Frustrated residents in Bishopstrow believe they were let down by Warminster town councillors who voted in favour of a planning application for 35 homes on land off Boreham Road last week.
The surprise decision at the last planning advisory committee meeting saw the council support plans put forward by HPH Commercial Property and Hab Housing which it had previously voted against, with four voting in favour and three against.
The land, known as Spurt Mead locally, was considered for a government-backed Neighbourhood Development Order self-build scheme last year, until the council withdrew its involvement.
Following the collapse of the NDO process, HPH submitted an application for 35 homes, which was originally opposed by the town council, before last week’s u-turn.
Mike Perry, chairman of Bishopstrow Village Meeting, said: “We were all shocked, not just with the decision, but also with the quality of the debate. I have had a load of comments from villagers who thought the argument for was ill thought out.
“One of the arguments I made at the meeting was that this site is one of the last pieces of land between Warminster and Bishopstrow and we want to maintain that separation.
“All the other issues such as flooding and wildlife are very important, but if this goes through it could lead to a domino effect, as it is not in the core strategy and is outside the settlement line.
“People are angry and to get so many villagers from Bishopstrow to go to the meeting was remarkable and just shows how strongly they feel about this application. We feel we have been let down.”
Mr Perry said a proposal for 60 homes in Dorothy Walk was rejected at the meeting for similar reasons to those put forward as reasons for refusing the Boreham Road site.
Nick Parker, chairman of the East Boreham Residents' Action Group, also attended the meeting and said that the discussion on the application was “appalling”.
Mr Parker said: “The arguments against are very clear. It’s outside the settlement area, it is prone to flooding and it is also going against the core strategy. It will bring nothing to the community.
“The councillors who voted for it didn’t explain why they were in favour and why they had changed their mind from previously voting against the proposal.
“The depth of feeling against this development in the community is very high, but these councillors paid no interest to what they wanted. It wasn’t a democratic debate, it was appalling.”
Public comments can be made until January 31, but Cllr Andrew Davis has requested the application go before Wiltshire Council’s Western Area Planning Committee on a date yet to be decided.
Lindsay Holdoway, managing director of HPH, said: “The Wiltshire Core Strategy Inspector has confirmed that each of the three Wiltshire housing areas must take more housing than currently allocated.
“Our proposal will help to address the significant imbalance of housing approved on the western side of Warminster.”