Campaigners battling to stop 2,600 new homes being built between Hilperton and Staverton claim there is a 'wall of silence' about plans for the proposed development in the Wiltshire countryside.

A consultation carried out by Wiltshire Council as part of its draft local plan review in 2021 suggested the houses could be built on ‘greenfield’ farmland in the area.

The sites were referred to as “North Trowbridge” (4) and “North-East Trowbridge” (5) and will come back before Wiltshire Council’s cabinet and full council in July for consideration.

Campaigners from the Hilperton Area Advisory Group (HAAG), a working group of Hilperton Parish Council, say the proposed development will dwarf Paxcroft Mead and will subsume both Hilperton and Staverton into greater north-east Trowbridge.

Lucie Castleman, of HAAG, said: “Wiltshire Council's revised Local Plan for Wiltshire, including major expansion at Trowbridge is due to be published on July 3.

“This document will lay out Wiltshire Council's future intentions for Wiltshire residents up to and beyond 2036.

“Since the Covid outbreak the local planning authority has taken a very guarded approach to the future direction of travel, with little or no information shared, allowing rumours to abound and half-truths to confuse real intent.

“The threat of large-scale development, particularly for residents of Staverton and Hilperton in whose interests we are operating, has made a mockery of any community collaboration or consultation.

“Residents should know what is happening in their area, especially about plans for their area to provide the additional 2,600 homes at two identified sites.

“Whilst we wait for the government’s latest planning bill to become law, we have experienced only a wall of silence.

“We are at a loss to know how to contribute to the consultation for our area, being made by people who do not live here or know the local circumstances.”

Ernie Clark, the chairman of Hilperton Parish Council, said: “We were delighted to set up HAAG as a formal working group of Hilperton Parish Council over a year ago. 

"The time and energy that the team has put in to the project is amazing. The parish council is proud to fund the project from its precept, but, I am sure, it would welcome a contribution from the Staverton area.”

Staverton Parish Council's chairman Nick Woodall said: “We have also objected to the scheme. We are taking as much action as we possibly can to fully support HAAG.”

But Cllr Nick Botterill, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning, said: “To say that we have not engaged with our communities during this Local Plan process is simply not correct.

“We have held several consultations with both the public and stakeholders during this Local Plan review, including a consultation in November 2017 that asked what issues should be considered within the Local Plan; informal consultation with town and parish councils in October 2018; and a summer 2019 informal consultation with town and parish councils and developers.

“Using all the information and evidence gathered from the early engagement, we then held a full public consultation in early 2021 that gave people the opportunity to have their say on the emerging Local Plan. We received more than 3,500 representations from 2,682 people and organisations.

“These responses, plus any further relevant evidence, have now been considered by officers.

“Cabinet will have its first opportunity to consider the draft Local Plan at its meeting on July 11, which will enable the Plan to move to the final consultation stage.

“The process leading to the publication of the Draft Local Plan does not allow for input by councillors or members of the public, only the officers tasked with the drafting. This is in no way sinister or secretive, but merely adhering to normal lawful practices.  

“We are then looking to hold the public pre-submission consultation on the draft Local Plan during the autumn, at which everyone will get an opportunity to comment on all the proposals countywide before it is examined by a planning inspector. We will have more information about this consultation in due course.”