Welcome to the Rudloe and environs website.
Here you will find news, articles and photos of an area that straddles the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in north-west Wiltshire.
Contributions in the form of articles or photos are welcome. Even those with completely contrary views to mine!
Thanks to the website builder 1&1 and Rob Brown for the original idea.
Rudloescene now, in January 2014, has a sister, academic rather than anarchic, website about Box history here: http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/
It contains thoroughly professional, well-researched articles about Box and its people.
Contact rudloescene through the 'Contact' page.
Possibly the last cut on the field threatened with development at Rudloe (Hannick planning application)
1st February 2018 - last day for representations on the 88-home planning application in Bradford Road
Bellway's planning application 17/12270/REM started life as Hannick's 13/05724/OUT outline application for 88 homes (and commercial development) opposite the Broadwood School (title picture, above, shows the site).
With an approved development for 180 homes at the brownfield, former RAF Rudloe No 2 Site in Westwells Road just a couple of hundred yards away, development of the subject greenfield site is unnecessary especially considering that the Rudloe Housing Needs Survey of 2013 found that just 11 new homes were required.
Scores of local people objected to the 2013 outline development proposals but it seems that 'we' have been so subdued by the power of developers and the 'fortress' planning system that there appears little point in putting in your 'two pennies worth'. 'Localism' has come to this.
If you have the heart, representations should be made (today!) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Yours truly's may be found in the file below.
29th January 2018 - further destruction of our natural environment on Bradford Road at Rudloe. The fine sycamore at the gateway to Rudloe has been lain low by persons (organisations) unknown. The verge remains strewn with rubbish however (until picked up by our local litter pickers).
It's an odd world we live in where the natural environment is under attack by the very organisations we 'elect' to protect our localities. The result of this particular attack is the despoilation of Rudloe's eastern portal.
Hopefully, this will remain a pollard, allowing the tree to regrow.
21st January 2018 - not news, just a commentary on modern life. I arrived at the bus stop this morning with a "good morning" greeting to the two men (twenties/thirties) already there. One did respond somewhat reluctantly. The other looked up from his smartphone and looked down again. Real life intruding on the virtual world.
21st September 2017 - the following representation on Bath ASU's 'reserved matters' planning application 17/07028/REM for 'land south of the Bradford Road at Rudloe' is also provided in file format below this article. Given the significant effect this application will have on our environment, I would urge readers to make representations on this matter to Wiltshire Council, and perhaps to the local MP.
Note that, as this development straddles the Rudloe/Hawthorn boundary, this article can also be found under 'News', 'Hawthorn' here: 21st September 2017 article
As indicated in the opening text, the following file contains the subject representation:
29th & 30th October 2016 - a wander around Leafy Lane and Rudloe Firs on these damp autumn days and I came across a few things which were out of the ordinary (or perhaps not, in the second and third cases below).
Firstly, there was a runner plodding up Box Hill holding a torch (as in Olympic) on the 29th. And I must have been in imbecile mode as I didn't take a picture of him. I did, however, take a picture of the guy who was taking a picture of him. The runner was Adam Holland and the event, the 1,000km Kenya Peace Torch Relay - see: http://run4peace.co.uk/
As you may see from the 'Run for Peace' T-shirt, this chap is supporting Adam in this impressive undertaking; the charity behind the project is the Aegis Trust. From the website mentioned above, we find:
Snaking 1,000km around the UK this October through some of the country’s biggest cities – from London to Leeds to Liverpool to Bristol and back – The Kenya Peace Torch Relay will raise funds to help the Aegis Trust establish a school for peace in Northern Kenya, bringing young people together and uniting communities in a region where ethnic violence has left hundreds of people dead and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes
It's incredible, the time and effort that people put in to support the noble work of charities.
Secondly, the following is, effectively, the substance of an email sent to Wiltshire Council on 30th October 2016:
At the brow of Box Hill in two separate locations (coordinates shown in the maps in the gallery below), Wiltshire Council has placed signs which, as will be seen, state: Treatment of
Japanese Knotweed, Site Name Rudloe, Date Treated 17/10/2016, Next Visit Due Spring 2017, Product Used Tordon 22K.
