Two controversial housing developments of almost 600 houses off the London Road corridor of Devizes are likely to be given the go-ahead as Wiltshire Council planners say they are powerless to stop them.
The council’s strategic planning committee, which meets next Wednesday and is being recommended to approve The Crown Estate’s planning application for 230 homes on agricultural land next to Lay Wood in Bishops Cannings.
The committee is also being told that Wiltshire Council can no longer justify the reasons it refused permission for 350 homes on greenfield land next to Coate bridge, off Windsor Drive, for Mactaggart and Mickel and recommends not defending the decision at a public inquiry scheduled for April.
One of the reasons is that the inspector overseeing Wiltshire Council’s core strategy for future development has stated that there needs to be more homes built in Wiltshire in the next 12 years and has agreed with the council’s suggestion of 5,000 more homes.
Inspector Andrew Seaman also says the settlement boundaries in the Kennet Local Plan, which was used to refuse the Mactaggart and Mickel application last September, are out of date.
In a further blow to campaigners wishing to stop large scale housing developments, Wiltshire Council cannot attach any weight to the draft Devizes Neighbourhood Plan as it is currently out to public consultation. The Devizes Neighbourhood Plan identifies small scale sites for housing around the town.
In a report on the Lay Wood application to the strategic planning committee, planning officer Jemma Boustead says, as a result, the policies of the National Planning Policy Framework applies.
She says: “These apply a presumption in favour of sustainable development and state that planning permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would demonstrably outweigh the benefits.
"In this case, it is considered that there are no such significant and demonstrable adverse impacts that would outweigh presumption on favour of development.”
Devizes town, Roundway and Bishops Cannings parish councils all objected to both planning applications. All argued that Devizes experiences significant traffic congestion and air pollution as a result of significant numbers of houses having been built in the town, particularly on the London Road corridor.
Rick Rowland, vice-chairman of Roundway Parish Council and who has been involved in drawing up the Devizes Neighbourhood Plan with Devizes town and Bishops Cannings parish councils, said: “It is disappointing that the government and Wiltshire Council are not supporting localism. This makes a mockery of neighbourhood planning.”
Wiltshire Council's strategic planning committee meeting is on Wednesday at County Hall, Trowbridge, at 10.30am.