for the opportunity to comment on the draft Malmesbury Neighbourhood Plan. I visited the exhibition in the Town
Hall briefly, and have studied the full plan on
Congratulations on producing a very impressive, well-structured
plan with strong supporting evidence.
I strongly support the need for this plan, and the general tenor of the
conclusions and recommendations.
My detailed observations below are offered in the spirit of helping you
to make further improvements to it.
Main Body Section 1.1.3
This main report appears to jump very rapidly from the requirement for housing in
Malmesbury Town to the selected housing sites for development, appearing to
dismiss all the other potential sites.
The illustration on Page 11 (Potential Sites for housing) is misleading,
as it only includes the selected sites (3A, 15, 5, 6, 10 & 11).
Would it not be better in this main report to include the illustration
from Page 7 of the housing site selection scores report of all the potential
sites that have been considered, and then the illustration that you have
included of the Selected sites for
Main Body Section 1.1.5, site selection criteria explanation, and site scores reports
The scoring criteria approach is impressive and generates objective evidence.
But I am surprised by the selection of the weighting factor values. Location is a highly important factor,
yet, given that there is only a single score for location but multiple scores
for other attributes, the weighting factor for location is only 20, meaning that
location accounts for less than 18% of the overall score.
I hope that the MNSG has undertaken a sensitivity analysis of the data
generated (investigating the effect of different weighting factors): it would be
good to report this. Better still,
has the MNSG considered the use of a technique such as Decision Conferencing
which allows such data to be scored interactively.
I have previously found this to be an extremely powerful technique in
supporting difficult decisions.
Might it not be better to break down location further?
It is difficult to score on the basis of walking distance to most local
amenities when the amenities themselves are a considerable distance apart. For some people walking access to
Malmesbury School and the Activity Zone are highly important, while for others,
walking access to the High Street or the medical centre is more important. Perhaps these should be weighted
As a result of this, it is surprising that 3 of the 6 sites selected for housing development
are among the 7 sites with the worst scores for location.
I suggest that the importance of location is undervalued in the scoring methodology.
Theselection of the scores and the weighting factors is central to the argument in the plan, and so I would expect them to be subject to considerable scrutiny in the forward process. It is vital that they can stand up to this scrutiny.
Main Body Section 1.1.7 – Sites 6, 10 & 11
The report states that the site is within 20 minutes walking distance of most local amenities.
It is within 20 minutes of the High Street, but it is not within easy walking distance of
schools nor the Activity Zone.
The report suggests that these sites can be developed as a mixed-use neighbourhood that
complements the town rather than an extension of Malmesbury.
This seems disingenuous. The building of an additional 100 homes to the east of the bypass will
undoubtedly contribute to the sprawl of Malmesbury Town into the
countryside. This is not reflected in the scoring matrix.
Traffic safety and pedestrian safety are key considerations.
While the planning objective is for people to walk to the amenities, in
practice it is likely that many will drive. I live on the Swindon Road and walk
into town, but many neighbours regularly drive the short distance into
town. And previously I lived on a
housing estate (in Bristol) about 20 minutes walk from a large supermarket:
again the number of people who walked rather than drove was tiny.
Having 3 entrances off the A429 within 500 feet of the roundabout is a
significant issue both for road safety and congestion.
The report suggests a new sign controlled zebra crossing to link to the Burton House
site. Would this be in addition to
or in replacement of the location of the existing crossing.
The existing crossing is important for pedestrians from the Swindon Road
walking into Malmesbury, although it is not in a particularly safe location due
to poor visibility.
Main Body Section 3.1 – Supermarket site allocation I suggest
that the aspiration of most residents to have a new supermarket, but not have a
negative impact on the High Street shops, may be unrealistic.
The challenge of this should not be underestimated in the report.
While access to the supermarket on foot or by bicycle is commendable, is it realistic?
I suspect that very few will wish to lug heavy shopping on foot, or worse still by bicycle,
up the steep hill of the High Street.
Main Body Section 3.2 – Policies for a prosperous town centre
It is easy to write that a strategy to encourage retail development will be identified and
implemented. To be credible
more detail is needed on how this might be done. The present number of empty retail
premises, and the tendency for retailers to move from the lower to the top of
the High Street tells its own story.
I do not support the extension of the Town Centre boundary from the Kings Walk to St
Johns Bridge. This section of the
lower high street is of historic appearance and entirely residential in
character, and this should be retained. For a vibrant community,
it is important that the town centre continues
to have a mix of residential, retail and business properties.
We do not want a sterile town centre that is entirely business.
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.