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The Tyranny of the Landowners


Bit of a controversial title perhaps. The photo shows winter wheat (I believe) in the 9-hectare field threatened with development at Pickwick. This could be the last crop seen in the field if the landowners and the speculative developer get their way. Similarly, 5 hectares and 14 hectares of greenfield are under threat at Rudloe and Wadswick. The total is equivalent to 40 football pitches. And in west Chippenham, about 30 hectares (42 football pitches) of agricultural land is proposed for development at Hunter’s Moon (bounded by Easton Lane, Saltersford Lane, the Chippenham bypass and the railway).


More than eighty objections have been made to the solar park proposals at Wadswick. The proposed, speculative, greenfield developments at Bradford Road, Rudloe and at Pickwick have been causing much disruption and concern


over many months for the residents of Rudloe and Pickwick.


And this is going on all over the country. Taunton Deane core strategy makes provision for 17,000 new homes by 2028. 17,000 homes equates to 404 hectares or 567 football pitches.


The irony is that none of this is necessary in our patch. We have more than enough brownfield land, in the Rudloe/Hawthorn area alone, to satisfy the supposed housing requirement. The 475 homes, according to the Core Strategy, required in the wider Corsham area by 2026, can be fulfilled by the Royal Arthur site (221 homes), Copenacre (100+) and RAF Rudloe No. 2 site (shortly to be released for development). Royal Arthur and Copenacre have existing permissions.


Back in 1980, Marion Shoard in ‘The Theft of the Countryside’ said: “The landscape has been systematically plundered by farmers seeking to profit from a complex web of economic and technological change”. Now, thirty years on, we have a similar situation but for different reasons.


The landowners involved with the current speculation already receive many tens of thousands in agricultural subsidies each year (£1,231,370 at today’s exchange rates for two of the landowners between 2000 and 2009) but these do not, it seems, satisfy their avarice.


On its website, the charity UK Agriculture says: “It’s right to preserve every possible acre of agricultural land for future generations and to start developing the agricultural science that will help us deal with the challenges ahead. For a small densely populated island, agriculture in the UK has never been more important.” August’s national newspapers reported: “Falling self-sufficiency means Britain produces less than two-thirds (62%) of the food the country consumes, down from 75% in 1991 according to the National Farmers' Union.”


Gladman’s (the Pickwick developer) ‘About us’ webpage has, what appears to be, a pejorative banner: “Gladman is one of the UK’s leading private companies in speculative development”; its first paragraph emphasises the point with “Gladman is committed to pure speculative development”. I thought this seemed quite bizarre until I realised to whom its webpages are aimed – landowners out to make a quick buck at the expense of local communities.


So, in 2013 why are landowners trying to sell the ‘national silver’? They are taking advantage of absurd Government policies for personal gain to the detriment of the community. The tyranny!


Hoskins’s ‘The Making of the English landscape’ eulogises: “How pleasant it is to find oneself arriving in the evening for the first time in some lively little English market-town, where one can forget for a while the noisy onward march of science, and settle down to meditate upon the civilized past”. Not in the sprawling Corsham envisaged by the tyrannical landowners and speculative developers. Paul Turner, www.rudloescene.co.uk


12 Corsham & Box Matter 56CBMDec13-Jan 14 68 pages.indd 12 s Email me at alison@corshammatters.co.uk 19/11/2013 12:11:02


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