1. The ﬁeld is part of our heritage daBng back 1000+ years, and in the Malmesbury ConservaBon Area, ﬁrst designated 1973 “English Heritage has submiPed formal comments to the Council and advised that in accordance with the policy provisions of the NPPF the allocaBon of the site for such development will in principle cause substanBal harm to the conservaBon area and the seTng of listed buildings as designated heritage assets. In accordance with policy 133 of the NPPF such harm should be excepBonal, must be outweighed by substanBal public beneﬁts, and is necessary to achieve them.” David Stuart, English Heritage, Le5er to Malmesbury Neighbourhood Steering Group, April 2013 Source of images: Malmesbury ConservaBon Area Appraisal 2007
Two leading historians agree this is wrong “ I heard about the Waitrose development when we were ﬁlming our Aethelstan programme for the BBC last year and I never dreamed it would be passed on a historic site so close to the town. As someone who has been visiBng the town for 40 years, and who has wriPen about its role in history, and made ﬁlms here -‐ the most recent soon to be shown on the BBC -‐ I am astonished that the planners could even consider giving the site by Avon Silk Mills over to a supermarket development. “ Michael Wood is a historian, TV presenter and expert on Æthelstan. He is the Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester. His recent BBC TV series include The Great BriBsh Story: A People’s History and The Story of England. He is author of The Story of England (Viking) and In Search of the Dark Ages (BBC Books). “This proposal threatens to damage Malmesbury environmentally and aestheBcally, by disrupBng an important conservaBon area and destroying the visual appearance of the town for locals and the vista seen by travellers arriving from the south and east to enter over the old town bridge. “ “Malmesburys long and disBnguished history makes this an important site for visitors interested in the early history of Wiltshire, medieval monasBcism and in the origins of the kingdom of England. This planned supermarket threatens permanently to destroy a crucial part of that heritage.” Sarah Foot is Regius Professor of EcclesiasBcal History at Oxford University, and an expert on early medieval history. She is author of Æthelstan: the First English Monarch (Yale University Press).
2. The ﬁeld is a buﬀer between the historic town and the bypass “The foodstore bulk, its service yard, earth berms and extensive customer car parking will create a signiﬁcant visual and physical barrier, and break in the ring of ‘green’ landscape around the base of the historic town…” Brian Johnson, Urban Designer, Wiltshire Council “The current integrity of this green ring, which has survived from Saxon Bmes, can clearly be seen in Fig.14 of the Malmesbury ConservaBon Area Appraisal. These green river valleys and adjoining open green/agricultural land are an essenBal component of the character and seTng of the town, compleBng a scene within which the town can be seen and a backdrop when looking to the countryside beyond. I would have fundamental concerns about any urbanized development, with building, extensive remodeling of the terrain, lighBng and large areas of hard standing on this very historic site, development of which would represent a huge sacriﬁce of over 1000 years of history, which once lost can never be regained for future generaBons (PPS 5 policy HE9.1). “ Sarah Gostling, Senior ConservaIon Oﬃcer, Wiltshire Council
We have superimposed the Waitrose plan onto Google maps. This is to scale, and you can see the site in proporBon in the Malmesbury ConservaBon Area.