Even with a rudimentary knowledge of the natural environment, any member of the public could easily identify the shrubs that have been treated as dogwood NOT Japanese knotweed. There are any number of indicators:
1. Japanese knotweed, as has been seen locally at, for example, Box Hill Common and at Westwells, in view of its propagation by rhizome, grows in clusters or clumps - it is not shrub-like. Its stems resemble bamboo (hollow).
2. Japanese knotweed leaves are not opposite, they are asymmetrical along a stem (see the title photo at the English Heritage website here:http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/learn/conservation/2544404/LAN_-_Problem_Weeds.pdf (see the opposite leaves of the subject shrubs in attached photo)
3. Japanese knotweed flowers consist of clusters of spiky stems covered in tiny creamy-white flowers (see flower remnants on the subject shrubs in gallery photo below)
Locals have known for years that the shrubs that Wiltshire Council has now treated are dogwood. They are shrubs, the leaves are opposite, they have dogwood flowers/seedheads, they ARE dogwood. The two species that Wiltshire Council has destroyed are possibly cornus alba (red stems) and cornus sericea (lime green stems).
Wiltshire Council's action brings to mind a number of issues:
Firstly, that our councils are supposed to help protect our environment not destroy it
Secondly, the identification (or mis-identification as in this case) of Japanese knotweed can have a significant effect on an owner's ability to sell a property
Thirdly our local, Box Hill, problem may simply be the thin end of the wedge. It seems likely, in view of this palpable mis-identification, that this could be happening all over the county with consequent environmental damage, misuse of ratepayers' money on fool's errands and possible devaluation of property prices
Fourthly, what kind of training are Wiltshire Council operatives given when such a glaring error could be made? Or perhaps this is a management problem?
I would suggest that local people (with local knowledge) are consulted before Wiltshire Council goes blundering around the countryside destroying the natural environment.
The following gallery shows the two areas of dogwood at the brow of Box Hill that have been mis-identified as Japanese knotweed, the signs erected by Wiltshire Council, detail (stems, leaves etc) of the shrubs and the map coordinates:
'We' await Wiltshire Council's response!
Thirdly, on 29th October 2016, I discovered the British Heart Foundation bags, shown in the following photo, at Rudloe Firs:
And what do these bags contain? Simply garden prunings; twigs and leaves! Can you imagine ... someone takes the time and effort to bag up (and tie in a tight knot!) these prunings and surreptitiously dump them in the depths of the wood. Why not ... a. scatter them around your own garden where they will soon rot down? b. Put them in the Council brown bin? c. Take them to the recycling centre? d. Take them to the wood (although I don't recommend this) and empty the bags alongside the footpaths (not on top of wild plants and flowers) e. Leave the bags by the side of the road where a Council collection may see them and pick them up. No, let's despoil the environment by dumping plastic bags in woodland! Unbelievable!
But just as unbelievable (and just as common), the photo below (29th October 2016) shows the dry stone wall at the entrance to Rudloe Firs containing a dozen little packages - gifts from a moron to the natural world:
The dog crap inside these bags is tiny. If left to its own devices in the woodland, in our climate this would rot down in a couple of weeks. But no, time and trouble is taken to pick it up and stuff it into a wall. Again, unbelievable!
We are hearing more and more about the threats to global wildlife, the elephants and rhinos in Africa for example, which will be wiped out within a generation because of man's greed (and stupidity). The natural world really has no hope anywhere, never mind in Africa, with halfwits abroad in the land.
The demolition of Copenacre in March and April 2016
(see the foot of the gallery for a 1968 Australian Army report on the ADP facilities at Copenacre)
* There is a fascinating report on the organisation of the ADP facilities at Copenacre between pages 27 and 38 of the Australian Army Journal of March 1968 here:
15th December 2015 - planning application 15/11889/REM for 58 homes at the Copenacre site
This 'new' (2nd December 2015) application is for the eastern part of the Copenacre site - see the diagram below. Representations (objectons etc) should be made by Thursday 7th January 2016. As indicated in the diagram caption, this application details the 'reserved matters' (REM) regarding applications 14/07171/VAR (a 'variation' on the original proposal) and N/12/00836/OUT (the original 'outline' application).
Also see 'Archive', 'Copenacre' (http://www.rudloescene.co.uk/archive-1/copenacre/) regarding the potential loss of significant industrial archeology through this planning application.
