A U-TURN has been carried out by Trowbridge Town Council after it decided to launch its own Neighbourhood Plan, claiming Wiltshire Council has ‘failed’ to identify suitable places for new houses.

Councillors feel Wiltshire Council’s Housing Site Allocation plan, which looks for housing sites across the county, is not fulfilling the needs of Trowbridge.

Now after years of not being interested in a Neighbourhood Plan, councillors have unanimously agreed to pursue it, in the hope that they can succeed where the authority has failed with housing.

“In the past we received six-figure costings but we have now agreed upon a figure of £30,000. With this we may get the housing plan we are looking for instead of the one Wiltshire Council was hoisting upon us,” town clerk Lance Allan said after a recent policy and resources meeting.

“Wiltshire Council has done a lot of good research into what needs to be done for a Neighbourhood Plan, so now that the technical background work has been done, the cost of this lessens as less work needs to be done.

“Only last year, we were content with the way things were going but Wiltshire Council’s work on this in regards to helping us leaves a lot to be desired. In some senses it has failed.

“The town council is fully supportive of the 2,500-home Ashton Park urban extension which recently received planning permission and some of the other sites on the edge of the town, but believes that other sites inside the town boundary can accommodate more housing than Wiltshire Council’s greenfield proposals.

“The town council has identified brownfield sites to accommodate over 850 dwellings, including the former Bradley Road offices, Margaret Stancomb School and the former Bowyers factory site at Innox Mills.”

He added that a Neighbourhood Plan may help Trowbridge control its destiny over where homes are built in future.

Cllr Geoff Whiffen told the meeting: “We have been reluctant to do it before because of the costs but now things have changed.”

A steering group will be formed at the full council meeting on Tuesday.

An initial budget of £10,125 has been put forward to progress the neighbourhood plan.

When houses are built in towns, councils are given funds through a community infrastructure levy, which can be used to improve infrastructure locally, and this will be used to fund the initial stages of the neighbourhood plan.

A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said: “We encourage communities to create their own neighbourhood plans so there is local input into where housing developments will be in their area. The draft Housing Site Allocations Plan is being prepared to support the Wiltshire Core Strategy and therefore maintain our commitment to deliver housing to meet targets. Much of the housing growth for Wiltshire set out in the core strategy for the period up to 2026 has already been delivered or identified and the proposed plan brings forward further sites to ensure the scale of growth is appropriate and directed at the most sustainable locations.”