To the Crown Estates Consultants
Transition Marlborough (TM) is a community-based organisation committed to low-carbon, sustainable solutions within the Marlborough Community Area.
We acknowledge that there are 772 families on the housing list in the Marlborough area: TM does not object to the provision of more homes in Marlborough, provided there is appropriate development of the town's infrastructure and services to support the increase in population. This development, if approved, would increase the population of the town by around 10 per cent, and therefore its impact on infrastructure and services, especially schools and medical practice, would be significant. Our comments apply to both options presented at the public consultation, Option A and Option B.
Marlborough Rail Link
TM is actively promoting the restoration of the rail line to Marlborough, and this initiative has obtained strong support from the local community. The potential advantages to the Salisbury Road development should be obvious although we recognise that the railway link is at an early stage of development. Nevertheless we would argue strongly that the housing development should be compatible with the potential railway development, and be designed accordingly, i.e. with an access road to the proposed site of the new station and car park. At present this is not the case and we believe that this is a serious shortcoming in the proposal.
Cycling and walking
TM actively promotes cycling and walking within Marlborough as an alternative to car use. And Wiltshire Council has a range of policies to promote cycling and walking in the county's market towns. We would therefore expect to see at this stage a coherent presentation of cycling and walking routes within the new development with linkages to the town centre, St John's Academy, Marlborough Business Park, the Marlborough Cycle Network and the national cycle network. While the scheme proposal mentions improvements to cycling facilities between the new estate and St John's Academy, this is inadequate. We therefore wish to see the cost of up-grading the whole of Marlborough's cycle network funded out of the 'Community Infrastructure Levy'. This should include the provision of safe crossing of the A346 and up-grading the footpath MARL30 as a cycle route to Savernake Forest.
Marlborough's current bus service is extremely poor in that it links with neither local employment centres nor the three closest railway stations, at times that are suitable for commuters. This means that an additional 220 households would need at least 2 cars each, to enable both bread-winners to get to and from work. We would be interested to see the travel plan which is being prepared for the proposed development.
Traffic congestion and air quality
Salisbury Road through to Herd Street, the north-south route through the town, is often congested, with associated nitrogen dioxide emissions which already exceed the EU safe limit. By inspection it is evident that the new housing development would exacerbate these problems. There is nothing in the current proposal to indicate that these issues have been understood or that there has been any consideration of practical mitigation measures.
Zero Carbon Housing
Government policy, will require all new homes from 2016 to mitigate, through various measures, all the carbon emissions produced on-site as a result of the regulated energy use. This includes energy used to provide space heating and cooling, hot water and fixed lighting, as outlined in Part L1A of the Building Regulations. The proposed Code level 3-4 is only the minimum required in terms of domestic energy use, carbon emissions, water use, materials used and waste. We would like to see a more ambitious design which achieves an EPC Rating of at least 'B' for all new dwellings in this development. Since families in social housing are vulnerable to fuel poverty, we recommend biomass district heating as a sustainable solution.
There is a waiting list for allotments in Marlborough. With rising food prices and the need to eat more fresh vegetables, we would like to see the practise of setting aside land for family allotments revived in the new Salisbury Road Estate. A good example in Marlborough town can be seen in St Johns Close, where a small, social housing estate with family allotments was established in the 1920's and is still a hive of activity today.