HAVE you tried responding to Wiltshire Council’s latest ‘public consultation’ on its development strategy?

I have, and I might as well have been talking to the Man in the Moon. Once I located it on the website (10 minutes) I wasted an hour wading through technical guff till my mind unboggled and it dawned on me that the questions to answer were interspersed between the umpteen paragraphs.

There is not the slightest hope of anyone without a master’s degree in Gobbledegook understanding this document, or responding using the required jargon. Which, I suspect, is the effect its authors were aiming for.

Meanwhile huge estates spring up all around us, with more proposed.

There’s no doubt lots of people prefer brand-new homes. Still, TV news bulletins regularly feature protests across the south against developments so gigantic that they swamp established communities just because cash-strapped councils need to make it worthwhile for builders to cough up for schools, etc.

I can’t understand, and neither can anyone else I’ve spoken to, where all Salisbury’s extra residents will work. As the consultation acknowledges, “rates of employment development have been slow”. That’s an understatement.

Redundant office blocks are being turned into retirement apartments. There’s a demand for these, and they do free up family-sized homes.

But with all due respect to retirees – I’m one of them – they won’t turn our economy around. Our biggest need is for many more affordable homes that remain affordable to low-paid workers for years to come and can’t be bought at a discount by their occupiers and then sold to private landlords at a large profit.

We are surrounded by lovely villages that are in danger of becoming the exclusive preserve of the ageing wealthy. Young people are priced out. So we lose schools, shops, pubs, and finally the bus services that link the less well-off to these essential services elsewhere.

This is where Wiltshire’s current strategy has gone badly wrong.

In the name of sustainability, i.e. reducing car journeys, it has concentrated on expanding our towns. It’s done little to regenerate rural communities.

That needs to change. If only I could find the right place in its ‘consultation’ to say so.

All of which brings me to Old Sarum airfield, the future of which now lies in the hands of a government inspector. In 2015, city councillors voted to support large-scale housing there. A furore ensued, because it wasn’t any of their business, being in the parish of Laverstock & Ford, where it’s vehemently opposed.

A city U-turn followed, but I can find no record of it among Wiltshire’s online planning documents.

I do hope this won’t mislead the inspector into believing that the scheme is acceptable.