Particular Comments on the Wiltshire Strategic Sites document of October 2009 (Wiltshire 2026 Local Development Framework)
relating to Westbury, 125-133
The Independent Planning Inquiry Inspector recommended against planning permission for the eastern Westbury Bypass scheme. Refusal was endorsed by the Government. The decision was not formally challenged. Wiltshire Councilís Westbury Bypass project can now only be regarded as defunct and anything otherwise is improper or even illegal.
However, the Wiltshire Strategic Sites document of October 2009, relating to Westbury, shows, on page 125, a diagram of potential housing development sites which match the former Eastern Bypass & Glenmore Link route. The Wiltshire Strategic Sites document does not explain it. At the Westbury Core Strategy exhibition, we queried these sites. We were reassured that they represent land-owners' offers that are not being taken up. But this explanation and elimination is not within the Wiltshire Strategic Sites document. Reading through the Wiltshire Council Strategic Sites document, it can be seen that the eastern bypass route sites are on several other diagrams - on pages 126, 127 and 128, and are not specifically ruled out. By contrast, there is a table of sites, on page 132, which have been ruled out for reasons such as they are unsuitable or too small, that does not include the sites shown on the route of the former eastern bypass project (apart from a small site off Fairdown Ave, with curiously no mention of the others).
These potential housing development sites which match the former Eastern Bypass & Glenmore Link route are not shown amongst the Preferred or Alternative Strategic Sites on p.131. It is as though the (not ruled out) bypass route sites have become invisible.
And it is as if these eastern bypass route housing development sites are being embedded in the document as discreet alternative sites - which Wiltshire Council could go back to and resurrect when a developer ready to do linked-up housing/road deals is available.
The eastern bypass route development sites also featured in WC's exhibition displays and were lately shown on Wiltshire Councilís main website, again without an explanation.
Though Wiltshire Council's internal report said: 'The Secretary of State's decision on the Westbury bypass has put back the implementation of this project. However, there is an opportunity for the authority to bring the project back to the attention of Government through the Homes & Communities Agency's Single Conversation which is due to start in December. The emphasis will be on how†improved transport infrastructure in the Westbury area could help to bring forward new housing development.'
We asked a Wiltshire Council planning officer about this regressive statement (as was featured in Local Transport Today magazine) and were told that it was being re-written. But the statement has not been revised and re-issued, or withdrawn, and it still stands as an objective of Wiltshire Council (hoping for Conservative government support).
There is ambiguity within the Wiltshire Council statement. When WC says that the 'decision on the Westbury bypass has put back this project', it could be referring to a project of 'improvement of journey time reliability on the A350'. But, improving journey reliability on the A350 was WC's main justification for its absurd eastern bypass project. So it is really all the same thing. Ambiguous wording has been a feature of Wiltshire Council statements, so as to lull objection and to leave Wiltshire Council with options.
'Improvement of journey time reliability on the A350' is itself a fake. To suit commercial development, Wiltshire Council has recently installed a second set of traffic control lights on the A350 Melksham Bypass which add variably lengthy delays to A350 journeys. And Wiltshire Council has added traffic-blocking bus stop bays on opposite sides of the road, beside newly-installed central islands, on the A350 in Westbury, to favour a retail outlet on the site of the disgracefully-demolished Oak Inn (also to make pressure for a bypass).
WC's website ought to be updated with summaries of the Inspector's recommendations and the Secretary of State's reasons for the rejection of the Westbury Bypass scheme.
It is also about time that Wiltshire Council factually informs all of its Wiltshire residents about what happened to its Westbury Bypass project in its 'Your Wiltshire Magazine'.