Campaign against Urban Sprawl to the South (of Chippenham) (CUSS)
Campaign against Urban Sprawl to the South (of Chippenham) (CUSS)
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Latest: May 27, 2022
At the High Court!
A group of us travelled to Cardiff yesterday to hear our barrister, Marc Willers, QC, present our case for Judicial Review in the High Court. His Honour, Judge Jarman, QC, presided over proceedings a…Read more
Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet is ignoring the concerns of the people of Chippenham regarding the destruction of their precious natural environment. As residents of Chippenham – or citizens of Wiltshire concerned about the undemocratic and damaging practices of its Council – we must find ways to stop them.
A coalition of groups and individuals have come together to support a legal challenge to the decisions made by Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet on 21st July in relation to the revised "Future Chippenham" scheme. Please join us.
Wiltshire Council is driving ahead with plans to build a distributor road from the A350 to the A4 without consulting the people who elected them. Once the road is built, Wiltshire Council will build up to 4,200 houses on beautiful Wiltshire countryside. We argue that it does not have the mandate to do this and that it could be unlawful.
In July, Wiltshire Council ignored the findings of its own consultation (January-March 2021) into its plans for a road to the East and South of Chippenham to support thousands of new houses. The project was named “Future Chippenham”. Nearly 80% of those who responded objected to the proposals, and virtually all respondents expressed grave concerns about the impact such excessive development would have on the natural environment. The Cabinet then agreed, without any notice to the public, a completely new plan for a re-routed distributor road to be built on farmland, much of which Wiltshire Council itself owns.
Wiltshire Council is now re-negotiating with Homes England a grant to fund the Council’s completely new proposal, conjured out of thin air in July 2021. Whilst claiming to be committed to a review of its Local Plan on which it must consult by January 2022, the constraints of Homes England’s funding conditions and the Local Plan timetable may result in the council applying as landowner, developer, and planning authority for planning permission with limited if any further public scrutiny. The Council’s tenant farmers are already being served notice.
Very little time is left for Chippenham’s residents and concerned citizens of Wiltshire to challenge Wiltshire Council’s plans. Please join us in:
- Challenging the decision to proceed with plans to build an abridged distributor road without consultation.
- Challenging the fact that, once again, discussions regarding the road are proceeding with Homes England's Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) behind closed doors.
- Challenging that Wiltshire Council is proceeding with a staggering disregard for the climate crisis that we all face
We urgently need your help to raise an initial £6,000 – increasing to £25,000 - to apply for Judicial Review of the way these premature and damaging decisions were made.
To begin with the money raised will pay a Barrister to decide if we have a strong enough case against Wiltshire Council to proceed to court. If we do, we will write a letter before our court claim, asking Wiltshire Council to think again and withdraw the damaging decisions they have made. If their answers do not satisfy us, we intend to apply to the High Court to let us ask for a full Judicial Review of the decisions, as an independent test of whether they were lawful or not.
Thanks for reading this, and we hope to thank you for your pledge of money. However small, it will help.
Follow us on: Facebook.com/SaveChippenham & Twitter.com/SaveChippenham
May 27, 2022
At the High Court!
A group of us travelled to Cardiff yesterday to hear our barrister, Marc Willers, QC, present our case for Judicial Review in the High Court. His Honour, Judge Jarman, QC, presided over proceedings and Mr Goudie, QC, presented the case for the defendant, Wiltshire Council.
We found the day interesting and informative. To witness the British judicial system in full flow was a privilege. It was not only the brilliance of all of those who took part, but the discipline, courtesy, and respect that underpinned proceedings.
Whilst the main grounds of our case related to the exclusion of the public from part of the meeting on 21st July 2021, and to issues around consultation, many of the arguments on the day focused on the finer detail such as the principles of law and the meaning of words such as ‘may’, ‘flexible’ and ‘hybrid’!
We are most grateful to Marc Willers, QC, for presenting our case so convincingly, and to Keith Lomax, our solicitor, for having worked tirelessly over many months to ensure that the presentation of our case ran smoothly. Judge Jarman advised us that we would receive his judgement in writing in three weeks’ time. I will, of course, let you know Judge Jarman's decision as soon as I hear.
