Controversial plans for a block of 39 retirement flats in Calne have been approved after a council decision was overturned.

Churchill Retirement Living’s bid for the High Street development was twice knocked back by Wiltshire Council. But it appealed to the Planning Inspectorate and has now been given the go ahead.

Calne Town Council was strongly opposed the development and said it was “disappointed that the view of residents and the policies outlined in the Calne Community Neighbourhood Plan did not offer the desired protection”.

In a statement it said: “The appeal decision will bring additional retail space to the town centre and money for affordable housing and improvements to the public realm in the wider town centre.

“Our focus will now shift to ensure that the development meets the conditions the inspector has imposed, limits impact on residents during construction and welcome future residents of the apartments to our town.”

The main issue raised during the appeal was the effect the development would have on the nearby Zion Chapel, and the flats not fitting into the future vision for Calne.

The planning inspector found the latest iteration of the Churchill design would not overpower the presence of the chapel as the roof pitch was lowered from the first design, and the largest gable on the north-west corner was removed for the second design.

In terms of the vision for the town, the planning inspector deemed the points raised within the local plan to be broad brush and not detailed directives.

According to the town council, a residents’ survey between 2018 and 2019 showed that 87 per cent were against the first plans submitted by Churchill and 86 per cent opposed a second version.

Additionally, 84 per cent of those surveyed said that the proposals were not in keeping with the local area.

Stuart Goodwill, managing director of Churchill Retirement Living’s in-house planning consultancy, said: “After a long and costly process I’d like to thank everyone who has helped towards achieving this very positive result.

“There is a compelling overall housing need in Calne and the surrounding area and our site is in a perfect location for a new development of this kind.

“Retirement housing is the most effective way of generating local economic growth, local jobs and increasing high street spend as we look to recover from the pandemic.”

Cllr Glenis Ansell said: “I believe this decision is a body blow to the local community and to democracy in general. We all worked so hard to build our Community Neighbourhood Plan and this application completely disregards it and the views of our community.”

“This is deeply disappointing but not a surprise,” added Cllr John Boaler. “The town council and many members of the community fought as hard as it could to resist this development in this location.”