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Bradford on Avon bridge

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Bradford on Avon bridge is a menace to residents

Owing to the pressure of traffic through Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire residents feel they can no longer cross their 13th Century bridge in safety and are demanding another bridge.  The Wiltshire Times has reported on this story and provides an artist's impression of what the council favoured bridge would look like in its setting. (poor quality reproduction due to scanning newspaper image) The problem with this impression is the artist was not properly briefed or didn't bother to visit  the location as there is no possibility of a tree in the scene, unless they intend to build an island and plant a tree on it. Correction there is an existing tree, a horse chestnut which is growing in the river bed, dare I say it is a weed. The application mentions heavy pruning of the tree. Why prune this "weed" except to retain it as a screen of the bridge?   Who would disagree with me that the existing bridge is a pile of medieval rubble that is too narrow for the traffic. I hope nearly everyone! Except for the fact that the bridge is too narrow for today's traffic.  Where do all the motor vehicles come from? They come from homes which have been built in locations remote from work. They God bless them, the motorists :) are not eager to get to work and so leave late and rush to work. When they leave work they can't get away fast enough, and who can blame them?  The resulting behaviour is to drive across the old bridge at such a pace as to intimidate residents.   This is not difficult as the bridge is too narrow, but is unintentionally an harassment.  The pavements are no wider than a footpath (three foot) and have sunk below the regulation height  for pavements -three inches.  Can't someone initiate an official complaint? Read more and view photos        Geoff Edwards 

Aroona Stoke end planning application 2011

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Thin end of the wedge?

Dear Sir

Wiltshire Application w/10/03336/FUL  (Aroona and Stoke End) submitted 28th February 2011

I wish to respond to the report, concerning the above Application, to be discussed by the Western Area Planning Committee, as follows:-

1. It is, to me, quite ludicrous that the Highways Officer can even suggest that the dropped curbs, in the two proposed  redundant driveways in Aroona Church Lane, be raised to full height. How does the Highways Officer propose that cars pass oncoming buses/lorries/vans, in the narrow road area concerned, without (illegally) mounting the pavement?
2. In regard to the proposed driveway from Stoke End to Crowe Lane:-
 (a) The proposed change of use, from "countryside" to "domestic curtilage", is of the very greatest concern. There are roads/lanes of all kinds, throughout the county, being used on fields etc by farmers and others without this involving a change of use to "domestic curtilage". Why,therefore, in the case of Stoke End, does the requirement for an elementary driveway road need to involve a change of use to "domestic curtilage"? This could easily be the "thin end of the wedge" towards a subsequent application for planning permission to build houses on what would become an area of "garden" (as has happened so often before, throughout the whole country).
 (b) There is an important principle involved here - that the extruding of any household's garden should bear a reasonable and proportionate relationship to the size of house involved. In the case of Stoke End, we are to have an entire field suddenly given over to "garden". We, here, are not only in an area of great natural beauty but also in an area of green belt - which is positively not the same as garden belt.

Yours faithfully

(comment by neighbour Wiltshire planning portal)

Aroona planning application

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Planning application violates Green Belt and AONB

"The formation of a new access at Stoke End, the relocation of the existing access to Aroona House, the relocation of the existing tennis court (Aroona House), associated landscaping and formation of a new walled kitchen garden, the relocation of existing parking (approx 7 spaces) and associated infrastructure Wiltshire planning application W/10/03336/FUL " 

There is still  time for residents of both Wiltshire and BANES to object to this proposal. 

"The application site includes no listed buildings nor does it fall within the setting of any adjacent listing buildings. It is outside any Conservation Area or registered area of historic parkland. The subject property is however located in an Area of High Ecological Value & Nature Conservation Interest (Policy C6). For this reason an extended Phase 1 habitat surveys and a follow-up reptile survey have been completed in conjunction with this application (EA).
The proposals map of the adopted Local Plan shows that the subject property lies within West Wiltshire Green Belt and within an area of special advert control." (from proposal details)

I have photographed both Church Lane and Crowe Hill. I forgot to add in my objection to this planning application that the existing entrance to Aroona, as can be seen from the photos, is quite attractive and its removal will detract from the beauty of Church Lane. Photos I have copied several objections, of the 50 or so, that have been made and reprinted them below.


