Public Consultation: June 2024

Introduction

Welcome to our public consultation event and thank you for taking the time to attend or view these proposals online. The information provides further background on Worton United Charities (the landowner) including their past and intended future activities in the local community and provides an overview of this development proposal. The objectives of this consultation exercise and the development proposal are to:

  • Raise the profile of Worton United Charities as a local charitable organisation, reconfirm their purpose to directly help the local community and ask you how this might best be done in the future.
  • Increase and sustain into the future Worton United Charities direct assistance to members of the local community primarily through providing financial gifts/grants to assist when challenges are faced. Recent examples include helping people and families:
    • with transport costs for hospital visits 
    • when homes need to be adapted to meet changes in physical health 
    • to meet the costs of after-school clubs
  • Make use of this small (0.68 acre) parcel of land to provide approximately 7 no. new homes which is in line with the Wiltshire Council identified housing need for Worton over the next Local Plan period to 2038:
    • 2 no. homes built by Gaiger & retained by Worton United Charities: these would be available to local people at discount rent (approximately 60% of market rent). Proceeds from the rent will provide a long-term sustainable funding source for future gifts/grants (see 2 above)
    • 5 no. homes would be built by Gaiger and available for sale on the open market

The final number, size and design of any housing proposal remains subject to review following this initial consultation exercise and undertaking detailed site assessment and design work. The purpose of this consultation exercise is to seek the views of the local community and the outcomes will inform how Worton United Charities and Gaiger proceed. 

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask a member of our team attending the event, or by contacting Nick Church at Gaiger via email (nick@gaigerbros.co.uk) or by telephone on 01380 722412 following the event.

A copy of the consultation information will be available online https://gaigerbros.co.uk/mill-lane-worton-consultation-june-2024 from Friday 14th June. 

A feedback form is available, and we would welcome your views by completing and returning the form at our event. If you have been unable to attend in person and/or would like more time to consider your response, you can alternatively submit your feedback by email (nick@gaigerbros.co.uk) or post (FAO Nick Church, Gaiger Bros Ltd, Kennet House, Northgate Street, Devizes SN10 1JT).  All responses to be returned by close of business Friday 5th July 2024.

Worton United Charities

The Past

The Worton and Marston United Charities is a body that has been in existence in some form for many years. Its purpose has been varied but in essence, it has managed lands as allotments or small holdings and to support residents of the village who are in hardship.

The Charity originated in Potterne as then Worton and Marston were described as a ‘Tithing  and a Hamlet’. The funds and lands came from many different sources. There were a number of donations from various wills and endowments, some dating back to the 18th Century. Various packages of waste lands or poor lands were set aside by landowners. Statements within the purposes of these gifts often included the terms, ‘deserving poor’ and ‘for education or instruction’. Moneys were used originally in various ways, to supply bed linen and/or clothing, to supply calico, to supply bread, to support the sunday school or to be given to the instruction of singing by the choir.

Over time especially during the second half of the 19th century, separate charities were set up as Worton and Marston became villages in their own rights and funds and lands were devolved down. As above the main purpose was to help the poor. For example Eleanor Gaisford’s charity provided 3 yards of calico each for 37 residents in 1903. The high price of calico led to money being paid instead, rationing of bread in war times, again led to the charities providing financial support instead of more practical help. We believe that the remaining funds were drawn together in 1916 and were amalgamated into the body we have today. 

There is a second Charity called Worton and Marston United Charities. However, the only income for this charity is a long standing but small donation from lands owned by Potterne Charity. Worton United Charity is the main body, it owns the lands, holds the bulk of funds and all business originates from it.

The Charity quietly maintained a presence in the villages during the remainder of the Twentieth Century. It rented out its lands to local tenants, a mix of allotments and small holdings. It would support individuals in difficulty, usually with financial help. It had a regular Christmas donation to 20-30 local residents. On a couple of occasions, income was gained from selling small parcels of land and these funds were invested to provide more income and The Charity maintained a steady presence.

