22 October 2008
Pat Kinnersly, Alliance Secretary, reports: Wiltshire's roads - update on Westbury Bypass costs - and a plan for Yarnbrook, partly funded by developers in return for permission to build hundreds of houses.
There are some controversial points in written answers (PDF) received from the County Council today:
Wiltshire CC has now spent £7.109 million on developing road schemes for which it has so far received no government funding.
The scheme preparation costs for the Wesbury bypass now exceed £4m.
The council's budget allocation for Westbury in 08/09 is £1m, which includes the estimated cost of the public inquiry.
WCC has started the regional funding allocation process for Yarnbrook/West Ashton based on a £17m cost estimate.
For funding, the council says it also hopes to exploit 'a tariff based system. Such an infrastructure levy still has some way to go to confirm its detailed operation, but even taking a cautious view, it should be able to realise £5 million over the Regional Spatial Strategy plan period.'
This 'tariff based system' appears to be jargon for a form of funding under which developers pay a 'roof tax' for every dwelling built on land that the council's road has opened up for their housing estates. A 'take' of £5m would seem to imply either a very high tariff or several hundred houses at the typical tariff of £10,000 each.
We wonder if the people of Yarnbrook and West Ashton would want their relief from traffic congestion and heavy lorries paid for by sacrificing their countryside to large new housing estates.
The Council's answers invite some supplementary questions. For example what is the actual cost estimate used in the 08/09 budget for running the bypass planning inquiry and was it exceeded?; and - What are ' the scheme objectives' for the Yarnbrook West Ashton project and what timetable is set out in the 'key milestones' for the development of this scheme? In other words, When, if ever, could it be built? [See written answers (PDF) - 'Response 4 and 5'.]