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Melksham and the surrounding villages face the prospect of huge changes over the next ten years.
And any future developments could raise huge questions for local people. Now, say local campaigners, it is time for all our community to have its say, not leaving it to council and developers to make decisions.
“Over the next ten years, hundreds of new houses must be built to meet government targets,” says Nick Westbrook of the Melksham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group. “These need to be supported by creating many new sustainable local jobs.
“A growing population requires enhanced health, education and public transport facilities to meet the increased demands from people of all ages. An improved road network and better traffic management will be needed. All this must be achieved without destroying the local environment.
“But there is a danger that developers and local councils will have a different vision of the town over the next decade.
“But the Localism Act 2011 provides for a community-led statutory Neighbourhood Plan, put in place with the support of local people, which would tell developers what and where they can and cannot build within the Melksham Town and the Melksham Without Parish Council boundaries over the next ten years.
“Work has already commenced to develop a Melksham Neighbourhood Plan to give our local community the chance to have their say about how the town and surrounding area should be developed.
“Starting with the next issue, the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and Melksham News will be highlighting some of the important specific issues that our local community now faces.
“Under the banner ‘Melksham 2026’, the plan is to cover one issue in each edition covering issues such as health, transport, housing, education and jobs.
“Already hundreds of comments, ideas and views have been contributed about how the town and surrounding areas should be developed over the next ten years.
“But we want to hear from residents, businesses, communities and groups about how to tackle the issues for the benefit of the community as a whole.
“A snapshot survey carried out just before the open house event, held at the end of March, showed that three out of every four respondents considered the availability of health services to the Melksham community to be their high priority.
“So the first issue covered in the 10th September edition will ask the question – What does the future hold for Melksham Hospital?
“See the next edition to find out how your views can help develop future health services and treatment facilities in Melksham for the future.
“All views are important at this stage. Waiting until service providers make suggestions to meet their own operating priorities will simply be too late.
“The Neighbourhood Plan is our chance to take more control over how our community develops over the next ten years.”
For more information, please contact Nick Westbrook, Community Engagement Team, Melksham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.MelkshamNeighbourhoodPlan.org
• A film of the Melksham Neighbourhood Plan can be viewed at www.MelkshamNeighbourhoodPlan.org