The site for a proposed development of up to 30 houses, with Chiseldon visible in the distance

THE justice secretary has objected to controversial plans for 30 houses to be built on an area of outstanding natural beauty near Chiseldon.

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland wrote a critical letter about the proposed development along New Road on the North Wessex Downs after villagers got in touch to complain.

He wrote: "I have been contacted by many of my constituents who have shared their concerns about the revised application and I would like to add my own objections.

"My original objection in response to both refused earlier applications and inclusion of this site on the Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) to build on this protected land remains in place and this development remains inappropriate.

"SBC's own local plan review emerging strategies states regarding the site: "The site is a very open site with high sensitivity and the site would represent a significant encroachment into the countryside which would harm the AONB."

"The government is fully committed to protecting areas of outstanding natural beauty and great weight should be given to conserving the landscape and scenic beauty.

"Planning permission should be refused other than in exceptional circumstances and as many of my constituents have pointed out, there are none in this instance and this development is not in the public interest.

"The local community has clearly demonstrated this on numerous occasions by opposing development on this site."

Castlewood Investments Inc owns the site and has been trying to build homes there for more than a year. The developers revised and reduced the original plans after neighbours protested.

Mr Buckland added: "Current development has led to busier roads and more traffic through the village with traffic being one of the main concerns for residents in a 2016 survey commissioned by Chiseldon Parish Council. The proposed single point of access from the site onto New Road will add traffic to the already busy junction onto a major road (New Road onto the A346)

"An earlier application for 12 affordable houses on this site was rejected in January 2012.

"The planning inspectorate concluded that the effects of the proposed development would detract from the established rural character and appearance of the countryside, thereby eroding the natural beauty of the AONB. This remains unchanged and the inspector's conclusion remains valid.

"Consideration should also be taken that the developer, who owns the adjacent field to the site of the current application, has previously disclosed plans to develop up to 400 houses on this land.

"Should this application be successful, there is a huge risk that a further application would follow for a much larger and even more intrusive development on a protected and historically important area.

"The proposed houses would be in line of site of the view from Liddington Castle and Barbury Castle, both Iron Age hillforts, which are listed as scheduled monument and described as rare by English Heritage.

"The site is also one of a few places in England where it is possible to gain an impression of a wider Iron Age landscape, with views to the Ridgeway, Liddington and Barbury hillforts.

"In conclusion, this application should be refused as development on this land is completely inappropriate and unsuitable for development."

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