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Heritage saved as developers Persimmon sent packing

(June 24, 2010)
Warminster locals with nine minutes standing up to a nationally known developer have tonight won the support of more councillors in the battle of 'Albion against avarice'.
Housing firm Persimmon planned to demolish a 'folk-lore' well-known Edwardian house in Victoria Road which was described by council staff as 'may have originally been a farmhouse'.
The four bed-roomed house has stood there for at least 104 years and was only purchased by the land speculators to give access to the acreage behind.
"This is part of the folk-lore of Warminster," said Paul Macdonald backing up the the planning reasons presented by Richard Haas of the Civic Trust.
"Thirty years ago this was already described as the home of the 'egg man'. It was known for the chickens. The town had an egg packing station back then."
Richard Haes was the first objector to speak repeating the planning case that had convinced the town council to unanimously reject the idea.
"H12 policy was 192 Homes reluctantly accepted," he told members of Wiltshire Council who sit on the western planning committee.
"We then accepted 197 to include five welfare homes. If this proposal, it is known as Albion House, had been part of any of this then it could have stopped H12 altogether."
Next door neighbour Tony Jackson revealed the destruction already wrought by the backland development of Persimmon Homes.
He complained using a term 'loss of amenity' well understood by planners as meaning his and others privacy has been spoilt and then added salt to the wound.
"A ten feet high hedge that has been there since the Enclosure Acts has gone," he said.
Three Minutes to Save History
The order of appearance was boosted by the calling forward of former councillor Paul Macdonald as the third speaker at the request of Cllr Pip Ridout 15 minutes before the meeting started.
"It is a former farmhouse and is an important part of the 'street scene'," Paul said in his turn at the three minutes to speak.
He referred to the history of 'ribbon development' in Warminster and the importance of Albion House as an example including 'local egg man folk lore'.
"Precedent!" he said. "Look at Westbury Road. I know of no prestige building knocked down there.
"Let's not make this now known in folk lore as 'chickens have come home to roost' as a result of the now discredited planning policies of the Labour government.
Cllr. Pip Ridout is the ward councillor and she then spoke repeating the words of the objectors describing the plan as 'wanton destruction'.
"Why would anyone want to pull down a perfectly good building?" she posed.
The councillors then put a series of questions to the planning officer who had written the report favouring demolition.
*Substitute Cllr. Andrew Davis proposed refusal describing all the properties along Victoria Road as individual which was then immediately seconded and after a few minutes debate refusal was agreed by eight votes to one.

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