Very warm wishes Helen
May 9, 2022
Date Change for Get-Together
Hi Everyone, The events in Lacock have been re-arranged (please see flyer below) Instead of two events, there will now be one event on Friday 13th from 6pm - 8.30pm. Michelle Donelan, MP, will be joining us. Please note change of venue. Please circulate widely and let me know by Wednesday 11th if you'll be attending.
April 20, 2022
Let's Get Together!
Hi Everyone, As Lacock will suffer as much as Chippenham from the proposed development by Wiltshire Council, we are holding two events in Lacock Village Hall in May. Please see details below and join us if you can. Thank you.
April 14, 2022
False Claims - Chippenham's Housing Need
I would like to draw your attention to what I believe to be false claims being made by Wiltshire Council regarding the housing needs of Chippenham.
- Cllr Richard Clewer repeatedly argues that house building targets are made by national government and are, therefore, out of his hands (please see below)
- However, in a press release of 25th January 2022 by James Gray MP, the Minister for Housing, Christopher Pincher MP states: ‘it is for local communities to determine how many houses they want and need in their vicinity’
- In fact, Wiltshire Council has been building 140% more houses than it is required to since 2018. See 2021 HDT Final Results. Ods (live.com)
- In Chippenham's Local Plan Review, Wiltshire Council argues that Chippenham will need 9225 houses between 2016 – 2036
- According to the Housing Needs Assessment in the Neighbourhood Plan (see below p43) the demographic need will only be 1,844 https://chippenhamneighbourhoodplan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Chippenham-HNA-Final.pdf
- Currently 64% of residents commute out of town (Census 2011). It must be assumed therefore that the additional 7300 houses are being built for commuters. This is unacceptable
Please write to your MP Michelle Donelan | MP for Chippenham , Homes England https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/homes-england and Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet Cabinet | Wiltshire Council to say that you want to stop plans to destroy the countryside to the south of Chippenham to build houses that Chippenham doesn’t need.
March 31, 2022
Court Hearing 26th May!
We are challenging in court Wiltshire Council’s decision to build a road to the south of Chippenham, funded by Homes England’s, Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), which could result in over 4,000 houses being built. The grounds are:
- The public should not have been excluded from part of the Cabinet meeting on 21st July 2021
- The Council said that it would consult on the Concept Framework proposals and didn’t
- The Council failed to consult in a meaningful way on the final, abridged route to the south.
On 17th February, our solicitor received from Wiltshire Council their Detailed Grounds of Resistance (DGR) to our claim, witness statements and various other documentation. They submitted 3,300 pages in total. We were delighted with the Reply and Witness Statement that our barrister sent in response on 18th March. Our hearing is to take place on 26th May.
Thank you so much for your support
Very best wishes
Helen (on behalf of the CUSS team)
Jan. 16, 2022
Permission has been granted!
On behalf of the Stop the Sprawl Campaign, I am absolutely delighted to announce that The High Court has granted us permission to proceed with our Judicial Review against Wiltshire Council. This means that our case will now go forward to the final hearing.
Wiltshire Council will have to answer to the Court as to why it did not consult appropriately over its decision to proceed with its plan to build a HIF funded distributor road to the south of Chippenham, and why the public were excluded and had information withheld in relation to this decision of 21st July 2021.
Wiltshire Council may feel that it can ignore over 7,000 people who signed a petition to stop the urban sprawl and destruction of the Marden and Avon valley, over 80% of people who opposed any development on green fields during the Council’s own consultation, and even Chippenham’s own Town Council who unanimously opposed the Future Chippenham proposals, but the Council will not be able to ignore a Judge. Thanks to the generosity of our CrowdJustice supporters, and over 30 local artists who donated work at our recent Art Auction, we have raised nearly £15,000 towards our legal costs.
Those of us who have felt ignored for too long by our elected representatives can today feel a step closer to having our day in Court.
Dec. 3, 2021
Purchase Gifts for Christmas whilst Saving our Countryside
I am delighted to let you know about an Art Auction that is being held in aid of Save Chippenham’s Stop the Sprawl Campaign (please follow link below)
The auction, which is being held on December 19th, will include a wide range of beautiful artworks all of which have been kindly donated by local artists. All proceeds will go to saving Chippenham from excessive development on green fields and thereby help to save the planet.
Please support us, join us if you can for a festive glass of wine and ask your family and friends to support us as well.