“..the ﬁeld is an integral part of the ‘green’ landscape wrapping around the historic town which rises steeply up from the riverside onto the plateau. … This is the deﬁning element of the unique and dramaBc seTng from which the fundamental character, idenBty and history of the town as an elevated medieval defensive sePlement is drawn. … the loss of the ﬁeld to development (let alone on the scale proposed) will undermine the completeness of this valued and cherished seTng” Brian Johnson Dip Arch RIBA, Urban Designer, Wiltshire Council The locaBon, scale, form and type of development currently being proposed will in my opinion result in permanent and irreversible harm to the quality of the towns seTng and the character of the conservaBon Area, which will far exceed the ‘beneﬁt’ that it aPempts to deliver. The proposed development permanently harms the long held historic integrity and cultural legacy of the town, it damages much more than visual quality and views from within and from outside the ConservaBon Area, it will destroy the drama and wider appreciaBon of townscape panorama from the south east and east. GranBng consent for this development would in my opinion represent the Bpping point & moment in history where the seTng for Malmesbury and the relaBonship between the historic core of the town, its seTng within the local landscape, and the integrity of the ConservaBon Area to the south of the town was lost forever. Mark Goodwin, CMLI, Landscape Architect, Wiltshire Council Photos from Brian Johnson Report
4. It’s an out of town site The distance from the entrance of the site is well over 300m from the ﬁrst shop in Malmesbury High Street, add 59 steps for the proposed pedestrian exit nearest the town, or add 80m for the sloping ramp exit. Anyone making a “linked trip” will have to walk up a steep hill. It’s great exercise, but we doubt many Waitrose shoppers will do it -‐ these pictures come from Google Street View. 1. 59 steps down to the road from the right, cross over new pelican crossing. Then across the footbridge. 2. Come through gate on the lep. 3. Next, up the hill, along narrow pavements 4. Nearly there, the shops start at the top of this photo.
5. This view will be ruined View from car park behind town library
“The proposed development … damages much more than visual quality and views from within and from outside the ConservaBon Area, it will destroy the drama and wider appreciaBon of townscape panorama from the south east and east.” Mark Goodwin, Wiltshire Council And all this would all be paved over
6. It will ruin the “seTng” of the iconic Grade II Listed Silk Mills, neighbouring listed buildings, and access to Malmesbury over the Town Bridge
The earliest known mill on this site was Schotesbure Mill in the 13th century, the current Grade II Listed building was built in 1791 and listed in 1951. It is an important landmark in Malmesbury, and its size and locaBon make it a popular feature of tourist walks and photographs, postcards and even a tea towel. The Silk Mills have their own display in the town’s Athelstan Museum and light up in the town model display Athelstan Museum website
7. There is no mandate from the people of Malmesbury and neighbouring villages for this applicaBon • Of 327 responses to the Waitrose applicaBon in 2012, in favour 97, against 189 • 120+ named individuals voted against the Waitrose applicaBon in a recent online peBBon, 41 people signed a peBBon in favour in 2012. • Only 42% of the 346 individual respondents were in favour of the overall drap Neighbourhood Plan, 169 responses supported the supermarket applicaBon. • Compare this to 703 who returned the housing and supermarket quesBonnaire (did not include quesBons about speciﬁc supermarket sites). Although 70% think Malmesbury needs a new supermarket, only 42% would support a store if it had a negaBve impact on the High Street. • By contrast, over 2000 local residents signed a peBBon in favour of Tesco Marlborough in response to a local campaign “Marborough MaPers” www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/news/8873200.dreams_come_true_on_marlborough_store Even with the “berms” and trees we can sBll see the building! Source hPp://goo.gl/dkwaf
8. Residents have been misled by poor data analysis, with a drap Neighbourhood plan based an unconvenBonal scoring system “Malmesbury Neighbourhood Steering Group (MNSG) have used a bespoke, unconvenBonal scoring system copyrighted by leading members of MNSG. Unlike convenBonal schemes adopted by Wilts Council in developing its Core Strategy and all other Neighbourhood Plan developments we have found, the MNSG system mathemaBcally distorts the diﬀerences between the various opBons being considered.” Professor Jeﬀ Hand, Resident of Outer Silk Mills See also hPp://goo.gl/hNbbi 31 responses to the draP Neighbourhood Plan included criIcism of the scoring system: “I ﬁnd the scoring for pedestrian, public transport and cycling very biased towards the Waitrose applicaBon “ Comment 383 “The scoring or "criterion weighBng" system is too complicated and inadequately explained.” Comment 342 “The selected sites seem to have been subjecBvely idenBﬁed some Bme ago, with the criteria and scoring system designed to support their selecBon. “ Comment 283 “Goal posts have been moved in order to promote the potenBal building sites and supermarket of choice, in as much as the scoring system for the various sites has been inﬂated or deﬂated in a shameless fashion depending on what suits the MNSGs objecBves.” Comment 281
"I think a lot of it is shopkeepers knowing they dont want Sainsburys, so saying they support Waitrose because they think that wont be as bad. I dont want either. I wouldnt want the Waitrose plan. Itll also be a click and collect point for John Lewis, and that will have an impact on everyone.” HJ Knees quoted in Western Daily Press, 6 June 2013 25% of John Lewis’s business is now online, 25% of purchases are collected from John Lewis and Waitrose stores, with growth in online sales for John Lewis/Waitrose in 2012/13 was 41%. Source GazePe & Herald The biggest store in Malmesbury is family-‐run department store HJ Knees. 11% of the respondents to the Malmesbury supermarket survey already shop for groceries online. Those arguing for for the economic beneﬁts of this applicaBon have failed to consider the huge growth of online shopping. Much of the evidence used to support the argument for another supermarket comes from reports by consultants GVA commissioned by Wilts Council. The consultants are equivocal in their recommendaBons, and actually state “.. there is no clearly deﬁned quanBtaBve need for the scale of retailing proposed”.
