Two families have challenged Warminster Town and Wiltshire councils to look again at how their land came to be designated as local green space in the town’s neighbourhood plan without their consent.

The shocked families of Paul Strong and Andrew Gaskell only found out in 2019 that the land they own privately at Folly Lane, Rehobath, had been designated as local green space three years earlier.

They say Warminster Town Council and Wiltshire Council have not properly consulted them on the LGS designation in 2016. It means that no development can take place on the land other than in very special circumstances.

The land appeared in the town’s Draft Neighbourhood Plan as Folly Lane Rehobath LGS which was approved by Wiltshire Council in November 2016.

Paul Strong, of Chapel Street, Warminster, and Andrew Gaskell, from Frome, have requested that Warminster Town Council and Wiltshire Council remove the LGS designation from the plan.

Paul Strong’s daughter Tania Peacock, who lives in Newmarket, Suffolk, said: “Both councils know that we are correct but they won’t admit it.

“Wiltshire Council should have checked Warminster Town Council followed procedures correctly set out in legislation but they didn’t.

“The land should never have been designated as Local Green Space, as it was never in a draft plan for public consultation.

“Neither Wiltshire Council nor Warminster Town Council consulted my father before adding the land to the Neighbourhood Plan.”

The Folly Lane Rehobath site is made up of three different land parcels which are all in private ownership. The Strong family owns one parcel, the Gaskell family another, and the third is owned by the Longleat Estate.

The land was designated as Local Green Space as part of the Folly Lane Rehobath, which covers around four hectares and consists of flood plain, woods and open fields.

It followed a survey and a petition in 2015 to save Folly Lane Rehobath from being developed by the Redrow Homes company. The petition is not being used within the neighbourhood plan review.

But the two families say it does not meet the LGS criteria of recreational, beauty, wildlife, tranquility and historical.

Mrs Peacock said: “We have asked the town clerk to show us the factual evidence gathered by the steering group to pass criteria set out by government. Fifty people ticked ‘recreational’ but the land is not open to the public.

“The survey results are based on 50 people walking along a public footpath which isn’t located on my father’s land.”

Steve Bond, representing Paul Strong, told the council: “We are under the impression the Rehobath site is under review with the current steering group for the neighbourhood plan.

“How can it be under review when it never should have been allocated in the first place?”

Warminster Town Council town clerk Tom Dommett said: “The proposed designation was entirely public and was endorsed by a planning inspector and a referendum of local residents. The designation is entirely lawful and the correct procedures were followed.

“The land isn’t open to the public, but the land doesn’t have to be open to the public to be Local Green Space.

“Landowners do not have a veto over the process any more than a homeowner can decide they don’t want listed building status.

“The land is not particularly suitable for development and a recent planning application for a single dwelling on the site was turned down by Wiltshire Council on multiple planning grounds.”

Cllr Nick Botterill, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning, said: “Warminster Town Council is currently reviewing the Warminster Neighbourhood Plan and it is understood that it will be going out to consultation in the new year, where the community will have their chance to comment.

“As the qualifying body, Warminster Town Council is responsible for managing the various stages of the neighbourhood planning process.

“The independent neighbourhood planning examiner who examined the current neighbourhood plan concluded that the relevant tests for the local green space (LGS) designation were passed, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.

“The method for designation of LGS was achieved properly and lawfully through the planning process by the creation of Warminster Neighbourhood Plan, which was subject to extensive public consultation.”