A LOCAL councillor has welcomed the changes to the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which will provide protection for communities against speculative housing developments being forced onto towns. But cllr Gordon King has suggested that the changes should also apply retrospectively, so Westbury could have avoided the controversial plans for 67 houses on green land south of Sandhole Lane.
The plans, which have been routinely objected to by Westbury Town Council, were approved by a government inspector in 2022 via an appeal as a result of Wiltshire Council not having a five-year housing land supply.
The reserved matters application was recently objected to again by Westbury Town Council at a meeting of the highways, planning and development committee last month.
The government’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, recently announced that he is removing the requirement for planning authorities that have an up-to-date plan in place, like Wiltshire Council, to update annually their five-year supply of land. Local authorities who have a local plan and proposed allocations towards meeting housing need, only have to demonstrate a four-year housing land supply (as opposed to five years).
Cllr Gordon King says he wishes that the changes to the NPPF could also be applied retrospectively to developments where work has not yet started.
He explained, “The most pleasing aspect of the changes in the NPPF is that for the very first time, government has placed communities before developers by arming local planning authorities with the means of preventing inappropriate development where the dis-benefits of a plan clearly outweigh the benefits of granting permission. What is not pleasing is that government did not make the new arrangements retrospective, where the principle of development has been given, though development has yet to take place.
“One example being the application for 67 homes on land south of Sandhole Lane where the principle of development was given away by a planning inspector, not because the plan had merit, but because the planning authority could not guarantee a five-year land supply for future development purposes. This plan had been refused by the local planning authority following receipt of multiple objections because it is a difficult site which is difficult to access or drain, and that will have a detrimental impact on the established community. Clearly, the benefits were few and the dis-benefits were many.
“The fact that the subsequent reserved matters application continues to remain hung up is clear evidence of the difficulties of the site, not least because the developer has failed to bring forward a construction management strategy to route construction traffic through the community in one direction and via Old Dilton Lane for the other. Such a plan would provide the community with a clear set of expectations over what could be a five-year build. I have opposed this application from the outset, providing evidence at the planning enquiry. I will continue to oppose it because I have no doubt that it is the wrong development in the wrong place.”
To view the plans search PL/2022/09817 on Wiltshire Council’s planning portal.