Gleeson lodges appeal to build estate at Filands
A DEVELOPER that was refused permission to build a large housing estate on the outskirts of Malmesbury is pressing ahead with an appeal in defiance of a bid by residents to create their own plan for the town’s future.
Gleeson Strategic Land’s application for 180 houses at Filands was thrown out in March. Wiltshire Council ruled it was premature because the county’s new core strategy and the neighbourhood plan had not yet been fully formulated.
The decision followed the rejection on similar grounds of an appeal by White Lion Land for 77 houses off Park Road. Supermarket chains Waitrose and Sainsbury’s have also been told to wait for the neighbourhood plan.
But Gleeson has lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate anyway.
Cllr Simon Killane, chairman of the steering group working on the neighbourhood plan, said: “I think it is a great shame that Gleeson feel they have to run off through the old developer-led process.”
Malmesbury is one of the Government’s frontrunners in neighbourhood planning, which means local people and parish councils work out where and how much development is best for their community.
Work already done by the steering group goes on show at the town hall on September 29.
Cllr Killane said the plan, which is subject to a referendum in May, would have to be robust and based on evidence.
Gleeson should be patient and wait until the group had sorted out the best sites for the town. “They should respect the change that is occurring in planning in Malmesbury.”
He stressed: “It is not about excluding them from the consultation process.”
Gleeson told the council it was “disappointed” Cllr Killane had not taken up the offer of a meeting with them.
But he responded: “I am not prepared to meet them because we are going through a process looking at sites independently.
“I wanted to make sure the steering group is as squeaky clean as possible.”
Among the reasons officers gave for refusing Gleesons’ plans were that the estate was outside the development boundary, made no provision for affordable housing and the proposals did not suggest a high enough quality of design.
A statement from Gleeson said Wiltshire Council “does not have the necessary five-year land supply which the Government requires to meet current and future housing demand in the community.
“This is an important issue which has been a deciding factor in other appeals which have been upheld by the Planning Inspectorate such as today’s judgement in Calne where two important housing developments have had their appeals approved.”
It said the proposal was for an affordable low-density housing scheme that would create 800 new jobs in Malmesbury, including apprenticeships.