Very best wishes
Nov. 25, 2021
A Dystopian Vision
Future Chippenham Visionary Workshops
A Dystopian Vision Built on False Promises
Several ‘public pop-up events’ are being arranged by Wiltshire Council over the next ten days for residents to ‘help shape the vision of Future Chippenham’. Whilst we believe this is little more than a propaganda exercise, it is important for us to attend the meetings and to call them out for what they are.
This campaign continues to oppose Future Chippenham’s plan to build up to 4,200 houses on County Farms and a distributor road between the A350 and the A4 to serve the housing. The reasons for this are as follows:
- Chippenham does not need 4,200 houses and any houses that it does need should be affordable and built on brownfield sites;
- Wiltshire Council must not go against Central Government policy and build unnecessary roads and housing on green fields thus exacerbating the climate crisis; and
- As the houses are not needed by the people of Chippenham, we assume that they are being built as part of Wiltshire Council’s vision to turn Chippenham into a dormitory town to serve an M4 corridor from Junction 17 to Poole.
The dates and times for the meetings are listed below:
Saturday 27th November from 9am at the Olympiad
Sunday 28th November at the Artisan Market – no time available at time of going to press. See Future Chippenham website
Thursday 2nd December from 8.30am at Wilts College and University Centre, Chippenham Campus
Friday 3rd December from 7am and from 3.30pm at the Railway Station
Saturday 4th December from 8am at Borough Parade
Please attend if you can. Briefing notes and sample questions are shown below for your convenience.
- Wiltshire Council has repeatedly made the claim that their plan to build 4,200 houses is to meet ‘The Government’s housing targets for Wiltshire’. As Boris Johnson recently said, housing numbers are in fact a decision for local authorities.
Question: Why does Wiltshire Council continue to mislead the residents of Chippenham by claiming that their plan to build excessive housing is dictated by Central Government, when the Prime Minister said on 20th October at Prime Minister’s Questions that ‘this Government does not set local housing targets’?
- As reported in the Gazette & Herald in March 2021, research commissioned by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) shows that between 2017 and 2019, Wiltshire Council built 40% more homes than were needed, with many of these being built on green fields. And by their own admission, Wiltshire Council plans to build 5,000 more houses in the current period than they are required to by Central Government. Chippenham Town Council predicts that the town will in fact need no more than 2,000 houses between now and 2036.
Question: Why does WC continue to mislead residents of Chippenham by claiming that 4,200 houses are needed when there is no evidence to support this?
- It must be assumed, therefore, that the houses planned are not being built for local people but for people commuting to Bristol, Swindon and further afield. Already, approximately 67% of people living in Chippenham commute out of the town to their place of work.
Question: Is it true therefore, that these houses are not being built for local people but for commuters?
- The houses are not needed and therefore nor is the road. Any new houses that are needed by local people should be affordable and should be built on brownfield sites wherever possible.
Question: Given that the Prime Minister recently said at the Conservative Party Conference that ‘houses should not be built on green fields’, why is Wiltshire Council planning to build unnecessary housing on County Farms?
- It is the assumption of the campaign that Wiltshire Council aims to create a dormitory town to serve its misguided plan to build a motorway style road between Junction 17 of the M4 and Poole.
Question: Is it true, therefore, that Wiltshire Council is in fact planning to turn Chippenham into a dormitory town to serve its misguided plan to create an M4 corridor between Chippenham and Poole?
Nov. 11, 2021
Can they really be serious?
As we reported earlier in the week, Cllr Nick Botterill announced during COP (see article below) that Wiltshire Council is ‘serious about tackling climate change and biodiversity loss in Wiltshire’. I would like to suggest that there is absolutely no evidence to support this.
We need to separate the rhetoric from the reality. Yes, Wiltshire Council has made a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030. However, the County’s Local Plan Review that went to consultation earlier this year and is for the period up to 2036, would not only fail to reduce carbon emissions but it would in fact increase carbon emissions. Given the excessive development that we are opposing in north Wilts, this will not come as a surprise.
In response to Wiltshire’s Climate Strategy, Wiltshire Climate Alliance has clearly stated that the strategy:
- Lacks urgency with delivery plans not even being ready until 2022/23;
- Lacks meaningful action, failing to set specific measures and targets; and
- Fails to define ‘zero carbon’. It is also suggested that Wiltshire Council’s leader, Richard Clewer, does not even believe that zero carbon is achievable by 2030.
