Friends of Birds Marsh defiant after Chippenham homes plan approved
6:00pm Wednesday 23rd April 2014 in By Julie Armstrong, Senior reporter
The Friends of Birds Marsh campaigners say they will continue to fight a development of 750 houses in northern Chippenham and have defended the village green status they fought for.
Last Wednesday Wiltshire Council approved, in principle, the development that will be mainly on green fields between Birds Marsh and Hill Corner Road. The plan generated 105 letters of objection and three of support.
It includes a new main road link running between the A350 Malmesbury Road and the B4069 Maud’s Heath Causeway.
Developers say it is a chance for economic growth and will reduce the number of lorries going through the town centre.
Martin Naylor, a spokesman for Friends of Birds Marsh, told councillors it would turn Chippenham into a large dormitory town.
He said: “We are disappointed but we don’t see this as the end of the fight.
"It is only outline permission and we are going to continue our campaign against this development.”
Originally the plans included management of the wood by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.
But the promise of new woodland facilities was removed after Birds Marsh was granted village green status, applied for by the Friends, which developers said prevents any management by law.
At the meeting, Nick Watts, councillor for Chippenham Hardenhuish, said: “I have been appalled at the Friends of Birds Marsh’s smugness in their victory. They have lost the plot.”
Afterwards, Mr Naylor said: “We still say the village green status is essential to protect the wood.
"Nick Watts thinks that because we pushed through our application for the status we weren’t thinking about the good of the woods, but we don’t believe they should be heavily managed.
“They’ve done fine over the past 30 years. We don’t want management groups going in there making paths and sending the wildlife away.”
One of the conditions of approval is that the freehold of Birds Marsh is transferred to Wiltshire Council to secure its future maintenance.
Coun Watts still voted against approval, saying the development was too large and the view from Birds Marsh View would be lost.
At least 2,625 new houses have to be built in Chippenham over the next 12 years, according to the modified Wiltshire Core Strategy.
Coun Tony Peacock, who campaigned against a development at Showell, said since consultation on where extra housing should be delivered only began last Monday, the decision should be deferred.
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