A development application at Worton – CPRE successfully objects
Government proposals for changes to the planning system in 2019 were aimed at making life simpler for developers, apparently abandoning any pretence of localism. That led to opportunistic attempts to gain planning approvals in places where they had previously failed. One such attempt was for Worton, a small village south of Devizes, on the edge of Salisbury plain and not far from Salisbury itself.
It is an attractive rural area and the prospect of a new house in Worton has appeal, especially when seen in a developer’s glossy brochure. Worton is pleasant but it has few local amenities and local people mainly rely on their cars to travel to Devizes and elsewhere regularly. Wiltshire’s rural bus services are patchy and have had regular cut-backs. The A360 road between Devizes and Salisbury is notoriously bad; it has not changed much since horse and cart days. Devizes and Worton are also remote from railway connections. Despite the facts, the developer described the village as having good amenities and good transport links.
There was an application for a development of about 30 houses at Sandleaze Farm, on the outskirts of Worton, three years ago, which was rejected by Wiltshire Council and which failed at appeal for several sound reasons. Despite that, a developer returned in 2020, obviously encouraged by the government’s 2019 proposals, asking for permission for up to 26 dwellings. CPRE and many other local people submitted objections once again, pointing out the significant flaws in the outline development proposal.
Wiltshire Council has now firmly rejected the Worton proposal again on planning policy grounds. We are heartened by that and by the current government rethink on its planning proposals. We hope that the government can begin to see that Whitehall is not the best place for local planning decisions and will revise its approach to localism.