So, as we have been arguing, Wiltshire Council must:
- Stop planning new housing developments unless there is genuine local need;
- Avoid building houses which will create car dependency, and shift away from private car use;
- Reassess major road schemes based on realistic projections of future traffic volumes taking into account local and national climate change policies ; and
- Protect and enhance carbon absorption properties of the natural environment
Nov. 8, 2021
Front Page News
Hello from COP26,
The Save Chippenham campaign has made front page news in the Gazette and Herald. This week I will also be updating you on Michelle Donelan's voting record on 'sewage and sleaze' and Wiltshire Council's extraordinary claim during COP that it is 'serious about tackling climate change and biodiversity in Wiltshire..'
Oct. 30, 2021
Wrong Side of History
Shortly after I last wrote, our application for Judicial Review was served on Wiltshire Council’s legal department, thus launching legal action. Please see below the latest coverage of our case in the Gazette and Herald.
In the article, I suggest that if Wiltshire Cabinet continues with its reckless disregard for the climate crisis by building unnecessary roads and housing on green fields, it will find itself on the wrong side of history. Interestingly, Wiltshire Council also appears to find itself on the wrong side of their own Party. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the Conservative Party Conference, 'houses should not be built on green fields'. And in contrast to Wiltshire Council Leader Richard Clewer’s repeated claim that Wiltshire’s housing target is set by national government, Boris Johnson said during Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday 20 October 2021, ’This Government does not set local housing targets’. As Chippenham does not need these houses (see report by CPRE in G&H, March 2021), who, I would like to ask, are these houses being built for?
Oct. 20, 2021
Wiltshire Cabinet - See you in Court!
While a few of us were waving placards yesterday outside the Full Cabinet meeting in Trowbridge (see photographs), inviting the Cabinet to ‘see us in court’, our solicitor was lodging my application for permission for Judicial Review with the Court in Cardiff. This is the first formal step before serving it on Wiltshire Council’s solicitors, which launches the legal action.
This is an important day for the man/woman on the street. We will not be ignored nor bullied. If democracy is not working for us, as long as we all pull together we can find an alternative way to make our voice heard.
Getting to this stage has only been made possible by the continued generosity of our supporters and their belief in us and our campaign. As you will see, we have now raised over £8,000, far exceeding our initial target of £6,000 and our expectations. However, to make this next stage in the process viable, we now need to reach £15,000 as soon as possible, on the way to our stretch target of £25,000.
Please be part of this momentous journey and do what you can to help us achieve this new goal. Pledge what you can and/or circulate the Crowd Justice link to as many people as possible.
Many, many thanks
Very best wishes
Oct. 12, 2021
Raising our profile through the media
Good evening, Pledgers,
I hope you are all well. On behalf of the CUSS team, thank you so much for getting us within an arm’s reach of our target of £6,000. Following our coverage in the Gazette and Herald last week, yesterday Councillor Clare Cape and myself were given two separate slots on BBC Radio Wiltshire. Asked about Government housing targets, we mentioned CPRE’s research that shows that Wiltshire Council has in fact built 40% more houses than it needed to.
I would like to thank CPRE for their recent generous pledge. I would also like to acknowledge Beverley’s comment that Wiltshire Council intends to turn Chippenham into a dormitory town for the M4 corridor. It’s certainly food for thought. Thank you, Beverley.
Also of interest is that Michelle Donelan has written to a resident to say that she has withdrawn her support for the HIF. As this must relate to Wiltshire Council’s current negotiations with Homes England for an abridged distributor road, it’s great news and no doubt a serious blow for Wiltshire Council.
I will be in touch again when we have received Wiltshire Council’s response to our solicitor’s letter.
Oct. 10, 2021
One Step Closer to Justice
On 4th October our solicitors wrote a formal letter to Wiltshire Council’s Legal Services team. The letter claims that the Cabinet’s decision-making process on 21st July was unlawful for several reasons. It asks for a response by 15th October and warns that if this is not satisfactory they may advise us to apply to the High Court for a judicial review of the Cabinet’s decision. See press release below:
We will update you again as soon as we have received a response from Wiltshire Council.
Let's keep fighting! Please continue to spread the word.
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