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THE location for a proposed development of 170 houses between Melksham and Beanacre has been labelled as “unsustainable”, with poor connectivity to local facilities.
That’s the opinion of Melksham Without Parish Council, who have raised concerns about the proposed development’s impact on local schools; the potential “coalescence” of Beanacre and the town, the development’s impact on A350 traffic and on drainage in the area, and the possible impact on heritage buildings in the village.
“This one simply is unsustainable,” said chair of the parish council, cllr Richard Wood, explaining that due to its location, the majority of children living in the new development would have to travel to school by car.
And as the nearest primary school to the site, Shaw Primary School, is “oversubscribed”, and the nearest alternative primary school located on the other side of town, cllr Wood described the “primary school issue” as “dire”.
“The only school with places available is miles away,” said cllr Alan Baines.
The impact on Melksham Oak School was also highlighted by cllr Baines, who explained that the school is set to “full” by the 2023/24 academic year – and is also in a “unsustainable” location for residents of the new development to access.
“This is a case of wrong development, in the wrong place,” said cllr David Pafford.
The parish council also raised a number of other concerns about the 170 houses – which would be situated on two agricultural fields to the north of Leekes, bordered by Beanacre Road (A350) and Dunch Lane.
Concerns were also echoed by Melksham Town Council and Beanacre residents.
The parish council – similar to the town council – also suggested that if the development were to go ahead, houses should only be built within the boundary of the town – the current plans are almost cut in half by the boundary between Beanacre and Melksham.
They also said that access to the site should be via a new roundabout on the A350, rather than a T-junction. “A T-junction is asking for trouble,” said cllr Baines.
At the parish council’s planning committee meeting last month, representatives for the development explained that they would be “taking stock” of the comments received during the consultation – which s now closed – in preparation for submission of their planning application to Wiltshire Council, which is expected this month.
Concerns about the loss of the natural boundary between Beanacre and the town were addressed by the developer’s representatives, who said they were considering “pulling the development away” from the northern boundary “as much as they could” to “screen and reinforce” the separation of Melksham and Beanacre.
However, their reassurance was met with scepticism from Beanacre residents who said that the “merging” of the village and town would be a “tragedy” for Beanacre.