In my view the Malmesbury Neighbourhood Steering Group (MNSG) have missed an
opportunity in the formation of a Neighbourhood Plan (NP). It seems to me that
the MNSG could have engaged with the other un-preferred developers as well as
their chosen ones perhaps persuading them to limit their proposed developments.
So besotted with the Waitrose application they have virtually excluded
Sainsburys, Gleesons and JB Planning Associates from the process. In the case of
Sainsburys application, this is officially a brownfield site. The MNSG have
chosen to call this a Greenfield site on the basis that a small part of the
proposed development encroaches onto Greenfield land. Why not stipulate that if
Sainburys got approval they only build on the brownfield bit. The Co-op could
have been given more encouragement to expand a little to satisfy identified need
and resist unnecessary retail development. The same with Gleesons – why not have
thrown them a bone, stipulate they can build but only a limited amount of
houses. Instead we get scaremongering that they will eventually build hundreds
and hundreds of houses. Surely the point of the NP is to get agreement on what
level of development can and can’t go forward and to set limits and parameters.
Now the town is left with a battle against understandably irritated developers
who with approval may have no such limits placed upon them. The weighted scoring
system devised and employed by the MNSG has been done to favour the Waitrose
site over others and the first draft plan hurried along to resist Gleesons.
Scored in such a way to provide a desired outcome. A small number of the group
have decided what to add weight to, deciding what they think is important, more
to the point, what will work best to dismiss possible sites and favour the ones
that were preferred from the outset. This is evident to the developers and their
lawyers and has attracted strong criticism from many on this comments board and
from within the MNSG itself. There has been a continual rebutting of remarks
questioning the scoring system and an inflexibility to budge despite valid
concerns raised quoting only the support for their plan as a reason to dismiss
remarks but never really answering the deeper questions. Ultimately the NP may
or may not carry the influence it had hoped but that the MNSG failed to attempt
to place limits on potential development beyond those it sought to approve may
be its biggest legacy and potentially lead to more and disproportionate
development as a consequence.
Malmesbury Neighbourhood Steering Group
What others are saying about our Draft Neighbourhood Plan Over 500 residents have already looked at the draft plan. These are the comments that they have made about it.
Our consultation runs from the 5th of March 2013 to April 26th 2013. These are the published comments received up to 08/03/13.
All comments below were submitted to this online feedback portal. We hold the identity and addresses for each submission and have decided not to publish them unless specifically requested by the person who submitted them.