MORE than 1,725 people have signed an online petition protesting about plans to build 28 new homes in Warminster.

Developers Backhouse Ltd have applied to Wiltshire Council to build the 28 new homes on land east of Damask Way, east of Upper Marsh Road and north of Smallbrook Lane.

The development has already been granted outline planning permission and the current application is about the exact form the development should take.

The petition launched by local environmental campaign group Sustainable Warminster is calling on Wiltshire Council to reject the plans, which they say will harm the environment and wildlife.

The greenfield site is next to the Smallbrook Meadows nature reserve and also borders a Special Area of Conservation which has a chalk bed river that runs along its edge and its neighbouring woods lie within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Warminster Town Council, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Sustainable Warminster and more than 160 Warminster residents have objected to the scheme.

Sarah Walters, of Sustainable Warminster, said: "This site is an important habitat for migration, hibernation, commuting and foraging for many protected and rare species.

"These include bats, otters, water voles, insects and a large but threatened population of common toads, along with many other species of flora and fauna.

"The whole area forms an important connection between various different habitats such as ponds, woodland, rivers, marsh, and grassland allowing wildlife to move freely and safely between them.

"A footpath across the land allows Warminster residents and visitors to walk from town, taking in a wonderful view of Salisbury Plain and on through to Henford Marsh and Southleigh woods.

"At a time when we are all being told to look after our planet and protect our biodiversity and the environment, we cannot let this important space be lost forever to luxury housing.

"Let's keep this area, its wildlife, its plants and trees, its view and the connecting route between town and countryside for future generations to enjoy."

The group says many rare wildlife species, including the Rugged Oil Beetle and Bee-Wolf wasps, inhabit the site at Damask Way.

Steve Smailes, of Sustainable Warminster, said: "The developer told everyone it was merely ‘average agricultural land’. Now everyone knows that it isn’t.

"Something’s very badly wrong somewhere. Time is running out all too quickly for this special place.

"If the field is built on, another beautiful rural corner of Warminster will be gone and rarities will disappear for good. Along with Wiltshire Council’s ‘green’ credibility."

Wiltshire Council's western planning committee was due to make a decision by February 17 but the application was deferred. Campaigners are now expecting the council to make a decision at its meeting on March 17.

To sign the petition, go to