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.
The plans were discussed on Wednesday (May 27), when 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.
Cllr Gavin Grant, who represents the ward where the development was approved, said the approval drives ‘proverbial horses through neighbourhood planning and local democracy’.
He said: “It’s a beautiful day in Malmesbury but it’s a grim one in reality.”
Speaking after the decision, Malmesbury Mayor Campbell Ritchie said: “This has only happened because the government has recently changed national planning rules and Wiltshire Council has failed to maintain a five-year supply of land.
“But there is more than a five-year land supply in North Wiltshire and we have met - and more - all that has been asked of us in Malmesbury.
“I cannot pretend that the decision by the committee today does not seriously damage our Malmesbury Neighbourhood Plan and the Neighbourhood Plans of every other community in Wiltshire that deal with housing matters.”
Cllr Grant raised objections due to the ‘unplanned and unwanted’ development’s lack of accessibility to the town and services such as schools. Equally he pointed out that the pavements did not properly service pedestrians or cyclists.
Addressing the committee, he said: “Please stand up for local democracy and the planning policy of Wiltshire and indeed those of the Malmesbury Neighbourhood Plan.”
land has already been identified in and around Malmesbury to build 885 houses by 2026. 750 have been built and 331 are currently in the pipeline making 1,089 new homes.
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.