North Wiltshire MP James Gray has called for safeguards to protect Royal Wootton Bassett's High Street from 'greedy developers'.
Mr Gray has questioned Planning Minister Nick Boles on the role of the Planning Inspectorate in the absence of a local plan, saying that there was a widely shared fear that the inspectors tended to use outdated central figures in making decisisons.
Speaking during yesterday’s questions to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Mr Gray said: “I feel that where there is no local plan in place, as is the case in Wiltshire, the Government planning inspectors tend to use the old figures and the old central procedures in such a way that opportunistic developers, such as those who are trying to get 350 houses and a Tesco store outside Royal Wootton Bassett in my constituency, are now lodging applications with them that they would not otherwise be allowed to lodge.”
Mr Gray then called on the Government to “allow the emerging [Wiltshire] Core Strategy to be used as part of how the inspector decides whether such applications are allowed.”
Mr Boles said in response that the Government had made clear that Local Plans submitted to the Inspectorate could be used as grounds for a refusal in some contexts.
“The Government made it clear in the planning guidance that was finalised two weeks ago that when a local plan has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination, it can absolutely be grounds for refusing an application if that application is substantial in the context of the plan," he said.
"I hope that that is a power that authorities will be able to make use of.”
Today Mr Gray, welcoming the announcement, called for the Marsh Farm planning application in Royal Wootton Bassett to be rejected.
“I am delighted that the Department for Communities and Local Government have clarified the planning guidance to allow local plans submitted for examination to be used as grounds for dismissing appeals and refusing planning applications that are incompatible with those plans,” he said.
“As Wiltshire Council’s Core Strategy has not identified the land at Marsh Farm as suitable for future development, I firmly believe that any speculative planning application should be rejected on these grounds.
"Extending the town of Royal Wootton Bassett further north and bringing in yet another supermarket would have a catastrophic impact on its market town nature.
"We cannot allow greedy developers to wreck the High Street in Royal Wootton Bassett.”