A failed regeneration

It's a bit early to hold a party at Cavendish Square just yet. A cursory viewing of the planning application poses some problems which everybody should be aware of. I understand that the original application, which lapsed, had eight flats. This application has fourteen. Try to envisage fourteen flats on two floors of a not very big area with a car park included. It's a bit of a squeeze.

Why would the owner nearly double the number of flats he originally proposed? Could it be that he's not very confident of earning any money from the shops? After all, the council has said it won't buy back the other Cavi square shops because of the fall in retail values. Notwithstanding Robert Buckland's efforts to attract some health food stores, the owner might struggle to fill the six shops. Could we be told whether there are any pre-construction tenants lined up?

Look at the plans of the flats and you will see that they are the proverbial rabbit hutches, as small as 44 sqm. Astonishingly this is more than the national standard (no wonder we have the smallest homes in Europe) but it is still profiteering. Even the four two bedroom flats are only from 61 to 63 sqm. Imagine living in one of these things through a pandemic; somewhat claustrophobic.

Originally, of course, this area was intended just to be shops. Whilst local people would certainly like some variety, it remains to be seen whether they would be occupied.

It seems a touch extravagant to suggest as one councillor did “it will lift the standard of living of the area and will improve it.” How will it do this? Is this the modern equivalent of the parable of the loaves and fishes? Is the owner going to be handing free money to us?

The fact remains that Cavendish Square is a failed regeneration because the council gave the land away and was negligent; allowing the original developers to sell it on without even putting in any drainage. This new application won't change that fact. We don't need rabbit hutches for people. It's clear that making money from these tiny flats is the main motivation for the application.

Martin Wicks

Welcombe Avenue

Park North

Mayors have moved with the times

John Boaler says that the Royal Wootton Bassett mayor should return his unspent allowance to his council.

The mayoral allowance is for a mayor to use at his or her discretion; it is intended to help with travelling costs, loss of income and other expenses that may be incurred during the mayoral term - thereby allowing anyone to undertake the office regardless of their financial situation.

Therefore- the decision to donate any unspent allowance to a nominated charity is within a mayor’s discretion.

I’m not sure what a 21st century Mayor would do. During recent years Calne’s mayors have organised a charitable Rock Festival, set up a boxing club and organised a Christmas dinner for people who would be alone on Christmas Day. They have also been responsible for organising shopping weeks, fashion shows, late night shopping and special town-centric events.

If, under the democratic process the majority of councillors do not support a proposal, it’s usually because they see no point in discussing it. That’s how democracy works.

Mr Boaler’s views on the mayoral regalia are well known - and I’m not sure what bearing they have on this matter, but regardless of attire - when mayors visit other councils it’s an opportunity to see how other councils work.

Contrary to Mr Boaler’s assumptions, mayors meet regularly to share best practise .

Currently local mayors are lobbying Wiltshire Council and local MPs about the life span of the Neighbourhood Plan and the five-year land supply.

Both of these issues have been the reasons why unwanted developments have recently been allowed.

To my mind the mayoral role has moved with the times while honouring our country’s history and heritage.

Couns Glenis Ansell & Robert Merrick