AN estate of 71 houses can cover green fields in Malmesbury, after Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said the scheme could go ahead.

The Secretary of State has decided not to 'call in' the controversial plans from Gleeson Homes, despite representations from North Wiltshire MP James Gray, Malmesbury Town Council, Wiltshire Cllr Gavin Grant, and dozens of residents.

Cllr Grant said: “Now we know where we stand. Malmesbury made a very clear local decision and that decision was not to have new housing on that site.

“It’s disappointing, not least because a lot of volunteers to put together the plans and that Neighbourhood Plan was overwhelmingly endorsed by the voters.

“The secretary of state could have made to the decision to call in this application and throw it out.”

Malmesbury Town Council has now started to contact other councils across the county to ensure they are aware of how the lack of land supply affects new Neighbourhood Plans or those being revised.

“We are also, of course, seeking urgent action by Wiltshire Council to correct its land supply issue, but not at the expense, again, of our Neighbourhood Plan,” said Malmesbury Mayor, Cllr Campbell Ritchie.

Cllr Ritchie said: “We can now see how much the rules for making planning decisions have been changed nationally to undermine Neighbourhood Planning.

“It is important to remember the damaging decision taken by Wiltshire Council’s Strategic Planning Committee on this application only happened because Wiltshire Council is unable to demonstrate it has a five year supply of land across Wiltshire as a whole.”

Wiltshire Council’s Strategic Planning Committee was recommended by officers to approve the plan by Gleeson Homes to build 71 houses on land south of Filands, and agreed to do so on May 27. The scheme was decided there instead of at the planning committee because of the land supply situation

Cllr Toby Sturgis, cabinet member for planning, said: “The application for up to 71 homes at land south of Filands was granted outline permission, on the condition of the completion of a section 106 legal agreement, by the Strategic Planning Committee on 27 May.

“That will secure affordable housing and financial contributions to mitigate the impact of the development, and as the secretary of state has decided not to call the application in, planning permission can now be granted once the section 106 agreement is completed.”