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MELKSHAM Town Council has announced plans to create a visionary document outlining the community’s aspirations for the future of the town.
The document will be produced alongside the current Neighbourhood Plan, which was described as ‘too constraining’, and will explore ambitions for more employment opportunities, an Eastern Melksham bypass and options for the Cooper Tire site if the company were to leave.
“The Neighbourhood Plan isn’t the visionary document that we thought it would be in 2012,” said Mayor cllr Adrienne Westbrook at the community development committee meeting earlier this month. “We thought it would be an all-encompassing wonderful document, but that hasn’t happened due to the constraints about what can be included. We can’t talk in the Neighbourhood Plan about the Cooper Tire site and we all know that sometime in the next 20 years that they are going to leave. It’s going to happen, they are only using about a third or a quarter of the site.
“The Eastern Melksham bypass won’t be in the neighbourhood plan. If the bypass is built, that would open up an amazing amount of space; what’s going to go there?
“Are we going to push for employment opportunities there or are we just going to accept the fact that we’re going to have housing there and it will become a dormant town for people to just live in and work away.
“There is no reason why we as a town could not create a visionary document to sit alongside the Neighbourhood Plan, a different document, with no constraints. It’s something we did back in the year 2000 with ‘Melksham in 2000 and beyond’ and it was an excellent document.
If we as a town council don’t do it, Wiltshire Council aren’t going to do it for us and the Neighbourhood Plan can’t do it for us. We need a vision for Melksham so the town is in a position to challenge for things that we need over the next 25-30 years.”
At the meeting, councillors voted unanimously to form a ‘task and finish’ group to start work on creating the document. Cllr Pat Aves said, “This will be the detail we can’t put in the Neighbourhood Plan. It’s the dream, the vision, the future of what we want. We need to do this.”