31st October 2015 - planning application 15/00058/OUT for 40 homes at the Copenacre site approved by Wiltshire planners on 27th October 2015
This planning application from January 2015, the 'masterplan' for which is shown below, is for the westernmost part of the Copenacre site only. It slipped under the rudloescene radar, and the radar of many others it seems, as only two 'representation' letters were received for the proposal, one from Mr & Mrs Arnall of Halfway Firs and the other from Corsham Civic Society. Both letters make valid points about the proposal.
18th October 2015 - planning application 15/10111/FUL for bat barn at the Copenacre site
This application references the 'original' planning application N/12/00836/OUT which, under the 3-year rule, will expire on 14th November 2015.
This 'bat barn' application will result in the loss of nine trees, four ash and five others, which were identified in the tree survey of N/12/00836/OUT here:
However it isn't possible (without much work) to relate the trees to be lost to the original schedule.
I wonder also, with badgers having been made the scapegoats for the spread of bovine TB by the industrial farming lobby (hiding the 'real' reason - modern industrial practices and poor animal husbandry - see file and article links below) and with the licensing of badger culls in adjacent counties, if the following mitigation and compensation recommendations from the ecology report of N/12/00836/OUT still hold:
The Pickwick Association made good points in their comments on N/12/00836/OUT. These included the observations that:
But better here than in pristine, greenfield locations between Corsham and Rudloe, however ... we now have the worst of all worlds with greenfield locations falling prey to speculative developers Gladman (150 homes at Pickwick) and Hannick (88 homes at Rudloe).
28th August 2015 - CPRE had the nerve to send me the following email with the subtitle 'Standing up for your countryside':
Discover your Green Belt and share your
Green Belt is the countryside next door for at least 30 million people: 60% of the population. It provides a breath of fresh air near our towns and cities and a chance to enjoy and explore the countryside. Much of our food is also produced in the Green Belt, offering the choice of local produce.
CPRE helped get Green Belts established 60 years ago, as part of national planning policy. One of their main purposes is to prevent urban sprawl and stop our towns and cities merging into one another. Without the Green Belt, London could have absorbed Brighton, Cambridge and Reading by now – much like many American cities that sprawl for miles and miles. By preventing urban sprawl Green Belts also help to encourage urban regeneration.
There are 14 Green Belts covering 13% of England and surrounding most of our major towns and cities
Tell us what #ourgreenbelt means to you
We want to show politicians why we value Green Belt and how important it is to protect it. Developers are campaigning for hundreds of thousands of homes to be built in the Green Belt, often arguing it is wasteland that has no value for most people. So we've created a website, Our Green Belt, for people to tell us about the ways they enjoy the Green Belt and to share those stories with others. We hope it will inspire more people to explore their Green Belt and campaign for its protection.
So do tell us about the places you've discovered in the Green Belt, the countryside you've explored, wildlife you've spotted, food you've enjoyed and your memories of places you've visited. Maybe there is a wonderful place you've recently been that is actually in the Green Belt but you weren’t aware. Have a look at our map to find out.
We would love to hear your Green Belt stories - in words, photos or videos - the choice is yours.
Thank you so much for sharing your stories and inspiring others to discover their own Green Belt.
Head of Campaigns and Communications
So I sent the following response (this is related to planning application 13/05724/OUT - the Hannick speculation of 88 houses and commercial premises at Rudloe):
At the Rudloe website here: http://www.rudloescene.co.uk/news/rudloe/ in articles dated17th June 2015, 4th and 7th April 2015, 16th March 2014, 13th January 2014 and 5th January 2014 and here http://www.rudloescene.co.uk/localities/rudloe/ in articles dated 23rd May 2015, 18th April 2015, October 2014 and March 2014, the reader will find articles related to pastureland at Rudloe, Wiltshire. The articles discuss a speculative development on this land which sixty-two local people objected to through the Wiltshire Council planning webpages here: http://unidoc.wiltshire.gov.uk/UniDoc/Document/Search/DSA,751239.
CPRE, North Wiltshire sent a representation letter regarding this proposed, greenfield development headed 'Protect Wiltshire' and the letter was ... in support of the speculative application! See: http://unidoc.wiltshire.gov.uk/UniDoc/Document/File/MTMvMDU3MjQvT1VULDQ1MzM0OA==
I asked CPRE at both local and national level, over many months, to explain its rationale for this support and did not receive any response.
This is the duplicitous organisation that is now asking for our Green Belt stories.
