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Planning and Development (Salisbury)

Volume 480: debated on Monday 6 October 2008

The Petition of the citizens of South Wiltshire,

Declares that the Government proposals to impose the building of an additional 12,400 houses on our community will change forever the character of this unique part of rural England's landscape and heritage; has been proposed with inadequate time for proper consultation; is not supported by proposals for new physical or social infrastructure and will result in the loss of prime agricultural land.

Further declares that the underlying planning assumptions of economic and population growth in central southern England are speculative and flawed and ignore the special nature of the open landscape and natural environment which enhances biodiversity in a precious, pollution-free, low-carbon area which is as important to the whole of England as the speculative construction of new houses.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to annul these proposals and bearing in mind the imminent abolition of Salisbury District Council and Wiltshire County council and their replacement by a new Unitary Wiltshire Council as Planning Authority to delay any decision on future housing options for at least one year and to leave development policy in the hands of their locally-elected planning authority, pursuing organic and sustainable growth in our local economy and in the provision of new homes.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Robert Key, Official Report, 12 June 2008; Vol. 477, c. 566.] [P000212]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, received 31 July 2008:

The Secretary of State acknowledges the concerns of the petitioners regarding the recommendations of the Panel Report into the draft Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) for the South West in relation to the future development of Salisbury and south Wiltshire.

As the process of producing the draft South West RSS is bound by regulation and propriety guidance, which seeks to put all interested parties on an even footing, it is not possible to discuss the merits of the Regional Spatial Strategy or the recommendations of the independent Panel Report at this stage.

This guidance is to ensure that the process is fair and transparent and that representations to the Secretary of State are channelled through the proper statutory consultation process.

The position in respect of the draft South West RSS is that Government is currently considering its response to the recommendations in the Panel Report. The next stage in the process is the publication, for public consultation, of the Government's own Proposed Changes to the draft RSS which will occur in late July 2008. This will provide an opportunity for interested parties to make further representations.

Following consideration of comments and views arising from that consultation, the Secretary of State is expecting to publish the final Regional Spatial Strategy before the end of 2008.

With regard to the new Unitary Wiltshire Council, members of this new planning authority, once elected in 2009, will be able to determine how development plan documents address the requirements of the adopted South West RSS, including policies to meet the need for housing requirements in south Wiltshire. The Government also understands that Salisbury District Council is carrying out a further period of public consultation later this year on the options for housing growth in Salisbury and south Wiltshire for its Core Strategy development plan document. This Core Strategy is intended to form a part of the future development plan for Wiltshire for which the new unitary authority will be responsible. CLG is currently discussing transitional measures with Joint Implementation Teams in each area affected by restructuring, and will lay any necessary regulations before the House in due course.