Worton United Charities

The (recent) Present

As stated, through the Twentieth Century, the Charity maintained a quiet but regular presence within the two villages. It usually had four local people who sat as trustees plus the vicar in post at that time. The Trustees would meet four times a year or so, collecting rent, managing lands and offering support to local residents who were in need. Part of the trustees role is to keep an ear to the ground regarding residents who were struggling in any way and discussing how the Charity could help. Over time, we have supported people in many different circumstances but hopefully did so in a quiet and anonymous manner.

Circumstances changed in the early part of the 21st Century. Perhaps the biggest impact was the financial markets and fall in interest rates. The income from investments fell considerably. The bulk of our income now comes from the rents paid from our allotments and smallholdings which amounts to about £500 per year, something we will continue to manage. Costs of maintenance of our lands increased so gradually our outgoings were bigger than our income. We still have investments but if we kept reducing these, our longer term future would be under threat. A number of years ago now, the Trustees decided to cease the annual gifts at Christmas although we continued to support individuals whenever possible. Some of of our more recent assistance has been to help people with transport costs when undergoing cancer therapy, to assist when homes have to be adapted to meet changes in physical health and to help families to attend after school clubs

Another change we experienced was in the number of requests for assistance. As stated previously a common term in our history was to support the ‘poor and needy’. The social pattern of the villages started to change, increases in house prices, better welfare and other support meant we were seeing less hardship.

Therefore Trustees started to consider how we could change the objectives of the Charity to better meet the needs of our local community. One issue we felt did impact on local people was the limited supply of affordable housing. Certain groups of people, the children of residents growing up who wanted to stay local, individuals who marriages had broken up, elder people who lived in bigger houses but were struggling to maintain them were unable to find properties within the villages. The Charity started thinking about how we could support groups and institutions who helped local people rather than the people themselves. The Charity had various discussions with the Charity Commission about how to keep the underlying objectives but still remain viable.

Thankfully, we have been able to rent out most of our plots but finding new tenants is more difficult over the past few years. We do have a plot of land which we have not been able to rent so has not been used properly for some years, this in turn makes maintenance more difficult and costly and the plot more problematic.   

Worton United Charities

The future?

The Trustees of the Charity have for some time felt that in the current environment the Charity will not be able to meet its objectives to support vulnerable local residents and needs to change. Its annual income is insufficient to make a real difference. The Charity itself does not have a big enough presence locally. The idea of providing some housing units at affordable rents to local people to allow them to stay in the village came about some years ago. We worked with one developer then and a planning application was made in 2017. However circumstances were such at the time, it was withdrawn. The Charity continued as before, however the Trustees seeing little change in the Charity’s position felt again it was time to develop this proposal. 

Over the last two years or so, with the guidance from various consultants who have local experience and knowledge,  we have been through a process where we have met with a number of groups and companies to talk through our plans. After this consultation process, we agreed to work with Gaigers on the proposals you see here.

One of our drivers was the lack of local, affordable private rented accommodation. Within this development proposal, we will retain the ownership of two properties. We will let these out to local people at affordable rents. The criteria for a tenancy will be that the person or family will have a local connection, have lived in the village or be within the family of someone who does so and have some sort of housing need to stay local. Obviously, these criteria will need much refinement and review but the Charity will have a primary role in selection of tenants

The rents will be held to be affordable, they will be approximately 60% of the average rent of similar properties locally. The terms of the tenancies will be such that it will allow the tenants to find some resolution in their housing needs in the short term and be able to move on within the wider market. Again the length of tenancies will need some consideration and include the needs of the tenant versus demand for such properties.

From these two properties The Charity hopes it will have a substantial regular income. It is difficult to say how much given market conditions but we envisage something like £5000 to £10,000 per year. There will be maintenance costs and such like but the Charity will then be able to give real help to individuals but also groups within the villages such as the school,  church, village hall, to  enable these bodies to provide more services to residents and families. One of the objectives of this proposal is to allow the Charity to gain a better presence within the local community, to have a more open relationships with residents, to both be  better able to identify areas of need and for the community to make it aware of potential areas of support. We may need a social media presence. One certain objective is to encourage the promotion of more volunteers to become trustees.

