Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Lisa and Graham served on the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce from 2000 to 2017

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The road show has been - where now?

Yesterday Wiltshire Council's "Road Show" came to town - showing their core strategy plans for the next 20 years. Rather than allowing haphazard and undirected growth and development there is sense if the unitary council providing a degree of 'steer' ... making sure that any new housing is built in places where access, drainage, schools, shops, jobs, leisure, open space, refuse, road, bus, train, medical facilities, etc are sensibly accessible rather than on land that is cheap but unserviced, and making sure that all those other facilities are in place in the right quantities as the housing becomes available.

The $64,000 questions, though, are things like "how much housing is wanted", "where do the existing people want it", "do we want to provide neighborhood or centralized services". And it is difficult - very difficult - to excite people to give you there inputs about where they would like things in 2 years, and to share there local knowledge on that with you, let alone for 20 years time.

So on one hand I have a great deal of sympathy with Wiltshire Council's Spatial Strategy team ... and on the other, I feel that they're making assumptions about what the local population wants / sees as the way it wishes to go forward - that plans (or draft plans) are still too much imposed. That the Spatial Strategy people were out of line with Melksham's view is was clearly illustrated by their objections to Countrywide moving less that 100 yards, where the town votes 70 to 2 in favor of the move being allowed. That they're still possibly out of line was brought home to me again yesterday in a comment that "look - if we allow growth here it might mean more houses like at Chippenham and Trowbridge - is that what you really want" to which my reply was "well - perhaps we want to ensure that Melksham's large enough, and rounded enough to be relatively self standing rather than being a satellite suburb for other nearby towns". But a discussion was opened, and that's good news. Core Strategy - Melksham ConsultationThe afternoon brought a drafty "mobile unit" to the Market Place with a third of the space of the similar exhibition in Chippenham (and an earlier closing time, so that people coming back to Melksham from working elsewhere couldn't get in); the evening brought a consultation with 'local community representatives' in the Assembly Hall. A few comments on both to follow - probably tomorrow - but the real inputs are going to be written one submitted by 5 p.m. on 31st December.

It is important, I feel, to get written inputs correlated and submitted. There are really serious questions about where we should be going, and really serious questions about some of the maps. Areas marked "preferred development" were, we are told on one hand, probably not going to be developed as the map was just a broad indication, yet on the other hand we were told we need to make inputs now rather than waiting until such things are clearer, as they will be policy by then. So I think we need to make inputs.

If they're important, then, will these inputs have any effect? Great play was mad of how they will be gathered, correlated and published. And they will be considered, we are told. But I wonder how much of than consideration will be taking a real look at suggestions, and how much will be that they will be considered to be the inputs of people who are not professional planners, and simply kept for the record.

I'm going to study them in more detail - I have them on CD and I'm going to think for myself and ask around; if I agree with the suggestions, then all will be well and I must admit that some of the detail isn't as dreadful as the headline posters in Chippenham implied it would be for Melksham!. But I rather suspect that some inputs along the lines of "Oy!" will be useful ... and that it will be useful to chase up the submissions to ensure that they're not just published then filed on a dusty shelf.

(written 2009-11-27, updated 2009-12-09)

 
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Through the arches
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Why we have two buses an hour - but not a half hourly service
The road show has been - where now?
Wiltshire Council purchases Melksham Station Land
Kim of the Castle
The story of the railway land at Melksham Station
The music of the stock market
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