I will give the reader a 'button', below, so the CPRE representation may be viewed more easily. I had not appreciated this until now (August 2015!) but the foot of the letter maybe gives a clue regarding CPRE's reticence. And CPRE's slogan, I would suggest, should read: 'Standing up for your countryside except the bits we don't give a damn about'.
17th June 2015 - with the Hannick speculative planning application 13/05724/OUT having been approved by Wiltshire planners (see the 4th April 2015 and 7th April 2015 articles/emails and associated photos below) it is perhaps time, again, to show the nature of what will be lost (see also the 'Localities', 'Rudloe' article dated 23rd May 2015). It is hardly credible that with so much brownfield land in west Corsham already in the planning pipeline (which will satisfy the Core Strategy housing requirement) that Box Parish Council, Corsham Town Council, CPRE and others did not object to this greenfield speculation.
As indicated in the photo caption, the approval of this planning application contravenes Core Strategy policy 51 which states: "In particular, proposals will need to demonstrate that the following aspects of landscape character have been conserved and where possible enhanced through sensitive design, landscape mitigation and enhancement measures: i. The locally distinctive pattern and species composition of natural features such as trees, hedgerows, woodland, field boundaries, watercourses and waterbodies ii. The locally distinctive character of settlements and their landscape settings iii. The separate identity of settlements and the transition between man-made and natural landscapes at the urban fringe iv. Visually sensitive skylines, soils, geological and topographical features v. Landscape features of cultural, historic and heritage value vi. Important views and visual amenity".
Not only this but pastureland has a significance largely unappreciated by landowners, planners and speculators.Graham Harvey's book The Carbon Fields is 248-pagesworth of the importance of pastureland. I could take almost any paragraphs from this book but let's just take the last two from chapter 8 'Green and Pleasant Land': "The landscape of grass is older than the nation.What's new is the realisation that it meets our modern needs better than the landscape of industrial agriculture we have replaced it with.
It was Britain's great pastoral culture that made these islands so spectacularly beautiful. Grassland and grazing created William Blake's 'green and pleasant land'. They will do so again if we remain true to this wonderful cultural heritage".
I was attracted to the pastureland on this day as I heard a skylark singing. I didn't manage to catch a picture of it - they are mightily difficult to photograph but the following photos give some feel of the nature of these lost fields.
1st May 2015 - Copenacre, variation of condition 2 and modification of legal agreement for N/12/00836/OUT
It remains quite difficult to discern exactly what has been applied for and what has been approved but the planning 'decision notices', dated 20th April 2015, for planning applications 14/07172/VAR and 14/07430/106 have, apparently, waived the condition that plans for all proposed elements of this development be submitted as a whole (ref planning application N/12/00836/OUT). Plans for the proposed housing (100 homes?) and the hotel (?) can now be submitted separately. I believe that the requirement for a care home has been dropped as there is sufficient capacity, both existing and planned, already in the local area.
The rural nature of Bradford Road at Rudloe will be lost if Hannick's speculative planning application 13/05724/OUT is finally approved - see the 16th March 2014 article and its 'links' for the big picture.
7th April 2015 - Wiltshire Council planners response to the 4th April email (below)
Thanks for your email. In answer to your first question below, it is simply the case that having been instructed by the planning Committee some time ago to approve the applications, Mark and I have been working with the respective applicants and our Solicitors to complete legal agreements to secure the contributions set out in the Committee reports. The acceptability of the proposal in all other respects is, however, tested at the point that the application is before Committee. It is common practice to manage an application in this manner – Committee Members understand what will be sought in the way of planning contributions but applicants (quite sensibly) don’t generally want to incur legal expenses until they are confident that their application is acceptable in all other respects – so the Committee can resolve to delegate to Officers to grant permission ‘subject to conditions and completion of a Section 106 agreement to secure XX...’
Particularly in the case of the Hannick site, there has been some considerable delay in agreeing more minor points of that agreement. However the changes introduced by central government yesterday (6 April) to the regulations covering legal agreements have provided a new impetus to complete outstanding agreements (such as those relating to the below sites) by the end of last week. This ensures that, should the developments proceed, Wiltshire Council collects all the off-site infrastructure contributions originally sought and can spend these in the locality.