Gaiger Brothers Ltd

Partnership with Worton United Charities

The Trustees of the charity have selected Gaiger as their development partner. Gaiger is a local family-owned business based in Devizes, who pride themselves as being an open and honest developer, adopting a personal, straightforward approach working closely with landowners like the Worton United Charities.

A contractual arrangement has been set out which requires Gaiger to take responsibility for and fund a planning application seeking planning permission for the proposed development on this site in Worton. Following a planning consent, Gaiger would then build the new homes including the x2 properties to be retained by Worton United Charities. The remaining properties would be built by Gaiger and be available for sale on the open market.

Gaiger take great care in how we engage with the local community and use feedback to inform our proposals.  Our recent experience of promoting sites include our Lavington Lane site at West Lavington where we carefully planned our engagement with the parish council, site neighbours and wider community enabling us to secure a consensus of local support and, in that instance, a Neighbourhood Plan site housing allocation before then securing an outline planning consent. We decided that the site was too large for us to build ourselves at that time, accordingly it was sold and is now being delivered by Hayfield Homes. This site in Worton is smaller and, subject to consultation and securing a planning consent, it is our intention to build out ourselves.

It is too early to be clear on what the new homes on this site will look like, however the images shown here are computer generated images (CGIs) of one of our current housing schemes designed by the same architect we plan to work with and are provided to give an illustration of the type of new home that could be delivered here in Worton. There are other examples of our previous developments available on our website at www.gaigerbros.co.uk.

2017 Planning Application 

A similar development proposal on this site has previously been subject to consultation with the local community in 2016 and a planning application submitted in 2017. That proposal was for 8 homes – reduced from initial plans for 9 homes – and the outline site layout is shown on this consultation board.

The planning application reference is (17/02476/OUT) with the supporting documentation available and accessible via the Wiltshire Council planning portal (https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/) or via the following direct link: https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000014elaZAAQ/1702476out. The key timescales from this 2016/7 proposal are summarised below.


September 2016 – draft scheme for 9 new homes
Consultation with the local community including:
Attendance at 5th September 2016 parish council meeting
Hosting a public consultation event at the village hall on 14th September 2016

Key outcomes of this consultation:
> Event well attended by 58 people
> Feedback received from c30 people with almost all respondents supportive of the principle of the proposal
> Key issues / concerns included:
> Access location and traffic impacts
> Drainage and flooding
> Protection of the oak tree

December 2016

Attended Worton (draft) Neighbourhood Plan meeting to discuss the proposals, alongside the Sandleaze development. Discussion points at this event included the issues listed above alongside:
> The purpose of the Worton United Charities 
> Sizes of the homes proposed

March 2017 – outline planning application submitted for 8 new homes

Planning application submitted, supported by drawings and documents available on the Wiltshire Council planning portal. Supporting ‘Planning Statement’ includes a summary of the community consultation.

March – July 2017

Consultee review with broad support/approval of the proposals confirmed, including from highways officer and drainage engineer. 
Worton Parish Council support in principle for the proposal subject to highways, drainage and tree protection matters being resolved, and delivery in accordance with the emerging Worton Neighbourhood Plan.

August 2017

Planning application withdrawn. The Trustees do not hold a written record of why the application was withdrawn – but recall this was due to concerns being raised locally in relation to the (now consented) Sandleaze development, and a request for this scheme to be withdrawn so local stakeholders could focus on their objections to the Sandleaze scheme.

The agreement between the Worton United Charities Trustees and the previous developer partner subsequently expired. 

The Worton United Charities Trustees have decided to revisit this proposal, working in partnership with Gaiger. As part of our initial site assessment and prior to this consultation event, we have undertaken a review of the 2016/7 proposals to identify the key issues raised by the local community at that time. As recorded above, the key outcomes from the 2016/7 proposals appear to include:

  • Broad support for the principle of the proposal – delivering 8 new homes on this site, with the Charity retaining 2-3 of the new homes to offer as discount rental properties available to members of the local community.
  • Concerns raised about the location of the proposed access points and traffic impacts, with concerns regarding existing traffic volumes and speeds through the village.
  • Concerns raised regarding the potential impact on the oak tree within the site, would this be retained/protected?
  • Observations that this site can get very wet after heavy rain, and concerns that any development proposal should not cause flood risk impacts locally.

