A WILTSHIRE councillor is being urged to call in plans to cut a five-metre deep gorge alongside a Warminster nature reserve for a controversial new housing development.

Housing developer Backhouse (Warminster) Ltd wants to build 28 new homes on land east of Damask Way and east of Upper Marsh Road and north of Smallbrook Lane in Warminster.

The development already has outline planning permission by Wiltshire Council and the latest application is about the exact form that development should take.

Cllr Tony Jackson, unitary ward member for Warminster Broadway, has been asked to call in the reserved matters application for a decision by the Western Area Planning Committee.

Cllr Tony Nicklin, chairman of Warminster Town Council's planning advisory committee, said: “We are not confident that the new application fully satisfies the conditions of the outline approval, particularly in the biodiversity protection of the landscape and the protection of the emergency access to the existing Damask Way residents.

"We ask the unitary councillors to call it in. We ask Wiltshire Council to ensure they have fully evaluated all the responses to the reserve matters and that they are acceptable to Wiltshire Council.

"We ask the Western Area Committee that they have all the evidence to hand and the responses from the officers who are skilled in these matters.”

He added: “The town council has consistently, and on three occasions opposed, development that involves the extension of Damask Way.

"We are an advisory committee and as such have almost no statutory powers to prevent unwanted development other than to refer to our own neighbourhood plan. Sadly, this will not help with regard to Damask Way.”

Residents have until next Friday, October 2 to comment on the plans, which include a new access road with a steel supporting wall.

Local resident, Rodney Simpson, said: "Surely this will be catastrophe for Smallbrook Meadows Nature Reserve.

"This planning application received over 270 objections during the outline planning stage.

"The reserved matters application has been submitted by the developer and includes excavation in what can only be described as a five-metre deep gorge through the landscape to make way for the road into the planned estate on the edge of Wiltshire Wildlife Smallbrook Meadows Nature Reserve.

"The submitted plan is for a large development of dwellings which is not in keeping with the surrounding area.

"Due to the proposed development being at the top of a hill, it will have a profound visual and environmental impact from Smallbrook Meadows Nature Reserve.

"This is probably the Warminster community's last to chance register comment against the controversial housing development on the edge of Smallbrook Nature Reserve."

More than 270 people have objected to the plans to build the new homes next to the nature reserve.

They say the proposed development site is home to a wide range of wildlife that was not identified at the initial planning stage.

Many think the project will be highly damaging to the adjacent wildlife reserve and the increased volume of traffic will create huge problems for narrow approach roads.

Harriet James, of Sustainable Warminster, said: “This site is very important as a recreational open space with a footpath joining the open countryside to the nature reserve and town park with uninterrupted views of the surrounding hills. Its recreational value supports health and social well-being.

“The plan does not improve biodiversity or use resources prudently because it cannot minimise pollution of the River Wylye."