Mark may wish to elaborate, as he is the case Officer, but my understanding is that the supporting information submitted in respect of bat issues at the Redcliffe site was simply inadequate; the Council directed the applicant as regards what additional work had to be carried out, but the applicant failed to do so. The Council never held that the proposal would inevitably create insurmountable problems for bats or that outcomes could not be adequately predicted/compensated, just that the application failed to address the relevant issues in the first instance. Conversely, the Hannick application was sufficiently comprehensive in this respect, proposing adequate measures to mitigate any impacts on protected species and thereby overcoming any planning objection on ‘bats’ grounds.
As both the below applications have now been approved in outline, these (if the developers proceed) will be followed by ‘reserved matters’ applications covering the final layouts, landscaping and design of the schemes (I think ‘access’ was a matter fixed at outline stage in the case of both). These applications will run the same 13-week course, including the statutory public consultation period, and can be called in for consideration by Committee if the Local Member so wishes.
I trust this clarifies.
Bradford Road pastureland and view to Marlborough Downs to be lost if the Hannick speculative development goes ahead - however 'we' will continue to battle against greenfield proposals at Rudloe where so many brownfield sites have planning applications pending. For many more views in and around this pastureland, see the 'Localities', 'Rudloe' page.
4th April 2015 - planning applications 13/05724/OUT and 14/04179/OUT
Both of the subject outline planning applications have just (2nd April 2015) been approved by Wiltshire Council. Yours truly has sent the following response to Wiltshire planners Chris Marsh and Mark Staincliffe:
Chris & Mark,
Application Number: 13/05724/OUT
Site Location: Land South of Bradford Road Rudloe SN13 0
Grid Ref: 385528 170302
Proposal: Up to 88 dwellings, including affordable housing, 1.2 hectares of B1 employment and landscaping
Case Officer: Chris Marsh Direct Line: 01249 706657
Registration Date: 21/11/2013
Decision: Approve with Conditions
Decision Date: 02/04/2015
Application Number: 14/05686/OUT
Site Location: Land to the South of Potley Lane Corsham
Grid Ref: 386622 169628
Proposal: Outline planning application for the development of up to 64 no. residential dwellings together with associated access, parking, public open space and landscaping.
Case Officer: Mark Staincliffe Direct Line: 01249 706682
Registration Date: 18/06/2014
Decision: Approve with Conditions
Decision Date: 02/04/2015
Going over old ground I realise but you will, of course, know that both applications are for greenfield development in west Corsham, an area with substantial brownfield sites with planning applications extant or pending - Copenacre, Rudloe No 2 Site in Westwells Road, Rudloe No 1 Site, Rudloe Estate (renaissance!), the old police station in Priory Street and so on. Hundreds of houses proposed and more than enough (brownfield, just in west Corsham) to fulfill the housing requirement for the whole Corsham area until 2026.
Two further speculative planning greenfield planning applications are hanging over our heads - the Gladman application at Pickwick (undergoing the planning appeal process) and the Redcliffe development at Bradford Road for which Redcliffe has now appealed the Council's refusal.
Please find attached Weekly Lists of Planning Application received and Weekly List of Decisions for the week ending 3rd April 2015.
Economic Development & Planning
14th January 2015 - 'new' Copenacre planning applications (updated on 13th February 2015 - see * below)
Two 'new' planning applications have been submitted, by Framptons, for the Copenacre site - these are 15/00056/OUT and 15/00058/OUT. Being a congenital idiot of the first order, I haven't yet been able to figure out the convolutions of these applications which are for housing only as the care home and hotel proposals have been dropped (the applications show this). But why one application is for 105 homes and the other for 115 homes I do not know. The planning officer is away until the 19th January - hopefully he will be able to clarify on his return (I have sent an email).
Along with the (RAF) Rudloe No 2 Site in Westwells Road, these applications for a total of 285 (or 295?) homes will satisfy the Corsham housing requirement for the foreseeable future (2026 in the Council's reckoning) thereby obviating the 'need' for any speculative, greenfield development in west Corsham.
