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Holdaway good name is at risk - apply when the core strategy has been adopted

(January 14, 2014)

MONDAY evening's planning advisory committee demonstrated some rather strange thinking on the part of those councillors in favour of developing a large meadow area into an estate for wealthy people.

The contentious area is just off Boreham Crossroad. It is an area well known for flooding and the only real gap between the town and Bishopstrow.

Eight months ago local residents voted in the local elections in favour of Independent candidates pledged to stop a localism bid to create a 'NDO' housing development of self-build homes there.

At the meeting on Monday night councillors voted by four to three to pass the scheme. The importance of the vote is more symbolic than real as this is merely an advisory body. At previous meetings the vote was the other way.

"It is a bit like winning the first round in a Readers Digest draw," said Cllr. Steve Dancey afterwards.  "Even so it may carry a little weight at County Hall if it comes up for decision in the chamber."

Steve Dancey, who was first elected as a councillor in the 1980s and has been attending council meetings in his professional capacity for almost 30 years, was shocked at the lack of understanding of the issues displayed by the four who voted in favour.

"I could hardly believe it - comments about the 'best deal we will get', 'setting east against west' with 'the 38 homes will provide more demand in Warminster shops' and they swallowed whole the glib arguments put forward by the team hired by Holdaways as if they were professional council officers.

"No! Boys and girls these 'professional experts' are there to put the very best gloss on the proposal in a bid to land your vote" he said.

"They even entered into pre-meeting discussions with some councillors - very smelly behaviour in my view and not something that was allowed when I sat on the county planning authority.

"It was hardly a very convincing demonstration of the way to look at planning.

Cllr Steve Dancey is not a member of the town council 'advisory' committee so he spoke from the public seats surrounded by residents of Boreham and Bishopstrow.

Thumbs Up!

"No! This proposal is outside the settlement boundary and we should have backed the core strategy which has been prepared in the interest of protecting Warminster by people employed by us (council officers)!

Members of the public nodded and raised their thumbs in approval. 

"I trust county members will listen to Cllr Andrew Davis, who argued his case well on Monday, if the matter is aired at Western Area Planning.

"Just because people are rich and have owned the land for a long time doesn't mean they have the god-given right to develop this site. They've been trying for years and have been stopped. 

My response is 'The best deal we will get' is to keep it as it is.

"The Holdaway family firm was a good employer and grew rich on the shoulders of hundreds of Warminster workers in the 50s and 60s and later used this land for inert landfill in more recent times.

"Haven't they made enough money from this town?

"Please think again and present an application again when the core strategy has been adopted and we can consider what is right for Warminster in the round.

"Sneaking in these speculative planning applications while the planning system is in chaos thanks to the government's desperation to stoke up a housing boom earns you no favours and diminishes you in the eyes of many right-thinking people."

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