A CONTROVERSIAL plan for a 77-home estate on the edge of Malmesbury within sight of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been blocked by the Government.

Secretary of State Eric Pickles has decided that allowing the development off Park Road would cause significant damage to both the Malmesbury Neighbourhood Plan and the Wiltshire Core Strategy.

The news comes after a communications error between the department and the Planning Inspectorate resulted in a plan for 180 houses on the other side of the town being given the go ahead earlier this year.

In its decision letter the department said the case was finely balanced. Wiltshire Council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of land for housing and the National Planning Policy Framework demanded that planning permission should be granted unless “unless any adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefit.

“On the other hand, however, the Secretary of State also gives significant weight to the opportunity which the neighbourhood plan process gives local people to ensure they get the right types of development for their community while also planning positively to support strategic development needs.

“He acknowledges that the council have now accepted the need to do further work on identifying more housing land across their area, including through a review of the settlement boundaries in the core strategy and that that needs time to go through the proper consultative and statutory processes; and he has also taken account of the fact that the release of land for 180 dwellings at Filands has reduced the urgency of the need to identify further additional housing land in Malmesbury.

“Therefore, taking account of all these factors, the Secretary of State takes the view that releasing the appeal site for housing now could result in a significant and demonstrable adverse impact on the outcomes of both the core strategy and the Malmesbury Neighbourhood Plan and that, when assessed against the policies in the framework taken as a whole, that could run the risk of outweighing any immediate benefits provided by the appeal scheme.”

Developers White Lion Land have twice been refused planning permission by Wiltshire Council and gone to appeal. The latest appeal was called in for Mr Pickles to make the final decision.

See this week’s Standard for a fuller story with local reaction.