Claire Perry urged to intervene after Rabley Wood View appeal decision
The planning inspector's decision to overturn Wiltshire Council's refusal of planning permission for new housing on the amenity land off Rabley Wood View was condemned by town councillors at the meeting of the full council on Monday (July 25.)
Allowing the appeal by the Manton Estate was described as "a sad story" by the Town Mayor, Councillor Noel Barrett-Morton. And Councillor Nick Fogg said it was yet another instance where an outsider had overturned locally made democratic decisions.
Councillor Justin Cook said that when he read about the decision he had phoned the office of Claire Perry MP. She has explained that part of the reason she resigned from her ministerial role was to focus more closely on constituency issues. "This," he said, " is the ideal issue to get your shoulder behind."
The only way forward is an appeal directly to the Secretary of State.
Councillors were particularly scornful that the inspector had believed the Manton Estate's allegation that flooding last year on the water meadow to be used as the new play area was caused by the Thames Water's sewage pipe works. He seemed not to realise that the purpose of water meadows was to flood - taking up excess winter rainwater.
The Town Council only has an advisory role in planning matters, but they too had objected to the planning application. The amenity land which is to be built on is owned by Wiltshire Council, and was legally to remain as amenity land 'in perpetuity' - a phrase found to have no meaning in modern planning processes.
It will be interesting to see what conditions Wiltshire Council attach to the planning permission they must now grant.
Given the importance the planning inspector places on the provision of the replacement public open space and play area, it will surely be necessary for the developers to complete the drainage of the water meadow and the new area before they begin to build on the existing amenity area.
The planning inspector's full report can be read here.