Chippenham councillors unanimously voted to reject the local plan for the town.

Housing allocation, the environment, and greenspace were big points of contention for Chippenham councillors as they discussed a formal response to the Wiltshire Local Plan, last night.

The Wiltshire Local Plan is a document that sets out the housing, infrastructure and employment future of the county up to 2036.

Screen shot from the extraordinary full town council meeting (February 25)

Screen shot from the extraordinary full town council meeting (February 25)

During public participation, every resident spoke out strongly against the current proposals over what the housing numbers would do to Chippenham’s precious green space and the town.

Councillors were asked to vote on a set of recommendations by the planning, environment & transport committee, which would form the town council’s formal response to the consultation.

The first declares that the number of houses allocated (9,225) to Chippenham does not match the town’s housing needs and is based on people relocating to the town to again commute out for work.

The Wiltshire Local Plan proposes 9,225 houses – or 20 per cent of the total number for Wiltshire – in Chippenham, the report says.

Chippenham Town Council logo

Chippenham Town Council logo

That the sites would have a severe impact on the town and cause “unacceptable” damage to the environment through the “destruction of high-quality farmland and wildlife habitat in the Avon & Marden Valley”.

Thirdly, that housing should not be dictated by the £75m grant given for the Future Chippenham scheme which the recommendations say “predetermine the spatial strategy” of the town.

And lastly, that a new spatial strategy should be developed which is led by employment and environmentally sustainable.

During the meeting, all councillors present agreed with the recommendations put forward.

“The proposals by Wiltshire Council are unacceptable, they are damaging vast areas of Chippenham that the residents love,” said Cllr James Adman.

“The riverside, the natural environment and the very nature of Chippenham itself will be irreversibly damaged by what’s proposed here.”

Cllr Clare Cape said there was no “proper evidence” for the level of housing need proposed under the local plan.

“I’ve asked Wiltshire Council on several occasions last year to rework the proposal,” she said. “Taking the pandemic and the climate emergency into account and they haven’t.”

Thanking councillors and residents for their contributions to the response, Cllr Ashley O’Neill said the value of Chippenham’s countryside is greater in the pandemic-era then ever before.

Cllr Andy Phillips said: “It’s an absolute disgrace what Wiltshire [Council] are trying to do and we will fight to the bitter end to stop them.”

Leader of the town council, Sandie Webb said: "We cannot have that amount of houses in our town."

Chippenham mayor, Teresa Hutton said the local plan proposals was one of the biggest things in the town in recent years.

"It will have a huge impact upon our town," she said, "perhaps more so than the developments we have had previously."

"I also think this is probably the first time we have has so much interest and representation from our public."

Voting on block for the four recommendations the town council unanimously solidified its formal response against the proposals set out by the Wiltshire Local Plan.

After the meeting, Cllr Murry, who put forward the amendment for the recommendation said: “Much work has gone into examining these proposals by the Chippenham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and the town council’s planning environment & transport committee, culminating in a resounding rejection by full council. 

"It could not be any clearer that Chippenham does not want the distributer road or this disproportionate and unsustainable scale of development for our town.”

Next week the town council is due to discuss its formal response to the Future Chippenham project.