Above the Clouds

Wiltshire Plan Local Plan Consultations - Time to be heard!

Wiltshire Plan Local Plan Consultations 

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Introduction - It is hard to stress just how important it is for us all to respond to this Local Plan Review as it sets the future direction for development in our county. Wiltshire Council needs to know that we care deeply about the environment and climate change. Protection of the natural world and a clear pathway to net zero carbon emissions needs to be the bedrock of their Local Plan. It may appear complicated to respond to this consultation, but please don't be put off!  We hope that this page is going to help to make it easier for your voices to be heard.

 

 Comments must be submitted by 5pm on 9th March

So, what is this consultation about?  In simple terms, the myriad of documents that form part of the Local Plan, set out proposals for where the Government’s target for building new homes up until 2036 could be built in the county. ​One key point to note is that the Government’s target for Wiltshire is 40,840 new homes, whereas Wiltshire Council is proposing to build nearly 5,000 more than the target!

How Can I respond? - Here is the LINK to the relevant page on Wiltshire Council's website. The website looks very unfriendly and uninviting, but, when you get the hang of it, it is quite easy to find what you are looking.  

​There are over 30 different forms that can be completed but please don't let this put you off. Even if you just complete one for your area, you will be helping to press home the message about climate change and biodiversity loss. As well as the proposals for the ‘principal settlements’ and ‘market towns’, there are some overarching documents:

  • Emerging Spacial Strategy - (what does that mean!!) it's about where the Council proposes to build all those additional new homes, having considered a number of different options 

  • Supporting Documents - in this section there are a plethora of documents, including the Interim Sustainability Appraisal, which attempts to set out the positive and negative impacts of the various potential locations for development 

  • Empowering Rural Communities - sets out the framework for rural communities (the villages and open countryside) to meet housing and employment needs (no mention of climate change at all)

  • Addressing Climate Change and Biodiversity Net Gain - to be fair this paper is well written and sets out the challenge of carbon reduction and protecting the natural environment, but unfortunately its findings have not fed through to the rest of the Local Plan.

  • Planning for individual towns - each town has its own document setting out the options for development and proposing a preferred option for locating new building.

You can either complete the online forms or download a word version and send it in via email. Please NOTE that the online forms cannot be saved so you have to complete them in one go!

What should I say?

We have prepared some useful content for a general E mail responses which can be viewed on the LINK

 

Here are some bullet points that might help:

 

The Plan must include specific measures to reduce emissions, including:

  • Planning for new housing developments where there is genuine need, rather than being driven by out-dated, top-down targets;

  • Avoiding building houses where this creates car dependency and people will need to commute long distances to their places of employment;

  • Introducing planning policies that require housing and commercial development to be built to zero carbon standards in settlement designs that are genuinely sustainable, avoiding building on greenfield sites wherever possible;

  • Reassessing major road schemes based on realistic projections of future traffic volumes taking into account local and national climate change policies and longer- term changes in work patterns as a consequence of COVID-19;

  • Creating a planning framework that promotes renewable energy generation, including making specific provision for onshore wind generation (the lowest cost form of electricity generation), which is not currently mentioned anywhere in the Plan;

  • Encouraging a significant shift away from private cars to public and active transport, investing in cycling and walking infrastructure and improving infrastructure for electric vehicles;

  • Protecting and enhancing the carbon absorption properties of the natural environment (that of our natural capital and carbon sinks), including significant increases in tree planting, also helping to improve biodiversity;

  • Protecting the best and most versatile agricultural land, which helps sequester carbon and ensure local food production and future food security, including the Council’s own County farms;

  • Introducing planning policies that require climate change impact assessment of all proposed developments, in advance, against the Council’s carbon reduction targets.

 

This Local Plan is the best, and last, chance for Wiltshire Council to introduce a policy framework that comprehensively addresses the urgent need for material, year on year reductions in carbon emissions, in line with the Council’s democratic and legislative obligations.  I believe that the current proposals for the Local Plan must be completely rewritten on this basis.

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Wiltshire's Local Plan - The need for robust carbon reduction targets.

ClientEarth is an environmental law charity. They are lawyers woeking in the public interest to secure a healthy environment for the citizens of the UK and the world. Read the full letter HERE.

You might also want to add to your response that in order to achieve their carbon reduction obligations, Wiltshire Council needs to:

  • Introduce a policy framework that comprehensively addresses the urgent need for material, year on year reductions in carbon emissions, in line with the Council's democratic and legistlative obligations and the advice given by ClientEarth.

  • Follow the reccomendations on planning made by the Climate Emergency Task Group.

  • Completely re-write the current Local Plan proposals in line with the above.

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On Tuesday 2nd March Salisbury Transition City hosted a meeting to discuss the local plan consultations. People may find this interesting.