CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 71 homes on a greenfield site in Malmesbury will not be ‘called in’ by the secretary of state.

Despite representations from North Wiltshire MP James Gray, Malmesbury Town Council, Wiltshire Council Cllr for Malmesbury Gavin Grant and a number of residents, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick MP decided not to call in the application.

The Secretary of State has the power to 'call in' a planning application for review, but must have grounds to exercise that power.

Normally developments under 200 houses would be decided by the planning committee, but this one went to Strategic Planning because Wiltshire Council’s lack of a five-year land supply scheme means the shortfall has become an issue across the county as a whole.

Wiltshire Council’s Strategic Planning Committee was recommended by officers to approve a plan by Gleeson Homes to build 71 houses on land south of Filands, and agreed to do so on Wednesday, May 27.

The meeting heard Malmesbury Town Council was against the scheme and dozens of locals had written in protest, pointing out the land is not included for housing in their Neighbourhood Plan.

Wiltshire Council Cllr for Malmesbury Gavin Grant said: "‎The failure to call in this totally inappropriate and unwanted development is another slap in the face for Malmesbury and neighbourhood plans.

"It defies belief that the letter telling us this bad news says 'The Government is committed to giving more power to councils and communities to mak‎e their own planning decisions'.

"This community made it's decision and the Government is ignoring it.

"The real truth lies in the new Government slogan 'Build, Build Build'.

"They mean 'Build what you want‎, Build where you want, Build to make money not meet local need'.

"No wonder many residents here and across Wiltshire are wondering today why they bothered to work so hard for so long to create Neighbourhood Plans for their communities including new homes in the right places‎.

"The Conservative Government and Wiltshire's Conservative Council has let all of us and ‎our communities down very badly. Shame on them."

Malmesbury mayor Campbell Ritchie said it was another very disappointing decision for Malmesbury.

He said: "We can now see how much the rules for making planning decisions have been changed nationally to undermine Neighbourhood Planning.

"It is important to remember the damaging decision taken by Wiltshire Council’s Strategic Planning Committee on this application only happened because Wiltshire Council is unable to demonstrate it has a 5 year supply of land across Wiltshire as a whole.

"The communities covered by the Malmesbury Neighbourhood Plan have done everything asked of them.

"Since the original decision Malmesbury Town Council has reached out to other towns and councils across Wiltshire to ensure they are aware of this threat to their Neighbourhood Plans.

"We are also, of course, seeking urgent action by Wiltshire Council to correct its land supply issue, but not at the expense, again, of our Neighbourhood Plan."

Wiltshire Council has been approached for a comment.