Questions?

Were you living in the village during this time, and do you agree with this summary and/or have any additional comments you would like to raise? We would welcome any views on this either by discussing with our team attending on the night or please do include this within a completed feedback form.

Constraints & Opportunities

In planning policy terms, Worton is designated within the Wiltshire Council Core Strategy (current adopted Local Plan) as a ‘Large’ village and accordingly would be expected to accommodate some limited new housing development to meet identifed future needs and to improve employment opportunities, services and facilities. 

This policy basis has been carried through to the ‘Wiltshire Local Plan Pre-submission draft’ (Regulation 19) document – the current version of the draft Local Plan published and consulted upon in 2023, and which will ultimately supersede the Core Strategy. Within this document (see Table 4.4 at page 91 – available at https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/article/8048/Regulation-19-consultation-autumn-2023), a residual requirement for Worton to accommodate 7no. new homes to be consented in the period from 1st April 2022 to 2038 has been identified. This takes into consideration existing planning consents including the Sandleaze site.

The site is outside of the conservation area and is located immediately adjacent to the settlement boundary. A more detailed planning assessment would follow as part of any future planning application 

The 2017 planning application assessed many of the key site constraints and whilst further work will follow to update this and go into further detail, we have undertaken our own initial review informed by our own early ground condition assessment and consultant advice including regarding:

  • Flooding and drainage: a full appraisal would be prepared as part of a future planning application including a Surface Water Drainage Strategy designed in accordance with technical design requirements. In advance of this we have taken early consultant engineer advice and are assured that an appropriate drainage strategy can be designed to meet regulatory requirements, and to ensure flood risk concerns are fully addressed. In advance of this we can confirm that:
    • the site falls within Flood Zone 1 of the Environment Agency’s Flood Map for Planning, which has a low probability of flooding from watercourses (see image below).
  • A very small part of the site is recorded as being at low risk of surface water flooding (see image below).
  • Access and highways: new traffic surveys will be commissioned to inform future access designs, however the principle of the access from either Mill Lane and/or High Street was previously agreed by Wiltshire Council highways officers as part of the 2019 planning application.
    • We are aware of local concerns regarding traffic speeds and volumes through the village and welcome your views in relation to these matters.
  • Oak tree protection: we are aware the tree is protected by an existing Tree Preservation Order and the tree will be retained and preserved as part of our scheme design. We have commissioned our own tree survey by a qualified expert to advise us in relation to this and to ensure the appropriate design considerations are built into our proposals.

Indicative Development Proposal: site layout and architectural detail

Site layout and number of new homes proposed:

We anticipate there is scope for approximately 7 new homes at the site. This is based on our site appraisal work undertaken to date including review of the 2017 planning application proposals but remains subject to community consultation feedback and further site assessment and design work. Accordingly, this is not fixed at this stage and remains subject to further design iteration

The plan provided here shows an indicative layout of how 7 homes could be accommodated on the site providing a mix of house sizes including 2-bedroom, 3-bedroom and 4-bedroom houses.

As indicated on the constraints and opportunities plan, this layout has been informed by a number of key design considerations including:

  • The residual housing requirement in Worton for approximately 7 new homes in the period up to 2038 (as outlined in the draft Wiltshire Council Local Plan)
  • Protecting the amenity of neighbouring properties on Mill Lane and Whatleys Close 
  • Retain and protect the mature oak tree (also protected by a Tree Preservation Order)
  • Opportunities for access from Mill Lane and/or High Street

The final number and mix of houses remain subject to feedback from this consultation and wider community engagement.

Questions?

Do you agree with the number of new homes proposed? Do you have a view on the size or type of new homes?

Design and building approach, including architectural details:

We remain at an early stage of the design process and this consultation is seeking your views on the key design principles influencing the site layout including: the number of houses, their location within the site and mix of house sizes (number of bedrooms).

At this stage we anticipate that these might all be 2-storey homes, although we would welcome views on building heights and all aspects of the design approach.