I have been through the detail of the above planning application - in respect of Aroona and Stoke End properties in Freshford . . . and would make the following comments:-
1. Local residents have expressed their concern that the planning application, particularly in respect of a driveway and gardens for Stoke End, could be the "thin end of a wedge" in that change of use from a field (agricultural) to a garden/drive (effectiveily residential) could eventually lead to a request for planning permission to erect houses in the newly designated garden areas. While I am assured that this is unlikely in the present climate - will it stand the test during the next governmental "rush for growth" in house building?
2. the re-arrangment of driveways leading out of Aroona and Stoke End might look neat and tidy on paper but it is most important that account is taken of the particular areas of Church Lane and Crowe Hill/Lane respectively where the new driveway will come out on to these roads -in both instances the new driveways wil come out on just about the narrowest sections of roadway it is possible to come across.
In these circumstances it is vital that there is as much opportunity for motorists using Church Lane and Crowe Hill/Lane to be able to see clearly if any vehicle is coming out of a drive- as it is for that vehicle to see if the road is clear.  In this respect may I draw your attention to the very considerable use currently made of the two driveway "aprons" (outside the Grange and its two adjoining properties) by traffic unable to pass two-abreast in that area. It is inevitable, in a very narrow stretch of road that such use will also be made of the "aprons" leading out from the proposed two new driveways - indeed, the two roads concerned would be much less safe were it not for the use made of all the driveway "aprons" on these roads being available for vehicles to pull in while oncoming vehicles pass!


The field through which this driveway is proposed is part of a strip of grazing land that divides Limpley Stoke from Freshford. It is important that the two villages keep their identities and do not merge into one. It is also an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and this driveway would be like a scar on the countryside as seen from the opposite side of the valley as well as from the road.

Highway safety would also be compromised - the road is a narrow country lane, a 'walking pavement' has just been installed to try to safeguard our children who walk to school and other pedestrians, this driveway would further jeopardise their safety.
 
For all these reasons I strongly object to the proposal.


Firstly, closing the two existing entrances to Aroona and Stoke End would have an appalling impact on the ability of vehicles and pedestrians to safely navigate Church Lane. These are extremely important passing places. The road becomes quite log-jammed during peak hours, and a number of children use the road to walk to school in Freshford, along what is already a very narrow pavement. Church Lane is used by the local bus, the school bus, plus many other vans and lorries serving the village and beyond. With the loss of these passing places it would become impossible for them to pass through, causing complete traffic chaos. This is a scenario that could be repeated many times a day.
Secondly, part of the plan involves building up a boundary wall along Church Lane, which is presently owned by Stoke End. This would have a very detrimental impact on the openness and rural aspect of Church Lane, and I fear the applicants would at some later stage plant hedges or trees to enhance their privacy, causing further enclosure of a country lane.
I fail to see how this plan can be approved considering the highway issues involved, and the impact on the countryside in Greenbelt and designated AONB.


I believe that such an imposing and intrusive entrance is out of place in Crow Hill, where traffic is often forced to an unofficial one way system in places. I am concerned that this area of outstanding natural beauty will be scarred by such a large vehicular access and track which will inevitably become a focal point in what is, currently, a rural stretch of road.


Our initial comment is that the planning notice,  originally only poorly displayed on the
gates of Aroona,  was misleading in that  it did not specify that that the new access to
Stoke End was not to on Church  Lane, where the notice was displayed but on Crowe Lane.  No
notice was initially displayed in Crowe Lane or at the present entrances to Stoke End and
its stable block which are affected by the application.
The relocation of the Aroona and Stoke End entrances to the present entrance to the Stoke End stable block will remove two consensual passing places in the narrow part of Church Lane. Consensual in that to my knowledge no resident of Aroona or of Stoke End has objected to this use although they are on private property.   Their owners presumably accepting the use for this purpose as a public  good.
The construction of the new entrance to Stoke End on Crowe Lane will necessitate building on pasture land which is in the Green Belt and an AONB.  The proposed drive will be both steep and difficult,  particularly in adverse weather conditions  such as we are experiencing at present.  The removal of 40m of dry stone wall and its replacement by wire gabions will be detrimental to the landscape and to the conservation of open land.


