Public opposition to planned developments at Grovelands and Bath Road
The Planning Advisory Committee meeting on 8th December saw representation from nearly 70 residents strongly opposed to plans for a development of 175 houses at Grovelands and a Romany gipsy site at Bath Road. The outline plans for the Grovelands were submitted by Green Square, with 30% of the homes allocated as social housing. Residents were united in their concerns that aside from being on a flood plain, this area had always been intended as a nature reserve and buffer for the Grovelands estate, and was outside the proposed settlement boundary. Speaking from the floor, Councillor Pip Ridout said ‘this site is a water meadow with rare plants and protected species and is a haven for wildlife’. Councillor Jamie Cullen proposed refusal of the plans on the following grounds:
• It is a grade 2/3 flood area, and the Environment Agency and Wessex Water have significant concerns on the viability of drainage on the site.
• It is also home to many rare plants and animals and will be detrimental to the local ecology.
• It is outside the proposed settlement boundary.
• The increased load on the infrastructure would be unbearable.
• Warminster Town Council believe that this piece of land should have remained as a balancing pond, play area and public open space and no development should take place on it, which was agreed when the original Grovelands estate was developed.
Councillors were unanimous in recommending refusal of the plans.
Flooding was also the main issue raised by objectors to the proposed Romany gipsy site at Bath Road. Local homeowners in the area already had serious worries about flooding, and three homeowners had been offered help from the Environment Agency to provide flood protection measures to their properties. Councillor Sue Fraser said ‘it would be ridiculous to build on this site. One part of the field that has been identified as the children’s play area is a natural lake for most of the year.’ It was felt the developers were not taking into consideration the requirements for such sites to be built where there were existing facilities for water and sewage, and access to public transport and shops. In addition serious concerns were expressed about the visibility and safety of the entrance and exit points. Councillor Rob Fryer proposed refusal of the application due to the ‘major flooding issues in the area, the location of a gas main and that it does not conform to gypsy site planning criteria and regulations in relation to highway safety, public transport and shops’. The recommendation for refusal was carried unanimously.
Not all the plans at the meeting met with a negative response, however. Councillors were delighted to see plans for eight dwellings and three retail units at the old garage site at 36 Victoria Road which ‘has been a nuisance for the past ten years’ according to Councillor Rob Fryer. ‘The development will be an asset that will greatly enhance this entrance to the town.’ The Councillors were unanimous in their recommendation of acceptance of the plans, but stressed that this was on the assumption that the retails units would be provided.