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Help shape Melksham’s future with the neighbourhood plan

MELKSHAMNeighbourhood Plan Steering Group is encouraging local people to get involved with shaping the area’s future this year, as big decisions loom on the horizon.

The steering group is hoping more people will join its online community, dedicated to designing a neighbourhood plan for Melksham and the surrounding area.

Group member Nick Westbrook said, “2016 is an important year for Melksham and its surrounding villages.

“We face the challenge of developers wanting to build ever more houses.  Government has recently increased the national target for building new homes and the Melksham area must take its share, making it increasingly difficult to resist planning appeals from developers.

“Wiltshire Council is also facing funding and resource pressures that affect how our public services are delivered to local people. Petitions and protests are of little value when these bodies demand evidence to support their decision-making.

“A steering group of local volunteers, supported by Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council, is producing a Neighbourhood Plan for the local area.  This is a statutory document that will spell out how the town and surrounding area can evolve to become the great place where we want to live, to work, to play and to visit.”

Nick Westbrook says the main challenges include finding sites for:

• At least 600 houses on top of those already planned.

• New factories, warehouses and shops to attract businesses and create local jobs.

• Linking the River Avon and the Kennet and Avon via a canal to create leisure and tourism opportunities.

• GP, treatment and perhaps urgent health-care services to meet local demand.

• Capacity in local schools

• To protect land that is not considered appropriate for future development.

He continued, “2016 is the year when we plan to mobilise public opinion and give local people their say.

“Waiting until developers submit their plans is simply too late to influence decision-making.  This is your chance to share your views and to participate in developing a great future for Melksham and its surrounding villages.

“The Melksham Neighbourhood Plan online community exists to help you stay in touch about the issues that matter to you – either for the whole plan or just those issues you are interested in.

“Make 2016 the year that you join.    Help to influence local decision-making.  You can participate how you want and when you want.  There is no time commitment, nor do we need lots of personal information – just enough to enable us to keep in touch and better understand how different areas may have differing perspectives.”

To join the community – go online to www.melkshamneighbourhoodplan.org  and click the JOIN US button.