I refer to the above Planning Application and as a local resident, and having had the brief opportunity to inspect the proposed development plan at your office today, make the following observations.
1. The above Planning Application was not displayed on Crowe Hill until Sunday 28th November 2010.   The Document does not state the date of the Application but requires all comments to be received by the Planning Department by Friday 5th December 2010 - allowing only five days for enquiries, inspection of Plans and relevant Documents etc. in which local residents have time to make observations and comments.   This must surely contravene regulations required for this process. The Validation is dated 01.11.2010.

2. The wording on the above Application does not give any mention of the proposed new access on to Crowe Hill and the proposed new driveway up to Stoke End. Also, the proposed new access and driveway is not mentioned in the Application form affixed to the document folder containing all the relevant Documents held in your office.

3. It is only on inspection of the Plans and Documents associated with this Application that it becomes apparent that extensive demolition and alterations to the existing 100+ year old dry stone wall on Crowe Hill is proposed.
The Ecology Survey, Page 15, item 6.4 states that there will be the loss of some 10m of wall.
The Document FMW0444, Page 3, item 3.5 states that there will a Visibility Splay of 15m in each direction. When the width of the entrance gateway is added in, a total distance of Some 35m - 40m of the existing wall will be removed.    The 1 :200 Plan and Elevation appears to confirms this proposal.

4.  It is proposed that the new Splayed Walls will be constructed of stacked gabion.
This form of construction is totally alien to the natural stone walling prevalent in this area designated as an area outstanding natural beauty.

5.  The proposed new access driveway to Stoke End cuts across an area that has not been cultivated for at least 30 years and having been used as a grazing pasture, has become a natural habitat for small mammals and allowed the more recent revival of cowslips that had not been seen for many years.
The upheaval involved in the construction of the proposed access route may well destroy this habitat causing the loss of the cowslips for generations if not for ever. The construction of this access will scar the hillside and be to the detriment of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

In conclusion. I make formal objection to this Application in relation to the proposed new access from Crowe Hill and to the use of industrial gabion form of walling in particular.


From the Murhill side of the Avon Valley, there are views across to the white horse at Westbury and the American Museum at Claverton. Limpley Stoke and Freshford lie firmly in the middle of the valley, and there are precious fields that divide these villages, visually, one from another. The proposal to build a driveway that would effectively cross the hillside, top to bottom, carving up the fields that lie as green space between the Church Lane and Crowe Hill, seems unnecessary and whimsical.  It will add a great deal of visual noise to the views, especially with the use of Gabions -something associated with municipal development, where currently there is dry stone wall and hedge.  It also seems extraordinary that in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty arable agricultural land can be so easily replaced by suburban garden?  Lastly, Crowe hill is a narrow and dangerous road, where cars struggle to pass each other, I can see no improvement in this situation if the driveway vents on to Crowe Hill rather than Church Lane.


Firstly before I place my objection, why is it not possible to go through the website. Aroona House does not come up as possible to object.
Why is it being rushed through at Christmas time without giving parishioners enough time to object?
A snaking drive through pasture land for hundreds of years is not attractive in an area of Outstanding Nature Beauty calminating in a large entrance on Crowe Lane. This huge entrance will look ugly on a small country road.
The houses have adequate entrance already and there is not need to spoil an outstanding piece of pasture having many wild flowers in it and grazing land.


There are streams on that land which means that the water table will be disturbed. Water which has flowed into the trough renovated by the village in 2000 is likely to cease because the streams are vulnerable to earth moving.There is a need to preserve the countryside from scarring merely for a few vehicles to have access.

1.  The deleterious impact of the proposed driveway in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The driveway will spoil one of the precious green spaces in the AONB and will be visible from many points across the valley. Wildlife long established in the uncultivated field will be destroyed. There is already a handsome gateway and entrance drive to the property from Church Lane.
2.  The visual impact of the entrance proposed in Crowe Hill
The entrance is of excessive size and will be out of keeping with the other properties in Crowe Hill. The stacked gabion might not be out of place in an industrial estate - dry stone walls should be specified in a location such as this. Inevitably, the planned grass verges at the entrance will be used as passing places in the lane and will get churned up into unsighdy quagmires.
3. The increased traffic in Crowe Hill
Crowe Hill has no capacity to carry the additional traffic generated by the proposed entrance which would be situated at a point where the lane is particularly narrow and where there is no separate pavement. The weight of existing traffic is causing the lane to subside.


I object to this application for the following reasons:
1. The proposed new driveway for Stoke End fails to safeguard the countryside. It intrudes on the openness of the green belt and will be an unsightly scar on the landscape, especially when viewed from the other side of the valley. It detracts from the landscape character of the Cotswold AONB. The site of this proposed new driveway also entails the domestication of what is currently a green field.
2. The proposed large new access on Crowe Hill, even were it of high quality design, would change forever the rural character of a short stretch of country lane that provides much needed separation between Limpley Stoke and Freshford.



 All the objections can be read by following the link at the top of this article.

Community hubs vs leisure centres

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Community hubs vs town leisure centres and swimming pools

Introduction

Whilst not all existing leisure centres have swimming pools there are swimming pools in most of Wiltshire's towns. At present Wiltshire does have access to swimming pools that the town residents and locals may go to often just by walking. Trowbridge has its own pool and this is located in the grounds of Clarendon College. The pool can thus serve the needs of both the school and the local community.

 Schools teach children to swim and at present Wiltshire has a number of clubs whose members have difficulty getting enough swim training time. This includes young athletes that represent England as well as Wiltshire. 

The problem

The problem for Wiltshire is that there is a calculated cost of 93 million pounds to run these centres and pools for the next fifteen years, as reported in the Wiltshire Times 16 July 2010. The calculation is based on 13 locations. The average cost is thus £477 thousand pounds a year.  Is this a mistake? If not how much is that costing the rate payer a year? The population of Wiltshire one of the largest counties by area in England is 456 thousand. The cost per ratepayer, excluding any government contribution is then £1,046 a year. The figure is based on £93,000,000 so is the 93 million pound figure correct? Sounds wrong to me.

The Wiltshire plan

Wiltshire Council plans to either close or transfer the 13 leisure centres to local town control. The leisure centres that are closed will be sold off and the money saved used to offset the building of five new community "hubs" at Melksham, Warminster and Trowbridge. These new hubs will contain some leisure but there is no guarantee if this will include swimming pools. The hubs will also replace 95 properties that the council properties. This will mean the hubs will incorporate other council services.

Irrespective of the claimed cost of keeping the status quo there is still going to be an additional cost if these "hubs" are going to be built of over 117 million pounds. What about the users? Surely it is against the glossy new Wiltshire Plan.

What will happen is that people will need to get in their car and motor off to these "hubs" when at present they can use town based pools and leisure centres. Planning will have to rubber stamp the application to build the hubs even though they should be thrown out as being subject to planning policy in particular Wiltshire and Swindon Structure plan 2016. The proposed developments would breach policy DP1 on all points, except item 6 below:

DP1 IN PURSUIT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, PARTICULAR PRIORITY SHOULD BE GIVEN TO:

  1. MEETING LOCAL NEEDS FOR JOBS, SERVICES AND AFFORDABLE AND SPECIAL NEEDS HOUSING IN ALL SETTLEMENTS
  2. MEETING THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
  3. ACHIEVING A PATTERN OF LAND-USES AND ASSOCIATED TRANSPORT LINKS WHICH MINIMISE THE NEED TO TRAVEL AND SUPPORT THE INCREASED USE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT, CYCLING AND WALKING
  4. MAXIMISING THE POTENTIAL FOR ENERGY CONSERVATION AND ACCOMMODATING PROPOSALS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY
  5. IMPROVING THE AMENITY OF SETTLEMENTS
  6. MINIMISING THE LOSS OF COUNTRYSIDE AND PROTECTING AND ENHANCING THE PLAN AREA'S ENVIRONMENTAL ASSETS.

 I think that the majority of Wiltshire people will be unable, if not unwilling, to bear the cost of that travel and find the time to use the leisure facilities.  I can't see how schools will be able to bus their children to these hubs so that they can learn to swim. DP1 3, 5

Obesity is a growing problem in the UK and Wiltshire has a growing problem, literally. Time spent on leisure activities, physical leisure activities, is important and has been written into Wiltshire's Overweight and Obesity Strategy It is worth reading a part of that document:

"The prevalence of obesity has trebled since the 1980s2. In 2006, 24% of adults were classified as obese, which represents an overall increase from 15% in 1993. Being overweight or obese is also increasing in children. In 2006, 16% of children aged 2-15 years were classified as obese, representing an increase from 11% in 1995. If the proportion of obese children continues to rise, a whole generation may have a shorter average life expectancy than their parents.

The Foresight Report suggests that by 2015, 36% of men and 28% of women aged 21-60 living in England will be obese. By 2025, this is forecast to rise to 47% for men and 36% for women. Overweight and obesity prevalence is predicted to double by 2025 among young people. By 2050 Britain could be a mainly obese society".

One of the important components of the strategy is to "build physical activity into our lives" what the HUB Plan will do is make access to essential physical activity more remote, except for those that live near a hub. DP1 1,2 also DP3 1,2

Questions and suggestions

First has someone made an error in their calculations 93 million pounds? Next why does it cost so much to provide these leisure services? Are they run properly? How much do other counties pay for their leisure services? If it's similar then that's the cost.

Whilst existing centres may be less energy efficient their planned replacement is not urgent. More provision should be made to supply leisure services in town and therefore accessible to local people who may walk to them.

The present plan is force people to travel to these hubs. Hub means a centre and that is exactly the right word for these places. Not only people seeking leisure activities but council employees will be displaced from the 95 properties that they work in at present to travel from where they live and converge on the hub. These hubs would be surrounded by car parks!

Trowbridge could have had a large leisure centre similar to Swindon's Link Centre with not only a swimming pool - a proper sized pool, but an ice rink as well.  Instead we have another supermarket. what need is there for another supermarket? Surely the people of Trowbridge don't need another supermarket? So where's the custom going to come from surrounding towns or poached from other supermarkets? And what concern was there for the unavoidable increase in traffic in the centre of Trowbridge. So much for planning!

Comments and suggestions are most welcome :)

  

Bradford on Avon footbridge

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One million pounds for a footbridge!

I understand from an article published on www.bradfordonavon.com that the town council is prepared to spend the best part of a million pounds on a new cycle/footbridge. The bridge will cross the Avon from the Kingston Mills development to the town library. Whilst I cannot claim to represent the residents of Bradford and surrounding districts I can contribute my views and suggestions. Let's start with a numbered list.

1. I agree that the present bridge is most unfriendly to pedestrians

2. If cyclists don't like to use the bridge  it is because they don't have enough confidence to use our roads. Cyclists are entitled to their own space on our roads and drivers should respect the right of cyclists to use the roads. I do not think that we should be making planning decisions based on the fears of cyclists to use our roads. 

3. Why should the character of this wonderful town be further diminished by pressure from motor vehicles, particularly heavy good vehicles? The existing bridge's character must not be damaged by the addition of a modern bridge erected nearby. I doubt whether people will use the new bridge anyway if it means going out of their way. There are other places in Bradford on Avon that are worse, for example, there are no pavements at all when pedestrians cross over the bridge to enter the town centre. 

4. Pedestrians could be protected by two measures: adding railings to separate the road from the pavement and increasing the width (and the height) of the pavement which is little more than a footpath (about 1 metre wide). To increase the width of the pavements must mean  traffic lights as the road width will be reduced to a single track.

My view is that since we can't easily change vehicle driver's behaviour railings could be installed and the pavements raised. These measures would cost a few or possibly several thousand pounds but certainly not a million pounds! The alterations would hardly detract from the character of the bridge and would provide protection from vehicles. Possibly only the pavement needs raising -drivers are very wary of damage to their tyres.

6. However, if the existing bridge cannot be changed as suggested above then at least the pavements could be made wider and traffic lights used to control the narrowing of the road.

7. There is of course an existing footbridge over the river by St. Margarets hall that many people do use.

Westbury Bratton White Horse

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Panning the Google map centred on Freshford can be used to view anywhere. Although this use of the Google map may not be convenient it is useful. I wanted to view the White Horse over at Bratton and its surrounding  ancient earth works. However, I discovered that the white horse looks surprisingly accurate from the Google map which is of course a satellite view, but don't take my word for it view it below:  Use the + button to zoom in the ( *!*!*) marker will then reduce in size


View Larger Map  The horse is very accurate from the satellite view isn't it? Much more than from the ground. The horse is simply colossal, (55m x 52m) (180ft x 170ft) which means that its accuracy from the air is incredible. It was remodelled in 1768 -long before aircraft could help to confirm its shape.  For further information visit: Wiltshire White Horses an excellent site!

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