Future Chippenham - Urban Expansion and Road Building
This page provides WCA members with information about Wiltshire Council's 'Future Chippenham' road and urban expansion project, and the ongoing campaign against it.
Wiltshire Council's £75M bid to the government's Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) was approved in October 2020, to provide for a road around the East of Chippenham joining the A350 at both ends, and "unlocking" prime farmland including irreplaceable County Farms, for up to 7,500 new homes.
In July 2021 overwhelming public opposition forced scaling-down of the original scheme but the revised scheme proposing a distributor road to the South of Chippenham and an associated 3,800-4,200 houses on greenfield land still seems to represent business-as-usual planning in contravention to a Climate Emergency declaration, and to predetermine the Local Plan.
Read on for more background information, and to take action to support the campaign, petition and legal challenge…
Save Chippenham Campaign and Petition
A new campaign to 'Save Chippenham' is leading with a petition against the highly damaging effects the HIF funded infrastructure and housing threatens for Chippenham residents, and all the wider implications of such a scheme during a climate and ecological emergency.
READ ON, SIGN AND SHARE HERE!
You can also follow Save Chippenham on Facebook and Twitter:
Legal Challenge and CUSS
CUSS - Campaign against Urban Sprawl to the South (of Chippenham) is the new campaign group, behind the banner 'Save Chippenham'.
They are appealing to all concerned citizens across Wiltshire to help launch a legal challenge to the way in which Wiltshire Council 'has not consulted the residents of Chippenham on this scheme and is acting undemocratically to avoid public scrutiny'. They are crowdfunding to raise an initial £6K to embark on the application for a judicial review.
PLEASE PLEDGE AND SHARE USING THE LINK BELOW
More information via the link but the main points of challenge as summarised by the group will be:
• The decision to proceed with the abridged distributor road without consultation
• That discussions with Homes England are taking place behind closed doors
• That Wiltshire Council is showing a staggering disregard for the climate crisis we all face.
Future Chippenham Consultation and Cabinet's July Decision
At Wiltshire Council's extraordinary full cabinet meeting on 21st July 2021, following a review of the Local Plan and Future Chippenham consultation responses, a recommendation was approved to take forward a 'preferred route' from the A350 Lackham Roundabout to the A4 London Road, South of Chippenham, or 'the southern section of the distributor road'. This route is shown in the thumbnail.
The Cabinet public pack is available here, and pages 51-54 summarise the main recommendations.
A Council press release is also available here.
Both cite that a 'large representation of responses were received objecting to the scheme on the grounds of quantum, transport issues, climate change and environmental issues'.
This pack also contains the 1,200 road 'options' consultation responses. CAUSE analysis, which was careful to counter bias to the extent that the conclusions were felt to underestimate opposition, found 885 (or 75%) of respondents did not want any road at all. Remarkable given that the consultation did not provide a simple way to express a 'no road' vote. Recently another analysis of responses puts the figure at 79% against any form of road.
Many believe that although the Eastern infrastructure and development is not being 'taken forward' at this time, it is likely to be pursued again in the future. There has long been the idea of an orbital road at Chippenham providing part of an expressway from the M4 Junction 17 South to Poole.
Developments from February - June 2021
Following it's rejections of both the local plan review and 'Future Chippenham' proposals, the newly constituted Chippenham Town Council reaffirmed opposition to both at their first meeting on 19th May 2021.
In February, the MP for Chippenham Michelle Donelan wrote to Phillip Whitehead (then Leader of Wiltshire Council) to declare concerns about the Future Chippenham scheme and associated development, and threaten the withdrawal of her support for the HIF bid. The letter and Whitehead's response can be viewed here. Donelan later responded again to say she intends to work through issues with the MHCLG minister and continue to represent constituents' concerns.
We are urged to keep the pressure on Michelle Donelan as her initial support for the funding provided required evidence of 'public support' which has never otherwise been demonstrated.
A motion passed at Chippenham Full Council on 16th June 2021, resulted in the sending of a letter to Wiltshire Council's Chief Executive, copying Michele Donelan, Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for MHCLG), and Homes England. The Press release and letter can be viewed here.
The CAUSE Wiltshire - Campaign Against Urban Sprawl to the East (of Chippenham) - website is linked here. CAUSE led the campaign against the original proposal for a road and extensive development to both the East and South of Chippenham, and their petition has obtained over 6,100 signatures.
This campaign has wound down somewhat having enjoyed a partial victory when the Eastern section of the road was dropped, but development to the East remains a concern and members continue to work to protect the future of these sites.
CAUSE's website remains active and contains useful detail (particularly here) we can extract about what is now immediately at stake with the Southern section, and the critique of the inflated growth projections for Chippenham which have been used to justify the plans.
It also highlights other causes for concern with democratic procedure and transparency that have been felt throughout.
Wiltshire Council are terming the road and its associated housing potential, the 'Future Chippenham' project.
The 'Future Chippenham' page is here. The glossy video to introduce the project and the road options that were presented to residents in the consultation that ran from mid January - mid March 2021 is still available here.
At extraordinary meetings on 15th February and 4th March Calne and then Chippenham Town Councils agreed that they did not support the proposals. Full Chippenham press release here.
Chippenham and the Local Plan Review
Wiltshire Council's Local Plan Review consultation period closed on 9th March, but you can still view the documentation online.
The draft Local Plan document for Chippenham as it was presented is linked here, and Site Selection report here. The presentation given at the consultation event for Chippenham is linked here. Housing targets and the 'preferred sites' presented in the combined documentation were designed to pave the way for the 'Future Chippenham' developments, if agreed, hence the charge of predetermination. This CPRE article further explains how democratic process has not been followed.
At it's extraordinary meeting on 25th February, Chippenham Town Council unanimously agreed to reject the proposed local plan for Chippenham. The full press release is here.
HIF Bid Documents and Appendices released under FOI
An introduction to the Housing Infrastructure Fund is here.
The bid submitted in March 2019 which was successfully awarded the £75M of funding to build the infrastructure for the 7,500 houses in prospect is available (minus appendices, and slightly redacted) here.
Some appendices obtained via FOI request are available by following links below, under Appendix number. A full list of the Appendices is here.
Local Context - Chippenham's Neighbourhood Plan
The website for Chippenham's emerging Neighbourhood Plan is linked here.
There are useful documents linked from the 'Reference Library' page. A few are also linked below:
The Neighbourhood plan Steering Group and advisers produced the report in this Agenda pack (see pages 19-37) to Chippenham Town Council to inform responses to the Local Plan Review Consultation.
2015 Housing Sites Review
The following documents from 2015 are still relevant to developing the proposed sites.
The Residents Association of Tytherton Lucas in Bremhill Parish (between the rivers Avon and Marden) commissioned this damning review by a Devizes consultancy of the landscape and visual impact of the Chippenham Eastern Expansion Area proposed by Wiltshire Council but thrown out by the independent Inspector. It concluded, "Development within the flood risk areas or settings of the Rivers Marden and Avon will not be acceptable. The extensive... proposals will have significant adverse landscape and visual effects and are not acceptable and should be rejected" and "if a strategic allocation is to be made, it is recommended that proposals for the Eastern Link Road are deleted."
Flooding is and will be a big issue in the low-lying land South and East of Chippenham. This 2015 witness statement gives detailed evidence and says, "Developing to the East of Chippenham is raising the odds on Chippenham Town and Monkton Park flooding and causing serious damage to property, and putting lives at risk. The evaluation by Wiltshire Council of the flood risk to Chippenham and upstream has lacked evidence, and is therefore unsound..."