Agenda item

Recommendation 11 - Trowbridge and North Bradley


Councillor Richard Clewer, Chairman of the Electoral Review Committee, presented Final Recommendation 11 of the Committee. The proposal was to transfer two areas of land within the parish of North Bradley to the parish of Trowbridge, with associated governance changes.


The proposals aligned to the incoming Trowbridge Park and Trowbridge Drynham unitary Divisions, and with slight amendment broadly followed the line of allocated housing sites with, in some instances, outline planning permission for significant urban extension, including up to 2500 dwellings. North Bradley Parish Council strongly objected to the proposals. It was stated that nearly all consultation responses received had been in objection to the proposals. Full reasoning for the proposals was set out in the Final Recommendations document.


The Committee had considered that the character and interests of the areas in question would increasingly align more to the town within the period required to be considered according to information received, a transfer would provide a more effective and convenient governance arrangement with simpler warding arrangements, and that to not transfer the area would, among other effects, see the parish increasingly dominated by urban expansion rather than the village respondents to the consultation had stated they wished it to remain.


The Committee had considered all responses and factors, and on balance of the current evidence had not agreed that the proposals were premature as some had suggested. It also noted that the outcome of the Community Governance Review would not affect the delivery of housing within the area, and that the Committee had considered issues of governance and community, not issues of support or objection for plans for housing development.


Attention was drawn to the report detailing advice regarding the use and proper consideration of electorate projections for the area within a five-year period from the commencement of the review. It was also emphasised that incoming or adopted Neighbourhood Plans did not prevent, if appropriate, the transfer of an area from one parish to another, nor would such a transfer invalidate or otherwise affect the plan. Members were also reminded that council tax was not a relevant consideration.


Given the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) had initially proposed including a larger section of North Bradley within the Trowbridge Drynham unitary Division, among other considerations as detailed fully in the report, the Committee did not consider that it was viable to seek amendment of the Division which would be required to transfer a different area. This was relevant in particular regarding a very small number of properties accessed off the road of Woodmarsh which were within the incoming Trowbridge Drynham unitary Division, and therefore the area proposed to be transferred. However, the Committee did consider the precise line could possibly be looked at again in future, though to delay a transfer now would be inappropriate given the impact on the rest of the proposed area.


A question was then received from Amanda Bocker as detailed in the Agenda Supplement, who made an additional comment. Councillor Clewer provided details of how the line of the allocated housing site had been amended following an Inspector’s decision, after the LGBCE had already made its decision regarding Electoral Divisions.


Statements were then received from Roger Evans, Chairman of North Bradley Parish Council, Russell Willsmer, a Member of North Bradley Parish Council, and Karin Elder, Clerk to North Bradley Parish Council, all in opposition to the recommendation of the Committee. In response to points raised Councillor Clewer drew attention to the Committee’s consideration of Community Infrastructure Levy issues as detailed in the Final Recommendations, and noted the impact on the village community of the growth of the town urban area, and that to retain those areas would negatively impact the identity of North Bradley as a distinct community from the town.


Council then debated the proposals.


Comments in support of the proposal included noting that the Trowbridge Drynham Division did include a very small number of properties which might more appropriately be retained within North Bradley, however if the White Horse ward of North Bradley which lay within that Division were not transferred in advance of the 2021 local elections this would be an inappropriate and ineffective arrangement, and the majority of that area was appropriate to transfer. The precise line could be reviewed again in the future. It was also noted that in other decisions the Council had already agreed with the approach of including new urban developments on the edge of towns to be included within those towns as they shared or would share community interest.


Comments in opposition to the motion included that while land might be allocated this did not mean that it would be built on in a timely fashion. Some Members stated that local electors should be consulted before being transferred.


An amendment was then moved by Councillor Horace Prickett, seconded by Councillor Christopher Newbury, to replace recommendations 11.1-11.3 with the following:


To undertake a further Community Governance Review when practicable to include the wards of Trowbridge Drynham, Trowbridge Park and North Bradley Parish Council (White Horse Ward).


In moving the amendment, it was stated that the parish council spoke for the community in opposing the proposals. It was stated that the proposal would result in an anomalous narrow strip of land between the Park Division and the parish boundary, with mention of a proposed relief road across the area. Reference was made to the Neighbourhood Plan of North Bradley which, nearing adoption, was required to be given significant weight. It was stated that while allocated housing sites north of the A363 could reasonable be regarded as aligning with Trowbridge, the land south of the road and the business park could not. There should therefore be a further review of the area as moved in the amendment before the matter was determined.


Comments in support of the amendment included that there were more suitable boundaries between the town and the parish, and the detail of the recommendations was not appropriate in some instances. It was stated that particularly as development was ongoing a decision could be delayed to a later date when it could be more appropriate.


