Widham Farm ~ key points

PL/2021/06918 – Widham Farm, Purton

Various revised drawings have been reviewed and do not alter the general fact that the site, taken as  a whole, remains unsustainable, on a range of criteria.

These criteria are:

  • The site still requires extensive car use to reach anywhere;
  • The drainage system underestimates the likely precipitation scenarios, as defined by the international Panel for Climate Change;
  • The current No. 53 bus service will be re-tendered soon with little guarantee that it will be retained as currently scheduled, particularly in view of the significant public subsidy that is required to sustain it; and
  • The employment land argument is rather theoretical with little actual data related to likely house owners.

The conclusion remains that the proposed development would be unacceptable in principle because it would be located outside of settlement boundary established in the local plan and it would cause harm by creating a pattern of development that fails to protect the countryside. The core planning principles are clear: that planning should actively manage patterns of growth as well as protect the countryside; this is part and parcel of delivering sustainable development. The proposed housing would result in a pattern of development that fails to protect the intrinsic character of the countryside or support the vitality of the rural community. It would not accord with the Framework with the local plan.

The policy position remains as set out in the Planning Statement and Paragraph 6.1(iii) of Wiltshire Council Briefing Note 22-09 and continues to apply which states that the Council will:

Positively consider speculative applications where there are no major policy obstacles material to the decision other than a site being outside settlement boundaries or unallocated”.

BUT, in this regard a “major policy obstacle” applies: the site lies within the 8km ‘zone of influence’, namely the North Meadow and Clattinger Farm Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The Pavenhill appeal decision confirmed that until the strategy for this SAC is in place, new residential development should not be allowed if within the 8 km impact zone.

Considering all of the above, the proposed application should not be allowed.

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