CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 640 new homes in Harnham have been criticised after being given the green light.
Simon Jackson, Salisbury City Councillor for Harnham, called it an “unacceptable development”, and that “it will only bring chaos unless and until serious action is taken on infrastructure”.
Work is set to start next year and Bovis Homes says it will spend more than £13million in the local community, including on education, the Salisbury Transport Strategy, a new doctors’ surgery and local air quality projects.
A total of 40 per cent of the new homes will be affordable housing.
Salisbury MP John Glen said: “I naturally have mixed feelings about such a large development, knowing the anxiety felt by many residents in Harnham and Netherhampton about the impact on their communities.
“However, in this decision, we are still seeing the outplaying of land allocations made years ago. In future, I am clear that the pressure must be taken off the fringes of the city centre and we must be bold enough to consider meeting our housing need in other areas.
“Many people’s objections centred around traffic and I am delighted that we have already secured a £16m government investment to improve the Park Wall junction and Harnham Gyratory – the case for which was greatly strengthened by the prospect of new housing.
“The challenge now is to ensure that these new homes are built with the necessary infrastructure to support them.
“This includes not only appropriate roads but sufficient access to schools, shops, GP surgeries, dentists, churches, telecommunications and all the services that make communities work and thrive.”
Cllr Jackson added:“It is very disappointing that planning permission has been granted for this development before a comprehensive and fully funded infrastructure plan has been developed and delivered for south Salisbury.”
“This is what residents have repeatedly asked for and they are rightly concerned that proceeding with this development without the desperately needed infrastructure improvements will severely impact Harnham and environs”.
Cllr Jackson, who had attended Wiltshire Council’s Strategic Planning Committee meeting which discussed the plans in December, had previously called for the application to be deferred or rejected, citing concerns over Netherhampton and Quidhampton.
Jeremy Nettle, leader of Salisbury City Council (pictured above), described the news as “naturally very disappointing”, and said that there were still “many issues regarding this development”.
Cllr Nettle said: “The news that planning permission has been granted to build 640 homes along Netherhampton Road is naturally very disappointing especially for the many residents in Harnham.
“Salisbury City Council has always been concerned over the lack of current infrastructure and proposed support for such a large scale development adjacent to the city.
“There are many issues regarding this development from landscaping, access, egress, cycling and walking routes. Let alone how the Harnham Gyratory can or will be modified before the development starts and the potential rat-runs through Quidhampton to avoid the Wilton Road Wall junction.”
Cllr Nettle says some of these concerns may be lessened by the Prime Minister’s recent announcement for extra funding to Wiltshire Council for Salisbury, after “heavy lobbying from John Glen, [which] is very welcome”.
He added: “I understand that the government has agreed to spend between £15m and £20m to pay for a ‘full package of improvements’”.
These improvements include a remodelling of the Harnham Gyratory, as well as to the Park Wall junction and Exeter Street roundabout.
“What is a concern”, says Cllr Nettle, “is there is no funding currently for Salisbury City Council to improve the city’s amenities such as parks and open spaces or improve the vitality of the city centre for both current and the new residents that will occupy these houses.”
He said: “I would like to believe that every effort has been made by planners to ensure that these new houses meet all the new legislation on climate change, featuring solar panels and there is a collection and reuse of rain water. Maybe, even the use of community-generated green electricity and ‘trim trail’ but most of all are affordable.”
Wiltshire Councillor for Harnham, Brian Dalton, had previously said that the plans “fly in the face” of the climate emergency declared by Wiltshire Council last year.
He said in December: “This application is only here because of this housing land shortage. The inspector has yet determined if the site should be for housing. Remember that.”
Robert Winstone, senior strategic development manager at Bovis Homes, which will develop the site, said: “We are delighted to have achieved this outline planning permission for much needed modern, affordable homes in Harnham. Bovis Homes looks forward to starting build work on this project to benefit the future of Harnham and the wider Salisbury area, both in terms of quality housing but also to help improve the community further with investment in schools, health, transport and the environment, including an open space and play areas.”