The applications may be found on the Wilts CC website using the 'buttons' below:
* Having spoken with the planning officer, Mark Staincliffe, on this subject on 13th February 2015, I need to lie down in a dark room for a while. There were problems with the form of the two applications - they were unclear. The essence of the (outline, remember) applications is that the nature of the proposed housing has changed from 4-bed executive homes with double garages to a mix of 2-, 3- and 4-bed homes with (a council requirement for) 40% affordable housing (what a laugh - nothing is affordable these days, with the cheapest homes at a probable 7.5 times the average salary of a young(ish) person wishing to buy a home - this is a factor of three more that the salary/house-price ratio when we were looking to buy our first home in 1972, and consequentially completely unaffordable! The supposed 'Help to Buy' scheme just 'helps' to keep house prices inflated using taxpayers' money) and (still) a care home.
As far as I can make out (but I still may be mistaken), the total number of houses proposed now is 158 (58 added by these two applications to the original 100 proposed in application 12/00836/OUT). The planning officer has stated that those wishing further clarification (!) can call or email him on 01249 706682 or Mark.Staincliffe@wiltshire.gov.uk
14th August 2014 - Copenacre planning app. 14/07430/106
This planning application, from planning consultants Framptons, is seeking to modify the section 106 agreement by removing obstacles to housing development on this site in the current legal framework.
It seems that there is now no prospect of a nursing home here as local demand has been, or will be, met through developments elsewhere. Similarly, the proposed hotel development is looking uncertain.
At the Area Planning Meeting on 14th March when the Hannick speculative, greenfield application at Rudloe was approved, the meeting heard from members that bringing forward brownfield sites was fraught with difficulties. However, here we have consultants/developers desperately trying to bring forward the Copenacre site for housing but being hampered by the exacting requirements of (local) planning regulations.
In the opinion of rudloescene, Wiltshire planners should pull out all the stops to enable housing development on this brownfield site so as to avert the proposed speculative developments on farmland between Rudloe and Pickwick. Corsham Town Council and Area Planning Committee member, Cllr Whalley has argued vehemently for the greenfield, speculative, Hannick planning application at Rudloe and (just last night) for the solar park on farmland at Wadswick whilst Corsham Town Council proposes to annex these same Box Parish lands. Greenfield development and annexation in whose interest?
Ninety-three per cent of Rudloeites polled (in about 350 households), in February this year, were opposed to the Hannick speculation and the vast majority of local (Wadswick and Neston) residents oppose the solar park. So, whose interests does councillor Whalley purport to represent? Certainly not those of Rudloe, Hawthorn, Wadswick and Neston parishioners.
Wilts County Council planners invite comments on this Copenacre application by 4th September. My comment to Wilts planners is shown in the link below.
17th June 2014 - RAF Rudloe Manor No 1 Site
Planning application 14/05421/FUL has been registered for three pairs of semi-detached houses with associated carports at RAF Rudloe Manor No 1 Site (top of Box Hill).
The history of this site, since its sale, is complex. I believe that the site is effectively split into three parts. The subject part is, I would guess, under the same ownership as that of the Manor House itself which has just had the best part of £1million spent on external renovation.
Personally, I'm all for the development of this site - there's room here for 103 pairs of semis, never mind three. Development at this brownfield site would, hopefully, alleviate pressure from speculative developers on west Corsham's farmland.
The proposal does seem a bit odd though, with these semis proposed directly behind the Manor House. See Wilts County Council's planning page here for details of the application, maps etc:
25th May 2014 - update on the planning applications around Rudloe
The consultation period for the Redcliffe Homes speculation of 170 dwellings and a medical/community centre in Bradford Road (14/04179/OUT) ends on Wednesday 4th June.
The consultation period for the GreenSquare, 3-dwelling, Sandy Lea Avenue, 'Rudloe Renaissance' (14/04482/FUL) ends on Tuesday 3rd June.
The consultation period for the GreenSquare, 8-dwelling, Long Close Avenue, 'Rudloe Renaissance' (14/04484/FUL) ends on Wednesday 4th June.
God help us - previous 'renaissances' (Rudloe Community Centre) have ended up as planning, financial and community disasters.
Leonardo would turn in his grave.
Whilst I despair of the pre-ordained planning process, when I can summon up the energy, I will put in my five pennies' worth.
I have found the energy - my objections to 14/04179/OUT and 14/04484/FUL follow.
16th March 2014 - 13/05724/OUT - the battle is lost
After a 9-month battle, the fight to save Rudloe pastureland is lost. Thirty-odd residents and supporters turned out at the Northern Area Planning Meeting on Wednesday to witness what might be described as a 'Russian show trial' (in other words, a 'stitch up' - but I'm doing a disservice to the Russians here).
