PROPOSALS to build 462 homes on Old Sarum airfield have been condemned by Wiltshire councillors.

They declared that so much development should never have been considered.

They lambasted the airfield owners for failing to involve the community in creating a master plan.

And they stressed that by doubling the size of Ford, the scheme contravenes the county’s core strategy, which allows only infill development in small villages.

A coachload of Old Sarum and Ford residents travelled to the strategic planning committee’s meeting in Trowbridge on Wednesday, where three speakers - Ron Champion, parish council spokesman Vic Bussereau and Graham Renshaw - put forward their objections.

The airfield owners were not there. Their last-minute request for the discussion to be deferred was rejected.

They have already launched an appeal, claiming the council has been too slow making a decision, so the final say rests with a government inspector.

Council policy says any development at the airfield must enhance the historic conservation area, screen ugly buildings, protect views from Old Sarum, provide community benefits, and control yet support flying.

The airfield bosses argue that their scheme is necessary to make all this viable.

But Cllr Fred Westmoreland said: “It was never envisaged in my 25 years as a councillor that half the airfield would be covered with houses.

“The fundamental concept of development on that scale around Ford is unacceptable.

“If this were to happen there would be no point in having a core strategy or neighbourhood plans.

“It’s just a developer trying to make some money.”

Cllr Ian McLennan said the airfield was a “unique and treasured” heritage asset.

He claimed it was deliberately run at a loss, and the owners had done “everything in their power to upset every resident for miles around”.

Because it has historic rights to unlimited flying, he said, any agreement to limit it would be unenforceable.

“They are not interested in talking or cutting noise or trying to develop a community asset.

“They are only responsible for one of the remaining three hangars and they have let it get to the point of falling over. It’s held up by containers and props.

“The people we are dealing with do not have any history of co-operation with the community or of looking after the asset they are entrusted with.”

Cllr Matthew Dean said the owners had undertaken minimal community engagement, minimal consultation with parish councils, and “an extremely unconventional dialogue with the planning authority itself”.

No date has yet been set for the appeal.