Formula Land Community Consultation

Copies of a public consultation leaflet (example here) are currently being distributed to houses in the village. It is asking Downton residents for comments on their proposal to build around 100 houses on the Breamore Road site, south of Catherine Crescent.

Please note that the consultation deadline is 12th April. As this includes the Easter period, time to respond is short, especially if the leaflet is returned by post (an online response option is offered on their website

It is important that your response to this consultation reflects your own views, but you will want to ask yourself about the effect 100 houses could have on you, your neighbours, and on the village. You may want to consider some of the things are included in the list below:

We know there are people in the village who are unconcerned about more housing, and you will, undoubtedly, have comments and opinions of your own. But do, please, take the time to fill in the survey,

Copy of a letter from Wiltshire County Councillor Richard Clewer to Facebook "Downton Now and Then".

I wanted to give additional information and my thoughts about the consultation from Pegasus Group about Breamore Road and the possibility of housing there. I apologise if this is a long post but it is a complex issue and I think it will help residents to be fully informed.

Firstly I think it is important to note that this is a consultation that the developer are carrying out, I suspect ahead of putting in a full planning application. From my experience of these 'consultations' the results are likely to remain private and only be used to try to support the idea of building on the site. I hope Pegasus prove me wrong and share all the results.

Secondly if a planning application does come forward then it would be a speculative application. In principle the site is outside of the housing policy boundary (the red line marking where development should and should not be considered in Downton). There are however two factors which complicate this:

I believe that the consultation and any planning application that comes out of it would be at best extremely premature and I have explained that to the developers when they presented their ideas to the Parish Council.

If a planning application did come forward then it would need to address the issues of strain on infrastructure, highways access and perhaps most importantly flooding. It is possible to build on a flood plain providing 'mitigation' was provided. This normally means expensive works to raise houses or provide flood defences. If that was required the developers would use that cost to argue that less affordable housing should be provided. There are sites on the edge of Downton that could accommodate housing without building on land that floods and I would hope planning officers would reject any application to build land susceptible to flooding.

The Neighbourhood Plan is still in place and whilst the provision of strategic sites to meet government housing targets does trump a neighbourhood plan if more housing is needed, the plan itself should provide protection to the village against more housing outside of the housing policy boundary. Government have made this more complicated by changing the rules on neighbourhood plans and meaning that as they run their course they have essentially less effect. The Parish Council are looking at updating the plan (which does not require more housing sites to be found unless they are wanted/needed) at the moment.

Given the comments on the previous post about the consultation I thought I would also try to provide some clarity about affordable housing. Affordable housing is defined by government as falling into essentially three types, housing that is sold to a housing association or the local council and let out at an affordable (80% of market rates) or social (50% of market rates) rent to people on the housing list, shared ownership which would also be sold to a housing association or the council and then what are described as 'intermediate products' (first time buyer homes, self build and a couple of others). Personally I think that whilst there is a housing register all affordable homes should be rent or shared ownership. First time buyer provision is also supported by other government s chemes and should not take up affordable housing provision but should work along side it.

On balance I do not see a strong prospect of any planning application succeeding at this point, that could change if a housing allocation is assigned to Downton in the local plan update but that will only be determined in about 2 years time after the plan has been finalised and been through a planning inspection. I think that there are very strong grounds to resist a current application, particularly on that site but in the final analysis a planning inspector could disagree even if the council refused permission.

In time Downton will be required to take more housing (unless government stops assigning increasingly high targets to rural areas across England in an attempt to solve the housing crisis in London, Birmingham, Manchester and parts of the South East, an attempt that I think is misguided and have discussed at length with our MP). I think however there is a very reasonable argument that, given the housing the village has taken in the last 4 years time should be allowed for the housing and village to settle after their building before more housing is considered.

I hope this helps give some context, please get in touch if you have any further questions or issues you want to raise.