It was blatantly shameful of Conservative controlled Wiltshire Council to hold; a day before the general election, a planning meeting in Trowbridge concerning a major development effecting Harnham, when it was the only item on the agenda.
They refused despite many pleas to the Council to hold it in Salisbury.
It had a huge impact on local residents being able to exercise their right to attend and speak at this hugely important meeting. To make matters worse, attempts at a last-minute broadcast link with City Hall also failed on the day. Further demands that it should be held after Christmas, following the broadcast fiasco (which delayed the meeting) were again rejected.
Their response was ‘These Planning meetings are always held in Trowbridge’ and citing the need for the meeting to be held now due to possible ‘non determination’ of the application (Non determination usually leads to automatic appeal and possible approval.) A planning officer in reply to a question responded that the nondetermination date had already passed. So, the council had not met the legal time scales anyway.
The Council has already held meetings of its Strategic Planning in Salisbury over the past few years, including over the Maltings and Longhedge developments. Why was the Harnham application different?
When Harnham Neighbourhood Association held a public meeting about the houses, around 150 people attended a packed Parish Hall. 263 residents sent in their objections to the Council. We have never seen so many on one planning application. It seems all were ignored.
Cllr Brian Dalton made an official complaint to the council, asking why they did not hold the meeting in Salisbury. They have not bothered to reply, so he will take matters further to the Local Government Ombudsman. The council’s actions are unacceptable.
No Tory councillor criticised the council, or even spoke on behalf of Harnham residents. One Harnham cllr spoke in a “personal capacity”, therefore not representing residents he’s meant to represent. This alone, is shocking.
Tory committee member for Amesbury Cllr Westmoreland proposed the application for approval, saying “I’m afraid it’s Harnham’s time”.