Report of the Chief Executive
Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for MCI, Economic Development, Heritage, Arts, Tourism and Health & Wellbeing presented the report which provided an update to members on the progress reached on the Future Chippenham programme, seek a decision on the preferred road route for the distributor road, set out in Appendix A and informed Cabinet of the required next steps in the project to ensure appropriate strategies and delegations are in place to ensure smooth and efficient progress.
The Leader outlined the background to the Future Chippenham programme and progress following Cabinet decisions in October 2020 and 29 June 2021 and the subsequent signing of the Grant Determination Agreement (GDA) for Housing Infrastructure Funding (HIF) with Homes England in December 2020. He explained that a separate consultation by Future Chippenham on potential road route options took place between 15January 2021 and 12 March 2021 and a preferred route has been identified. During the consultation important feedback was received and informed the recommended road route option. In addition, it was acknowledged a large representation of responses were received objecting to the scheme on the grounds of quantum, transport issues, climate change and environmental issues.
The Cabinet noted that there is a need for the Future Chippenham programme to respond in an appropriate way to the feedback received during its consultation on the road route options as well as to the Local Planning Authority’s consultation on the Local Plan review and the obligations under the GDA. The benefits of both the funding and the ability to deliver infrastructure led development are clear and remain an important consideration to deliver housing within the county and provide a stimulus for growth and regeneration for communities within Wiltshire.
It was noted that the Council leadership requested further consideration be given to these matters and a programme review and assurance exercise has been conducted and identified some significant risks to the delivery of the whole scheme. The detail was described in the report.
There was an impact on the potential ability for the current whole scheme to be delivered on time and in budget. However, the review has identified an opportunity to develop an alternative approach to deliver a significant and important part of the scheme that meets the principal strategic objectives and benefits for the town centre and residents of Chippenham. In addition, the alternative approach supports the delivery of a significant housing requirement but with a reduction in the quantum that aligns with the current Local Plan period and leaves the decision on growth beyond that to a future date.
Many Statements and questions were received in relation to this item, copies of which can be found in Supplement 1 at this link to the agenda page for the meeting.
The following members of the public attended the meeting to expand further on their statements and questions:
· Mel Boyle
· Helen Stride
· Steve Perry
· Tony Wright
The Leader acknowledged that all questions had received a written response which had been published on the Council’s website prior to the meeting.
Supplementary questions were received from Steve Perry on behalf of Sue McGill, Ian James and Helen Stuckey. Written responses would be provided following the meeting.
Comments from Cabinet members included the increasing demand for houses due to population increases, poor infrastructure in existing towns and consequential congestion, expansions in Newquay and the need for all to consider more sustainable living.
Cllr Ian Thorn welcomed the passion of the public speakers objecting to the proposals. He commented on the overwhelming majority of consultation responses opposing the road build, the difficulty in assembling land and option sites for the scheme and confirmed that he did not support the proposals being considered. Cllr Thorn suggested that the residents of Chippenham were now distrusting of the Future Chippenham Programme and therefore be more difficult to run a viable and effective consultation in the future.
It was noted that Cllr Jerry Kunkler, Chair of Environment Select Committee and the Vice-Chair of Environment Select Committee had received a briefing on 16 July 2021.
Cllr Clare Cape asked a number of questions including (i) that the outcome of the Local Plan Review will inform whether or not the housing and road is required and is appropriate and that this proposal therefore is perceived to be at risk of predetermination of the Local Plan; (ii) following the consultation would the development to the east of Chippenham the low Marden and Avon valleys be removed permanently and irrevocably meaning the sites would no longer be available to developers; (iii) that the proposal for half a HIF Road did not form a part of the consultation nor did the no road option, therefore it must be consulted on before the scheme proceeds; (iv) would the Cabinet undertake to provide a fully evidenced assessment of the real housing need for Wiltshire as a whole and then for the Chippenham area taking account of the houses that have already been built and permissions granted in the last three years and taking account of the climate and ecological emergencies and the need for only fully sustainable development in the future. In response The Leader confirmed that (i) there is no predetermination of the Local Plan; (ii) He was unable to provide a response as there is no predetermination of the Local Plan; (iii) this was a valid way to proceed; (iv) The Council will need to deliver the minimum number of homes required by the government.
Cllr Sam Pearce-Kearney asked a question about Homes England and the outcome if they don’t fund the road. In response the Leader explained that the outcome was dependant on the how the negotiations proceeded. The Leader indicated that if Homes England refused the funding the Council would not be able to forward fund the infrastructure to support the homes that the Local Plan review supported.
Cllr Derek Walters asked questions about Climate Change, the size of the document and detail of the masterplan. In response the Leader agreed that climate change is one of the biggest issues of our age, in addition good quality affordable housing and the economy were also issues. There was a need to address the housing crisis in the country and the housing issues that Wiltshire have when looking at where to build is determined by the local plan. The report was 27 pages long. The masterplan is determined through consultation and that's how the Council will shape it and that's the point to become involved and put across the points about what the Masterplan should look like and how it was shaped.
Cllr Gordon King highlighted that (i) residents need to be involved in shaping their space, place and environment, which includes developments; and (ii) The road is becoming dangerously close to a bypass, not a distributor road. In response the Leader confirmed (i) that there should be a conversation in line with land constraints. (ii) that the road is a distributor road not a bypass
Cllr Antonio Piazza commented on the Community Infrastructure Levy – (CIL) and asked how Parish and Town Councils were able to use this funding. The Leader confirmed how CIL was allocated, with 15% to Parish/Town Councils increasing to 25% if a Neighbourhood Plan was in place with the remainder to the Local Authority.
1. Note the consultation response to the Future Chippenham road route options at Appendix B and to agree the preferred road route as set out in Appendix A subject to the Local Plan review, masterplanning, Homes England agreement and an approved scheme.
2. See minute 46 below.
3. Agree to initiate masterplanning of the approved scheme including entering into detailed design and planning negotiations with other landowners to achieve a high quality and consistent outcome addressing climate change issues.
4. Agree to implement the compulsory purchase order strategy and receive a further report on progress.
Agree to contact Homes England to
discuss changes to the Grant
Determination Agreement to reflect the southern scheme and
associated changes to the delivery plan for the scheme and delegate to the Corporate Director Resources and Deputy Chief Executive in consultation with the Leader authority to enter into the revised contract subject to the Local Plan review, masterplanning, Homes England agreement and an approved scheme.
6. Agree to delegate authority to the Corporate Director Resources and Deputy Chief Executive to make representations and agree for revisions to terms and conditions of the Grant Determination Agreement (GDA) with Homes England following consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member and Director of Legal and Governance, as required during the lifetime of the contract.
7. Note work on Chippenham town centre regeneration and agree the principle of reinvestment of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) receipts generated from the Future Chippenham development into Chippenham (including the regeneration of the town centre).
Reasons for Decision:
To respond appropriately to feedback from the community to the consultation undertaken by Future Chippenham on the road options and separately by the LPA on the Local Plan review and to continue to meet the terms and conditions of the GDA.