too. So if the Neighbourhood Plan does not allocate a site, there is a chance that Wiltshire Council might allocate a site for us.
However, the greatest risk would come from developers submitting planning applications because it is easier for a developer to get planning permission for housing outside Crudwell’s settlement boundary if there is no Neighbourhood Plan with a housing allocation in place.
One of the main reasons that the expanded Ridgeway Farm plan was refused at appeal was because the appeal Inspector also thought that it would be best for the local community to decide where housing should go.
The Facebook article notes community concerns about flood risk. This is clearly a concern for all of us because of the flooding that has occurred in the past. We understand that.
Flooding can occur from rivers (or the sea), from surface water flows and from groundwater. In Crudwell’s case, flooding occurs because in heavy rain, surface water flows so fast from the land that the Swill Brook can’t cope. The surface water also gets into gaps in the sewer pipes, which caused the sewage overflows in the past. Wessex Water has fixed the leaks in the sewer pipes, so the sewage overflow should not happen again.
Surface water flows from any new housing site around Crudwell must be held on site and released only when the Swill Brook can cope. This is done either by creating a large green area that is designed to flood in wet weather, or by using underground tanks, normally under roads. These will be designed to store the rain that would fall in once in 100 years storm, and allowing for climate change too. This is required by policy DD1, which allocates the Tuners Lane site. This solution has also been deployed in Chapel Close, Tetbury Lane which also discharges into the Swill Brook to the north.
Additionally, policy IT1 ensures that any site that is developed in Crudwell includes the same measures to control surface water flows into the Swill Brook, to ensure that development improves the current situation rather than making it worse.
In terms of the concerns raised about road safety, one of the reasons that the Tuners Lane site was chosen over the Ridgeway Farm site is that it is easier to complete the footway from the Tuners Lane site to the A429 than it would be to complete the footway from the Ridgeway Farm site to the A429. The Tuners Lane site is also closer to more of the village’s facilities than the Ridgeway Farm site is.
The Steering Group looked at both Tetbury Lane and Tuners Lane to determine whether a footway could be built along the full length. It was concluded that this would be more difficult on Tetbury Lane because it was likely to result in the loss of a hedgerow on the southern side of Tetbury Lane, west of The Dawneys; it could only be delivered if a new priority chicane was introduced; it was likely to require the acquisition of third party land; and it was likely to be too expensive to deliver without compromising viability to deliver other community benefits.
In contrast, the footway can be completed from the Tuners Lane site to the A429 with stretches of footway 1.8m wide and independent consultants concluded there should be no need to remove the hedge to accommodate the visibility splay required at the entrance to the site. If a small amount of hedgerow did have to be removed, it could either be replanted within the Tuners Lane site or the footway could be delivered behind the hedge, also within the site.
The Neighbourhood Plan also includes a policy – IT2 – which requires developers to demonstrate how pedestrians will safely access the parish’s facilities from the site.
We hope that this clarifies a few points that might be of concern to the local community, and we look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible by 24th August.
Crudwell Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group