Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Pavilions under threat from a cynical Investment Company.

The article below appeared in the Bath Chronicle last week. 

Transforming Trowbridge has urged Wiltshire Council to confirm the Article 4 Direction.  Mr Gutwirth's comments, about the level of compensation which may be payable should the Direction not be confirmed, are considered to be totally inaccurate. 

The Pavilions remain the best opportunity to attract new employers to Trowbridge. The County Town needs jobs not homes.  There are many examples of local authorities making Article 4 Directions to protect their most important employment opportunities and we are pleased that Wiltshire Council appear to be doing the same.

The White Horse Business Park is Trowbridge' s most important job-creating investment opportunity and it must be protected.  The new owners have made no effort to secure tenants for this important building preferring instead to exploit a loophole in the General Development Order to change the use of the building to residential in order to turn a quick profit with no thought for Trowbridge's best interests.

Very sad!

Come on Wiltshire Council confirm the Direction and we will work with you to identify some business investors and create some jobs.

Wiltshire Council facing compensation pay out over vacant office space plans

By James Crawley  |  Posted: May 11, 2016

Residents in Trowbridge have until Thursday (May 19) to have their say on plans to turn a vacant office block into 98 apartments.

Wiltshire Council has blocked the proposals put forward by Ashbourne Investments Limited, which included a tennis court and gym at The Pavilions on the White Horse Business Park, but may now have to pay compensation to the building owners.

The Government allows changes of use from office to residential without the requirement of formal approval where the space is not being used for its intended purpose.

Wiltshire Council is now facing the prospect of forking out millions of pounds in compensation, according to the building's owners, having passed an Article 4 Direction. This removes the developer's rights to carry out their proposals.

The plans to transform the vacant buildings was submitted to the local authority in March.

However they were branded a "disaster" by a group known as Transforming Trowbridge.

Ashbourne Investments Ltd managing director, Mike Gutwirth, said: "We haven't come across a single council in the UK that has taken this drastic measures, mainly due to the significant compensations which they may be liable for.

Mr Gutwirth added: "Unless the council reconsiders their position, not only have they missed out on turning a large vacant property (which has been empty for years) into something productive, they would potentially be liable for millions of pounds in compensation. Needless to say this will be a huge strain on the already tight public coffers."

As a result of the Article 4, the applicant must apply for full planning permission.

Speaking to the Wiltshire Times, chairman of North Bradley parish council councillor Roger Evans said: "We don't always agree with Wiltshire Council but it is very nice to have that feeling of a big brother helping us out. We have got to work together on this and the more the council do to help the community the better."

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Community Governance Review consultation meeting – 11 May 2016

Submission by Transforming Trowbridge
Thank you for the opportunity to make representations, on behalf of Transforming Trowbridge, on this most important subject.
Transforming Trowbridge is a private sector led partnership focussed on promoting, facilitating and enabling investment opportunities in Wiltshire’s County Town.

We have adopted a number of priorities one of which is to support the initiative to enlarge the town's boundaries.

It is important that Trowbridge grows to strengthen its principal service centre role and deliver improved infrastructure and facilities in the town. Sustainable growth with employment development alongside new housing is needed, both within the central area of the town and in the form of an urban extension, which is fully integrated with the town centre.

These words are not mine, rather those of the Wiltshire Core Strategy.

The inclusion within the town boundary of the allocated and built housing sites and employment land close to the town is an imperative to enable resource to become available for investment in the social, economic and environmental aspects of the town.  This is so important when promoting the area to potential investors.
I contend that the adoption of the proposal to extend the town boundaries is in the best interests not just of the town, but also of Wiltshire Council and the parishes whose size will be reduced.
In a large unitary county such as Wiltshire, there is significant advantage in using the review process to differentiate between urban and rural populations.  West Ashton, for example, is a parish with a distinct identity e.g. church, village hall, school.  In the next few years the parish will be swamped by development to the north of the A350.  Already there are a significant number of houses closer to Tesco in Trowbridge than West Ashton Village Hall.  The people who live in those houses relate to Trowbridge as will those who occupy the proposed developments and see or will see themselves as part of the Trowbridge community.  The residents will say they live in Trowbridge (not West Ashton).  The same arguments will be true for much of the development in other parishes.
Wiltshire Council by its own planning policies has identified the Trowbridge  community area as a major growth area.  Having done this, it inevitably follows that this review must take account of this and include significant areas of that allocation within the town.  The development sites have been identified because (and only because) they are adjacent to Trowbridge.
Enabling Trowbridge to grow will enable Wiltshire Council to delegate significant activities and services to the Town Council who will then have significant additional resources to improve and provide a wide range of social and environmental facilities.

I understand that some may wish to defend the boundaries of the existing parishes but this a point of view based on emotion rather than logic.

Wiltshire Council is required to carry out the review reflecting the identities and interests of the communities in the area.
Strategically, in a large (still mainly) rural unitary authority it is in the best interest of Wiltshire Council to develop strong urban centres which can take care of themselves, provide services and lead initiatives to encourage investment.

Transforming Trowbridge trust that Wiltshire Council will make a positive decision and deliver an expanded and stronger County Town

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Meeting with new owners of the former Bowyers' site today to learn about their exciting plans for investment in Trowbridge. Innoxmills.