Marlborough’s Neighbourhood Plan at consultation stage – your chance to have your say

Your neighbourhood, your future

The draft Marlborough Area Neighbourhood Development Plan (MANP), covering the parishes of Marlborough with Manton, Mildenhall and Savernake, is currently out for public consultation.  This runs to 8 March 2021, so there’s still time to pass on your feedback (see below for how to do this).

It’s worth remembering that the aim of the MANP is to ensure that, as far as possible, land is used in a way that reflects what local people want and need. Without a neighbourhood plan, local people will have less control over what happens with the land in their area.

The needs of our communities were brought together through extensive public consultation, followed by surveys and expert analysis over the last four years. These identified needs include affordable housing, more parking space, increased cemetery capacity, sports facilities and medical facilities. Local people also emphasised the importance of providing protection for our natural environment, the landscapes in the surrounding area, the open spaces in our communities and, of course, our heritage assets.

The MANP needs to deal with difficult issues: there is a clear need for more affordable housing within Marlborough, for example, but limited areas where such homes can be built. The Steering Group, made up of community volunteers and representatives from various local organisations, is trying to balance these and other concerns with the needs of the whole community and the over-arching demands of Wiltshire’s own local plan, with which the MANP must conform. This group has no powers or funding to purchase land (such as for another surgery or for new sports pitches); it can only request landowners to make land available and require that, when sites come up for planning permission, the local planning authority (Wiltshire Council in this case) takes account of local preferences for land use as set out in the legally binding community-led neighbourhood plan.

The MANP includes five suggested sites for housing development. These were chosen from a longer list of land offered by landowners in a response to a call for sites. Each was reviewed and many were rejected as not suitable, for example, because of their effects on housing nearby or encroaching too much on green space.

Mervyn Hall, Chair of the MANP Steering Group said: “Without a neighbourhood plan, the local area would be at risk of unwanted speculative development, far more than that proposed in the plan and we may also be left with little protection for many of our green assets. It’s  designed to meet the needs of Marlborough with Manton, Mildenhall and Savernake. We listened to what these communities told us, sought evidence to back it all up properly and have set out policies to address those local needs. We now need feedback so we can make any amendments to the plan before it goes on to the next stage and eventually to referendum at which local people can vote to protect their local area up to 2036.”

Note that the MANP is not to be confused with the current review of Wiltshire Council’s local plan: see lower down for more on this.

What happens next?

Following the MANP’s formal public consultation (known as Regulation 14), the MANP will be reviewed, taking into account local feedback, checks against legislation and examination by an independent examiner (Regulation 15). A further public consultation (Regulation 16) is then followed by a public referendum. If passed (known as ‘Made’), the plan will be adopted by Wiltshire Council and will cover the period up to 2036. Subsequent refreshes may be required in the light of later changes to Wiltshire’s local plan or in government policy.

Taking part in the consultation

Online: the draft MANP and supporting documents are available in this section of Marlborough TC’s website.

Printed information: if you need  a hard copy of the MANP or need more information, please contact the Town Council at  enquiries@marlborough-tc.gov.uk or telephone 01672 512487 or 07593 584099 or write to us at Marlborough Area Neighbourhood Plan (MANP), c/o Marlborough Town Council, Council Offices, 5 High Street, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 1AA.

Online events: Covid restrictions mean that face-to-face events, as took place at previous consultative stages, are not possible. Following the first event on 27 January, a second one is being held at 7pm on Wednesday, 24  February. If you would like to join, please register your interest via email to enquiries@marlborough-tc.gov.uk.

Deadline: The consultation runs until 8 March 2021.

Wiltshire local plan review

Wiltshire Council’s local plan – which coincidentally is open to consultation at the same time – is quite different from the MANP. It is a strategic county-wide plan that implements central government’s housing requirements largely by dividing them among the various communities around Wiltshire. The housing numbers in this strategic plan are a minimum requirement, not a limit, so it does not necessarily protect against unwanted, speculative development applications.  While the MANP Steering Group has worked with Wiltshire Council throughout and the two plans have been prepared so as not to conflict with each other, they have different perspectives on local issues as the Wiltshire local plan is not directly derived from what our communities have said that they need. Once approved, the MANP will be adopted by Wiltshire Council and will become as much apart of its own local plan as if it had written it itself: until then, however,  the two processes need to follow their own separate paths.

More about the Wiltshire’s local plan review can be found on Wiltshire Council’s website.

Further information

See this article on the Penny Post website for more about neighbourhood development plans generally.

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