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Campaigners Christmas Cheer

(December 22, 2015)

The last town council meeting of the year gave residents a bit of Christmas cheer as it voted against the Spurt Mead custom build plan for Boreham Road.

The meeting began with five members of the public voicing their opposition.

The latest resident to stand up in front of members of the planning advisory committee in opposition was ecologist Iain Perkins of Gypsy Lane.

He spoke about two endangered species. The drastic decline of the water vole and the future of the otter which would be affected.

As a volunteer monitor of the river he reminded the councillors about all the work that the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is doing along this stretch of the River Avon.

Without hearing a word of debate or contribution from the ward members Councillor George Jolley said a handful of words and swiftly proposed accepting the controversial plans immediately seconded by Cllr. Sue Fraser.

Cllr. Andrew Davis commented that the application was the same as the one that had been quashed by a High Court Judge and that it would still be called in to be considered by councillors at county hall.

Four votes to three defeated this move.

Inappropriate Development

Cllr. Paul Macdonald then stood up and walked around the chamber handing each councillor a printed copy of his proposed reasons for refusal.

He spoke at length about the effects on the local ecology and the need to stand by the planning policies that safeguard the town from inappropriate development.

Cllr. Macdonald made special mention of the view custom build makes it an 'exception'.

"The government have made all sorts of announcements about the buzz words 'custom built'," he said.

"They vanguard areas for promoting it. But Wiltshire is not one.

"They have special loans, they have other funding, they even exempt them from making a payment to the community.

"But what the government have not announced is that this is an exception case that could avoid the normal planning policies.

High Quality Habitat

I therefore propose the following," said Cllr. Macdonald. "I am not going to talk about flooding. I am going to take that up directly with Wiltshire Council.

"Warminster Town Council recommends that it should be refused for the follow reasons.

"The creation of new dwellings in this location outside of the defined settlement boundaries without a proven agricultural or affordable housing need would be contrary to the key aims of local and national planning.

"The development therefore would be contrary to Wiltshire Core Strategy Core Policy 2.

"The context of the development site within very close proximity to the area of high quality habitat offered by the River Wylye and its spurt to protected species is an unacceptable threat to the ecology.

"It is therefore contrary to Core Policy 50 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy.

"As approval may set an unwanted precedent for similar residential settlements elsewhere within the district undermining the objectives of the Wiltshire Core Strategy as a whole.

"The now adopted Wiltshire Core Strategy identifies that Wiltshire Council can demonstrate a five-year-plus housing supply with the relevant Housing Management Area (HMA) having a 5.6 year supply.

"It fails the National Policy Planning Framework ‘exception’ paragraph 55 which can only be used if the application is ‘truly outstanding or innovative, significantly enhance its immediate setting, and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area‘."

The meeting heard councillor Macdonald then talk more about the ecology.

"There is a European endangered species and a UK endangered species at risk here. And the proposal is to have a residents management committee to reduce predation by pets!" he said.

The proposal not to support the planning application was seconded by Cllr. Steve Dancey who called for consistency reminding members that the Dorothy Walk application was opposed by the town council for all the same reasons.

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