We have included within this plan some images showing local examples of building materials that we anticipate will influence and/or be incorporated into detailed building designs influenced by existing properties in the locality.

Following your feedback, we will review the site layout before undertaking detailed design work looking at building elevations, floorplans and materials. This will follow your response to the principles of this development proposal. 

Whilst we are at an early stage in the design process, we propose that each house will benefit from low carbon and renewable energy supply and will be resilient to future climate change with features likely to include:

  • Air source heat pumps to provide heat into buildings
  • Provide electric vehicle charging at each property
  • Embed materials and waste management measures into the construction and operational phases of the development
  • Landscape planting to create an attractive development, and incorporating opportunities enhance biodiversity and amenity value

Questions?

Do you have a view or preference on the design approach or proposed use of ‘traditional’ materials?

Summary, Feedback and Next Steps

Thank you for taking the time to attend and/or view these proposals online, which we hope has explained the reasoning behind the development proposal. The objectives of this consultation exercise and the development proposal are to:

  • Raise the profile of Worton United Charities as a local charitable organisation, reconfirm their purpose to directly help the local community and ask you how this might best be done in the future.
  • Increase and sustain into the future Worton United Charities direct assistance to members of the local community primarily through providing financial gifts/grants to assist when challenges are faced. Recent examples include helping people and families:
    • with transport costs for hospital visits 
    • when homes need to be adapted to meet changes in physical health 
    • to meet the costs of after-school clubs
    • Make use of this small (0.68 acre) parcel of land to provide approximately 7 no. new homes which is in line with the Wiltshire Council identified housing need for Worton over the next Local Plan period to 2038:
    • 2 no. homes built by Gaiger & retained by Worton United Charities: these would be available to local people at discount rent (approximately 60% of market rent). Proceeds from the rent will provide a long-term sustainable funding source for future gifts/grants (see 2 above)
    • 5 no. homes would be built by Gaiger and available for sale on the open market

    The final number, size and design of any housing proposal remains subject to review following this initial consultation exercise and undertaking further detailed site assessment and design work. The purpose of this consultation exercise has been to seek the views of the local community and the outcomes will inform how Worton United Charities and Gaiger proceed. 

    We recognise there is often an interest in understanding potential future timescales. Whilst how we proceed will be informed by feedback from you, subject to the outcomes of this, we would look to prepare a detailed planning application for submission to Wiltshire Council later this year. It is difficult to predict the amount of time it could take to prepare this and for any planning application submission to be determined, but we would anticipate that this is likely to take between 3-9 months following this event.

    We hope you have found the information provided helpful as you assess our proposals and that we have been able to respond to any questions you have. A copy of the consultation information will be available online at https://gaigerbros.co.uk/mill-lane-worton-consultation-june-2024 from Friday 14th June. 

    A feedback form is available, and we would welcome your views by completing and returning the form at our event. If you have been unable to attend in person and/or would like more time to consider your response, you can alternatively submit your feedback by email (nick@gaigerbros.co.uk) or post (FAO Nick Church, Gaiger Bros Ltd, Kennet House, Northgate Street, Devizes SN10 1JT). 

    All responses to be returned by close of business Friday 5th July 2024.

    Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask a member of our team attending the event, or by contacting Nick Church at Gaiger via email (nick@gaigerbros.co.uk) or by telephone on 01380 722412 following the event.

    A further thank you from the Worton United Charities Trustees

    The Worton United Charities Trustees would also like to personally thank you for attending this event. The Trustees hope we have been able to explain how we feel the Charity might evolve to best meet the needs of the local community into the future. We have given you details of a proposal for a development delivered by Gaiger which we believe will be a long-term solution enabling us to:

    • Provide much needed low-cost housing available to members of our local community
    • Create a sustainable source of revenue to continue supporting the community through gifts/grants to those in need

      The Trustees will be grateful for any comments you have regarding the work they do, so please speak to any of the Trustees present. We are keen to listen to any advice or suggestions regarding how we function in future years as well as views directly relating to this proposal.

      The Trustees:

      Bill Francis, Chair

      Alison Cross, June Mason, Chris Nixon, Reverend Gerry Lynch