WILTSHIRE Council has come under fire after it turned down a £119,000 contribution to Melksham’s GP surgeries last week as it waved through plans for another 235 new homes.
The council approved a controversial application for 235 homes and a primary school to be built next to the roundabout between Melksham and Bowerhill. The application, which pushes the Melksham area past its housebuilding target for 2026, drew sharp criticism from the parish council because it blurs the line between Melksham and the village.
Wiltshire’s planning committee approved the application but turned down an offer of £119,119 to go towards improving local GP surgeries, despite the developer agreeing to pay.
Melksham News was told councillors turned down the money because they had ‘no clear proposal’ for spending it.
Chairman of Melksham Without Parish Council, Richard Wood said, “We’re very unhappy with this decision, and the application was passed simply because of Wiltshire Council’s incompetence in not being able to defend itself against appeals.
“The proposal is simply in the wrong place; it merges Melksham and Bowerhill, which the parish council has always been against. It’s not a suitable place for a school because the roads are so busy, and there will be real traffic and access problems.
“It’s totally outrageous that the council turned down the essential money for the NHS when the GP surgeries are in the news because they’re under so much pressure. Another poor display from Wiltshire Council.”
The decision comes at a time when over 1,000 new homes have received planning permission in Melksham this year alone and there are over 1,000 more expected over the coming years.
Health co-ordinator for Melksham’s Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, Nick Westbrook, anticipates that the Melksham area needs to make space for around 5,000 new GP patients.
Nick said, “I’m very disappointed Wiltshire Council refused the developer’s contribution. The councillors threw away the money because they said they had no clear proposal for spending it.
“This is at a time when GP surgeries in the town are working hard to meet the demand of a rapidly growing population; they will be struggling soon.
“The NHS needs those resources to meet the needs of local people. There’s even a requirement in Wiltshire Council’s own core strategy to provide money for health services.”