Malmesbury appeals to be allowed to decide its own future development
11:49am Thursday 24th January 2013 in News
THE chairman of Malmesbury Town Council’s planning committee claims that giving a developer permission to build a large housing estate on the outskirts of town will make a mockery of the government’s Localism Bill.
Gleeson Strategic Land is appealing against Wiltshire Council’s decision to refuse its bid for 180 homes on a site at Filands and the hearing is under way in Chippenham this week.
One of the grounds for refusal was the fact that councillors and community representatives are working on their own neighbourhood plan as one of the government’s frontrunners.
Cllr Bill Blake, chairman of the town council’s planning committee, was due to give evidence supporting the group.
In his statement he says: “The town council are very strongly of the opinion that to approve Gleeson's application would make a mockery of not just the Localism Bill and the neighbourhood plan approach, but would also put at nought the huge amount of work already undertaken towards completing our neighbourhood plan.”
He explains: “ Malmesbury Town Council recognise that we and our community have to accept more housing and other building development, but we want to be able to identify the parcels of land which in our view are most suitable for this.
“We are therefore very strongly opposed to being forced to accept a developers choice which it is suggested must be inevitable if Gleeson's appeal is upheld.”
He says the developers are well aware of the work being done to put a “comprehensive and well-researched” plan together and that it has reached an advanced stage.
Gleeson lodged the appeal claiming Wiltshire could not demonstrate it had enough land supply for housing over the next five years.
The first draft of the neighbourhood plan identifying possible sites for future development in Malmesbury, St Paul’s Without and Brokenborough, was put together in time for the appeal.
It is expected to be revised several times and will go through two official public consultations before a referendum in May.