Chippenham is the biggest town in Wiltshire with a population of over 40,000 people. It is also arguably the best-located town in the County, being on the mainline railway from London to Bristol and South Wales, and only 4 miles off the M4 Motorway.
It has grown dramatically over the last 20 -30 years to a size well beyond that of the cozy market town that some residents fondly remember. Much of this growth has been undertaken without strategic long term master planning and numerous mistakes have been made. The towns’ growth is set to continue over the next 10 years, and we believe this gives the opportunity to transform the town into what it could be – a town with a thriving High Street, a town where businesses want to invest and create employment, a town where people want to live, and a town people want to visit to shop and enjoy.
Chippenham 2020 was formed in 2010 to purchase New Leaze Farm (c.170 acres to the east of Chippenham). The Farm (over which David Wilson Homes and then Barratt had an option for the previous 10 years) was included for mixed use development within Wiltshire Council’s preferred option for the growth of Chippenham in 2009. This allocation was reversed a short time after in favor of a site to the south of the town, as a consequence of a Council U turn.
In considering the project Chippenham 2020 used their vast experience of urban regeneration and detailed research, to plan the most sustainable long-term options for the town. This strategy was formulated with long a long-term commitment to exemplar planning, sustainability and regeneration. Within this process it has been clear that the town needed a comprehensive and cohesive approach and therefore we or our associates, have also bought other sites in and around the town centre (where we also have our office) to bring forward long term collective regeneration.
The more involved we have become with the town the more evident it has become that a sustainable plan for the roads and traffic is absolutely key to the next stage of the town’s growth. Rather than simply bolting on housing estates to meet government numbers, in an area with little opposition a strategic plan is badly needed for the town. This plan should uses the new housing that is coming to Chippenham to help facilitate and pay for the infrastructure and improvements that are required to regenerate and breathe new life into the Town Centre and the High Street.
Independent research has shown that the key piece of infrastructure to make such a difference would be the building of a North East link road to carry traffic from the A350 in the north to the A4 in the east without need to go near the town centre. This will not only relieve traffic in and around the town centre but will also reduce the “rat run” traffic in the country lanes and villages to the northeast of the town. It was for these and other reasons that the Government’s Planning Inspector told WC in 2013 to exclude Chippenham from the County’s Core Strategy and look again at what is best for the town.
This has been a long drawn out process but Wiltshire Council’s latest Transport Assessment states “A scenario which primarily focuses on development to the north and east of the town and which also includes a completed Eastern Link Road is, in transport terms, considered to be the most appropriate for Chippenham”. Elsewhere in the report it is even stronger stressing that “A full Eastern Link Road is therefore taken to be the key piece of highway infrastructure that is required to unlock the development of the town.”
Within the Town Centre we, or our associates, now own the Wilkinson’s Store on the High St and Oak Furniture Land premises by the station. We have been working schemes for each (see the link to our other schemes on this website) and are delighted that we have already managed to bring Sainsbury’s to the Old Sorting Office.
We firmly believe that we are beginning to see change in Chippenham and optimism for the town that has been lacking in recent years. We are delighted to be part of this and look forward to bringing our plans forward.