THE appeal by Mactaggart and Mickel over the right to build 350 homes next to Coate Bridge on the outskirts of Devizes, will be determined by the Secretary of State Eric Pickles.

Devizes MP Claire Perry requested the decision be made by the Minister for Communities and Local Government and she has received confirmation that he will make the final decision.

The planning inspector at the inquiry will give his/her recommendation and Mr Pickles will make the final decision.

The appeal against the refusal of planning permission is to start on Tuesday at the Corn Exchange, Devizes, and is expected to last four days.

Campaigners against the homes scheme hope the Devizes Neighbourhood Plan will prove crucial at a public inquiry.

The neighbourhood plan has undergone consultation and is being updated. The new version is to be published on Monday, the day before the inquiry starts.

The Neighbourhood Plan has been produced by Devizes town, Roundway and Bishops Cannings parish councils and it favours small-scale sites in and around Devizes to fulfil housing targets.

Rick Rowland, vice-chairman of Roundway Parish Council, will be speaking at the inquiry. He said: “The three councils involved in producing the neighbourhood plan are confident it’s the right and achievable way that the area’s housing needs should be met over the next 12 years.

“The proposed housing at Coate flies in the face of what virtually everyone in Devizes wants.”

Mactaggart and Mickel’s planning agent Chris Simkins says in his proof of evidence for the inquiry that the neighbourhood plan is at an early stage and cannot be afforded material weight.

The four-day inquiry starts on Tuesday at the Corn Exchange, Devizes, at 10am.