Where next for Stockland??(November 19, 2003)
News is filtering out amongst Warminster people that councillors have rejected a plan to radically alter the look of the area behind the Market Place which would have included placing a new supermarket slap bang in front of the Avenue School.
"The decision last night has not been greeted with great celebration amongst those I have spoken to but more with a quiet sense of satisfaction that grassroots commonsense has prevailed," says Paul Macdonald.
"Those of us with planning experience however know that it may not be the end of the matter."
Council staff had written a report recommending permission for the plans which has certainly raised eyebrows amongst some in this current climate of distrust of politics.
Stockland, own the Three Horseshoes Walk, sought the go-ahead to demolish and replace the town library, the TIC and the CAB to make their scheme work and extend their sphere of influence.
They also needed control over the public car parks.
Paul wrote an in-depth summary of that report using his experience as a former planning councillor. The application failed on five of the grounds highlighted in those words.
"Stockland obviously wish to make the most of their investment which is right and proper for a commercial organisation," warns Paul.
"But we have the planning set-up to look after our other interests in the town."
The Western area planning committee of councillors refused arguing that proposal would provide too much shopping space contrary to the 2004 West Wilts Plan creating a conflict between users of the space eg pedestrians, delivery, parking and users of school and surgeries
They also objected to loss of bus parking and insufficient provision of car parking spaces and thought the scheme was out of keeping with the area.
"Stockland may have a strategy which may be incremental in achieving the best for their interest," says Paul
"They began this process by presenting themselves to the town council. They then slightly amended their proposal after initial oficial responses.
"However, they may not want to give way any more. They certainly have the option to appeal the decision so the meeting last night may just have been a dress rehearsal."