‘Don’t allow them to kill High Street’

This Is Wiltshire: From left, Ron Bardwell, Steve Walls, Linda Willis and Les Willis who are campaigning against plans to build 300 houses and a Tesco store in Royal Wootton Bassett From left, Ron Bardwell, Steve Walls, Linda Willis and Les Willis who are campaigning against plans to build 300 houses and a Tesco store in Royal Wootton Bassett

FORMER Royal Wootton Bassett Mayor Les Willis is calling for residents to join together to campaign against proposals for development at Marsh Farm.

Although an application has yet to be submitted to Wiltshire Council, Leda Properties has expressed interest in the site to the west of the Marsh Farm Hotel.

The proposals include building 300 new homes, accommodation for elderly people and a new community facility as well as a new Tesco supermarket.

But a number of residents including Mr Willis have raised concerns that the development will kill off its famous High Street.

He said: “I want to start a campaign to stop Tesco building in Marsh farm.

“I want to make sure that everybody in Wootton Bassett is fully aware of what’s going on, because there are a lot of people who think it is already a done deal and it isn’t.

“They want to do this and it’s just the most ridiculous thing that anybody has come up with. It’s going to kill off the High Street totally.

“I have been just talking to people in the High Street and nobody wants it.

“There isn’t the infrastructure to support 300 more houses and we definitely don’t need or want the Tesco.

“It’s just nonsensical.

“The doctor’s surgery is already oversubscribed with people having to wait two or three weeks for a regular appointment and roads are already very busy.

“It’s also going to completely ruin the look of the town.”

But Les felt confident that there was enough support from residents and traders in the town to convince developers to withdraw.

He said: “I think the people of Wootton Bassett will be out in protest to this.

“A few years ago they were trying to build a park and ride and we managed to stop that from going ahead, and I am sure we can stop this as well.

“If people stand up and fight about it then we can get rid of these proposals.”

Residents first raised concerns about the plans for the new store last month after unexpectedly turning up for a meeting between the council and Tesco which was open to the public.

The MP for North Wiltshire, James Gray, even raised concerns about the proposals in parliament.

On Monday during 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 do.

“They are like those who are trying to get 350 houses and a Tesco store outside Royal Wootton Bassett in my constituency and are now lodging applications with them. Normally they would not otherwise be allowed to lodge.

“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.”

A spokesperson for Tesco did not reply to our calls before the paper went to press.

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