9. There are alternaBves, there is no need for us to rush into a bad decision We could extend the Gloucester Road Co-‐op (Co-‐op won’t do this because the anB ﬂooding measures make this too costly for them, but another chain might), or build on StaBon Yard, by re-‐developing one or more industrial units. Waitrose & Sainsbury’s argue the laPer is too diﬃcult, but they have a vested interest in their current applicaBons. “You appear to have opted for the Silk Mills site simply because that is one of the two planning applicaBons currently before the Unitary Council… a curious way of planning the strategic future of the town. Surely it would be bePer to decide where you want the supermarket, even if there are no current plans lodged for it? … I would alternaBvely much prefer to see a Waitrose development in the High Street. That of course would be expensive and inconvenient for Waitrose, but it would preserve the vibrancy of the High Street, which despite their protestaBons to the contrary the Silk Mills site would not.” James Gray, MP Many people are impaBent for more consumer choice, simply because one chain, Co-‐op, owns both Malmesbury stores and they are not very good. A change of ownership, improvements to the exisBng stores, maybe another convenience store on the High Street would solve this. The most recent Wiltshire Retail Study idenBﬁes a potenBal need for an addiBonal 209 sq metres of retail space in Malmesbury. This versus the 1,672 sq metres of retail space proposed. We don’t need more parking either, Wiltshire Council stats say that the Cross Hayes Car Park runs at average of 78% occupancy and the StaBon Road car park at less than 20%.
10. It would be wrong to pre-‐empt the Malmesbury Neighbourhood Plan • It will only take unBl November for the process to be completed. • The responses to the recent consultaBon exercise contain tens of thousands of words of important ideas and opinions: “…many people now use internet shopping so having a major store within 5 miles is not essenBal. Even the big 4 food retailers recognise that major edge of town sites are not the way forward and they are all pushing for high street presence.” Response 195 “A supermarket either Sainsbury or Waitrose would lead to the DEATH OF THE HIGH STREET.” Response 184
QuesBons Waitrose sBll need to answer • Why haven’t we seen computer generated 3D representaBons of views of the supermarket site, level with the second ﬂoor of the Outer Silk Mill? (see red line) • How’s the pedestrian access going to work? Waitrose propose a ramp near the roundabout, and a complex set of 59 steps down the steep near the Outer Silk Mill. • The ﬁeld is on top of a complex system of underground streams that ﬂow down towards the River Avon. How do you know the anB ﬂooding measures will really work? • Why couldn’t you wait unBl aper the referendum for the neighbourhood plan? Malmesbury St John’s Street ﬂooding, source BBC LocaBon of Waitrose steps Site level
“… think very very hard about the long term good of the people of Malmesbury. John Betjeman years ago memorably described the town as Œthe Queen of Britain’s hill top towns . That is sBll true. The views from all direcBons as you approach the town with its wonderful abbey towering over the landscape-‐ founded in the Dark Ages inside an Iron Age hillfort, later made into a Viking Age fortress by Alfred the Great-‐ it is quite simply unique, and should be kept that way.” Michael Wood, Historian