DEVELOPER MJ Gleeson’s plans to build 180 new homes in Malmesbury has been approved at the Court of Appeal despite fierce opposition from residents.

The move by the court seriously damages the neighbourhood plan for Malmesbury, created after the town was marked as a front runner in a government initiative to give communities greater say in planning.

Malmesbury councillor Simon Killane has described the decision as a body blow for the community but insisted that the neighbourhood plan could survive.

Cllr Killane warned that the government must do more to protect neighbourhood plans or their own policy will fall into disarray and accused North Wiltshire MP James Gray of sending mixed messages about the appeal.

MJ Gleeson has released an explanation of the appeal, detailing how planning permission was granted and then removed as it was issued in error.

Their response said “At the Court of Appeal yesterday, a panel of three judges had no difficulty in deciding that the judge was wrong and that the Secretary of State had acted unlawfully.

“They confirmed that the planning permission granted by the Inspector is valid, and they formally quashed the Secretary of State’s attempts to withdraw the permission and to recover it for his own consideration. “

Gleeson cited new developments by Waitrose and Dyson as good reasons for the expansion and committed to working with Wiltshire Council to satisfy planning conditions.

Cllr Killane disagreed with decision, saying “We don’t want to see our beautiful market town destroyed by sprawling urban development.”