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People, Places and Green Spaces

Environment banner WWT
The importance of Wiltshire and Swindon’s historic environment is recognised by the number of buildings, sites and monuments that are protected by law (see table). The figures in brackets are the numbers of each type of heritage asset included in the Heritage At Risk Register which is published each year by English Heritage.
The second table shows that the percentage of historic assets included on the Heritage At Risk Register in Wiltshire and Swindon is lower than the South West and England as a whole. This indicates that heritage assets, in particular conservation areas, are less at risk locally than regionally and country-wide. The exception to this is scheduled monuments, where Wiltshire and Swindon are faring slightly better than the South West but worse than England.
Maps showing the locations of historic assets are available online. From the MAGIC home page, select ‘Interactive Map’, then under Step 1 select ‘Design My Own Topic’ and select the relevant categories: http://magic.defra.gov.uk
Further details of the different categories of historic assets and links to sources are given on the relevant pages in this section.
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Historic Buildings and Sites in Wiltshire and Swindon
Historic Buildings and Sites in Wiltshire and Swindon
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Percentage of Historic Buildings and Sites at Risk
Percentage of Historic Buildings and Sites at Risk
Local authorities have a statutory duty under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to designate and manage conservation areas. These are areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. The majority of the conservation areas consist of the historic parts of our towns and villages. Designated conservation areas are taken into account in the planning system to help maintain the character of the area.
Wiltshire Council has more than 245 conservation areas with detailed information on its website, including an online map search facility:  http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/planninganddevelopment/ourplanningservices/conservationhistoricenv/conservationareas.htm
Swindon Borough Council has 28 conservation areas, with an appraisal, management plan and map for each area available on its website:   http://www.swindon.gov.uk/ep/ep-planning/development-management/Pages/ep-planning-conservationareas.aspx
One conservation area in Wiltshire is included on the Heritage At Risk Register 2011 – Wilcot Road, Pewsey, which is listed as in poor and deteriorating condition. However this represents a much smaller proportion of conservation areas at risk than in the South West and England as a whole. See:http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/har-2011-registers/ 
A listed building is one which is included on a register called the "List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest", drawn up by English Heritage and approved by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) www.culture.gov.uk, under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.  The list is available online: http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/
Listed buildings are protected by law. The protection extends to both the interior and exterior of the property. There are three categories of listed buildings:
  • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest (less than 3% of the national total)
  • Grade II*, particularly important buildings (less than 6% of the national total)
  • Grade II buildings are of special importance (over 92% of the national total)
The table shows the number of listed buildings in each category in Wiltshire and Swindon. Each year English Heritage publishes a Heritage At Risk Register, including Grade I/II* listed buildings. In 2011, 17 buildings in Wiltshire and two in Swindon were included on the register.

See: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/har-2011-registers/

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Listed Buildings in Wiltshire and Swindon
Listed Buildings in Wiltshire and Swindon
Details of scheduled monuments and sites are available online on the National Heritage List for England: http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/In November 2011, this list showed 53 scheduled monuments and sites in Swindon and 1309 scheduled monuments and sites in Wiltshire.  Maps showing scheduled monuments in each of Wiltshire's Community Areas are available in the maps section of this site.

The Battlefield at Roundway Down, near Devizes, is one of 43 registered battlefields in England.

The Wiltshire and Swindon Historic Environment Record (HER) is an online database of information about over 21,000 archaeological sites, monuments and finds: http://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/smr/This website also contains a link to the Wiltshire Historic Towns Survey, which sets out the archaeological potential of thirty-four historic towns in Wiltshire and Swindon.  

There are also 3 historic parks and gardens in Swindon (Lydiard Park, Town Gardens, Queen’s Park) and 41 historic parks and gardens in Wiltshire. The historic parks and gardens provide a surprisingly large area of the county, with many large sites.* The Grade II* listed park and garden at Tottenham House and Savernake Forest, Burbage and Savernake is included on the Heritage At Risk Register 2011, listed as having extensive significant problems and declining condition. See page 230 of the South West Register: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/har-2011-registers/ 

The Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site lies within Wiltshire and was inscribed as a single World Heritage Site in 1986.
World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO after an assessment of the international significance of their cultural or natural heritage. The UK currently has 25 sites inscribed.
The conservation and enjoyment of the World Heritage Site is currently affected by the busy roads that run through and around both Stonehenge and Avebury. At Stonehenge, planning permission has been granted for a new visitor centre, car park and partial closure/restriction of the A344 road from Stonehenge Bottom to Airman’s Corner. The works are scheduled to begin in April 2012 and to be completed by 2014. The works are intended to improve visitor facilities and to “restore a sense of dignity” to the Stonehenge setting (English Heritage).
For more information on Stonehenge: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/
For more information on Avebury: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury/
For more information on the World Heritage Site designation: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/373
The importance of public access to natural green space is increasingly recognised in public health policy, the planning process and elsewhere. Networks of footpaths, parks, nature reserves, woodlands, waterways and other open spaces and countryside near to where people live is known as ‘green infrastructure’. This provides a wealth of benefits to people and the environment, including better mental and physical health, and places for wildlife to thrive. If everyone in England was given good access to green space it is estimated that the cost saving to the health service could be in the order of £2.1 billion per annum.
Wiltshire’s network of public rights of way is more than 6,100km long, almost all on privately-owned land. There are 26,000 hectares of access land, around three-quarters of which are within the Salisbury Plain Training Area. There are 11 Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) in Wiltshire and seven in Swindon; LNRs offer people special opportunities to experience nature and geology as well as protecting the sites themselves.
Swindon Borough Council has published a Green Infrastructure Strategy and Wiltshire Council’s equivalent is being prepared in 2012. These will give an assessment of the condition of existing green spaces and the ease of access for local people, and outline plans for investment in creating new and better quality spaces. This will help to integrate green infrastructure into plans for new housing and other development set out in Wiltshire and Swindon’s Local Development Frameworks.
Sources:
Local authorities own and manage country parks for public access and enjoyment. In Swindon in particular as a large urban area, these parks provide vital green spaces with free public access. These are often also important areas for protecting the natural and historic environment, as reflected in the number of country parks also designated as Local Nature Reserves or other.
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Country Parks in Wiltshire and Swindon
Country Parks in Wiltshire and Swindon
A map of country parks in Wiltshire is available online: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisureandrecreation/parksandopenspaces.htm
Local authorities are responsible for managing and maintaining the rights of way (RoW) network - footpaths, bridleways and byways which are open to public use. These are one of the primary ways people can access and enjoy the natural environment. The table shows the length and proportion of different types of rights of way in Wiltshire and Swindon. As a part of this network, two National Trails cross both Wiltshire and Swindon: the Ridgeway and the Thames Path. 
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Rights of Way in Wiltshire and Swindon
Rights of Way in Wiltshire and Swindon
Sources:
Wiltshire Council Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2008-2012 – the next plan is being developed in 2012:  http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/communityandliving/rightsofway.htm
Rights of Way Improvement Plan for Swindon 2007 – 2011: http://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=17573&J=1  
The Countryside & Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000  sets out that people shall have the ‘right to roam’ responsibly on foot over the open wild uncultivated mountain, moor, heath, and down of England and Wales subject to certain restrictions. However, the act says nothing about the environmental quality of the land, only its legal status and access rights.
Eight per cent of land in Wiltshire is Open Access: “In Wiltshire there are 260 square kilometres of this type of Access Land, most with public rights of way linking them to the highway or to local communities. Wiltshire Council is the statutory access authority for the Access Land in Wiltshire except for two sites within the New Forest National Park: Whiteparish Common and Langford Common, for which the National Park Authority is the statutory access authority. Approximately three quarters of all Wiltshire’s Access Land lies within the Salisbury Plain Training Area. This means that access is restricted for military and safety reasons. Despite having operational reasons for restricting access, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has allowed members of the public to use rights of way and Access Land in some areas. The Ministry continues to work with the council, local communities and user groups to review these arrangements.” (Wiltshire Core Strategy Consultation January 2012 Topic Paper 11: Green Infrastructure). 
Maps showing Access Land in each of Wiltshire's Community Areas are available in the maps section of this site.
There are nine locations in Swindon Borough with Open Access land; details are given in the Rights of Way Improvement Plan for Swindon 2007 – 2011.
The ecological footprint is a measure of the impact society has on the natural environment. It is based on an assessment of the area of land needed to meet an individual’s annual consumption levels. There is no official measure of this at present by central government or local authorities.
However, the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York has estimated the ecological footprint per person for each local authority area in the year 2006. These figures were calculated by assessing the impacts in several categories, including housing, transport, food, consumer items, private services, public services and capital investment.
The accepted sustainable level of ecological footprint is 1.9 global hectares (gha) per person. The current global average is about 2.4 gha per person. The average footprint of people in Wiltshire and Swindon is estimated at roughly double the global average and around two and half times the sustainable level. People in Wiltshire have, on average, a larger footprint than those in the South West region as a whole, and both have a larger footprint than the average individual across the UK. The average footprint in Swindon is lower than in Wiltshire and the South West but higher than the UK average.
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Ecological Footprint per Person 2006
Ecological Footprint per Person 2006
Source: Stockholm Environment Institute, Biology Department, University of York, Footprint Results from BRIO model, October 2009. Available at http://www.resource-accounting.org.uk/downloads  
The growing populations of Wiltshire and Swindon have a significant impact on the state of the environment. Census 2011 puts the population of Swindon Borough at 209,200 and Wiltshire at 471,000. 
Rate of population growth in both areas are higher than previously estimated and above regional and national averages. Among local authorities in the South West, Swindon has the highest growth at 16.2% since 2001; Wiltshire's 8.8% growth since 2001 is the fourth highest and the highest of rural authorities in the region. Swindon had the sixth highest growth rate outside London in England and Wales. 
A wealth of local Census data for Wiltshire, its Community Areas and local areas is available in the 'Population and Census' section of this website.
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Population Growth 1991-2021
Population Growth 1991-2021
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%Population Growth 1991-2021
%Population Growth 1991-2021
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