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Warminster Town Council: Delivering a brighter, greener future for all

Town Council welcomes enforcement action re Number 3 High Street but says problem has not been solved

24 November 2023

Warminster Town Council has welcomed the enforcement action on Number 3, High Street, Warminster taken by Wiltshire Council at Swindon Magistrates Court. However, the town council warned that this was just a temporary measure, and a long-term solution was needed.

On Monday 13th November, the court ordered the owners to remove all the herbaceous growth from the front and side elevation; reinstate the plywood hoarding to the scaffolding to prevent access to the scaffolding and the building; remove all loose masonry from the front and side elevations; and ensure a structural assessment is undertaken by a specialist. The work must be done within eight weeks of the court order.

The court’s action under Section 77 of the Building Act 1984 aims to mitigate immediate dangers, emphasising that this is not an effort to make the building safe or facilitate further development. A live planning application (PL/2022/06471) for the demolition of the existing building and construction of new premises, including shops, flats, and houses, is pending determination.

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Warminster Town Council has long argued that neither the scaffolding or building were safe; however, at this stage they do not believe the enforcement action will lead to it coming down or much improved visuals for the town.

‘Planning stalemate’

Mayor of Warminster, Cllr Philip Keeble said: “The scaffolding around 3 The High Street has been in place for over 10 years and Warminster Town Council has been pressing for a solution most of that time. 

“However, the building is privately owned, and we understand even changed ownership during that time, and the powers of both the town council and Wiltshire Council are very limited. Various solutions have come and gone but there is a live Planning Application, submitted September 2022, to demolish and rebuild with a new shop, 5 flats and 6 houses. 

“Over the last year, the town council has been in regular dialogue with the developer, the site owner, Wiltshire Council, and others to try and move this forward, even taking the unusual step of agreeing to undertake some survey work to help unlock a planning stalemate. Recently, even Dr Murrison MP has also joined the fight.

“Informally, the town council have also explored options including purchasing the building. However, rough estimates put the cost at around £550K to £700K to purchase, demolish and then do something simple with the site. This is money the council does not have and would need to be raised through the precept element of the Council Tax. Crowd funding has also been suggested. 

“Compulsory purchase is also often suggested but this is very expensive, complicated, and as far as we are aware only been used once by Wiltshire Council.  Clearly our preferred solution is for the developer to get on and proceed with the works. The town council have raised safety concerns with Wiltshire Council, particularly regarding the scaffolding. 

“It seems this pressure has resulted in Wiltshire Council taking court action against the building owner and an order made by Swindon Magistrates Court for the owner to undertake various remedial works with 8 weeks from the date of order to comply. We are unsighted of the extent of those works but they will be limited to removing any immediate danger.

“Scaffolders have been working on site and have informed the Town Clerk that they are putting up double boarding so if the colonnades collapsed, they would fall downwards and not outwards. The town council is as exasperated and ashamed of this eyesore as anyone else and remains committed to its removal and a satisfactory solution.”

‘No choice but to take legal action’

Cllr Nick Botterill, Cabinet Member for Development Management and Strategic Planning at Wiltshire Council, said: “This has been a long, ongoing case that has been a concern since October 2014. The building is listed and has seen a marked decline in its structural integrity.

“I’d like to praise the tenacity of our Building Control officers, who have visited this site 34 times over the years and written several reports documenting the escalating issues surrounding the building and its scaffold.

“Throughout this process, we have tried to engage with various owners, conservation officers and structural engineers, but the situation has continued to significantly deteriorate, and so we had no choice but to take this legal action.”

For more information on this press release contact Tom Dommett, Town Clerk, Warminster Town Council, Tel: 01985 214847 or email:

Last modified: 27 November 2023

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