SOUTHWICK can shape its own destiny and not be at the mercy of housing developers now that the village’s neighbourhood plan is gaining momentum, a local councillor claims.

As part of Wiltshire Council’s site allocation plan, the village was earmarked to have 180 homes at Southwick Court, 140 homes off Wynsome Street and 100 homes in land off Blind Lane, although the application for the latter was turned down this summer.

The sheer number of houses that could come Southwick’s way has prompted the village to reignite its efforts to plough ahead with the neighbourhood plan, which is led by Councillor John Eaton.

After setting up a six-strong steering group, getting a professional consultant on board and gaining public support, Cllr Eaton is positive about the road that lies ahead.

“We were under a barrage of housing applications and this was certainly a big catalyst as to why we are moving ahead with this and in a short period of time we are making real progress,” said Cllr Eaton, who is the chairman.

“With all these developments coming in, some of which Southwick may not necessarily need, we want to have a clear understanding of what the true housing needs are in the village so we can shape our own destiny and not have things imposed on us.

“If we can get this up and running, we may not be told by Wiltshire Council that we need 100 houses, for example, we may only need 10 or so and a neighbourhood plan can help with that.

“We are about to start a housing needs survey, so we beginning to make real headway.”

Cllr Eaton’s steering group, for which he is the chairman, is made up of two other councillors and three residents but he welcomed the idea of more people joining the team.

“We have a good team already but we welcome more support from locals because this has a big impact on all of us,” he said.

“We went to the village’s bank holiday village show in August and the response we had was great. The Neighbourhood Plan can be a dry subject but people were really interested.

“For the next six months we will do our research and come up with an evidence based report. I am very positive about this.”

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