Opponents of Mactaggart and Mickel’s proposed 350 home development on the outskirts of Devizes say it should not go ahead as it will increase traffic congestion and air pollution.
At the inquiry into Mactaggart and Mickel’s appeal against refusal of planning permission for the scheme on a greenfield site next to Coate Bridge off Windsor Drive, Devizes Community Area Partnership (DCAP) said the draft Devizes Neighbourhood Plan, which identifies small scale sites in the town, would be more sustainable.
Rick Rowland, chairman of DCAP’s housing group, claimed at the inquiry, held at the Corn Exchange, Devizes, that an assessment carried out by highway consultants for Wiltshire Council showed that the Devizes Neighbourhood Plan’s proposals caused less congestion than Mactaggart and Mickel’s scheme.
Parts of Devizes, notably London Road is often gridlocked at rush hour, and as a consequence air pollution exceeds European limits.
Mr Rowland said: “The Devizes traffic model shows that if this development (Mactaggart and Mickel’s scheme) goes ahead journey times would increase by 35 per cent in evening rush hour. The trunk roads in Devizes are regularly congested and Wiltshire Council has designated it an area of air quality management.”
Anthony Crean QC, representing Mactaggart and Mickel, said Wiltshire Council’s environmental health department had no objections to the 350 home scheme and said Mactaggart and Mickel had agreed to the council’s request for improvements to London Road with some widening of lanes plus traffic lights at the junction of London Road and Windsor Drive to mitigate the effect on traffic.
But Mr Rowland said these measures would not be enough.
“They are not even going to maintain the status quo. Undoubtedly they would make an improvement but the question is would it be enough?” Mr Rowland said.
John Kirkman, chairman of the Kennet group of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said the 350 home development would be harmful to traffic congestion and air quality.
He also said the site was not in Wiltshire Council’s emerging Core Strategy which sets out development for the next 12 years and that the overwhelming opinion of the public was against it.
He said: “This case is a test for the Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework. We contend that the indication of local opinion in Devizes is a material consideration that should be given great weight.”
The inquiry is expected to end today. The planning inspector in charge of the inquiry, John Felgate, will write a report with a recommendation to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who will make the decision on Mactaggart and Mickel’s appeal.