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A PLANNING application to build up to 231 houses on land south of Western Way has been refused by Wiltshire Council – and local councillors are hailing the Melksham Neighbourhood Plan as the hero of the hour.
In their response to the application, which included a 70-bed care home, Wiltshire Council cited the neighbourhood plan – which sets out where a community would prefer to see housing built – as a key factor for its refusal.
Wiltshire Council has explained that the proposed development – which was earmarked for land next to the Pathfinder Way development currently under construction – is located on a site is loacted ‘outside any defined limits of development’ and that it ‘conflicts’ with the neighbourhood plan.
And the council has told the developers that because of this, any appeal against this decision would have ‘no reasonable prospect of succeeding’.
In response to the decision announced last week, chair of Melksham Without Parish Council, cllr John Glover, told Melksham News, “We are delighted by Wiltshire Council’s decision to refuse permission for this proposed un- sustainable development.
“Not only is the joint Melksham Neighbourhood Plan cited as a reason for refusal, but the officer’s report emphasises the importance of the neighbourhood plan for the coming years, stating that there is no need for Wiltshire Council to consider any future housing supply in the Melksham Community Area for at least several years, despite them being unable to identify a 5-year housing land supply.
“The parish council had many objections to this application, with concerns about the vehicular access through the new development under construction at the neighbouring site, the unsafe walking routes to the proposed primary school, access off the A365, the impact on the NHS services in the area, and feel that the site is far more suitable for commercial development to expand the offering on Bowerhill Industrial Estate.
“This refusal is a real success for local democracy, following the successful referendum for the neighbourhood plan in July, which gave it this added weight to be taken into account for planning decisions.
“It ensures development is best placed where the community wants it, and that the necessary infrastructure and community facilities are provided in tandem. It highlights the importance of the review of the neighbourhood plan which has already started, to ensure it is current and up to date and holding its weight in planning decisions, before beginning to be considered out of date by mid- 2023.
“The joint Melksham Neighbourhood Plan is a great example of Melksham Without Parish Council working together with Melksham Town Council, without the need for a merger, looking after the separate interests of the town and villages.”
Wiltshire councillor for Bowerhill, Nick Holder added, “I am pleased the planning officer has decided to refuse this planning application. It is the wrong proposal in the wrong location and is not wanted by the Bowerhill community. The fact we have an adopted neighbourhood plan for the Melksham area played a vital role in influencing the decision and we should be grateful for all the effort put in to deliver that.”