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Fears raised as another 700 homes expected
Devizes will have to find space for another 700 homes despite local councillors insisting the town doesn’t have the infrastructure to cope.
And there may be many more as Wiltshire Council lacks the financial muscle to fight unwanted planning applications, it was claimed on Tuesday.
Wiltshire Council’s full council meeting in Devizes Corn Exchange officially approved the Core Strategy, formerly known as the local plan, which will cover development in the county until 2026. Under the strategy, there must be a minimum of 2,150 new houses built in the Devizes community area, 1,730 of them in Devizes itself. With 1,070 already completed, it leaves 640 to place.
But, as Coun Jeff Ody told his fellow councillors, recent events have shown that Wiltshire Council is powerless to prevent even more being built. He said: “There is great doubt that Wiltshire Council has the financial capability to fight planning applications.”
Recently, Wiltshire Council’s eastern area planning committee decided not to offer any evidence to a public inquiry hearing an appeal brought by the St Monica Trust against councillors’ refusal of permission for a care village at Quakers Walk after council officers told them it could cost £100,000 if they lost the appeal.
The committee also approved a 37-unit retirement complex at Devizes Wharf for McCarthy & Stone after hearing how expensive a successful appeal against refusal might be.
Coun Ody said: “Standards of medical support in Devizes have been neglected but they are not considered as planning matters. Doctors services in Devizes are simply inadequate.”
Coun Laura Mayes, who also spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, is concerned about the continuing traffic congestion, especially along the London Road corridor of her Roundway ward.
She said: “I have a continuing concern about how we improve the infrastructure in Devizes, but now we have a transport strategy committee which will hopefully start to work this out.”