By 2026 Devizes is required to have met its housing requirements forecast in the Wiltshire Local Plan 2006-2026. Housing development has been piecemeal, with developers taking advantage of the Governments desire to build houses without consideration of the effects that the scale and rate of growth has had on the community.
Much of the housing development that has taken place has been in Roundway Parish. At a Parish public meeting in March 2011 the majority of those present had believed that they lived in Devizes not Roundway: There was an absence of any sense of community other than in the village of Roundway itself.
Given the issues that need to be addressed it is anticipated that in the short term housing development will take place on brownfield sites with any larger scale developments taking place later in the plan period when it can be demonstrated that the Area is falling behind the requirements of the Core Strategy and when the Area’s infrastructure and sustainability issues have been resolved. The outstanding new housing requirement to meet the 2150 target is 610 dwellings in the period 2011 to 2026, an annualised rate of 41 per year.
Wiltshire Council has appointed an Empty Houses Officer with the remit to focus on properties that have been vacant for 6 months or more and where the owners were claiming council tax discount. In December 2011 there were 120 such empty homes in the Community Area, the equivalent of almost 3 years development provision. These figures address the Community Area requirement. The share of Devizes Town is 410 in the Plan period. There is therefore no need to consider any large scale developments that would encroach upon greenfield sites adjacent to the Town.
The emphasis should be on growing local communities, encompassing infrastructure, employment, transportation, and housing in that order. With a rising world population and increasing fuel prices the country will need to be more self-reliant in feeding itself. Care will need to be exercised when considering whether greenfield sites should be used for building development and whether better use can be made of brownfield sites.
Responsibility for achieving these goals lies with Wiltshire Council’s Spatial Planning Department, to deliver a sustainable Core Strategy that meets the requirements of Devizes throughout the 2006 – 26 plan period and its Strategic Housing Department to make best use of the available dwellings.
This artcle is an extract from the Devizes Community Area Plan