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Growth in Devizes is stunted
One of Devizes’ fastest growing companies says it is being forced out of town because there is no space for industrial development it can use.
The management of IDDEA Ltd, the sustainable technology company that has outgrown its current base on Hopton industrial estate, heard on Monday that it will not be allowed to build on an area on the former Bureau West site in Horton Road earmarked for light industrial use.
Company director Ian Dunstone said that the site at Bureau West, where Redrow Homes is currently building 118 homes, is perfect for their needs.
He said: “What we are planning is a carbon-neutral site. We will incorporate over 100 solar panels on the roof, a biomass heating system and other ecologically friendly technologies.
“The main building would have a south-facing roof, which would mean maximum generation of power from solar energy.”
The company says it approached Redrow Homes to purchase the land, and made what Mr Dunstone said was a sensible offer based on the value of industrial land rather than that of residential land.
They were astonished to read in the Gazette & Herald on March 15 that Redrow had applied for a change of use on the land to residential use because it had had no interest expressed in the land for industrial or commercial use.
Mr Dunstone said: “We contacted Rachel Yeomans at Wiltshire planning, saying that this was not the case and that we had made an offer on the land. We had hoped the council would take this into account when reviewing the change of use application.”
But their hopes were dashed when they heard on Monday from the planning department that the council was not going to oppose Redrow’s application and the land would be used for more homes.
Mr Dunstone said: “We are completely devastated at this decision. There is nowhere else in Devizes that is currently available for the kind of development we are looking for.
“We have no choice but to look to move to another town. At the moment, Melksham is favourite. Nothing against Melksham, but we are a Devizes company and we would rather stay in Devizes.
“But we are bursting at the seams and need to move now. It is such a shame that Devizes is losing out on jobs. There can’t be too many companies in the area that are expanding at the moment.”
Mr Dunstone and his business partner Pete Cadwgan started up in business in 2007 and presently employ 18 people. This is set to expand by another eight employees in the near future, but only if they can find larger premises.
The Bureau West site, the former Ministry of Defence IT centre, was earmarked for employment use in the last Kennet District Plan and a scheme to build 172 homes, a care home and light industrial buildings was turned down by the district council.
A planning inspector overturned the council’s decision at appeal.
Lee Hawker, land director for Redrow (South West), said: “To accompany the change of use planning application at Bureau West in Devizes, Redrow has submitted a detailed marketing report to Wiltshire Council which includes full details of the extensive marketing undertaken by our commercial agents over the last two-and-a-half years.
“As Redrow is still awaiting final determination of the application we feel it is inappropriate to comment further on the report at this stage.
“Redrow has consulted widely with local residents and there is unanimous support to our change of use application which brings with it much-needed additional affordable housing.”