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GEORGE Ward School is set to be demolished at last, after Wiltshire Council gave the green light for a housing estate to be built on the site.
Persimmon Homes were granted permission to build 261 new homes on the old school grounds at a planning meeting on Wednesday 23rd September. Persimmon are now expected to buy the site with planning permission from Wiltshire Council, which has been paying nearly £45,000 per year to keep it empty.
The application was met with disapproval by a number of local people, many of whom wrote to Wiltshire Council to express their concerns. Melksham Without Parish Council also objected to the plans, and a petition against the development, led by councillor Terry Chivers, was signed by 503 people.
Local resident Mark Ashkowski, who signed cllr Chivers’ petition, maintains that even though the campaign wasn’t successful, communities must continue to make their voices heard.
He said, “Despite their considerable efforts over the last few years I think the local community knew to expect that planning permission would be granted. This and similar applications illustrate the fundamental importance of the community being involved in the planning process from the very start.
“The work being done to prepare the Melksham Neighbourhood Plan will provide us all with a great opportunity to have a say on where future housing developments should be located, and to ensure that those developments fit with the needs of our community.”
The planning application was decided with matters reserved, meaning some aspects of the plans are subject to change. Permission was also granted on the condition that details such as the external building materials, full road and footpath layouts, and streetlighting are approved before work starts.
Wiltshire Council also demanded that the proposed play area and open space is completed before all of the houses are occupied.
For more information about the plans, enter 14/11295/REM into the planning search at www.wiltshire.gov.uk