Reference was made to comments made by one of the public speakers about purported lack of consultation and clarity was sought on that point, and others sought to support the views of residents who objected to the proposal. There were also comments relating to council tax, and that Council was able to take a different view to the Committee’s recommendations if it considered this appropriate.


Comments in opposition to the amendment included that it was appropriate to include consideration of future housing, and that the situation should be settled before residents arrived so there was no ambiguity regarding the situation, with examples provided of confusion in some areas where a parish line was not amended prior to development. Some considered that local objections would not change if the matter was delayed and there was no benefit to the communities in doing so.


Others comments included that the areas in question would be clear extensions of the urban area of the town distinct from the character of the village, and it was appropriate to look to the future, with the Divisions being a good indication of the shared character and interests of those areas to which the parishes should align, as the character would be very different to the village. A comment was made that the larger settlements in Wiltshire were being considerably expanded, utilising the facilities of those settlements, and should be recognised as part of those settlements.


The thorough and detailed consultation was also referenced, and some considered that the Committee had undertaken detailed and complex work to make its recommendations considering all factors and evidence, which should be supported.


Some felt there could be a negative impact on the two communities and potentially though not certainly on the effectiveness of the incoming wards, if a decision was not made at the meeting, which would leave the incoming wards unamended.


As mover of the amendment Councillor Prickett stated that the A363 would form a clearer and more reasonable demarcation between the town and the parish, and the proposals as recommended included unacceptable anomalies due to the nature of the lines. He referenced the history of the North Bradley community, a planned burial ground for the village that was intended for the proposed area, and that a delay in the Community Governance Review would not delay housing delivery. It was stated 25% of the parish would be transferred under the proposals.


As mover of the original motion Councillor Clewer responded to the points raised in debate on the amendment.


In relation to consultation the extensive information gathering that had taken place including engagement with the town and parish councils and local unitary members was detailed, also noting the pre-consultation survey which had been sent to residents in the affected area and a public meeting, and a further consultation on draft recommendations including once again writing out to those affected and an online survey. There had also been publicly accessible committee meetings in March and August 2020, and all representations received were considered, including a significant number of responses from North Bradley.


Councillor Clewer noted that statutory guidance required consideration of the situation as it existed and also the situation with five years of the commencement of the review including based on planning assumptions, as set out in the report following legal guidance, so that a review did not reflect a single moment but took account of expected population movements in the short to medium term. Considering the entirety of the guidance in context it was therefore not out of order for council to consider whether it was appropriate to transfer an area which would be altering in the near future before additional houses were built. It was noted that Council had already made such decisions in relation to both Chippenham and Salisbury earlier in the meeting based on the evidence available at the present time.

It was stated that while there was some concern raised regarding the precise lines of the proposal this was not a major issue and the impact of not endorsing the proposal was higher. The history of the area was noted but it was stated reviews are also about the communities as they exist today or shortly will exist. It was stated that the many respondents had wanted the parish to remain as a distinct village, and the Committee agreed and that to transfer the areas in question this would protect the identity of the village. It was also noted that objection had been made to losing 25% of the area of the parish, but also accepted much of the area as being transferred, which would still be a significant portion. Small areas of land remaining in the parish making an unusual shape for the parish was also not at all unusual for parishes in the country.


Councillor Clewer emphasised that it was incorrect to suggest Neighbourhood Plans prevented amendment to parish boundaries, and while a factor did not in view of the Committee outweigh the arguments in favour of a transfer in this instance. It was also considered there would be no benefit to a delay in a decision.


Following a vote, the details of which are attached to the minutes, the amendment was lost.


There being no further comments, Councillor Clewer as mover of the motion concluded the debate and urged Members to support the proposal.


Therefore, it was,




11.1 That the area of the White Horse ward of North Bradley Parish Council be transferred to Trowbridge Town Council as part of the Trowbridge Drynham ward, coterminous with the Unitary Division of the same name, and to be represented by three town councillors.


11.2 That the area of the Park ward of North Bradley Parish Council be transferred to Trowbridge Town Council as part of the Trowbridge Park ward, coterminous with the Unitary Division of the same           name, and to be represented by three town councillors.


11.3 That North Bradley Parish Council be comprised of eleven parish councillors, without warding arrangements.


Reasons: Paragraphs 54, 73, 78, 80, 83, 84, 85 and 170 of the Guidance on Community Governance Reviews.


Note: Recorded votes for the proposed amendment and the resolution are attached to these minutes.


In relation to the amendment the vote was as follows: 14 in favour, 58 against, 4 abstentions.


In relation to the resolution the vote was as follows: 56 in favour, 11 against, 8 abstentions.


Supporting documents: