ANTI-URBAN sprawl campaigners are crowdfunding to cover the legal cost of launching a judicial review against the Future Chippenham scheme.

Campaigners have raised more than £3,000 of the initial £6,000 they need to launch the review over the revised housing and road plans in the south of Chippenham.

The Campaign against Urban Sprawl to the South of Chippenham says Wiltshire Council has ignored the results of its own consultation, and conjured the revised portion out of thin air,

A statement on the crowdfunding page reads: “As residents of Chippenham, or citizens of Wiltshire concerned about the undemocratic and damaging practices of its Council, we must find ways to stop them.”

The group says that 80 per cent of those who responded to the consultation did not want “such excessive development on the natural environment”.

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Solicitors, acting on behalf of concerned resident, Dr Helen Stride have written to the council claiming that the cabinet’s decision making process was unlawful.

The letter also warns that if the council does not respond by October 15, 2021 then Dr Stride will apply to the high court for a judicial review of the cabinet decision.

The letter claims the decision was unlawful because it was kept back from the public and part of the July 21 meeting saw the exclusion of the public.

It also asserts that it was illegal for the council to not consult on the new scheme.

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Dr Stride said: “Wiltshire Council is doing nothing to engender trust in the people of Chippenham and the surrounding area.

“Richard Clewer has said that he has concerns about building on green fields. This is clearly not true. He says he must build 4,200 houses to meet a government target which is, again, not true. Wiltshire has been building more houses than it needs since 2017.

“We are being asked to believe that the distributor road will ease congestion when instead it will add 8,000 – 10,000 cars to our roads.

“And to suggest that Future Chippenham with its acres of concrete can deliver ‘a net gain in biodiversity, sequester carbon from the atmosphere [and] …improve health and wellbeing’, is the biggest deception of all. Cllr Clewer and his cabinet can ignore our concerns, but they cannot ignore those of the Courts.”

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Chippenham and Wiltshire councillor, Clare Cape said: “It’s very disturbing that Wiltshire Council Cabinet agreed to proceed with the “half a HIF” road to the south of Chippenham when that hadn’t been consulted on; I said so at that Cabinet meeting in July.

“And while I think we all understand that some housing development is needed, this must be proportionate to local need, be affordable, be sited appropriately and be sustainable.

“The current proposal does not meet these criteria.”

The lawyers demand that the council revokes Cabinet’s July decision and releases the information in the report that was kept from the public.

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Responding to the burgeoning campaign, council leader Richard Clewer confirmed the local authority’s receipt of the letter and that it “will robustly defend its position”.

“The petition focuses on the Future Chippenham programme and contains a number of factual inaccuracies,” he said.

“Firstly, it is important to make clear the Future Chippenham programme will make representations and respond to the outcome of the Local plan review, it is the outcome of that review that will determine the extent of development in the Chippenham area not Future Chippenham.

“The Future Chippenham programme offers an opportunity to alleviate some of the housing needs within the housing market including the provision of affordable housing and at the same time assist the established community in Chippenham with traffic congestion and town centre accessibility and allow for more and better planned development with sustainability at its core due to development being infrastructure led.

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“The council is currently in the due diligence stage gathering information to develop a Framework Masterplan which will include consultation and engagement with all communities in Chippenham to help to inform any final decisions.

“The submissions received will help to inform that due diligence and will be considered as part of the wider overall needs of the community. Therefore the council is not ignoring local people’s concerns but will be addressing those concerns in any development that it will promote.”