A planning inquiry to determine whether houses can be built on an area of land originally designated for a primary school will get underway in Malmesbury today (Tuesday).

Planning permission for 180 houses and provision of a primary school on land off Filands Road was granted to Gleeson Strategic Land back in 2013. The site was subsequently bought by Bloor Homes.

Bloor has since submitted three planning applications: one to discharge the obligation for the primary school, one to build 78 extra houses on the site and one to build 70 extra houses but also include land for a nursery.

The developer says they applied to discharge this condition after 'numerous historic attempts to transfer the land to Wiltshire Council for use as a primary school'.

Bloor then appealed after their application was not determined in time and all three applications will be dealt with at a planning inquiry at Malmesbury Town Hall.

Planning inspector Owen Woodwards will open the inquiry at 10am. It is expected to run until December 2 or 3.

While it is primarily between Bloor Homes and Wiltshire Council, Malmesbury Town Council and The Malmesbury Civic Trust have also applied to take part under what is known as Rule 6 status.

Cllr Kim Power, who will be representing the town council, said: "We are very disappointed permission is being sought for housing on land set aside for potentially a new pre-school and possibly a primary school in the future.

"Malmesbury Town Council are taking part in the Planning Inquiry as a Rule 6 party and we will do our utmost to put forward the case for retaining this site for educational purposes for Malmesbury residents.”

Fellow town councillor Campbell Ritchie, who is representing Malmesbury Civic Trust at the appeal, said. "The outcome of this appeal will determine the future of the Malmesbury Neighbourhood Plan and similar neighbourhood plans across Wiltshire.

"The Malmesbury Neighbourhood Plan – the result of a huge local community wide effort and approved in a referendum - is delivering the new homes it has been agreed Malmesbury should have until 2026 and beyond.

"There is at present no need to build more houses in Malmesbury and it is essential the site is retained so it can be used for education purposes, which is what Wiltshire Council also wants.

"If the developer is allowed to grasp this site it will mean a speculative development proposal has trumped successful plan led development, as represented by the Malmesbury Neighbourhood Plan, and the opportunity to produce future plans supported by residents will be thrown away. Public confidence in the planning system will be lost."

Cllr Nick Botterill, Wiltshire Council's cabinet member for development management, said: “Three co-joined planning appeals relating to land known as Filands, Malmesbury are being considered at a local inquiry in Malmesbury Town Hall, commencing November 23 and running for up to eight days.

"Appeal statements by Wiltshire Council and the appellant are available to view on our planning website. As the appeal is ‘live’, we cannot provide further comment at this time.”