OPPOSITION to a planning application for a care home in Okebourne Park is pressing ahead, with almost 200 signatures gathered on a petition by the residents’ association.

Last month Wiltshire Autism Care said it intended to withdraw plans to convert a Liden property which had prompted objections from residents who claimed it was not a suitable site for the development.

However, the application has now been called in and will be discussed at the planning committee on September 9, when members of the committee will protest the scale of the development.

Keith Stubbs, chairman of the Okebourne Park Action Committee, said: “We have had a number of meetings now and done some research on the matter and we are still objecting to the application.

“We are only objecting on the basis of the scale and nature of the application.

“Ultimately, this is about the use to which the property will be put.

“I am not surprised that people are concerned about the nature of this development.

“This is a problem where people do not want homes in their area being used as businesses. It does seem to contradict some concerns about the lack of housing stock.

“The company have said that it is their intention to withdraw the application but it still stands and work is continuing at the property.

“We have written to them about this and had no response.”

Coun Derique Montaut (Lab, Liden and Eldene) said he has been seeking legal advice from Robert Buckland into the issue of covenants attached to the properties in Liden.

“They have been quite active as a community group,” he said.

“They are campaigning quite vigorously on a wide range of issues from overdevelopment to the covenant saying that businesses can’t operate from residential premises.

“They are organising for a mass turn-out when the planning application is discussed next week and will be lobbying councillors before they go into the meeting.

“I have been working closely with Robert Buckland on the issue of whether it stands up under the legal position of the covenant.

“I think there is some abuse being made in terms of people moving into a development under the pretext that it will be residential but then begin operating it as a business.

“Things need to change on this issue and should be a lot more transparent. Housing is in short supply at the moment, and if you start taking houses out of the system you cause more problems.

“The other issue is it’s possible to get planning permission and at the same time there can be legal appeals against it. It is a bureaucratic system that complicates matters.”

Stuart Hook, of Wiltshire Autism Care, said in a statement: “We place the people we care for at the centre of all of our decisions and would want them to live in an environment where they are fully accepted, and therefore we will not be proceeding with our care home at this location.”