CORSHAM residents say their views and opinions over planning applications have been ignored and have been left without a voice.

Residents of Alexander Terrace have told of their anger over “town hall failures” to consider their views and “apply due diligence and scrutiny” to protect a conservation area.

They say that their objections to three planning applications at the same property have been suppressed through a failure to notify by their local councillor, Ruth Hopkinson.

Speaking on behalf of residents, Arthur Swann of 21 Alexander Terrace said that at town council planning meetings, residents’ views were “simply ignored as not relevant”.

“The town councillor failed to notify the residents in advance of plans and meetings or to visit them to see the site, talk over concerns or read objections before making judgements,” said Mr Swann.

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“The residents have serious concerns about impartiality as their councillor has not demonstrated open-mindedness.

“Official channels are virtually exhausted to enable a ‘call-in’ of this application to allow an independent political consideration and judgement at a future Wiltshire Council planning meeting should any planning permission granted be unsatisfactory to the residents.”

Cllr Hopkinson said that to say she is closed-minded is not justified and that none of the residents had contacted her with their concerns.

“There are very strong planning guidelines and regulations and a lot of complaints residents had were outside what can be considered for planning purposes,” she said. “Although they were strongly held views and to them relevant – in the planning process they weren’t.”

After a planning meeting, Cllr Hopkinson said she contacted the planning officer to negotiate amendments to the plans she believed would ease residents’ concerns. In regards to residents’ feelings that their concerns were suppressed, Cllr Hopkinson said all planning meetings are open to the public and advertised in advance.

“We encourage residents to come along and put their views forward, but cannot for every planning application notify every resident in the vicinity,” she continued.

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“There is no way I have not demonstrated open-mindedness. I don’t make a decision and I don’t form an opinion before a town council meeting. I look at the application and I take on board what the deliberations of the town planning committee are. Sometimes I agree with them and sometimes I don’t.”

Responding to the request for a call-in, Cllr Hopkinson said solid reasons need to be given for councillors to call a planning bid before a Wiltshire Council committee.

“Having looked at the application, having spoken to the planning officer and taking on-board the amendments that were made to the original application – I do not feel there is any merit to putting it to the call-in.

“If every councillor did a call in for the whole of north Wiltshire then the planning system would grind to a complete halt.”