The local Planning Committee representative, councillor Whalley of Corsham, unfortunately sold Rudloe down the river.
See below: photos of campaigners at the meeting, the Rudloe representation and appraisal documents sent to all members of the Planning Committee (which were completely ignored), the speeches made by Rudloe representatives (also completely ignored) and a post-meeting email exchange with Cllr Whalley.
13th January 2014 – “cynical engineering” at Rudloe?
On 25th June 2013, Wiltshire County Council published a decision regarding a ‘screening opinion’ on whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be required for a development of houses and commercial premises on land opposite Rudloe Estate/Corsham Woodland School. This development would eventually surface as planning application 13/05724/OUT in November 2013.
Wiltshire County Council’s decision was that an EIA would not be required. This decision would make the planning application process considerably more straightforward for the developers. The decision letter was sent to the developer’s agent, Hunter Page, by email on 25th June 2013.
Also on 25th June 2013, Mrs Fiona Allen, executive head of Corsham Primary School made an announcement to a meeting of school governors; the announcement and subsequent statements may be found at paragraph 5 of the minutes here:
The announcement was that “approval had been granted for development” for the Copenacre site (old news, as there have been permissions for this site for some years) and “land opposite the entrance to Rudloe Estate” (new news but apparently misinterpreted?).
The discerning reader may have already spotted an incongruous synchronicity here. I will elucidate anyway ... Wilts CC sends a decision to the developer’s agent and within hours (perhaps minutes) that decision has apparently been communicated to Mrs Allen. The June and July governors meeting minutes then relate actions regarding a meeting with CMS Architects to discuss school expansion. The July minutes may be found here:
This series of events begs the question who is driving this development and why? With school expansion plans already being set in train, the ambition of the ‘school’ appears paramount with local residents, the local environment and green fields, road users and even the welfare of children being sacrificed to the god of school growth.
A current (9th January 2014) international news item appears apposite. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is in big trouble for a “cynically engineered” development involving the closure of road lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge. The FBI has been called in to investigate. America may have many problems but at least it has investigative agencies with teeth. I have asked our MP, James Gray, to institute an investigation into our own apparent ‘cynical engineering’ – we will see what happens (reviewing articles at end of year, the reader may realise that no response was received from James Gray on this matter).
(The 'Saga of the new school gate' article, at the foot of the 'News', 'Rudloe', 'school gate saga' webpage is relevant)
5th January 2014 - consultation on 13/05724/OUT over
The public consultation on speculative planning application 13/05724/OUT (land south of Bradford Road) is over with 67 objections from local people having been recorded.
However, in official circles, 05724 appears to have become a sacrificial lamb. Whilst application 13/05188/OUT (land north of the A4 at Pickwick) has been opposed by Corsham Town Council and CPRE, 13/05724/OUT has been supported by these bodies and by Box Parish Council. Both applications are similar, with housing and a commercial unit on a greenfield site.
The reasons given for support from these organisations are crude and simplistic and contrast markedly with the discerning, insightful and reasoned objections made by local people. For example, Box Planning Committee supported 'in principle' (what principle?) and Corsham Planning Committee supported for the reasons given in the following paragraph.
Corsham Town Council Planning Committee - reasons for supporting planning application 13/05724/OUT given at 11 December meeting: "additional employment land provided would benefit the immediate community and the broad and thorough consultation with both the council and the public had led to positive amendments to the proposal"
Interesting isn't it that "additional employment land" is fine at Rudloe but not at Pickwick where application 13/05188/OUT was rejected. This reason is anyway a nonsense with 150,000 sq ft of commercial premises already vacant in the wider Corsham area. Interesting also that a "broad and thorough consultation" can take place between the developers and the Council about a Rudloe development but Rudloe residents are not allowed to make representations at the Council meetings because Corsham Town Council only represents the interests of Corsham (not Rudloe) residents! This is not only ironic but outrageous as the requirement of 475 homes (taken from the Core Strategy) quoted by Hannick Homes, which this speculation at Rudloe is supposedly helping to fulfill, is for 'Corsham Town'.
Some of the local objection letters are listed below this article - click on the icon and follow the instructions that appear at the foot of the page to see the letters.
The fight goes on in many ways - please make contact through this website's 'Contact' page for more information.