Campaigners against the Sangsters’ planned Rabley Wood development say they have been kept in the dark over the impact that the sale of the Manton Estate will have on proposals.

The Manton Estate has submitted plans to Wiltshire Council to change a 14-hectare piece of agricultural land into a nature park and exchange it for nearby recreational ground owned by Wiltshire Council.

If the exchange goes ahead, Guy and Ben Sangster plan to build 46 houses on the council- owned land and replace the kick-about area and play area within the nature park.

Jayne Baker, of The Thorns, who has fronted the campaign against the development, said: “We’ve not heard anything from the Sangster family or the Manton Estate about the sale.

"They’ve been using a planning consultant but we haven’t heard from them either. We found out because somebody from the group picked it up from the Racing Post.

“There have been rumours that the Manton Estate would be sold for years and if they do get planning permission then selling a piece of land which has planning permission for new homes is going to be a lot more valuable than selling a piece of land where nothing can be built.

“It seems like a big business thing where everybody benefits apart from the people who actually live here.”

Marlborough Town Council recently refused to support the application and during the meeting Coun Richard Allen raised concerns over the Sangsters’ motivations behind the offer of a nature park in light of the estate sale.

Angela Fry, of Rogers Meadow, said: “It was mentioned at the town council meeting that what was first presented as an altruistic gesture to give something to the town is perhaps more than that.

“The fact that they are now going to sell up is strange but not surprising. Throughout the whole process there has been no face-to-face contact with the developers.”

The agent acting for the estate is equally in the dark about what ramifications the sale will have on the land swop plans.

Richard Cosker, of RCC Town Planning, the agent for the estate, said: “I don’t know how the sale will affect the development but if you look at the particulars of the sale it doesn’t include the land offered as a country park.”

Coun Stewart Dobson, who has called the planning application in, said: “As far as I’m aware the sale won’t affect the planning application.

“I have a meeting with the planning officer tomorrow so I will know better then, but last time I spoke to her nothing had changed.”