An appeal hearing evaluating the refusal of planning permission for 180 houses and a primary school in Malmesbury has been extended.

The hearing began on January 22 and was due to finish three days later, but now discussions will continue in the second week of February.

The application to build on land south of Filands has been made by Gleeson Strategic Land.

It hopes to build on a 9.7- hectare plot that is part of Whychurch Farm and is being used to graze cattle.

When the plan was first submitted some residents and councillors raised concerns about over-development and said plans for large developments should only be considered after Malmesbury completes its neighbourhood plan.

Coun William Blake said Malmesbury Town Council wished to see its neighbourhood plan completed and incorporated in the Wiltshire Council Core Strategy first.

He said: “Malmesbury Town Council recognises that we and our community have to accept more housing and other building development, but we want to be able to identify the parcels of land which in our view are most suitable for this.

“To approve Gleeson’s application would make a mockery of not just the localism bill and the neighbourhood plan approach, but would also put at nought the huge amount of work already undertaken.”

A spokesman for Gleeson said: “The break in the inquiry was anticipated in advance of it opening, which was due to constraints to inquiry scheduling. This does not in any way reflect the strength of the cases put forward by either Wiltshire Council or Gleeson.”

Gleeson’s initial application was turned down following the recommendation of local councillors.

Concerns were raised over infrastructure planning and inadequate provisions for affordable housing.

When Gleeson’s appeal was lodged in October last year, Coun Simon Killane, who chairs Malmesbury Neighbourhood Steering Group, said residents accepted a new primary school was needed, but felt the location was unacceptable.

After the appeal is heard, the planning inspector is expected to make a decision in March or April.